Anna Caballero to run for Fresno/Merced-area state Senate seat against fellow Democrat

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State Sen. Anna Caballero made her run for a new district covering parts of Fresno, Madera and Merced counties official on Friday.

Caballero had previously talked openly about running in the newly drawn 14th District, which will pit her against fellow Democrat state Sen. Melissa Hurtado of Sanger, but made the race official during an announcement at The Link near Blackstone and McKinley avenues in Fresno.

Originally from Salinas, where she served on the City Council and as mayor, Caballero now lives in Merced. She said she is a better choice than Hurtado.

“I have the experience and I can deliver,” she said. “That’s the easiest answer I can give you.”

The new 14th District stretches from Atwater and Merced in the north, to Coalinga and Huron in the south, and Sanger and Reedley to the east. It includes Orange Cove, Selma, and a southern chunk of the city of Fresno.

Nearly half of the new district was part of her old district, she says.

Caballero touted legislation she authored in her tenure like Senate Bill 395, which placed a tax on cannabis vapes and provides an ongoing funding source for the UC Merced and UCSF partnership meant to increase the number of health care providers in the Valley.

“It’s not just doctors, it’s the technical staff that works with doctors. That’s the number one growing industry in the state,” she said. “That collaboration over the medical school is creating all these opportunities for ancillary medical training that is going to be really important for the Valley.”

She also noted her role in the funding of public safety efforts, like the $5 million in the 2020 state budget to pay for a Los Banos fire station, and another $15 million for which the bulk went to the west side of Fresno County for rural structures.

Caballero said she picked The Link for her announcement to note her plans to focus on housing and homelessness in the region. And, along with that, the economic development for residents to afford housing.

“People are desperate to be able to have a good job to be able to live and work in the community,” she said. “We have put out billions of dollars for affordable housing and housing for the homeless, and that’ll continue to be a priority of mine and a priority of the Senate.”

District race

The race sets up a face off between two Latinas who have held public office in a newly formed district where the Latino citizens of voting age account for 53.14% of the population.

Caballero’s parents are from a family of copper miners in Arizona, while Hurtado’s parents immigrated from Mexico and worked as farmworkers.

The two of them held a joint public ceremony in Fresno while being sworn into office in 2019.

Fifth District Court of Appeal Justice Rosendo Pe—a, Jr., swears in California State senators Anna Caballero, left, and Melissa Hurtado during a ceremonial joint community swearing-in ceremony for constituents, family and friends at the Carpenters Local Union 701 building in Fresno on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.
Fifth District Court of Appeal Justice Rosendo Pe—a, Jr., swears in California State senators Anna Caballero, left, and Melissa Hurtado during a ceremonial joint community swearing-in ceremony for constituents, family and friends at the Carpenters Local Union 701 building in Fresno on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.

Hurtado released a statement on Friday about the upcoming political race.

“Unlike my opponent, the former mayor of Salinas, I am the only candidate from our Valley who grew up here and continues to live in Fresno County,” Hurtado said. “In the Senate I have a proven record of winning for the Valley, securing key funding and passing policies to build a Regional Fire Training Center in Fresno, improve health care, provide reliable and clean water supplies and establish a regional pipeline for our students to enter medical school.”

Caballero noted she has represented Fresno as part of her old district, the 12th District, for three years.

“What I’m interested in doing is working with the communities where there’s tremendous need and that I’m getting results in,” she said. “I’ve been able to do that and I want to continue to do that, and the Central Valley has become my home.”

COVID-19

Caballero said COVID-19 has been a challenge for residents as well as elected leaders, who have been limited in how they can interact and discuss legislation. On Friday, she did not remove her mask while speaking near reporters.

“A big part of how we accomplish things is by having conversations, building relationships and getting to compromises,” she said. “The challenges of us all being separated, not seeing each other, is we don’t get to do that.”

She said she looks forward to getting past the pandemic.

A milestone for Latinos?

One of several Fresno City Council members who spoke at Caballero’s announcement, Councilmember Miguel Arias said he spoke recently to his mother about the looming race between two Latinas.

“Although our county has been majority Latino for decades, my mom has never had that choice,” he said.

State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, said officially Friday, Jan. 21, 2021, she will run in the newly drawn 14th District while speaking at The Link near Blackstone and McKinley avenues in Fresno. 
State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, said officially Friday, Jan. 21, 2021, she will run in the newly drawn 14th District while speaking at The Link near Blackstone and McKinley avenues in Fresno.
State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, said officially Friday, Jan. 21, 2021, she will run in the newly drawn 14th District while speaking at The Link near Blackstone and McKinley avenues in Fresno. 
State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, said officially Friday, Jan. 21, 2021, she will run in the newly drawn 14th District while speaking at The Link near Blackstone and McKinley avenues in Fresno.
State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, said officially Friday, Jan. 21, 2021, she will run in the newly drawn 14th District while speaking at The Link near Blackstone and McKinley avenues in Fresno. 
State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, said officially Friday, Jan. 21, 2021, she will run in the newly drawn 14th District while speaking at The Link near Blackstone and McKinley avenues in Fresno.
State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, said officially Friday, Jan. 21, 2021, she will run in the newly drawn 14th District while speaking at The Link near Blackstone and McKinley avenues in Fresno. 
State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, said officially Friday, Jan. 21, 2021, she will run in the newly drawn 14th District while speaking at The Link near Blackstone and McKinley avenues in Fresno.
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