Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder attended a recall Gov. Gavin Newsom rally in Castaic Monday leading up to the Sept. 14 recall election.
He shared with the crowd gathered at Freedom’s Way Church the story about how he first entered the race for governor, noting that while he was reluctant, he soon realized he wanted to tackle the issues in California.
Elder began by discussing education, noting that while California spends $15,000 per student per year, which is more than most states, students’ test scores do not reflect that.
“Half of all third graders at (public) schools cannot read at state levels of proficiency, (and) the math scores are even worse,” he said. “The first step towards ending poverty is to get a high school education, one presumably where you can read write and compute at grade level, and this is simply not happening.”
He shared his support of school choice, which allows public education funds to follow students to the schools that best fit their needs, whether that’s to public, private, charter, religious or home school, among other options.
As a former small business owner himself, Elder said he knows the challenges it takes to run a business.
“Nearly a third of all small businesses are now gone forever because of the way (Newsom) shut down the state,” he added.
Elder went on to cite a Hoover Institution at Stanford University report that recently found California-based companies are moving out of the state at an accelerating rate this year, with figures from the first half of 2021 already eclipsing total figures from 2020.
Taxes and cost of living were among the top reasons cited in the report, and while he said many don’t care that the richest people are also leaving, it’s these “top 1%” who pay half of all the state income taxes, of which California has the highest in the nation.
“So when millionaires and billionaires leave, you’re talking about the top 1% and they’re taking their taxes with them,” Elder said.
Elder also shared his thoughts on rising homelessness and crime rates, utilities and wildfires, among other state issues.
“This is not a Republican takeover. This is a takeover from Californians who are absolutely fed up,” Elder said.
Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, was also in attendance, calling on the crowd gathered to continue their efforts to get people to vote.
“(We need) change on every level, and it is so vital that we get a Republican in our gubernatorial office,” Valladares added. “Every single one of you needs to knock on doors, talk to your neighbors, call your family members, tell them to vote because we are taking back our state.”
Similarly, Joe Messina, who recently filed paperwork to run for Santa Clarita City Council and introduced Elder at the rally, said Elder is among those willing to fight for Californians, but can only do so with voter support.
Among attendees was Diane Zimmerman, who said she thinks Elder would do a much better job as governor then Newsom, who she said has destroyed California.
“I think he is more understanding of everything California needs,” Zimmerman said of Elder. “He’s got answers that he’s giving. He’s not saying, ‘I’ll get the answers.’ He’s actually giving some of the answers he’s come up with and they’re really good.”
Castaic resident Craig Humphries, who has lived in California for more than 30 years, said the state is in trouble.
Even so, he said he’s hopeful it can be fixed and that it’s heartwarming to see the crowd gathered at the church for the rally.
“When you see likeminded people that want change, and people are desperate for a beautiful California once again, it gives me heart, so I’m hopeful,” Humphries added.
Signal Photographer Bobby Block contributed to this report.