Job creation remained the most popular topic among the four Democrats and one Republican seeking the seat in recent interviews, though it wasn’t the first answer given by GOP hopeful Jack Mobley, a local ServiceMaster business owner from Merced.
Mobley first spoke about ending high-speed rail projects, though he quickly switched to the topic of job creation.
Former Atwater City Councilwoman Lesa Rasmussen, a Democrat who served on the staffs of then-Assembly members Dennis Cardoza and Barbara Matthews, listed jobs, education and public safety as her most urgent issues.
Former Assembly staff member Adam Gray of Merced, also a Democrat, said preserving core government services, such as transportation, education and public safety, would lead to more job creation.
Fellow Democrat Robert Sellers, a construction contractor from Delhi, said his priority was the economy, focusing on jobs, power creation and water storage to get the Central Valley economic engine running on all cylinders again.
Former Los Banos Mayor Tommy Jones, who is also running for the 21st Assembly seat, could not be reached for comment this week.
While all the candidates focused on employment, their approaches and solutions were vastly different.
A higher standard of living created by focusing on education, public safety, transportation and public health benefits would lead to higher paying jobs because more businesses would relocate to the Central Valley, Gray said, calling them core government services.
Adequate infrastructure for jobs must be in place before companies will relocate, he said.
Sellers’ plan called for more water storage to grow more vegetables and fruits and create more power for local canneries. He noted that several canneries had closed over the years, leaving many Central Valley residents without work.
Rasmussen said government overregulation had to be kept at bay if new jobs were to be created in the region.
Mobley, the sole Republican in the race, agreed that government must get out of the way with less regulation, which would lead to more private-sector jobs, he said.
Creating easier paths for more water storage would also create more agricultural jobs, leading to less unemployment, Mobley said.
Each candidate has taken a different approach to campaigning.
Some have embraced every possible facet of a political campaign, including fundraising, walking precincts, making phone calls and advertising. Others have adhered to just one or two methods.
Gray said his campaign had been an all-out blitz since January, starting when it collected nearly 2,500 signatures to place his name on the ballot to waive a ballot-filing fee.
“We’re doing all of it,” he said. “Walking 200 to 300 homes a day, phone banks and attending community events all over the district. We’ve been building up to this for five months now.”
Sellers said he was running a low-budget campaign with a lot of precinct walking.
“Money is tight for a lot of people, so I’m not asking for donations,” he said. “It’s a grassroots campaign. I go to as many events as I can and speak, and walking as many precincts as I can.”
Mobley said he put his energy into visiting towns within the district. He said his campaign volunteers were walking around Patterson, Gustine, Los Banos, Atwater and Merced.
Rasmussen said she used various means to promote her campaign.
“We’re walking, talking and phoning,” she said. “We’re raising money and getting the word out.”
The top two vote-getters during the June 5 open primary election will face off in the general election Nov. 6, regardless of political party.
• Nick Rappley can be reached at 892-6187, ext. 31, or firstname.lastname@example.org.