SJFB endorses Larry Elder, gubinatorial candidates answer questions

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The San Joaquin Farm Bureau Farmers United PAC encourages a YES vote on recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom. SJFB contacted the candidates for the 2021 Recall Election with questions concerning issues of interest to farmers and ranchers in San Joaquin County. Five of the candidates sent in their response to those questions, including John Cox, Kevin Faulconer, Patrick Kilpatrick, Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato and Joel Ventresca. We asked each candidate to keep each question to 100 words or less.

After careful consideration of all factors, the San Joaquin Farm Bureau endorsed Larry Elder in this election.

Please review the questions and answers below when you’re making your decision on who to vote for on Sept. 14.



Currently, the state is cutting back water supplies.  What is your position on adding additional storage capacity or opportunities to reclaim more water to this state (new reservoirs, underground storage, desalination, etc.)? What are your solutions?

John Cox: I am 100% committed to increasing water storage capacity through more reservoirs and desalination. It can be done, but the career politicians lack the willpower to make it happen. Israel invested in desalination and now actually exports water to other countries! We have one of the largest coastlines in the world and should absolutely never have a water shortage. The lack of water is killing the agricultural community and is completely preventable. I’ll add more reservoirs, recycling and desalination facilities in California as governor.

Kevin Faulconer: California has failed to build new storage capacity for far too long. We need an all of the above approach starting with moving forward with projects like Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat that will help increase our supply and also fix water conveyance. I also strongly support water recycling and other creative projects that will create new water supplies for use. As mayor of San Diego, I supported a large water recycling project that will supply up to 40% of the city’s water by 2035.

Patrick Kilpatrick: It is my position that we should accelerate statewide desalination plant construction. As climate change accelerates, droughts and water shortages will become the order of the day. We need to be drawing the vast majority of our water for agricultural and private city use from desalination plants.

Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato: My emergency and long-term solutions to end California’s Extreme Drought and support Farmers & Ranchers are as follows:

  1. Emergency Solution: short-term pipeline from Lake Tahoe into the Central Valley for immediate relief on water shortages for crops and livestock, with a plan to refill Lake Tahoe and other lakes during Winter Season.
  2. Long-Term Solution: Build a “Fresh Water” pipeline from Canada to California, I call it the “Perez Pipeline.” The goal would be to harvest snow/rainfall from Canada, Washington and Oregon and send it down my pipeline on the 5 Freeway, along the center divider, all the way to San Diego. Three separate pipelines may divert from the main line to cover western coast, Central Valley and eastern California. Build a series of interconnected reservoirs and pipeline infrastructure in the form of a grid to store and deliver water where it’s needed anywhere in California. Generate State Revenue by selling excess water to Arizona/Nevada.
  3. Refill California aquifers, reservoirs, lakes, during the winter season by collecting snow/rainwater up north and sending it down to our state. Restore natural habitats and tear down dams since cities will be able to have water piped directly to them.
  4. Invest in “Recycle Water” infrastructure.

Joel Ventresca: I support increasing supply through water conservation, desalination, underground storage and recycling projects. I do not support new reservoirs. Agricultural, environmental and other stakeholders will be pulled together in an advisory group to advise the new governor on changes to law, regulation and policy on minor and major issues related to drought and water issues.

What is your position on the Delta Tunnel?

John Cox: If we added reservoirs and desalination plants to California it would be unnecessary. It’s a slap in the face to California farmers.  Neither farmers nor environmentalists want it; it’s another boondoggle to secure LA water which we would be better off doing with desalination and recycling.

Kevin Faulconer: I support a solution for moving water through the Delta based on an inclusive and collaborative process that addresses issues from all the key stakeholders from the Delta, Central Valley, Northern and Southern California. There is no path towards resolving the water issues in the Delta without consensus which is something missing with the current Delta Tunnel proposal. It’s clear a better path forward is needed to ensure we can convey water responsibly through the Delta.

Patrick Kilpatrick: The Delta Tunnel is a good program but fails to address the larger issue ­­– that our water usage is going to accelerate as droughts become more common. What is the effect from drawing that water from the Sacramento river on the ecosystem of the river? How does that affect communities downstream?

Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato: I stand 100%  against the Delta Tunnel and plan to stop all funding/construction. Literally one of the dumbest ideas.

