One hundred days ago, I stood inside Sacramento’s Golden 1 Arena, raised my right hand, and was sworn in as the assemblywoman representing our community. It was a surreal experience, not only the swearing-in, but also having it outside of the state Capitol in the home of the Sacramento Kings (I’m a lifelong Lakers fan).
As the granddaughter of farmworkers, and the daughter of an auto mechanic and educator, the journey and American dream story of my family was ever-present in my mind. As we address the myriad problems the state faces, ever-present are the lessons my family has passed on to me — hard work, empathy, and community responsibility.
In addition to all of us battling this pandemic, we have many challenges and I got right to work. From reopening our schools, working to mitigate Public Safety Power Shutoffs, protecting our most vulnerable, or getting Californians back to work, my first 100 days in office has been a very productive whirlwind.
Reopening our schools, all of them, is one of the single most important steps we can take to speed the recovery from the effects of the pandemic. I have had countless conversations with parents, teachers, school board members, school superintendents, and Democrat and Republican colleagues in the Legislature on the best way to get our kids safely back in the classroom. The damage being done to our littlest learners is immeasurable, and while the recent reopening schools legislation, Assembly Bill 86, is imperfect, it is a step in the right direction. This is why I joined my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and voted in support. In the coming weeks, I am committed to push even harder to get our middle and high school students back on campus and back playing sports.
Our kids deserve nothing less.
Our area has experienced too many PSPS events to count, leaving rural families without the simplest necessities like the ability to pump clean drinking water. Other families lost the ability to power medical life-saving devices, and countless others lost thousands of dollars in food due to a lack of refrigeration. I have worked with local leaders, members of the community, and the Public Utilities Commission to get Southern California Edison to expedite a plan to limit the frequency, duration and impact of PSPS events. We must hold responsible parties accountable and push them to offer solutions that will work for all the people. That’s exactly what I’m doing.
We must always strive to deliver more for the people we represent. The governor failed to adequately address the wildfire and energy crisis in his massive $227 billion budget rollout, so we need to push for the people. I have lived in this community for decades. It’s my family’s home, and I know firsthand how devastating these shutoffs are. That is why I introduced AB 418 to fund $100 million in community power resiliency grants, and why I am spearheading a bipartisan effort to ensure those grants remain available.
After a year of the pandemic shuttering businesses and putting people out of work, some families have been hit harder than others. Hundreds of constituents who have had no luck getting their unemployment benefits from the Employment Development Department have contacted my office in the past several months. Our team that represents you is in daily contact with EDD and working tirelessly to get those who are out of work the benefits they need. The mismanagement of EDD is egregious, and that is why I co-authored AB 360 to implement the reforms recommended by the State Auditor — reforms that will get benefits into the hands of people who need them now more than ever. I also supported legislation that extended the eviction moratorium to help out-of-work families stay in their homes.
Finally, we need to work diligently to reopen the economy. I authored AB 91 to provide tax relief for California’s small businesses that have been decimated by the mandated shutdowns. I co-authored the Keep California Working Act, which gave a much-needed $2.6 billion boost to keep local small businesses alive and running, and keep our families employed. I also jointly authored bipartisan legislation to create a pathway for the safe reopening of theme parks like Six Flags Magic Mountain. This legislation brought the governor to the negotiating table, and now theme parks have the guidance they need to safely reopen, giving a shot in the arm to our local economy.
We face so many problems in this state, and for too long Sacramento representatives have been out of touch with the people and not focused on addressing our problems. This is inexcusable and one of the driving forces behind my decision to join the Problem Solvers Caucus, a nonpartisan effort to put politics aside and provide solutions.
As I wrote earlier, it has been a productive whirlwind and we are just getting started. I am immensely proud of my first 100 days. From day one, my promise to you is that I will be the hardest-working, most empathetic, and most accessible member of your state Assembly, and I will accept nothing less from our district staff team. We are here for you.
And, while I am mindful of being anxious of things to come, I look forward to what the next 100 days will bring.
Suzette Martinez Valladares represents the 38th Assembly District, which includes most of the Santa Clarita Valley.