California legislators don’t always get they respect they deserve.
Editorial writers, ourselves included, are as culpable as anyone for state lawmakers getting the Rodney Dangerfield treatment. Let’s face it, sometimes they deserve a knock.
This isn’t one of those times — not for state Sen. Mike McGuire or Assemblymen Marc Levine and Jim Wood.
These North Bay lawmakers, each of whom is running for re-election on Nov. 6, have stepped up and delivered in the 12 months since the October 2017 firestorm.
The fires were unprecedented in California history, and McGuire, Levine and Wood have has been instrumental in assisting cities, counties, school districts, business owners, families and individuals trying to recover from the disaster.
They helped secure billions of dollars in new state funding for fire prevention and suppression, their names are attached to new laws requiring better emergency alert systems and more flexible insurance policies, and they are demanding accountability from public agencies and private contractors for damage caused while clearing debris after the fires.
McGuire, D-Healdsburg, has become an authority on wildfires during his first term in Sacramento. In the 2nd Senate District, he represents Lake County, which had three major wildfires in 2015 and another this year; Mendocino County, which had major fires in 2017 and again this year; and much of Sonoma County, including areas devastated by the Tubbs fire.
When the Valley fire broke out in Lake County in 2015, McGuire organized a series of public meetings where first responders and public officials disseminated information and answered questions from victims and evacuees. He brought that same approach to Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties.
McGuire’s legislative achievements also include a measure designed to block Trump administration plans to resume oil drilling off the California coast and to allow voters to track mail-in ballots to ensure that they are properly counted.
His opponent, former Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Ronni Jacobi, a fellow Democrat, is a passionate advocate of policies to combat climate change. But she lacks McGuire’s familiarity with the full range of legislative responsibilities.
Wood, D-Healdsburg, is seeking a third term representing the 2nd Assembly District, which stretches from Santa Rosa to the Oregon border. He was instrumental in persuading Gov. Jerry Brown to allocate $1 billion over five years from the state’s cap-and-trade climate program to improve brush and vegetation management, arguing persuasively that wildfires are undoing much of the state’s progress on greenhouse gas emissions.
He also secured $1.5 million to help to cleanup environmental damage done by rogue marijuana growers using toxic chemicals and rodenticides, and he tried to expedite some of the preliminary planning for badly needed housing in downtown Santa Rosa.
Wood’s opponent is Republican Matt Heath of Santa Rosa. Heath didn’t respond to inquiries from the editorial board, but his website calls for tax and pension reform. He identifies real issues, but he can’t match Wood’s track record or experience.
Levine, D-San Rafael, represents a district that was largely spared by the fires. He still sponsored several bills that will help victims of future fires rebuild, including one to make insurance policies more flexible and another to require insurers to provide policyholders with biennial updates on the cost of rebuilding their homes.