Assemblywoman District 44, Camarillo, Moorpark, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village
Former City Councilwoman, mayor of Thousand Oaks, for 10 years
Tell us about your professional career leading up to your run for office on the T.O. City Council.
I received my bachelor of science degree in systems engineering from UC, San Diego, becoming the first member of my family to graduate from college. At UC, San Diego, I was an all-American swimmer and competed in the national championships all four years, after which, I worked as an engineer at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and Teledyne Systems.
What spurred you to get into politics?
My first foray into politics was organizing a large group of stakeholders when I was president of the T.O. Titans football organization, to refurbish the three high school athletic fields. After that I was asked to sit on the Thousand Oaks planning commission, and in 2004 was elected to the City Council.
I served on the Thousand Oaks City Council for 10 years and had two terms as mayor. On the City Council, my priorities included advocating on behalf of the preservation of open space and responsible development, working with the Youth Commission, Behavioral Health and the VC Sheriff’s office to help reduce binge drinking and opioid use in Ventura County, and creating the CITY internship program, which helps place high school students with internships throughout the county. I’m really proud of the way that the Thousand Oaks City Council was able to work together to make Thousand Oaks a safe and wonderful place to live.
What was the impetus for you to run for Assembly?
I enjoyed my time on the Council and was considering the possibility of serving in a different capacity. When the seat opened up I discussed the idea of serving on the Assembly with friends, advisers and groups in the community. I concluded that it was the right time in my life to continue to serve my community and the region at the state level.
What are some of the important accomplishments you have achieved so far as assemblywoman?
I’ve been lucky to have many accomplishments in the State Assembly. These accomplishments include securing funding for the CSU, Channel Islands, School of Engineering and for innovation centers on UC campuses, improving the cybersecurity of state agencies and helping to connect veterans to the benefits they deserve.
I also worked to protect California’s children by passing legislation to protect them from identity theft and to ban powdered alcohol from being sold. The last few accomplishments that I’m extremely proud of was passing legislation to expand the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and leading the efforts to pump water to our local farmers through a brine line.
With the Women’s March, it was a spectacular sight that united not just women but the men who supported them and minorities. How do you feel the presidential election has impacted women’s desire to get more involved in politics?
This election should definitely inspire women to become active in their communities. I believe we need more women to run for public office, get active on local committees and organize within their communities. A 2016 study showed only 4.2 percent of CEOs at America’s 500 biggest companies are women.
In California, one of the most progressive states in the country, only 22 percent of the legislature is women. That’s down from when I was first elected. We need to work on getting more women elected throughout the state. Numbers like this are why it’s vital to ensure women continue to be empowered.
What message do you have for women who want to run for office?
My advice for women who want to run for office is to prepare by volunteering in their community, working with nonprofits and school organizations. It’s the best way to learn about the community and to find out what needs to be done. Much of what I am doing on as a legislator took root from things I worked on in my community.
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