Republican Peter Tateishi sat down with Patch for a candid conversation about issues affecting the newly-formed California Assembly District 8 he hopes to win the right to represent in November.
Tateishi, a Carmichael resident, talked about his experience working with former boss U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) and how it's helped solidify his resolve within California's tumultuous politisphere.
He's running against Rancho Cordova city councilman Ken Cooley.
How are you prioritizing the issues you see affecting the communities you would represent?
It’s in how we budget for California—whether or not we are taking seriously the issues that affect jobs. Education is one of those priorities and public safety. When you think about the three things most people care about everyday, it’s first and foremost finding a job that allows them to relocate to Carmichael. You can’t have a good job unless you have a good educational system that has a good workforce preparing for those jobs. Proposition 30, according to the governor: It’s, "raise taxes or we’re going to cut education." It’s a position in which the government is holding the people hostage by presenting an either-or scenario that is false. We have not done our job to fully understand how much money we really have, what agencies are doing and whether or not money is being spent appropriately or effectively. If education were such a priority, government would never have put it on the chopping block.
How do you plan to solve these problems?
I will be a vocal advocate if elected, talking within my own caucus, talking across the aisle, saying we need to do a better job of doing the oversight. I believe the more robust the minority that exists in California, which means Republicans, the more organized they are to actually put together alternative plans, which my party has failed to do in a very large way. They tend to just answer the questions that the Democrats ask, instead of working on solutions that Californians are asking for.
How can Californians approach these problems in a bipartisan way?
I am prepared to serve only one term if that means doing what is right and that means not doing what is politically to my advantage. This is not about my future and me. This is about my daughters’ future. When we actually present ideas and put them to the public and get people saying, “Yeah, you know what, we need to do that.” Then local communities can start raising their voices because they can look at a real solution and say that makes sense. They work with their elected officials. That’s bipartisanship.
How will you address job creation as an elected official?
The same issues that face Carmichael and Citrus Heights are the same we face across this state. We have put so much burden and so much unrest within the business community that we have gone so far skewing the relationship we need to have with regard to government, business and even employees. We have forgotten that we don’t have employees without employers. When you continue to pass legislation that benefits one side of that equation more we limit our opportunities. Owning a small business as an owner sometimes means not taking a paycheck. It can be very stressful. We need to—as a state—recognize that.
What do you tell employers when they come to you with these issues?
One of the areas we need to start with—that is driving businesses out of the area, closing businesses—is our legal environment. [Americans with Disabilities Act] lawsuits: You can’t always know when you’re out of compliance. There needs to be access to that information when compliance requirements are updated. We need to have an opportunity to stop those who would file the frivolous lawsuits and the opportunity for those who refuse to comply to have redress in the court. We need a balance. There are ridiculous measures that continually get updated within this. You know about the new service animal that is allowed under ADA now? Miniature horses. This means if someone was to walk in right now and the miniature horse was not conducive to this facility, they’re out of compliance with ADA. That’s why we write legislation that takes away that threat. There has to be a workable solution for everyone.
As a Carmichael resident, what are you hearing about water rates in your community?
The state has passed water conservation measures with meters, where we all now have to implement meters by a certain time. As you use less water, you pay less on the bill. That means the water district has less money to install that meter, which is not a direct assessment on you and means everyone has to share in that load. When you change the water policy quality standards on a regular basis, when you outdate facilities on the basis that now you can measure on parts per billion, just because you can measure it, doesn’t mean you need to. It hurts people on fixed incomes more than anyone else. When those rates on utilities go up, those who aren’t getting more money as those rates go up are hurt the most. I think we need to look at the real effect on people and if we’re going to do things like we find a way to pay for it. And that doesn’t mean we raise taxes. If we really need this, then we make it a top priority. The problem is the state has a million “top priorities.” And no one is willing to make decisions where they need to make decisions. No one is willing to make the decisions, because then you are accountable.
What about you? This is an issue you will have to face if you are elected.
I don’t change what I talk about for you or for anyone else. This is who I am and this is who I’m going to be in that building. We have an opportunity and an obligation to do things differently and do things better. Will I held accountable? Yes, I will. Every two years I will be standing up for something; I will be making decisions and you can either like them or not. And if you don’t, then throw me out. I’m prepared for consequences for my decisions. I am riddled with Catholic guilt everyday. Before I do something I always know there is a consequence for everything I do—good or bad.
Check back later this week for our interview with Ken Cooley, part two in our coverage of the Assembly District 8 race.