Republican candidate makes case for office

By Jessica Cejnar, The Triplicate May 08, 2014 12:20 pm

Jefferson state, Last Chance Grade and CalFire’s annual fire protection fee were among the topics California Assembly candidate Matt Heath discussed with locals on a trip to Del Norte County recently.

Heath, a Republican, hails from Santa Rosa and owns a meat distribution company that specializes in California seafood, beef and pork. He attended a Crescent City-Del Norte Chamber of Commerce mixer on April 24 hosted by the local Republican party at their new headquarters.

“I met with Bob Berkowitz for a little bit,” Heath said, referring to a local political consultant. “I also received an endorsement from Roger Gitlin for my race. I met a lot of small business owners at the mixer.”

As he traveled throughout California’s 2nd Assembly District, which includes the northern part of Sonoma County and all of Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties, Heath said the lack of representation in rural counties is apparent. He pointed to Del Norte’s ongoing transportation problem at Last Chance Grade and said in the Bay Area a problem like that would be fixed “instantaneously.”

If elected, Heath said he would establish field offices and staff in each county in his district, including Del Norte. He said he would also hold town hall meetings in different locations throughout his district each month.

“I feel like the proper role of government is to have influence of people, and if you’re not meeting with people, you can’t be properly influenced from your office in Sacramento,” Heath said. 

Heath pointed to the current Jefferson state movement as an example of how frustrated people in small rural counties are with Sacramento.

“If the people of Del Norte vote in June to be in favor of Jefferson state, I’ll be an advocate and champion of that legislation in Sacramento,” he said. “I can completely understand where they’re coming from. They’re really not represented.”

Education in California is another concern Heath has. Heath, who has an 8-year-old son and whose mother was a public school teacher for 30 years, was a member of the Gravenstein Union Elementary School District Board of Trustees.

Heath said he is not a fan of the new Common Core state standards, which he sees as failing to teach such foundations as multiplication and division.

“It comes back down to local control,” he said. “The failures we have in our education system are there because they’re top-down. They’re not empowering parents. (I’d like) to return the power of local school decisions to the local school board.”

Heath also wants to address water storage and allow local government to make more decisions with regard to water flow. He pointed out that water was let out of Lake Mendocino, which supplies water to much of Sonoma County, in January, which created more of a drought emergency for the area in February and March.

“If (decisions) were done in the local area using real-time data and looking at the weather forecast, they wouldn’t let out as much water,” he said, adding that water rates in Sonoma County have gone up since the drought and residents are recommended to ration water. “We pay a lot for water.”

Heath will appear on the June 3 ballot along with fellow Sonoma County residents John Lowry and Jim Wood, both Democrats, and Green Party member Pamela Elizondo of Laytonville.