Dante Acosta moves on from Legislature, nominated to serve on board of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency

Dante Acosta. Dan Watson/The Signal

Former 38th District Assemblyman Dante Acosta has a new position that he said fits perfectly with his previous background in the California Legislature.

Acosta was nominated by Los Angeles County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger Tuesday to represent Val Verde on the board of directors of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency. If approved by the existing board, he would begin his term starting Jan. 2.

The news comes a month after Acosta lost his bid for re-election to his seat representing the 38th Assembly District to now-Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita.

At the end of election night on Nov. 6, Acosta was initially leading Smith by a one-point percentage margin.

That margin soon decreased in the subsequent weeks, as more mail-in and provisional ballots were counted across the district, eventually culminating in a Smith win after she secured a 1.14 percent lead. Acosta conceded Nov. 13.

He said at the time he was surprised to lose, but not completely.

“I felt there was a trend in California, and nationally, in his cycle where Republicans here got lumped in with the national politics of the day,” he said of voting patterns. “Which isn’t fair, but life isn’t always fair. We just have to work harder and make sure we’re communicating our message to voters next time. A lot of misrepresentations are told.

“I tried to keep the message on my accomplishments and where my opponent and I differed,” he said. “The voters came out in a different way. They wanted to make a change.”

Acosta said he is proud of his time in the Assembly. During his two-year term since he was elected in 2016, he said he felt he had made his mark on the district with efforts to carry bipartisan legislation.

“I’ve heard far and wide we did a very good job in terms of the legislation we carried.” he said. “Many people thought, ‘A Republican will write a tax bill, or a Democrat will write another type of bill,’ but my bills affected our district and state.”

Acosta said he collaborated with legislators on both sides of the aisle to push bills through the Natural Resources Committee, such as when he amended major environmental bills signed into law, such as Senate Bill 1013, which authorizes monetary incentives for refrigeration systems with a low global warming potential. He also worked on SB 1249, the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, helping push it through the Assembly and Senate.

Acosta was also in the process of working on bills that failed in committee, such as one that sought to create a new California Conservation Corps program to train youth in the foster care or criminal justice systems in construction-related jobs, and one that created a volunteer force to provide assistance to seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“It’s always challenging to get bills passed, particularly in the minority party,” he said. “But I will tell you I was very effective at building relationships. I have heard from many, many Democrats who have called me after I lost to say, ‘I’m sorry you’re not coming back, I enjoyed working with you.’”

“That has nothing to do with my successor,” he said. “It has to do with my relationships. Part of the process of having a two-party system anywhere, locally or nationally, is people bring different ideas and perspectives. I always tried to be respectful of the process. It serves the community well in the long run.”

Of Smith, Acosta said he wished her success.

“I can’t guess how she’ll legislate,” he said of his two-time opponent, who he initially defeated in 2016. “I just hope that she tries to look for areas and constituencies that are being underserved. That was something I tried to do, look for folks slipping through the cracks. There’s big businesses, big gov that takes care of themselves. But I think my bill package speaks for itself.”

Now, Acosta said his time in the Assembly serving as vice chair of the Natural Resources Committee will be to his advantage in his new position on the water board, if he is approved.

“I’m passionate about infrastructure, water and supply for the Santa Clarita Valley,” he said. “One of the issues we dealt with on the Natural Resources Committee in Sacramento is water. It’s one of the more compelling issues in the state at this time. It’s a passion of mine to ensure safe, reliable drinking water for the residents.”

As for the future, Acosta said he doesn’t know yet if he will run for elected office in the future, but for now is prioritizing spending time with his family.

“There’s always speculation on what someone will do next, but I think we need to come together as a community and determine what that looks like going forward,” he said. “I can assure you I will continue being involved, whether I’m in elected office or not. It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve in elected office whether it’s as mayor pro tem for the city, or as your Assembly member up in Sacramento.”

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