Joel Ventresca: I support it.

What is your position on the water curtailments advanced by the state in recent weeks?

John Cox: I oppose them and they are indicative of the failures of the current governor. Gavin Newsom has spent a lifetime in politics and has done nothing on water issues besides hurt California agriculture. Droughts have always happened in California. It is another sign of the gross mismanagement of our resources by the career politicians and celebrities we have had as leaders.

Kevin Faulconer: I strongly oppose California’s decision to reduce supply for water rights’ holders. We should be prioritizing water for agriculture during this record-breaking drought and I will do everything in my power to ensure that.

Patrick Kilpatrick: Our position is that organic growers and those involved in animal food production should get preferential water rates. We believe that we need to function as if we are in a drought and live in a desert. Private usage should be minimized by drought tolerant plants and gardening. All of these challenges are met most effectively by addressing the overall climate change situation in a multifaceted manner. Desalination plants, hydrogen vehicles, eco-subsidies for solar and wind power.

Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato: I oppose 100% water curtailments, it is the responsibility of the state to provide water to its citizens, not take it away!

Joel Ventresca: I will support a new process to deal with water curtailment actions.



Would you support creating a legal guestworker program for agriculture?

John Cox: I would. We need a system that allows agriculture to thrive and for farmers to get the help they need, when they need it.

Kevin Faulconer: I support a guestworker program and I support comprehensive immigration reform. California’s farms need workers to operate so we must have a long-term solution for guestworkers that agriculture can rely on for its needs.

Patrick Kilpatrick: Absolutely, we have been calling for that for a decade, with a fine for illegal entry of $10,000 payed in annual increments of at least $1,000.

Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato: Yes, If Farmers & Ranchers require assistance in feeding California.

Joel Ventresca: No.

What should be done for border security?

John Cox: We need to have a totally secure border in order to protect American citizens. I live in San Diego; I see the traffickers – drugs, guns and human – who come across along with others who circumvent our border. Again, the politicians have failed us.

Kevin Faulconer: I support ensuring our country has a safe and secure border. It’s important we work with Washington, D.C., to ensure that we have the proper infrastructure and technology in place to get there. As mayor of San Diego, I closely worked with my counterparts in Mexico and the federal government on a variety of issues to help secure America’s largest land port of entry. I would take the same approach as governor to ensure that criminal activity is minimized around the border just like I did as mayor.

Patrick Kilpatrick: The border needs to be secured by every technological and literal obstacle required, including, if necessary, the deployment of state national guard.

Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato: I believe, more layers of security would be adequate on all fronts.

Joel Ventresca: I support the federal government securing the border humanely.

What should be done with those in the country illegally today?

John Cox: We need to enforce our laws and never allow for sanctuary cities.  I favor a resolution that secures the border and deals with allowing the economy to prosper. 

Kevin Faulconer: The United States needs to pass comprehensive immigration reform. I support a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers who have been in the country since they were children. For the others here, we need to figure out a fair process for law-abiding individuals to gain legal status. As governor, Californians can count on my continued advocacy at the federal level to pass comprehensive reforms addressing immigration.

Patrick Kilpatrick: They should be given a guest worker pass provided they had no aggravated felonies for five years prior to the issuance of the guest pass and for five years following the issuance of the guest pass, then they have a clear path to citizenship with a $10,000 fine for illegal entry payable in annual increments of no less than $1,000. Thus the program will be self-sustaining from money raised by these fines for illegal entry.

Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato: Immigration is a federal Issue, the responsibility falls on the president. I do support the deportation of criminals that are in this country illegally. I also support legal immigration and a legal path to citizenship.

Joel Ventresca: Undocumented immigrants who are not involved with crime, who work hard, and pursue training and education should have a path to citizenship.



California is the only state in the nation who will enforce a 40-hour work week and a $15 minimum wage on all agricultural operations. What is your position on these significant changes in our state?

John Cox: These requirements show how out of touch the career politicians are with agriculture. They are trying to destroy our state’s great agricultural legacy and destroy family farms. Agricultural operations should be exempt from these requirements. The politicians just don’t understand business.

