In the crowded race for 4th District Assembly, Beth Gaines certainly has the name recognition and resources necessary to separate her from her competitors.
While she might be lacking in political experience, Gaines, 51, believes voters in the upcoming special election want more than a seasoned veteran.
“This race is not about who has the most government experience,” she said. “It’s about who’s going to represent El Dorado County in the Assembly and who knows the heart of this county. And that is me.”
On Tuesday Gaines met with the Mountain Democrat editorial board to share her thoughts on the race and what her appointment to the Assembly seat once held by her husband would mean for constituents should her bid prove successful.
“It’s going great,” she said. “It’s been a really fun campaign. I have deep roots in this county. I have a lot of good relationships. I’ve worked here for many years with my husband.”
Gaines’ husband, Ted, who was sworn in as a state Ssenator this year, was a familiar face in El Dorado County. Beth Gaines pledged the same level of availability and involvement, adding that she has a campaign headquarters in Placerville.
She has already received the endorsement of several county officials including District Attorney Vern Pierson and Supervisors Ray Nutting, Ron Briggs and John Knight.
No stranger to small business, Gaines said a chief concern is making the state more hospitable to business owners.
“I want to change the whole climate at the capital,” she said. “I want to make California more business friendly.”
Gaines said state bureaucracy is “too far reaching” and that unreasonable regulations suffocate small businesses.
“There’s almost no way of satisfying all of them,” she said. “We need to reform them.”
Gaines complimented Gov. Jerry Brown on the cost-cutting approach he’s taken in examining the budget.
“I like the cuts that he’s looking at,” she said. “I like what he’s done so far. He seems really open to big changes and getting things done.”
Praise aside, though, Gaines said she understands taxpayer frustration.
“I think taxpayers feel like they’re an ATM machine,” she joked. “Government runs out of money, they raise taxes. We’re still in a whole world of trouble. We’re still in a world of hurt. It doesn’t work. Raising taxes doesn’t work.”
Ultimately, Gaines’ said a top priority is creating a strict spending cap for the state budget.
“That’s what we do at our house,” she said. “That’s what we do in our business. When times get tough, we need to tighten our belts.”
If elected, Gaines said she would look at cutting pensions for public workers, calling them “unsustainable.”
“We need to look at pensions and get them in line with 401(k)s,” she said.
Publisher Richard Esposito asked Gaines about the lawsuit filed by opponent John Allard, in which he questioned Gaines’ designation as a small business owner.
“That (suit) was very offensive,” said Gaines. “My opponent really offended women by suggesting women can’t work while raising a family.”
Although the suit was ultimately dismissed, Gaines had pointed words for her opponent.
“It was a frivolous lawsuit and it cost the taxpayers money,” she said. “And that’s the kind of person we want to send to the capital?”
Gaines also discussed her charity work in the community, which includes involvement with the Child Abuse Prevention Council and Acres of Hope as well as teaching at Bayside Church.
With the election mere days away, Gaines hopes her image of a champion for small businesses and taxpayers will carry her to victory.
“In this economy, if we are not focusing on cutting costs and creating jobs, we’re not doing our jobs,” she said.
For more information on the candidate, visit bethgaines.com.
E-mail Jim Ratajczak at [email protected] or call 530-344-5069.