Residents of California Assembly District 44, which includes the city of Thousand Oaks, should re-elect Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin as the representative in California’s State Assembly.
Irwin, a Democrat first elected to the Assembly in 2014 after serving as mayor of Thousand Oaks for two terms, has proven herself to be driven by the needs of her constituents and apt at providing for those needs.
“When Jacqui looks at individual bills and individual issues she looks at them not as a Democrat or Republican, but she looks at what’s best for my district, what’s best for the city of Thousand Oaks in our case and what’s best for the state of California,” said Mayor of Thousand Oaks Andrew Fox in a phone interview. Fox, a registered Republican, worked with Irwin for years on the Thousand Oaks City Council, and has endorsed her for reelection.
Irwin is opposed by Ronda Baldwin-Kennedy, a Republican from Oak Park who has never held office. Kennedy is a lawyer who attended the unaccredited American Heritage University School of Law, according to the school’s website. Kennedy’s website mentions improving public schools and making California more affordable for families as motivations behind her campaign.
However, in previous interviews and on social media, she reflects different priorities. Beyond the Trump retweets and images of Irwin’s face photoshopped onto the Grinch, Kennedy’s Twitter always seems to circle back to her opposition to three recently passed Senate bills that Irwin supported: SB-1, which raised taxes on gas to pay for transportation projects, SB-10, which ended cash bail, and SB-54, the sanctuary state law.
To be clear, SB-1 and SB-10 have flaws, but Baldwin-Kennedy’s tirade against them is flawed as well. To oppose SB-1, Baldwin-Kennedy has relied on the misleading figure that it will cost the average family $800 per year, and she claims the bill disproportionately hurts people of color and low-income households.
However, a closer look reveals that this bill includes a variety of tax increases and fee changes that acknowledge income disparity. For example, new value-based vehicle registration fees could as much as halve fees for low-value cars, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Baldwin-Kennedy stretches the facts even further with her opposition to SB-10. While the Human Rights Watch, an international organization that conducts research and advocates human rights, opposed this bill on the basis that it gives judges unfettered responsibility in deciding who to hold and who to release leading up to trial, Baldwin-Kennedy instead appeals to a groundless fear by calling it a “get out of jail free” card and lamenting the end of the bail bond industry. She even brings up the case of an illegal immigrant who killed a college student in Iowa and states that because of Irwin, if this had happened in California, “he could be out of jail free to kill again.”
It’s true that SB-10 replaces the broken system of cash bail with a broken system of risk assessment by judges. But, if anything, this lessens the chance that a dangerous person walks free before trial as judges must trust them to return without monetary incentive. Baldwin-Kennedy’s misrepresentation of the facts and appeals to fear in her arguments against SB-1 and SB-10 raise questions about her integrity as a political leader.
Baldwin-Kennedy also supports repealing SB-54, which prevents cooperation between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities. With an estimated 78,500 undocumented immigrants in Ventura County, according to the Ventura County Star, it’s unclear how in-touch she is with the needs of her community.
Irwin, on the other hand, has shown her skill at providing for her constituents during her two terms in office.
Irwin has secured funding for a number of district-specific projects including an overpass over a dangerous railroad crossing in Oxnard, the CSU Channel Islands School of Engineering and road repair in Thousand Oaks, according to her website.
“She wrote a law that basically was specific to Thousand Oaks that allowed us to use monies that we put in to state funds to be used for road improvements here in Thousand Oaks,” Fox said.
Irwin has been a leader in issues such as sustainable agriculture, cybersecurity and reducing sexual harassment. Her endorsement list includes more than 100 politicians, community leaders and organizations across political parties.
“My endorsement with Jacqui has less to do with her political affiliation and more to do with my personal observation of how she represents and works for the citizens of Thousand Oaks,” Fox said.
Fox said voters should “very much care on who’s representing them,” and should make sure that candidates align with their personal viewpoints.
Unless your views align with someone with no political experience, who has relied on factual misrepresentation, fear-mongering and partisan polarization to build a platform, remember Assemblymember Irwin and her commitment to this district when they head to the polls on Nov. 6.