By Breeana Greenberg
ASSEMBLYMEMBER LAURIE DAVIES
Assemblymember Laurie Davies prides herself on always being a problem-solver—from her time as a general manager of two restaurants, to running her own event planning business, and now to tackling local and state issues as an elected official.
“That’s why I really enjoyed serving on (Laguna Niguel) City Council, trying to solve problems at the local level, and that’s where I’m at the state level, getting good bills, like I was able to do, passed,” said Davies, who won her State Assembly seat in 2020.
If elected to serve a second term, Davies noted she would like to focus on multiple issues, from inflation to housing, and coastal erosion to water infrastructure.
On inflation, she said she intends to crack down on the issue by supporting truck drivers and addressing supply chain issues at the Port of Long Beach.
As California cities and counties continue to work with the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development to update their Housing Elements and demonstrate adequate planning for their communities’ housing needs, Davies said she would like to see regional approaches to addressing the housing shortage.
With many California cities already developed out, Davies pointed to a need for cities to work together “because there are some cities that have the land, but they don’t have the money, and there’s other cities that have the means but don’t have the land. We need to work together as a regional fix when it comes to housing, (rather) than trying to make each city do it separately.”
Another ongoing issue that many coastal cities in her district are facing is the eroding coastline. She said she supports cities such as San Clemente that have looked to secure funding from the federal level for sand replenishment efforts.
Other environmental focuses of hers, she said, are on energy resources, as well supporting efforts to build new desalination plants like the one South Coast Water District has proposed for Dana Point’s Doheny area or the recently rejected Brookfield-Poseidon plant in Huntington Beach.
“Desalination has proven to be a great way to help get clean water to people and clean our local ecosystems, yet unelected state bureaucrats shot down the proposed facility in Huntington Beach,” Davies said of California Coastal Commission’s (CCC) unanimous vote to deny permits. “I want to do legislation to put desalination projects as priority items for the state to consider approving.”
With the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project set to be presented to the CCC and State Lands Commission this year, Davies noted that she’s hoping to see the project move forward.
During her first term representing the 73rd Assembly District (now the 74th), Davies said she’s most proud of her ability to get legislation passed with bipartisan support, including Assembly Bill 381, which requires drug treatment centers to carry opioid overdose emergency medication, a bill co-authored by Democratic Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris.
“Something I promised when I ran in 2020 was that I was going to work across the aisle, and that’s something I was able to do and will continue to do, because we have to have balance here,” Davies said. “I think the best legislation that’s passed is when it’s passed by both parties.”
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to serve and make things better,” Davies continued. “I love this state; I moved to this state when I was 18, and I don’t plan on going anywhere else. So, I will continue to fight so that we can afford to live here, so we can live here and feel safe.”
SAN CLEMENTE MAYOR PRO TEM CHRIS DUNCAN
Prior to serving on the San Clemente City Council, Chris Duncan served as an assistant U.S. Attorney to the Department of Homeland Security—a career he pursued after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
While working with law enforcement officers and national security professionals at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “advising the decision-makers” as a Homeland Security attorney, Duncan decided that he wanted to be the decision maker.
During his tenure with Homeland Security, Duncan came to realize that “to make a real difference in my community, it’s elected officials who really have that ability to improve people’s lives. Not 10 years from now—tomorrow.”
“I want to be in the room where the decisions are made,” Duncan continued. “I think I have something to offer, foundationally there; I am the type of person who’s willing to stand up for things that are right, even if it comes at personal cost to me, even if it’s politically unpopular, I’m still willing to do that if it’s the right thing for our community, for our district.”
Duncan, who lost his Primary Election campaign for the Assembly seat in 2020, said his top priorities, if elected, are addressing housing affordability and homelessness.
Duncan said he would like to see a program developed in which unhoused individuals are “connected with the services in a safe environment to address the underlying reason for homelessness—be that economic, health, mental health, substance abuse—instead of doing a one-size-fits-all and saying, ‘Hey, let’s just build a big shelter and put everybody in there.’ ”
Addressing the shortage of affordable housing, Duncan said that rather than pushing for state mandates on local communities, he would rather see the legislature provide incentives for cities to invest in the development with affordable housing.
Duncan added that he would also like to prioritize supporting residents during a time of high costs and rising inflation.
“I think the economics is really forefront in people’s minds,” Duncan said. “California is too expensive; I mean, everything costs more here. We’ve got to act at the state level to drive down these costs.”
To address rising gas prices, Duncan argued that the legislature should have suspended the gas tax in addition to implementing a rebate program for California drivers.
Arguing that a gas-tax suspension would have a more immediate effect while the rebate program would have had a more long-term effect, Duncan said that “the situation was so severe, I thought we should have done both.”
As the state of California sees a nearly $100 billion surplus, Duncan would like to see the money directed back to taxpayers’ pockets.
“When you look at California’s budget, we’ve got a $100 billion surplus. To me, that means people were overtaxed,” Duncan said. “Let’s get that money back into the community, whether that’s through small businesses, tax breaks or credits, whether it’s through rebates to individuals.”
Pointing to his term on San Clemente’s City Council, Duncan added that he has been deeply involved in his community, “seeing what people care about every day.”
“They do care about individual choice,” Duncan said. “They care about protecting their kids, and they care about having a government that’s working for them to keep money in their pockets.”
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at email@example.com