Lowe brings conservative approach to addressing special interests
“In order for California to flourish once more, we need to return to a 2-party system with proper checks and balances. We need a sea change.”
It is with this ideal that Republican Donna Lowe takes the leap from Claremont Commissioner to candidate for the State Assembly’s 41st district. If elected, the businesswoman and mother of 2 plans to bring her strong convictions and dedication to her district to overhaul the way California is doing business.
Q. From a Claremont Commissioner to candidate for state legislator—what motivated you to go all the way up to the state level?
A. My motto in life has always been “go big or go home,” and so when I decided that Fort Worth, Texas was too small for me, I didn’t move to Dallas, I moved to Los Angeles. It’s in my personality to push myself and seek challenges, and with the state of our economy and with the politicians in Sacramento seemingly with their heads in the sand, I thought there was really only one position where I could be effective and that is the State Assembly. The assembly is basically where most bills are born—most regulations, new taxes and penalties. If you want to start to change the state, I think you’ve got to get in where the problem starts.
Q. One of your main objectives is to “re-open California for business.” What has gone wrong in the past and what is your plan to solve this?
A. We all have to be realistic about the problems. The next few years in California are not going to be fun. I wish that we had a governor who was more like Scott Walker (Wisconsin) or Chris Christie (New Jersey), because they came in and did some of the really heavy lifting. California is unsustainable; the unions have a vice grip on our state. Governor Brown’s recent plan doesn’t even begin to tip the scales on where we need to be. His initial plan was very bold and robust and addressed how to put us on a good track of sustainable growth and spending, but he had to back down because he has to bow down to special interest groups.
In order to fix California, we have got to stand up and say, “the unions do not own us, special interests do not own us.” That will start the change in tide and [alert] the rest of the country that California is willing and eager to be competitive again. Competitive is the key word. Because we live in a free market society, the only way to be successful is to be competitive. California is ranked 50th in business-friendliness. That puts us 50th in competitiveness. Why would companies want to come and start their company—start their dream—here? Why would companies already here want to expand here? Why would a company who is nimble and able to move not move? California’s ability to be competitive with our neighbors is the most important issue we will face in 2012.
Q. How do we make California competitive again?
A. You have to have a complete seat change in the legislature. The legislature right now is beholden to one entity and that’s special interests. They are not beholden to the taxpayers that put them there; they are not beholden to the businesses that drive the revenue that then funds the vital services that government provides, like public education. What we have seen under democratic rule in the state Senate and Assembly is cut after cut to education. The money is stuck in Sacramento and never makes it down to the classrooms. School started on Wednesday and we got paper after paper of supplies needed, fundamental supplies needed to teach our children that we are not providing. Instead, it gets pushed down to the taxpayers. We are already paying taxes to provide that vital service of education. We need a complete overhaul.
Our infrastructure is crumbling. They are talking about high-speed rail when southern California is in a water crisis. But because of special interest in Sacramento we are not able to work together, we are not able to sit on the floor and debate topics because we already know how the Democrats are going to vote. They don’t need Republicans (there are only 27 of us) for any healthy debate. This really is a one-party state.
Q. You are a proponent of free market enterprise. How will this help the California economy?
A. If you go and look at Chris Holden’s 460s (fundraising reports on the Secretary of State website), he has raised virtually no money in the [41st] district. All his money comes from SEIU, Prison Guards Union and the Teachers Union, all out of Sacramento. He is not representing the people here. If you go to my 460s, you will see businesses, taxpayers and retired folks are what are funding this campaign. Yes, the obvious can be pointed out that we have a registration problem in our district, but I really feel that of those registered—43 percent Democrats, 34 percent Republicans and 19 decline to state—the 19 percent decline-to-state population see, feel and hear the problems that California has put them in, and I think they are going to vote for free market.
