Senate candidate Kevin Kiley appears at League forum
One of two candidates for state senate appeared at a Plumas County League of Women Voters forum May 8, originally billed to feature both of the assemblymen vying for the seat.
If those gathered in the meeting room of the Quincy Library were disappointed, they didn’t show it; instead using the time to get to know Republican and Rocklin resident Kevin Kiley, the current District 6 Assemblyman, who is seeking to represent the California First Senate District, which includes all or parts of 11 counties including Plumas. Kiley represents a large portion of Placer County, about a third of El Dorado County and a small portion of Sacramento County in his assembly district.
Moderator Jane Braxton Little announced that Brian Dahle, who currently represents Plumas in the state assembly and is a former Lassen County supervisor, was unable to attend due to a conflict with an FFA awards banquet in his hometown of Bieber during which his son would be honored for being elected to a statewide office.
Dahle was scheduled to be in Quincy the next day where he would present an award to Feather River College and then later address members of the Plumas County Association of Realtors. (See related story.)
Kiley, 34, introduced himself as a former high school teacher, and deputy attorney general for the state of California. He has brought experience from both careers to his work in the state assembly, which he was elected to in 2016, besting a field of 11 candidates.
He said, “My whole goal is to break the hold of special interests,” in the state capitol and added that once there he discovered that “it was even worse” than he expected.
Kiley told the audience that the state legislature isn’t just there to make laws, but to provide oversight — “what happens to the laws that are already passed?”
He cited what he described as a “secret DMV” — a small office across the street from the capitol used by legislators — as one area that he has sought to change. “We shouldn’t have special perks,” he said. “I have introduced legislation to shut down the secret DMV.”
Kiley serves as vice chair of the assembly’s education committee and said he “wants all kids to have access to a good education.”
Following are some of the questions that Kiley responded to during the next hour.
“I’m 100 percent in favor,” Kiley said.
There is currently a bill working its way through the legislature that would remove businesses from the tax protections that Prop. 13 affords, and Kiley fears that homes would follow suit if the bill is successful.
There are two Republicans in the runoff, what part of your platform would appeal to Democrats?
“A lot of problems are bipartisan,” Kiley responded, citing the cost of living and education as examples. He favors bringing back more power to local communities and wants to work with individuals on both sides of the aisle.
Requiring vaccines to attend school
Kiley objects to the fact that California is only one of three states that doesn’t have a religious exemption for those who don’t want to vaccinate their children for religious reasons.
He said there is a balance to be struck between the public’s health and parental choice.
“I’m opposed and I led the fight against it,” Kiley said.
Kiley said the issue is federal and not state, and it’s unconstitutional for the state to be involved. “This will percolate all the way up to the Supreme Court,” he said.
Kiley added that a lot of the state’s bills are unconstitutional and he thinks all legislators should be required to take a course on the Constitution as part of their initial training when elected to the legislature.
Brian Dahle has been our assemblyman and understands our issues, how do you respond?
“If you like Brian, you can keep him. He will still be your assemblyman,” Kiley responded. “Voting for me is not voting against him.”
Kiley said that even though he doesn’t represent Plumas County now, he prides himself on his accessibility.
“If there are issues specific to Plumas I will get up to speed quickly,” he promised and added that in representing El Dorado and Placer counties, he has rural areas.
Position on gun control
“It’s important to respect the Second Amendment,” he said, and then discussed a hunting bill that he authored, which is currently in appropriations. It would provide for two days each year that an individual could hunt for free as long as he or she were to be accompanied by a licensed hunter. He said the bill enjoyed diverse support, even from environmental groups.
Position on state of Jefferson
Kiley said he regularly attends the meetings in El Dorado County and sees it as a “valuable movement for bringing attention to the underserved.”
He said if he were to win the senate seat, he would have 1 million constituents. He said that California used to have one senator for each county, but the Supreme Court ruled against the practice.
“I am looking forward to working with the State of Jefferson to improve representation,” he said.
Position on healthcare
Kiley said that the budget for MediCal has doubled, but the population’s health hasn’t improved.
“Coverage isn’t the goal; public health is the goal,” he said.
Flier with Kamala Harris
Pro Dahle fliers have been circulated with a photoshopped picture of Kiley standing next to Kamala Harris.
“There are many fliers,” Kiley said. “They said I was a former staffer for Kamala Harris; I never met her.”
An audience member said that Dahle didn’t know about the fliers, but Braxton-Little reminded those gathered that their input was limited to writing questions on the cards provided.
Working across party lines
As a member of the minority party, Kiley said he looks for opportunities where he can find them and cited recent legislation with Ken Cooley, a Democrat.
Do you support a majority of Trump’s actions?
“Probably,” Kiley said, though, “I don’t opine much on national politics.”
He said that there are 2,500 bills at the state level that are his priority.
Though he admitted to not paying too much attention to national politics, the next question asked about his opinion.
“It’s unfortunate that we live in a time of great strife and conflict,” he said, adding that during other times in history, people had their differences but adopted the attitude, “We’re all in this together.”
He said that people are retreating into their ideological corners and that social media isn’t helping the situation.
Name the three top challenges for Senate District 1
1. Aftermath of wildfires: “There is a renewed political will to do something,” Kiley said. He cited vegetation management, providing resources for local fire departments and ensuring that homes can be ensured as issues the legislature needs to address.
2. Cost of living — wants to address regulations and government waste as contributing factors to the continued escalation in the state.
3. Public safety—“A lot of recent changes to criminal law have taken the tools away from law enforcement,” he said. As an example he said that stiffer penalties could be used as leverage to get an individual to enter a drug rehab program. If the choice is between a night in jail vs. rehab rather than state prison vs. rehab, the choice changes. “Public safety and drug rehab go hand in hand,” he said.
Kiley wants to “empower local communities.” He wants to offer different options in education and then hold the institutions accountable.
“In California, schools are run from Sacramento and they are micromanaged,” he said, “and then we don’t care what schools do.”
He is against the “ongoing effort to restrict choices even further and the attack on charter schools.”
“Four different bills are going after charter schools,” he said, which would take away options.
He also thinks there needs to be a renewed emphasis on vocational and civic education.
Legalization of marijuana
“It’s been interesting,” he said. “I had my view, but it passed,” he said of the voters’ decision to legalize its recreational use. “There are a lot of implications that haven’t been thought out.”
He firmly supports local control and would “adamantly oppose any attempt to take that away.”
Kiley reiterated his pledge to be accessible and to “do my very best for the folks I represent.”
He talked about his relentless work to uphold the 72-hour rule, which means a bill must be available for public review for 72 hours before it’s been voted upon. That didn’t happen for many bills and he declared that to be unconstitutional. He said that after the issue garnered a lot of press coverage, including a front-page article in the Sacramento Bee, “leaders of the assembly reversed course and called them back for a second vote.”
Election Day is Tuesday, June 4. Plumas County is all vote-by-mail and the ballots were sent out May 6. If you haven’t received your ballot and are expecting one, contact the Plumas County Elections Office at 283-6256.