Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

As part of a 58-county campaign tour for his secretary of state candidacy, Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla visited Del Norte County on Wednesday, telling folks how he would engage new voters and make it easier to start a business in California.

Padilla, who represents the San Fernando Valley, also spoke about a bill he authored that was signed into law last fall that will create a statewide earthquake early warning system.

Once the $80 million system is in effect, Californians should be alerted in advance of an earthquake.

"We can't predict an earthquake, but as soon as the rumbling is happening miles below the surface there is a way to give folks 10 seconds, maybe 30 seconds, maybe 60 seconds of warning before the shaking starts. And what a difference that could make for train operators, construction sites, hospitals and even someone with two little ones at home," Padilla said.

He said he'd noticed Del Norte's disaster preparedness.

"This is the first hotel I've ever stayed in where on top of the magazines, there was a brochure, 'How to survive a tsunami,'" he said.

Padilla has also introduced several bills related to education and was asked about his feeling toward community colleges, especially in the wake of cutbacks at College of the Redwoods in Del Norte.

Padilla said funding for higher education is important, including for community colleges.

"Seventy-two percent of students in higher education are in our community colleges so they don't get enough attention and support in my opinion," Padilla said.

He said that the expansion of online courses is being seriously considered. He said supports that to an extent, but for some subjects there is no good substitute for classroom experience.

Former county assessor Gerald Cochran asked if Padilla, assecretary of state, would try to change the law regarding mail ballots so they will be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

Alissia Northrup, county clerk-recorder, said more than half of the county's voters use mail ballots.

Padilla said that he has already voted for such a law, and that he has other plans to improve voting in California.

"The best solutions are going to be regional solutions. Ideas that may or may not work in Los Angeles may not work in Crescent City," Padilla said.

Just as California has led the nation for environmental laws, Padilla hopes that the Golden State will make voting easier while other parts of the nation are implementing laws seen by some as making voting more difficult.

Padilla said that although most people think of the secretary of state in connection with elections and voter registration, the largest part of the office involves business filing. If elected, he said, he'd shorten the turnaround for new businesses filings, which currently can take two to six weeks.

"Here's somebody who wants to invest in California and create jobs, and their first impression as a business person with California government is we'll get back to you in a couple weeks or a couple months," Padilla said, adding that other states have 24- to 48-hour turnaround times for business filings online.

For more information on Padilla's campaign, visit

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