Republican Andy Vidak and Democrat Leticia Perez finished one-two in the May 21 special primary election and will face off again in Tuesday’s runoff election for the right to replace Michael Rubio in the state Senate.
Vidak, a farmer, beat Perez, a Kern County supervisor, by nearly 6 percentage points in the primary, 49.8 percent to 43.9 percent. But Vidak’s failure to get more than 50 percent of the vote in the five-candidate field created Tuesday’s rematch.
Today we look at their stances on education and crime as submitted to The Sentinel before the primary election. Their positions on taxes and agriculture were published Thursday and their positions on high-speed rail and job creation were printed Friday.
What programs or policies should the state institute to improve education? Is there too much emphasis on test scores? Should more responsibility be placed in the hands of local school districts, administrators, teachers and parents?
VIDAK: I grew up in a family of teachers. My grandmother, father, two siblings and aunts all have dedicated their career to educating the children of the Valley. One thing that I hear over and over again is that Sacramento isn’t helping our classrooms — it is getting in the way of our children’s education. We need local control with curriculum and funding, period. I trust our teachers and school boards in the Valley to educate our children, not Sacramento politicians.
Also, we need to protect and expand vocational education. Our children deserve a variety of career choices and we can ensure that by making vocational education a high priority.
Finally, every student needs to be proficient in reading and writing English as well as math and the sciences. We live in a global economy, and the next generation needs the skills required to compete in this economy.
PEREZ: Test scores are a valid measure, but not the only one. Right now, a high school is rewarded when challenged students drop out — because once those students are gone, test score averages rise. This is a terrible consequence of a single-minded emphasis on using test scores as the sole means of evaluating a school’s effectiveness. And while I support the notion that local districts should have autonomy, they too must be held accountable for what they do with money they receive from the state.
The best example is with state funding to teach children to read and write English. Districts in the Valley have taken that money and not used it to teach English. That must end. And I will end it.
How should the state address crime? Is Gov. Brown’s reorganization plan, which has shifted inmates from state prisons to county jails, a good idea?
VIDAK: Public safety is one of the legislature’s top priorities. Instead of funding the pet projects of special interests and political cronies, the state should insure every local jurisdiction has the resources they need to keep citizens safe.
Unfortunately, this is not happening. Under Gov. Brown’s reorganization plan, they shifted inmates from state prisons to county jails, but have not given the money back to the local sheriffs to handle this extra burden. San Francisco, Alameda and Marin counties are getting over $25,000 per prisoner under AB109, while Valley sheriffs are getting less than $8,000 per prisoner.
How are we supposed to protect our citizens with this inequity? Once again the Valley is being passed over. We can’t keep our citizen’s safe if Sacramento continues to take our resources and spend them in LA, Sacramento and San Francisco.
PEREZ: Shifting inmates to local jails has not worked. It has increased the financial burden on local government. It’s time for the governor to recognize that he was wrong and the entire shift must be reconsidered.