Going head-to-head at this year’s race for California’s 36th Assembly are Tom Lackey (R- Palmdale) and Steve Fox (D-Palmdale).
Both candidates have both served terms as assemblymembers in California’s 36th District—Lackey from 2014 to present and Fox from 2012 to 2014.
Based on their past terms in office, both candidates feel they are prepared to serve the Antelope Valley, Kern and San Bernardino counties.
“I am not only qualified because I’ve been in this position for two years, but because I‘ve proven I can get things done,” said Fox, an attorney and former school teacher.
During his time in office, Fox focused on bettering residents’ lives by improving jobs, the local economy and educational opportunities, he said.
He authored an aerospace bill which created more than 6,000 jobs and created the Middle Class Scholarship Act and provided additional funding for local schools.
Incumbent Lackey, a former city of Palmdale and retired California Highway Patrol officer, believes his life experience make him a suitable candidate.
“My life experiences have allowed me to represent the district well here,” said Lackey, who spent most of his life in the district. “These last two years have been very beneficial and we have gotten a lot done.”
During his time in office, Lackey focused on public safety, affordable taxes, education improvements and job growth.
He combated the problem of “drugged driving,” increased funding for development disability programs and restored felony penalties for those found in possession of “date rape drugs.”
Both candidates argue that they are bipartisan assemblymembers, willing to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get legislation passed and fairly represent their constituents.
On the topic of water—or the lack thereof—in the District, Fox wants to pursue desalinization programs.
“We should take the water out of the ocean and create our own water,” Fox said. “I met with the Prime Minister of Israel who offered California his technology on desalinization.”
Fox also thinks Southern Californians should not be reliant on water from the north.
“I want more reservoirs and aqueducts down south,” he said. “I want the water in our own possession so we can control it.”
Lackey believes the solution to Southern California’s water problem is the immediate construction of water storage facilities, like aqueducts and reservoirs, in the district.
“The water storage is part of the solution in creating a reservoir that we can use in times of drought,” he said.
Lackey expressed his frustration in the slowness of the construction of the water storage structures.
“There are solutions out there,” he said. “It’s slowly moving because of impediments like environmental restrictions that need to be relaxed to allow people to build those structures.”
Lackey considers transportation to be a unique but critical topic of concern in the district.
“We have over 100,000 commuters every day and that is a big deal and we are trying to remedy some of these significant problems when it comes to transportation,” he said.
Instead of having meetings about the topic, Lackey thinks the district and state should be “fiscally prudent” and spent more of its funds in the transportation field.
Fox believes that the solution is building wider freeways and imposing restrictions on what types of products, like gravel, can go on the roads to avoid deterioration.
In regards to cost, Fox is not in favor of constituent-funded projects.
“No new taxes. Period,” he said.
Creating more jobs in the 36th District and attracting employers to the area, is another way Lackey hopes to alleviate traffic concerns and boost the local economy.
“We need to bring more jobs in Santa Clarita, Palmdale and Lancaster so people won’t have to travel as far; so they won’t have to commute and can bring their jobs here,” he said. “We are trying to aggressively to make California competitive to attract employees here.”
To attract those employers, Lackey is in favor of environmental tax cuts to bring industries back to the state.
Fox said he represents the interest of his constituents by bringing jobs to the district, as he did in the past. He also wants to reduce regulations to attract companies to the area.
“We need to adapt CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] so it’s easier for companies to build,” he said.
Both Lackey and Fox have experience in California classrooms as teachers. However, their approach to the topic is different.
Fox is actively pursuing the creation of a California State University, Antelope Valley.
“The university is the most important thing to create jobs in the area and educate children,” he said.
His goal is to educate children and increase funding for schools to help individuals find jobs.
Lackey agrees that education is the “key to success.”
He significantly increased funded for the developmentally disabled by making their education a priority.
“These are very critical programs and we were able to get a substantial increase in funding,” he said.
But Lackey believes there is still more work to be done.
“There are a number of complexities in the developmentally disabled community that need to be addressed,” he said. “I think they should be a priority and not an afterthought.”
On additional topics, Fox wishes to addresses dependency courts, having violent sex predators live out their lives in hospitals and allowing veterans to go to any hospital free of charge.
Fox believes his record of bringing money and jobs to the district and taking polls of his constituents are what make him the best candidate for the job.
“These aren’t just talking points; I’ve proved I can do them,” he said. “Our district has a greater chance of getting funds to the area if you have a conservative democrat in charge.”
Lackey states that his success in office and his willingness to sit down and speak with the public is what makes him the best candidate.
“I’ve proven it’s not just a legislative piece, it’s also how you listen to the public,” he said of his community coffee talks. “This is where I’ve lived. I understand the district and have seen the changes in the district.”
For more information, visit the candidate’s websites at foxforassembly.com and lackeyforassembly.com.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_