PICTURED: Steve Bennett talks with voters on the Ventura Pier. Photo submitted

by Alex Wilson

Ventura County’s state assembly districts saw significant boundary changes during the recently completed redistricting process. 

 The new maps are being used for the first time in the June 7 primary election, and will be in effect until they are redrawn again following the 2030 census.

The 38th assembly district is currently represented by Democrat Steve Bennett who’s facing a challenge by Republican Cole Brocato and Daniel Wilson, who states no party preference. The 38th Assembly District no longer includes Santa Barbara like it did in the last election, but new areas of Ventura County including Oxnard have been added. The 38th district also includes Ventura, Port Hueneme, Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru and the northwestern portion of Camarillo.

In the 42nd Assembly District, incumbent Democrat Jacqui Irwin is facing a challenge from two Republicans, Ted Nordblum and Lori Mills. The 42nd Assembly District shifted eastward in the redistricting process, losing Oxnard and Port Hueneme but gaining territory in Los Angeles County all the way to Pacific Palisades and Bel Air. The 42nd Assembly District also includes Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Westlake Village and the southeastern part of Camarillo.

As with all of California’s June assembly races, the local contests are known as “jungle primaries” where the top two candidates go on to compete in the November general election regardless of political party affiliation.

38th District Assembly Race 

In the race for the 38th Assembly District, Bennett is hoping voters will give him another vote of confidence after spending decades in office, first as a Ventura City Councilmember and then on the Ventura County Board  of Supervisors, prior to his 2020 election to the state assembly, representing District 37.

Bennett’s challengers are each making their first bid for elected office.

Daniel Wilson describes himself as a working class veteran and is a transgender person. Wilson grew up in Maryland and served in the U.S. Navy between 2009 and 2013, ending his military career as an aviation technician at Naval Base Ventura County, he said. He came out as a lesbian while in the military after the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was repealed, and since leaving the service, Wilson made the transition to identifying as male. 

Daniel Wilson is on the campaign trail with his wife. Photo submitted

Wilson and his wife live in Port Hueneme. He said that he held a variety of jobs in recent years at restaurants, cannabis dispensaries and other businesses. Advocating for higher wages and universal health care are some of Wilson’s main goals.

Wilson said he would bring a new perspective to Sacramento if elected. “I have walked in many different worlds. I’ve been in a lot of these situations that failed us as people who don’t fit into the norm.”

While he acknowledged that he appreciates some of the things Bennett has done while in office, Wilson believes many voters are hungry for change. “The status quo is not working for working people, and we need fighters in office who are not afraid to take a stand. And you cannot do so when you are part of a political party.” 

Republican Cole Brocato calls himself a “true conservative” on his campaign website.

Brocato lives in Oxnard where he and his wife are raising two kids with a third on the way. The couple owns a real estate and construction business together, buying homes to fix up and sell, he said.

Brocato is focused on what he calls “kitchen table” issues in the race, such as inflation and taxes. He also wants to focus on education, as he believes many young families are leaving California for states with better schools as well as lower housing costs.

Cole Brocato with his family at the Ventura Pier. Photo submitted

Brocato said promises made by California’s elected leaders in recent years, including Bennett, have not been kept, and longs for a day when Democrats do not dominate state government.

“What has it achieved? The schools have gotten worse, crime has gotten worse, housing has gotten less affordable and there is less of it. All these things that we’ve been promised would be fixed,” said Brocato.

Brocato also explained what he means by being a “true conservative”: “I just believe in fiscal conservatism. I think we need to be smarter about spending, I’ve got a young family and the debt that they’re inheriting is stifling. I’m a Christian, and I’m not ashamed of my Christian values.”  

Bennett said the most important issue facing voters is global warming, calling it an “existential threat,” which he added also relates to the state’s water needs.

“We’re not in a drought,” said Bennett. “we’re in an actual period of aridization where . . . we will become a more arid area in Southern California. And we need to be proactive in terms of trying to address this.” He went on to say that he recently introduced bills addressing climate change and water scarcity.   

Bennett said he’s excited about serving in his relatively new role as a state legislator and is proud of his long record in local government. “The challenge is to actually come up with strategic steps that solve or address our problems. And I think that the voters should consider who has the experience to actually implement these things. I have demonstrated repeatedly in my history of serving the public, that I’ve been able to move big solutions.”




42nd District Assembly Race

Jacqui Irwin talks with voters. Photo submitted

The two Republican candidates challenging Democrat Jacqui Irwin for her seat representing the 42nd assembly district are both running for office for the first time, and portray Irwin as too liberal to represent the district. But Irwin said her record shows she’s charted a pragmatic course during her years serving in the state legislature and earlier on the Thousand Oaks City Council.

Ted Nordblum hopes to serve in the state assembly. Photo submitted

“I think my record speaks for itself. I’ve passed a lot of bills in many different areas. Higher education, cyber security, recycling. I am a problem solver and I think that my record shows that,” Irwin said.

Republican Ted Nordblum of Newbury Park said his opposition to abortion is one of the issues he cares most deeply about. Nordblum said he’s also concerned about some of the topics kids are being taught in public schools such as issues surrounding race, sexual orientation and what he calls “transgender indoctrination.”

“We need to get rid of ethnic studies and start teaching civics and American history, and teach our kids just the basics,” he said.

Lori Mills is running for assembly. Photo submitted

Nordblum said he’s been a successful entrepreneur since starting a medical device company in 2005, and would focus on making California more business friendly if elected.

“I deal with different personalities. I fix things. I write every paycheck . . . There are just so many facets that I have done as a business person that I’ve learned from top to bottom how to manage, how to delegate, and how to work with people,” stated Nordblum.

Republican Lori Mills of Simi Valley said that she has worked as a real estate agent focused on high end properties for 25 years, and that economic issues are part of the reason she’s running for assembly.

“Honestly, I just think we need to lower taxes for our citizens,” Mills said. “I’ve watched tons of my clients leave the state because of the high cost of living. I personally would like to audit the state. I would like to know where the money is going and I want to find ways to cut costs of living for families.”