Just who should represent two of the central San Joaquin Valley’s state Senate districts is simple: Andy Vidak and Andreas Borgeas are the best qualified and have The Bee’s recommendation.
Both are Republicans who hold true to conservative ideals like fiscal responsibility. For that reason, both oppose how the high-speed-rail project is being developed, and both favor Proposition 6, which would repeal the latest state gas tax.
But both also are willing to work with Democrats to pass important legislation. For Vidak, working across the aisle with Democrats is a necessity, as that party has a nearly 20-point lead in voter registration in Senate District 14. As Vidak says, “If Democrats don’t vote for me, I don’t win.”
Borgeas is not in quite that fix in Senate District 8 — Republicans outnumber Democrats 39.5 percent to 32.3 percent. But on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, Borgeas has shown himself willing to listen to opposing views before casting his vote.
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State Senators have immense responsibility. There are only 40 of them, and each represents about 930,000 people.
Here is a look at these two state Senate races:
Senate District 8
The 11-county district is sprawling, running from gold-country areas of Amador and Calaveras on the north to the farm fields of Fresno and Tulare counties at the southern end. Incumbent Tom Berryhill is leaving due to term limits.
Borgeas captured 60 percent of the vote in the June primary to Democrat Paulina Miranda’s 21 percent.
Borgeas began his political career in 2008 on the Fresno City Council, then was elected four years later to the Board of Supervisors. Professionally, he teaches international security law at the San Joaquin College of Law. He is married and raising two sons at his Fresno home.
He came to Fresno to work as a judicial law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger, and specialized on water issues. Borgeas favors creating new dams like Temperance Flat to capture water in wet years that can then be released into underground aquifers for use in dry years. He also backs Proposition 3 on the November ballot, a bond measure that, among other things, would provide funding to repair the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the major irrigation projects in the Valley.
Borgeas pledges to work toward finding new water supplies so farmers can produce their crops. That, in turn, helps maintain America’s food security.
When it comes to high-speed rail, Borgeas says the project’s cost has ballooned far beyond what voters originally approved, and the schedule for completion keeps slipping farther into the future. For that reason, he backs an audit of the rail authority to get a better understanding of costs and time frame. “We need to be honest with Californians.” he say.
Miranda is a native of Mexico who has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She is married and has three children.
While not having held office, Miranda has campaigned two other times — for the 8th Senate District in 2014 and for 16th Senate District in 2013.
She has also been active in Democratic party affairs, serving in various capacities, including controller of the state Democratic Council.
Senate District 14
Vidak has been in the Senate for nearly six years. A cherry and lemon grower who lives halfway between Hanford and Armona, he represents parts of Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties.
He received 54 percent of the votes cast in the primary to Democrat Melissa Hurtado’s 23 percent.
Vidak has long opposed high-speed rail, seeing it as a waste of money that could be better spent on repairing crumbling roadways. Kings County has been the Valley’s center of strident opposition to the project.
“We should stop it now and turn it over to Amtrak,” Vidak said. “Go ahead and finish those grades (work now underway), but the sooner we stop, the better it will be. Put that money back into highways. The train will not help — the ridership is not there.”
Seeking to help alleviate the double-digit unemployment that plagues his district, Vidak has for four years sponsored a jobs fair that included as many as 80 employers. He also co-authored a bill that would give a 50 percent tax credit to students enrolled in career technical education courses. He has a 100 percent pro-jobs rating from the California Chamber of Commerce.
Hurtado is a Sanger City Councilwoman who works as a health-care advocate. She was motivated to seek the Senate post in part because of the experience of her sister, who has rare medical condition and yet does not have health insurance coverage. One of her top goals is to protect Medi-Cal, the safety net for low-income Californians.
How The Bee came to this recommendation
The Bee’s Editorial Board consists of Publisher Ken Riddick, Editor Joe Kieta, Editorial Page Editor Tad Weber, Vida en el Valle Editor Juan Esparza Loera, and Vida Staff Writer Maria Ortiz-Briones. They conducted in-depth, in-person interviews with Andreas Borgeas, Paulina Miranda, Andy Vidak and Melissa Hurtado. Additional research about the candidates was also done using publicly accessible online sources and The Bee’s archives.
The recommendation is just that: a helpful opinion meant to guide readers as they reach their own decision on which candidate to choose. This recommendation is the consensus opinion the Editorial Board; the news staff does not play any role in its creation.