Race for State Senate heats up

Laura Lanfray, Reporter

Shannon Grove and Ruth Musser-Lopez are running for California’s 16th district Senate seat in the general election on Nov. 6.

Comprised of many cities throughout Kern, San Bernardino, and Tulare Counties, the 16th district’s population of about 922,123 people makes it the largest in the state.

The Current senator, Jean Fuller, is finishing her final term after serving eight years since her initial election in 2010.

Her soon-to-be successor will be one of either two Central Valley women currently campaigning for the senator seat. With hopes of creating new opportunities for members of the community, the Republican candidate, Shannon Grove, has been campaigning throughout various cities in the district including Needles, Tehachapi, and Bakersfield to reach out to voters.

“I’m hoping that I have the opportunity to go up to Sacramento and represent the people of this district. My main focus is jobs and making sure that students…when they get out of college, have the opportunity to work and succeed, address the poverty issues that we have in our community…and definitely working with the federal government and Congressman Kevin McCarthy to address our water issue,” Grove said.

On the other side of the ballot, Democratic candidate Musser-Lopez admitted her frustration with running in a predominantly Republican district.

“It’s tough. Running in a district that has traditionally been Republican all these years, never a Democrat has won,” Musser-Lopez said, later explaining, “There’s a kind of mindset here that people will just go and vote the ticket without ever looking at the candidates.”

She believes that young people and minorities feel unheard or ignored and will, therefore, simply refuse to vote.

“There’s a culture that thinks their votes don’t matter, they do,” Musser-Lopez said.

Despite the two candidates seemingly sharing a concern for the water issues facing the community, Musser-Lopez does not believe Grove can perform the job to its fullest and address the major issues properly.

“She blames the drought and global warming on California legislators who passed an abortion bill.  She actually said it was God’s punishment for this abortion legislation. Anybody who says something like that does not belong in a position to have authority over our water resources,” Musser-Lopez said, in reference to a controversial statement made by Grove in 2015.

“She does not understand even the basic principles of what’s going on with the climate change, which has to do with the burning of fossil fuels, the release of gases from the ground, like what’s going on all around Bakersfield. It’s the perma-layer being busted through, it has the effect of causing greenhouse gases that [are] causing the atmosphere to warm up.”

Musser-Lopez referred to the 1,500 square mile zone surrounding Fresno and Kern County that have significant levels of highly concentrated methane gas in the atmosphere.

She also warned voters that Grove has no interest in the people’s needs. Musser-Lopez believes that instead of supporting the people’s needs, Grove would support large corporations that are attempting to privatize social programs.

“I am on the majority side of the aisle; I don’t have to reach across the aisle to convince the other democratic legislators that we are in great need of more social programs, not less- as Shannon grove would have in this district,” Musser-Lopez said.

In response to her opponent’s argument on having the majority of the legislators, Grove questioned the financial feasibility for such resources.

“My opponent thinks that she thinks she is on the right side of the aisle to bring resources here, but if everybody gets free resources from the government and nobody is paying into the government to supply those free resources, where are these resources come from?

“Taxpayers are leaving this state in droves. They just have to spend six months and one day outside of this and state, and then they can come back to their beautiful beach house,” Grove continued.

According to reports from CNBC, from July 2016 to July 2017 about 138,000 people left California while Texas, Nevada, and Arizona gained 79,000, 63,000, and 38,000 people respectively.

According to Grove, the appearance of Republican legislative failure comes down to a lack of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans which leads to the shortage of helpful bills being passed.

“To pass landmark legislation, or to get something adequately changed, or to pass a piece of legislation that demands we deliver water rights to the Central Valley, that takes democrat help which they are refusing to do. To address frivolous litigation, that takes democrat help, which again, they are refusing to do.” Grove said.