One incumbent and one challenger led the races in early returns Tuesday for the two Assembly districts that represent different portions of the Santa Clarita Valley.
The 34th Assembly District now encompasses Agua Dulce and other unincorporated areas in the eastern Santa Clarita Valley, while the former 38th District has now become the 40th District, which contains most of the SCV and has incumbent Suzette Martinez Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, going against Democrat Pilar Schiavo.
Valladares’ campaign has chosen to focus on the economic pressures her constituents are facing, such as inflation and homelessness – with the assemblywoman having recently introduced legislation to ban homeless encampments near schools, daycare centers, parks and libraries. Valladares said this was a common issue brought up by those she encountered, as were recent spikes in crime.
“From the get-go, when I decided to run for state Assembly, I said that I would focus on lowering the cost of living for working-class families, which continues to be an important factor for me, as somebody who grew up in this community,” said Valladares. “Some of the other issues I hear about and see on our streets are the homeless crisis. We have to ban encampments near our kids to keep our kids safe and that’s something that I want to make statewide law, as well as addressing the rise in crime.”
Schiavo, hailing from Chatsworth, is focusing her campaign on labor rights and health care – having helped negotiate a $15 minimum wage increase, demand equal pay and improve safety protections for frontline workers during the pandemic. Schiavo is also highlighting the issue of homelessness, but is approaching solutions to the issue based on affordable housing.
“I co-founded an organization that has delivered more than 50,000 meals to people in need, helped secure housing for veterans and seniors experiencing homelessness, and increased resources to keep our communities safe, so we no longer have people living on our sidewalks,” wrote Schiavo on her campaign’s website.
Schiavo was not immediately available for comment at the time of this publication.
In early returns, Schiavo was leading Valladares, 51.4% to 48.6%, with an unknown number of ballots remaining to be counted.
Following redistricting ahead of this year’s election, the 34th Assembly District now contains Agua Dulce and other unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. This year’s election features two Republicans, both incumbents facing off against each other: Thurston “Smitty” Smith, previously of the 33rd district, and Tom Lackey, previously of the 36th district. Both are running on their history of taking on special interests.
The two incumbents found themselves in the same district due to redistricting.
“During his tenure in the Assembly, [Smith] took on the special interests by fighting government waste, fraud and abuse,” said a statement on Smith’s website. campaign’s website. “He also fought against the defund the police movement and advocated to increase resources available to our law enforcement officers. In addition to backing our police, Smitty is fighting industrial-grade illegal cannabis grow operations, often cartel-run, to keep rural communities like ours safe.”
“When I was elected, I promised you that I would fight higher taxes, increase job opportunities, protect our communities, stand up to special interests, and seek solutions to the biggest problems facing our region,” said a statement on Lackey’s campaign’s website. “This is exactly what I’ve done, and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. However, the job is not done and as your assemblyman, I am committed to continuing this fight. I won’t back down, make excuses, or run from the tough issues.”
In early returns, Lackey was leading Smith, 60.5% to 39.5%, with an unknown number of ballots remaining to be counted.