33rd District Candidate Coffey Says He Will Offer ‘Legitimate Representation’

(May 6)  John Coffey is again seeking election to California’s lower legislative house representing the 33rd Assembly District because, he said, “this area has been without legitimate representation since 2010.”
Coffey, a Democrat, lost in his previous bids for the assembly against Republican Tim Donnelly. Voter registration in the district solidly favors the GOP. Two-termer Donnelly, who would have been eligible to run once more for the Assembly under California’s term limit law, opted to instead run for governor this year, resulting in eight Republicans and Coffey seeking to replace him.
Coffey asserted his belief that the Republican domination of the district has done it no good, given the supermajority the Democrats currently have in the legislature and the near supermajority they have had over the last several years.
“What has happened to the area, which is essentially mountains and desert, is inexcusable,” Coffey said. “Without legitimate representation it has lost a lot of funding, lost out on infrastructure, lost every court in the High Desert and Mountains. It has been poorly treated. The odds are never in our favor.”
Coffey said he is an established Democrat activist who could go to Sacramento and immediately translate his status as a party insider into respect for the district.
“I have been representing, on my own time, environmental activist groups for the last 12 years including Helphinkley.org and the Defenders of Wildlife and I have attended hundreds of evidentiary meetings with Pacific Gas & Electric and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, as well as Bureau of Land Management applications on renewable energy projects,” he said. “I have attended  school board meeting all over the desert when there are issues that affected classified employees or special needs students.”
Coffey intoned, “I have been active in Democratic politics in the desert and before that in San Diego and I was the endorsed  Democratic candidate in the 33rd in 2012 and received that endorsement at large for 2014. I’m a known associate of [current Democratic Congressional Candidate]  Bob Conaway and we have worked together on many projects and issues.”
Asked to size up the challenges facing the 33rd District, Coffey said, “There’s a housing crisis. There’s a lot of underwater mortgages. There are many foreclosures and many vacant properties which are deteriorating rapidly. Employment is rapidly disappearing. The military employers are cutting back. There’s a hunger problem here in the desert  There’s a majority of students on reduced or free lunch, and that is a primary indicator of food insecurity in the home.  We have no reliable public transportation within Barstow or intercity transportation between Needles, Barstow and the Victorville area. The closure of the courthouses, specifically in Needles, Big Bear and Barstow and the substantial closure of Victorville  has disenfranchised every resident of the 33rd Assembly District and denied us equal access to justice and the equal protection of the law.  The state Supreme Court has stated this is a constitutional crisis and I concur. Someone has to be in Sacramento with a seat at the Assembly committee table and the Democratic caucuses to make this right. Gun wielding conservatives will not help. However I am a gun owner and I believe in the right to bear arms and an open system for concealed carry permits. I support Mr. Donnelly’s bill to that extent.”
Coffey continued, “Health care is another crisis area in the High Desert. The Barstow area has limited primary care and no tertiary care specialist treatment available.  When you put the transportation deficit together with only minimal primary care available in Barstow and other rural communities, the result is disability and early death for many and the early death of senior citizens. This must be resolved.”
Coffey said he will not restrict his efforts to improve the situation in the 33rd District to legislative ones, but will embark upon litigation as an elected representative of his constituents to obtain what is due them.
“I am no stranger to the courthouse,” he said. “If necessary, I can bring a class action federal lawsuit to restore equal access  to justice for residents of the 33rd District and I will be the lead plaintiff. If we are to preserve rural areas as a place to live, there must be adequate public transportation.  Private transportation for senior citizens is an illusion, because many senior citizens are one doctor visit away from losing their license. There must be a transportation network at least in part sponsored by the medical providers to make sure the seniors and disabled can get to the tertiary care they need to stay in their homes. The same dynamics apply to an alarming number of disabled children in the 33rd District, who have even fewer options for their treatment.”
If elected, Coffey said he will “make sure that school districts stay on top of the entitlement of free and reduced lunches and I will expedite  food stamp applications for households with minor children.”
Coffey said he more than any of the other candidates in the race are committed to maintaining the districts ecological integrity.
“As far as environmental issues go, as Mark Twain said, ‘Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.’ No area signifies that more than the High Desert. The largest toxic water plume in the country was in Hinkley. After 28 years of do-nothing hearings, it is time for the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] to declare Hinkley a Superfund site.  Barstow must also begin to deal with its perchlorate issues more effectively with the state’s help  to avoid another water shutdown. In  Cadiz the aquifer should only be used as an asset to protect and support environmentally sensible development and endangered species habitat conservation.”
He continued, “The Bureau of Land Management is in the middle of a land grab for private developers in the Silurian Valley. They must cease. The Silurian Valley is a national park quality park wilderness area  that bridges the transition from Death Valley to the Mojave preserve. It is irreplaceable and the home of six endangered species.”
Coffey offered his theory that “The chief driver of poverty is the lack of available affordable housing. Not only are younger adults living with mom and dad again, that group in turn has been forced to move in with the grandparents.  I don’t know where those people can go for the next step. Cities need to reinvent themselves with their homes for their residents or become irrelevant. If there is no one living there, there is no incentive for private industry to provide goods and service to that area. Strong neighborhoods build strong communities. If the HUD Section 8 housing assistance program was funded in accordance with demonstrated need we would not be having this housing crisis.”
Coffey decried the “absence of younger people in activist groups. Activism is the province of mostly people my age or close to it. The groups must reach out to the next generation to involve them and make sure they are welcome, make sure their views and lifestyles are appreciated and valued.  I understand why young people run the other way, when they have been watching my generation swimming upstream the last 25 years. But we can turn this around if we can just focus on how to fix the problems, the problems are solvable and we need to convince the power brokers in Sacramento that their time is running out to fix them in a reasonable way.”
Coffey said he was distinguished from the other candidates in that “I am a person of mature years, a lifelong activist with a law degree and a willingness to use it where appropriate. I am 68 years old. This is not about me. It is about our kids and our grandkids.  If we aren’t going to leave them an economy and environment that is functional and sustaining, then we have failed.”
At graduate of St. Justin High School in San Diego, he attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and later  graduated from St. Martins College in Lacey Washington with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and clinical social work. He obtained his juris doctor degree from Western State University School of Law San Diego, but is not currently practicing law. “I am still an honest man,” he said.
He served in the U.S. Army for eight years, having achieved the rank of staff sergeant upon his discharge.
He has worked as a car salesman, a psychiatric social work supervisor, a claims representative for the Social Service Administration, a paralegal, a civil and criminal investigator and is  currently a bilingual special needs student teacher.
He has three children and four grandchildren.

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