Jim de Bree: I’ll take my chances with Dante


This is a crazy election year with many difficult choices. From my perspective, one of the most challenging decisions was whom to vote for in the 38th Assembly District.

This race features Dante Acosta, a Republican, against Christy Smith, a Democrat. Quite frankly, whoever wins will have big shoes to fill as Scott Wilk has demonstrated considerable leadership as our Assembly representative.

In July I was undecided but was leaning toward voting for Mrs. Smith.

My reasoning was simple.

Personally, I have been disappointed with Councilman Acosta’s support of the Laemmle Theater subsidies and that he has not been proactive in dealing with the recently uncovered city embezzlement.

He takes the view that the embezzlement was merely an isolated incident that the city needs to put behind it. Thus he was not my ideal candidate.

As to Mrs. Smith, I attended The Signal debate in August with an open mind. During the debate, she assured everyone that she would cast her votes independently of the Democratic Party’s wishes.

She painted herself as a centrist who is open to discussion with people on all sides of the political spectrum. She indicated ambivalence to Proposition 55, stating that the state needs to adopt a more stable tax base.

All of this sounded pretty good.

However, in the closing part of the debate she switched her approach and started saying things about Mr. Acosta which, quite frankly, I find offensive. Instead of discussing substance, her tactics changed to smearing her opponent.

Since The Signal debate, Mrs. Smith has apparently changed her tune on Proposition 55, as she now endorses it. So much for supporting meaningful tax reform.

Now let’s consider the likelihood that Mrs. Smith will vote independently of the Democratic Party line. Her campaign is everywhere. Signs and advertisements supporting her are ubiquitous.

Her campaign is well funded. Who is funding it? Clearly, the Democratic Party thinks it can turn the 38th Assembly District blue, so it is heavily funding her campaign.

With all of that funding, do you really think she will be able to resist voting the party line?

Mrs. Smith campaigns on her record with the Newhall School District. When I studied the SCV school bond situation several months ago, it became apparent that the Newhall School District made the most judicious use of capital appreciation bonds (“CABs”) of any school district in the SCV.

CABs are bonds that are the most expensive way to finance school construction. In 2012, AB 132 was enacted in an attempt to reign in abuses posed by CABs.

Since 2012, the Newhall School District has issued several CABs that appear to be structured to circumvent the limitations imposed by AB 132. This makes it difficult to argue that she has exercised fiscal responsibility during her tenure on the school board and sets a concerning precedent about how she will vote on fiscal measures if elected.

Finally, she made a huge issue out of Mr. Acosta’s business record as a financial adviser. Specifically, she cited three complaints registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against him.

These complaints are common and, apparently, those filed against Mr. Acosta were settled without sanctions.

Mr. Acosta explained that these complaints are routine, yet Mrs. Smith kept pursuing them. Ironically, Mrs. Smith’s husband, who is also a financial adviser, had two FINRA complaints filed against him.

Mrs. Smith’s response is that her husband is not running for office, so any comments about him should be off limits. Maybe so, but it clearly demonstrates that these complaints are routine, validating Mr. Acosta’s defense against her claims.

Mr. Acosta has a long record of community service. I suspect that, if elected, he will follow Republican Party lines, which is important as the state would move farther to the left if the Democrats get a super-majority in the Assembly as a result of winning this seat.

After looking long and hard at this election, I decided I will take my chances with Mr. Acosta. My pocketbook cannot afford a Democratic super-majority in the Legislature.

Jim de Bree is a Valencia resident.

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