This free market plan is only good if we pick up a strong number of seats. With strength in numbers of those in Sacramento who believe in free market, the unions don’t have the votes that they need to put further regulation on businesses, further taxes on the taxpayers and to tie the hands of the legislatures. I think the most telling and most egregious form of special interest voting going on in Sacramento right now happened this week when the Democrats, yet again, voted against a bill that would have held teachers and school districts accountable for heinous acts on children. The unions did not want to relinquish any control over wages and work conditions so they bought the votes of the Democrats, who voted along party lines to not protect our children. That type of mentality in Sacramento is corruption, and it’s broken. We need that spark so we can gain a few seats in the assembly and fight back against special interest.
Q. In addition to stopping the over-regulation of businesses, one of your suggestions to revitalize the economy is through tapping into the state’s oil reserves and natural resources. Can you go into more detail about this plan?
A. I think Romney hit on this fantastically. We have talked for so many years about being energy independent, yet we still send jobs and resources to the Middle East and to other parts of the world and buy oil from dictators. We must stop that. We have made great strides in slowing down the consumption of our oil usage through hybrid cars, solar energy and other resources, yet we are never going to slow the use of oil because we keep growing as a country. That’s not a bad thing, but you can’t just flip a switch and be completely off of oil. We need to tap into our coal, our natural gas and our oil; we must do that here in California. We are resource-rich in this state, and what a way to put our middle class back to work. We have very overzealous environmentalists that I guess are happy to see unemployment rates skyrocket in our state and are happy to see families struggling because we could fix that in a heartbeat if we really wanted to.
I have visited and spent many hours with oil companies in Bakersfield because I wanted to learn about the industry. I’m from Texas so, of course, I know somewhat, but I never went out onto a field before and watched them drill and watched what they put back into Mother Earth. They [the oil industry] are probably our cleanest industry and help the environment the most. Just because we are pumping oil out of the ground doesn’t make them dirty. Chevron and Shell and other companies are continuing to innovate and find new ways of cleaning and using the oil, and I think it’s exciting. We really should be tapping into that.
Q. You believe irresponsible spending has kept California from flourishing. How will you change this if elected?
A. We spend too much time on the legislature trying to figure out how to legislate to every human need. It’s not possible. That’s not what government was created for. Government is best when it is smaller and allows for free market to really help the people flourish and create jobs. Just today, they [the assembly] were debating on giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Why are we rewarding bad behavior? They are also talking about giving those illegal aliens voter registration cards when they get a license because everyone is able to register to vote when you go to the DMV for a driver’s license. It just seems so backward to our whole philosophy of our government. We have rules, we have laws and we have to abide by them, but the state legislature wants to give free education to illegals, free driver’s licenses to illegals. There is a reason they are called illegal: They are here illegally. We have to fix that problem, but instead California keeps dangling carrots to entice people to come here illegally and not do it the right way.
I am one who is well qualified to talk on this subject because my father-in-law and mother-in-law emigrated here from China and they did it the right way. They waited their turn, they learned English, they put themselves through an American university and they went out and worked their entire lives never taking anything from the government. Don’t tell me I am against immigration, because my husband wouldn’t be here today if they hadn’t taken the risk.
Q. Part of your platform revolves around solving California’s problem with illegal immigration. What needs to be fixed and what is your plan?
A. Just enforce the laws we have. We have got to work with our House of Representatives and our senators to secure our border. So many of our problems stem from the lack of concern that goes on south of San Diego. We’ve got to work with Mexico and find out why these people want to leave Mexico so desperately. Why is it so bad down there and what can we do as Americans to help them?
It all stems back to the need for a 2-party system to create change in this state. The apathy rate in California is so astonishing. You have just a few people who are determining who your leader is in California—just look at the primary numbers. I’m glad I made it through the primary because I feel I’m the best person to represent this district. I am my own free person and I don’t have to rely on a vote to make sure my campaign coffers are filled. I don’t have to bow down to any special interest group, only look at how we can get more jobs back to California, more companies believing in California, because we all win when that happens. I hate that we are borrowing and kicking down hard decisions, putting them off because it’s just putting that burden on my children. As a parent and as an American, you always want better for your children; we certainly are not leaving this state or country in a better place than when we found it.
Learn more about Ms. Lowe’s platform by visiting www.votedonnalowe.com.
Up next in our candidates’ series: Democrat Carol Liu of the 25th senate district.