There are two candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot running for a two-year term to represent this district: Republican businesswoman/water advocate Kristie Bruce-Lane and Democratic Assemblymember/educator Brian Maienschein. Here are Maienschein’s answers to a 14-question survey from The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board.
Q: Why do you want this job and what would be your top priority?
A: I have lived in northern San Diego County for almost my entire life and raised my family here. I have a passion for this community and it would be an honor to be reelected. One of my top priorities remains addressing mental health issues, especially maternal mental health. I authored landmark legislation that requires doctors to screen new and expectant mothers for postpartum depression and other mental health issues. Alarmingly, this was not a requirement before, and countless mothers were suffering with untreated depression. I have also worked on expanding the mental health workforce and providing more education to doctors, teachers and other professionals on identifying signs of mental health issues.
Q: What is the biggest accomplishment of your career?
A: While I was on the San Diego City Council, our area was hit by two devastating wildfires. I led the response and recovery efforts for both of those fires and in doing so I learned a lot about leadership, resilience and community. I’m proud of the way our community came together through hardship to support one another. The disaster response we created was used as a nationwide model for responding to similar disasters. Because of the impact the fires left on me, I have been an advocate for policies that promote wildfire preparedness and prevention.
Q: Assess what the state is doing now to address the changing climate. What would you support to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California?
A: California just passed one of the most aggressive legislative packages to combat climate change in the country, including a bill to set greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals through the year 2045. We must be creative and aggressive in combating climate change and invest in policies that make it easier for California to adopt environmentally friendly policies. I have supported tax rebates for consumers who invest in solar, clean energy and electric vehicles. We have also passed legislation to make sure that state and local government entities are held to the same climate standards that we set for California businesses, if not tougher ones.
Q: Assess what the state is doing now to address the drought. What would you do differently?
A: Californians have stepped up in response to the drought by upping their conservation efforts. However, this cannot be our only option. Droughts are becoming a years-long occurrence in our state. There should be increased emphasis on storage and conservation at the federal, state and local levels. We also must continue to be aggressive in responding to climate change to reduce the likelihood of droughts occurring in the future.
Q: The California Air Resources Board has adopted a policy that would ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2035. What would you do to ease the transition to electric vehicles and ensure affordability, equity and practicality?
A: While I commend the Air Resources Board for its forward thinking approach to combating climate change, it is important that California take action to truly make electric vehicles more accessible and affordable if we want to achieve these goals. First and foremost, we need to make electric vehicles a true consumer alternative to gas-powered vehicles. That begins by rapidly expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure in commercial and residential spaces. Multi-unit housing complexes need to have electric charging available to their residents. And we must extend consumer subsidies to include used hybrid vehicles.
Q: What can the state do to get more people to use public transit?
A: There are some areas of the state that do public transit well; however, most of the state is lagging behind. In northern San Diego County, there are virtually no public transit options to connect residents to Downtown San Diego or other employment zones throughout the county. Even residents who want to be less dependent on their vehicles do not have options. We must expand public transit outside of urban cores to connect residential areas with business and entertainment sectors. I support policies requiring local public agencies to develop plans to expand public transit and to provide cost-effective incentives to residents to use transit as an option.
Q: Housing affordability is a huge issue in California. What can you do to help renters or homeowners who are struggling now?
A: For far too many families, the dream of homeownership feels out of reach. We must expedite housing development in the areas that can sustain it so there is more supply at all income levels. We need to make it easier for families to purchase when they do find a home they love, which is why California has invested $850 million to help low- and moderate-income Californians purchase or remain in their homes. It is also imperative that we support the creation of good jobs that pay a living wage so that Californians are not having to work multiple jobs just to put a roof over their heads.
Q: More and more resources are being dedicated to the homelessness issue, yet California has more homeless people than ever. Do you see progress? What solutions are working?
