With supporters touting her commitment to local business, Mary England kicked off her campaign for an Assembly seat Thursday night at the in Lemon Grove.
England quickly laid out campaign goals, made a promise to not raise taxes, and hit three key points on which she’ll run: jobs creation, reduction of wasteful spending, and reforming the state pension system.
A member of the Lemon Grove City Council since 2000, England has served as president and CEO of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce for the past four years. She admits she has a battle on her hands with the race.
“I’ve never taken on something this large,” she told supporters. “I’m going to need your dollars to put my message in the mailbox.”
England is the lone Republican in a field of Democrats vying for election in the redistricted 79th Assembly—which is largely Democratic. Challenging her for the seat are Shirley Weber, Pat Washington, Sid Voorokkara and Rudy Ramirez.
She has said previously that she will not leave either her council seat or the chamber to campaign. Her council term is up at the end of the year.
Acknowledging the new district’s slant to the left, England said she will seek endorsements from Democrats, and has gained backing from developer Ginger Hitzke, president of Hitzke Development Corp. Her company won Lemon Grove’s contracts for the Citronica One redevelopment project currently under construction downtown, and also built Citron Court, the city’s mixed-used redevelopment project completed in 2009.
England also says she’ll be knocking on the doors of elected Democrats in an effort to win them over.
And she’s ready to debate the candidates.
“I think it’s important to debate and let the public come and hear,” she said. “How can they make a decision if they don’t hear us?”
As for funding her run, England says she expects financial support from both Anderson and Jones, and will be fundraising.
Familiar through and through with Lemon Grove and La Mesa, England points to her experience as fundraiser for former Assemblywoman Shirley Horton as giving her valuable knowledge of Chula Vista and Bonita.
The 79th Assembly District includes La Mesa, Lemon Grove and parts of Spring Valley, as well as areas of San Diego and Chula Vista, including Bonita and Otay.
About 65 people attended the kick-off event, signing up to post campaign signs, serve as volunteers and help raise money.
Noting that she’s in for a tough race, Assemblyman Brian Jones, who along with state Sen. Joel Anderson recruited England to run, said the veteran politician has the ability to reach across party lines and win.
Jones said England is the right choice for the job because she believes in principle, rather than party, politics or power.
Greeting the crowd as Diana Ross’s I’m Coming Out filled the air, England’s personality took center stage as she reminded supporters of her heritage, saying Italians do three things well—cook, clean and cry.
“And I’ve already cried twice tonight,” she said.
Later, she talked about how she’ll approach the job if elected—specifically how she’d manage the state’s deficit crisis and what should be cut to make ends meet.
“First I need to learn about it, and talk to like-minded people about it,” she said. “I don’t have all the answers. But in listening to Sen. Anderson and Assemblyman Jones, and talking to them—it’s doable. It’s fixable. It’s just going to take some hard work.”
Right now, her focus is the race.
“We’re just making sure I get to June.”