Coble Proudly Wears Long Shot & Spoiler Mantles In Seeking To Stop Torres

Assemblywoman Norma Torres is one of six candidates vying to replace Gloria Negrete-McLeod in California’s upper legislative house in the special election to be held in Senate District 32, encompassing all of Pomona, Montclair, Ontario, Fontana, Rialto, Bloomington and portions of Chino and San Bernardino, on March 12. That election was necessitated when Negrete-McLeod was elected to Congress in November with two years remaining on her State Senate term.
Torres said she is seeking to advance from her current position in the California Assembly to the State Senate because, “This was something I was planning to do all along. I have been in the Assembly for the last four years and this is my last term,” Torres said. “In 2014, when the sitting senator would have had to retire, I would have run then. I am taking this opportunity to run now.”
Torres said that among the major challenges facing the 32nd Senatorial District “is the economic downturn we have suffered. Since 2005 we have had had major job losses primarily in the construction industry. The housing market in the Inland Empire has been one of the hardest hit in the state in terms of foreclosures. I have been at the center of the fight to keep families in their homes. I also see Ontario Airport, where there has been a steady decline in flights with the downturn in the economy, as a major issue in this area. I think it was very shortsighted for the city of Ontario to have let Los Angeles take over the airport. At the time, they had what they thought were very good reasons, but I think it would have been better to keep it in the hands of the locals, not just the city of Ontario and the county of San Bernardino, but under the control of a regional board. I think the airport represents something that is of tremendous value to this area. It is an economic engine for the entire inland area stretching all the way down to northern San Diego County. I believe sensible management of the airport can provide huge opportunities for job growth in every part of the region’s job market.”
The major issue facing the state, Torres said, consists of obtaining “stability with our state budget. Since I have been a state elected official, I have seen huge budget deficits. We are four years into those deficits and those decisions we made to be able to rein in our expenses are my proudest achievements. We are now in a better position to grow our economy and grow jobs. At present we are now growing jobs faster than any other state in the nation. I see at present an   opportunity to work with the folks in the [State] Senate to pay back on the huge wall of debt we have created and work toward structural change at the state level.”
Torres said her formula for curing the state’s economic ills is discipline.
“A very important factor is resisting the temptation to recreate programs that have been cut,” she said. “During these times we are still vulnerable. As Democrats we now have a supermajority in the state and with that comes a lot of responsibility. We have to resist the pressure so that we do not go out and spend the money that is coming in and then end up having to cut programs at the end of the year. The problem is we do not have a stable tax system. We do not have a stable inflow of tax into our budget. Just because we have a huge pot of money coming in at the beginning of the year does not mean we will have it at the end of the year. I believe we have to hold the line on taxes and support small businesses.”
Torres said this philosophy did not necessary put her out of step with the rest of the Democratic Party. She suggested the representation of Democrats as liberal spenders of taxpayer money was an inaccurate stereotype. “The great thing about being a Democrat is the party looks like the quilt that makes up the state. We have very different life experiences and backgrounds, but we are a close collective at the table, and working together we have been a benefit to the state the last four years.”
In sizing up her competition, Torres said she represents the best choice among the six candidates in the race to represent the 32nd District in Sacramento. Three of the candidates – current San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector Larry Walker, Ontario Mayor Paul Leon and Torres – have served as mayors of good-sized cities, in her case, Pomona and in Walker’s case, Chino.
She said she was the best choice because “I have had the experience. A lot of my experience is shared with my opponents, Mr. Walker and Mr. Leon, who have been mayors like me. But I have also lived through the last four years as a state official during a very difficult state budget challenge. I think I have been a proven leader. I have stood my ground for my constituents in my community, in the local neighborhood and in Sacramento. While we are struggling with the budget, that would have been the time when most elected officials shy away from facing their constituents.  I was still going door to door talking to my constituents and not just registered voters. I was posting and holding community outreach events to ensure my residents have the opportunity to meet me one on one and talk about the pressing issues for them and their community. I do not see any of my opponents having done that. It is one thing to go to parades and wave, but I have been a different type of representative. I have been able to balance the budget, but at the same time I have been supportive of bringing in some assistance to the homeowners in these communities. My approach has been to apply for federal funding through state agencies and then hold those agencies accountable to provide the assistance. We obtained a $2 billion federal grant that went into the Keep Your Home California program to help our families stay in their houses.”
Of the other five candidates in the race, the only one which Torres deigned to take a swipe at was Walker, who like her, is a Democrat. “Mr. Walker is the highest paid public official in this region. He is paid $256,000 in base salary and another $178,000 in benefits, including a gym membership. What corporate executive who makes over $400,000 also gets the perk of a gym membership? That he is the tax collector and is keeping that great of a portion of what he is collecting for himself when everyone else in government has taken a cut in pay is almost criminal. We are all taking pay cuts. We are imposing furloughs. In the last year, the board of supervisors took a cut in pay. Even though it was forced on them, they still took a pay cut. In the same time, Mr. Walker has received increases in his pay. When he was asked why, he said that no one had required him to reduce his salary or benefits. He should lead by example. As we work on pension reform, he is the poster boy for pension abuse. We need to focus on these half a million dollar salaries that are being retired at 90 percent. We have workers, state workers, making less than $50,000 who will be getting pensions of just $30,000. He will be getting a pension of $300,000 or more. That is not right.”
Torres is a graduate of Mountain View High School in El Monte. She attended Rio Hondo and Mount San Antonio community colleges and obtained her degree from in labor studies from National Labor College in Silver Springs, Maryland. She is married with three children.

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