A: Addressing the homelessness issue requires a multifaceted and coordinated effort. When I was the United Way of San Diego’s first commissioner on homelessness, I created Project 25, which identified individuals who were relying on the system the most and put them in housing with the supportive services they needed. This program saved San Diego taxpayers millions of dollars. Through Project 25, I learned that progress is not immediate — it is slow and steady. We have to address the root causes of homelessness — lack of affordable housing, mental health crises, substance use disorders and lack of treatment options. All of these solutions are interconnected, and we cannot address homelessness without a broad range of investments.
California recently passed legislation creating avenues to help get struggling individuals off of the street and into treatment and made significant investments in local behavioral health infrastructure and substance use disorder treatment. I authored legislation to incentivize developers to create affordable housing with units reserved for those who need supportive services. The cumulative effect of these individual approaches will have a positive impact on reducing the homelessness crisis California is experiencing.
Q: California’s crime rate is going up. Do you blame recent criminal justice reforms, other factors or some combination? How would you keep Californians safe?
A: I am proud to have the endorsement of every major law enforcement group in California for my record on public safety issues. I helped secure more funding for law enforcement and successfully allocated $1 million to San Diego’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. When our community was selected as the proposed location to house a sexually violent predator still undergoing treatment, I joined the community in fighting back and authored a new law to help protect communities from these offenders. I helped change the law to increase prison time for rapists and sex offenders who violate their conditions for parole, and I opposed the early release of violent offenders.
Q: How would you help California students who suffered from learning loss associated with the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: During my time in office, California has more than doubled the amount of per-pupil spending to our local schools. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has delivered record funding to schools to combat learning loss. We must continue to provide resources to schools, invest in teacher retention and support students’ mental health.
Q: The state has had giant surpluses in recent years yet there are worries about a potential recession. How would you ensure the state is prepared to weather an economic downturn? What will you do for Californians who are struggling economically now?
A: In this year’s state budget, we set aside an additional $37 billion in our state reserves to prepare for an economic downturn. With this investment, the rainy day fund is now fully funded. This year’s budget also prioritized one-time projects over ongoing financial obligations that could deplete our reserves in future years. In addition to expanding California’s savings account, we also provided relief for Californians who are struggling under inflation and increased cost of living. This year, California invested $17 billion in relief to Californians, including assistance with overdue utility bills, small business assistance, rental assistance and the “Better for Families” tax refund.
Q: California has the nation’s most strict gun laws and among its lowest gun death rates. What is your philosophy toward gun legislation? Have you or your family been directly affected by gun violence?
A: I believe we must be aggressive in our approach to ending gun violence. Thankfully my family has never been directly affected by gun violence, but I have two teenage daughters, and it is a fear that is constantly in the back of my mind. I know what it feels like to drop your children off at school in the morning and wonder if you will see them again.
I have been awarded the 2022 Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate distinction for my record of supporting commonsense policies to reduce gun violence. This year, the governor signed two of my bills relating to gun violence prevention. Assembly Bill 2239 will keep guns out of the hands of convicted child and elder abusers. Assembly Bill 2137 will help victims of domestic violence seek gun violence restraining orders. After the horrific shooting in Poway in 2019, I co-authored legislation to close the loophole that allowed the shooter to purchase a gun.
Q: What is your position on Proposition 1, which would establish the rights for Californians to an abortion and to contraceptives in the state Constitution?
A: I am a proud co-sponsor of Proposition 1, and I unequivocally support a woman’s right to determine her own health care choices, including abortion and contraception.
Q: Why should voters elect you over your opponent?
A: One of my top priorities is protecting our communities. Unlike my opponent, I have the endorsement of all of the major law enforcement groups, including the San Diego Peace Officers Association and the California Association of Highway Patrolmen. I authored legislation to protect our communities from sexually violent predators and fought for, and won, more money for law enforcement.
I am a staunch defender of a woman’s right to choose, whereas my opponent is endorsed by organizations that oppose a woman’s right to choose.
I have supported lowering taxes and I opposed the gas tax increase in 2017.