By Jose Herrera
Signal Staff Writer
The Republican National Committee hosted a Hispanic Heritage Month Small Business Roundtable with Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares and California GOP Chair Jessica Millan Patterson leading the discussion on Friday at the Holiday Inn, covering topics including COVID-19 and Democratic leadership affecting the economy.
“It is so vital that we have these conversations,” said Valladares, R-Santa Clarita. “We can complain all we want, but we have to identify solutions, and we have to be able to take those to Sacramento and Washington, D.C.”
Local business owners Chris Cardenas, Liz Tolentino and Agustin Prieto attended the roundtable discussion and shared how COVID-19 has affected their respective businesses.
“We had to shut down for two and a half months at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Prieto, owner of California Bakery in Santa Clarita. “(On top of that) regulations were too much, the pandemic was horrible, and customers weren’t coming in.”
Cardenas, the owner of Anger Management Tequila, moved to Santa Clarita six years ago from Mexico.
“I had to pay fees every month, even though business was stopped,” Cardenas said.
He added that he’s worried about hiring people and the quality of workers because “it makes a big difference” in how small businesses produce their products and serve customers.
Tolentino, a real estate agent with Keller Williams VIP Properties in Valencia, noted that in her sector the number of homes on the market has significantly decreased and many people are moving out of California for states where taxes are lower.
Mark Maldonado, an insurance business owner, and Richard Loa, Palmdale city councilman and private law practitioner, also brought up how Democratic leadership at the national, state and county levels is making it more challenging for small-business owners.
Valladares and Patterson both agreed that these are troubling issues that can be addressed by providing more resources to business owners, increasing the number of Republicans in California and mobilizing them to vote.
“When you’re a small business owner, you love your employees, their family, you want to see them succeed,” Valladares said. “You care about them and this divide that happens in Sacramento and Washington between business and workers has to stop because we’re all in this together.”