Kevin Faulconer Agriculture is a seasonal industry that demands flexible labor rules. California farms are already subject to some of the toughest environmental and labor rules in the country. I do not support mandatory overtime over 40 hours because of the challenges it creates for competing with other states and countries. We should also closely look at a minimum wage that makes sense for agriculture.

Patrick Kilpatrick: I support the minimum wage. I also support the right of workers to do overtime should they choose to work longer hours. We support organic farming because we care for the agricultural workers’ health and the health of the soil of the state and the nation. We want to lower taxes for farmers to place more money in their pockets. We’re for a flat tax of 15% across the board for corporations and individuals with no deductions except education, eco, mortgage, property taxes and capital improvements.

Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato: It is not the responsibility of the state to tell farmers and ranchers how to run their business, this is clearly unconstitutional and I oppose the measure in its entirety. I do support improved working conditions and pay for migrant workers but that assistance should come from the state if that is what it wants to do and not force it upon farmers and ranchers during a pandemic who are struggling with extreme water and labor shortages.

Joel Ventresca: I support a $16-an-hour minimum wage with a cost-of-living adjustment every 12 months statewide for all workers. I support unionization and living wages. I support part-time or full-time workers in every industry.



Currently there are countless fires again this year burning up communities and the environment. What should be done about this disaster?

John Cox: Another issue, another example of the gross mismanagement of Gavin Newsom. We need to better manage our forests. We need to bring the timber industry back to our state. We need to respond quickly to contain fires when they occur.  This  can be done with satellite technology and deployment of  a real air armada to quickly and overwhelmingly fight these fires. Better prevention on the front end and better use of resources to fight the fires are what our state needs.

Kevin Faulconer: I have a comprehensive plan for addressing wildfires that will focus on prevention and putting California on the war-footing it needs to address this crisis. I would declare an emergency to waive environmental rules that are blocking key forest management projects and create a new state department solely focused on wildfire prevention. We also need to invest state funds consistently in fire prevention activities given the huge scale of the problem and provide tax credits so property owners can harden their homes to fire risk.

Patrick Kilpatrick: Mandatory 20-year sentence for convicted arsonists. Industries and public utility companies judged negligent and responsible shall bear the full cost of fire fighting and rebuilding of destroyed property. State wide workforce of able bodied homeless for forestry maintenance. Again, this situation is going to accelerate until we address the overall situation of climate change.

Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato: Besides Recall Newsom and vote for me?

  1. My goal would be to turn California into a Giant Sprinkler system with my “Perez Pipeline” by running water pipelines in high risk areas/forests to help firefighters contain, stop and put out fires by giving them access to high pressure water. 
  2. Plan to remove overgrowth on state/federal land.
  3. Lay down “fire retardant” lines before fires happen to help reduce the spread.
  4. Provide more fire protection between motorists/freeways/mountain ranges. Many fires begin on the side of the road and quickly escalate into a massive wildfire. 
  5. Install automatic/remote control fire hoses/nozzles to function when fire is detected in high risk areas and help protect our Sequoias.

Joel Ventresca: I support reinventing California into the first zero-carbon emissions state in the nation. I support restructuring the three investor-owned energy utilities into a single full-service consumer-owned statewide public power system that operates efficiently, reliably, sustainably & safely with 15% lower rates. Newsom has mismanaged the two largest wildfires in state history in 2020 and 2021. I will double the firefighting workforce. I will remove the 1 million dead trees from our forests. I will create buffer zones, meaning no vegetation or trees, around power lines, towns and cities.



What is your position on the High Speed Rail project being constructed?

John Cox: It is a complete and utter boondoggle. It’s billions of dollars over budget and nowhere near complete. It’s everything the critics warned about and more. We should immediately halt it and use the funds to add additional lanes to our roads.

Kevin Faulconer: I strongly oppose High Speed Rail. It’s a money pit that has not delivered for taxpayers. As governor, I would redirect its funding to far more critical infrastructure projects.

Patrick Kilpatrick: I feel that Californians are married to their own individual vehicles. The high speed rail project is way over budget. It’s a waste of time, money and energy.

Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato: I am 100% opposed to this project and will cut “ALL” funding and construction. The last place you want to be during a pandemic is inside a train, that is inside a tunnel, that’s filled with Covid-19.

Joel Ventresca: I support it.