Updated at 11:25 a.m. Jan. 11, 2012
Saying she is frustrated with fiscal mismanagement and game-playing in Sacramento, Lemon Grove City Councilmember Mary England has announced she will seek a seat in the state Assembly.
England, who helped revive the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce as president and CEO, said in a statement she will run in the new 79th Assembly District.
“The politicians in Sacramento continue to increase the tax and regulatory burdens on California businesses, seemingly unconcerned about the harm it does to our state’s employment rate,” England said Wednesday via email.
“I believe that our state urgently needs leaders with real world experience and the strength to make the tough decisions necessary to restore the luster of our Golden State.”
England has been a Lemon Grove councilwoman since 2000, and her current term expires at the end of 2012. She’s currently the city’s representative on the Heartland Joint Powers Authority and alternate rep on the Metropolitan Transit System board and East County Economic Development Council.
She said that after much consideration, she decided to “join the reform effort” by entering the race for the newly drawn seat, with no incumbent.
She may be the first Republican in the race, according to online reports. The Secretary of State's website lists six people in the 79th District who have filed "statements of intention" to run.
Other announced candidates for the seat include Chula Vista City Councilman Rudy Ramirez, former San Unified Schools Trustee Shirley Weber, activist Sid Voorakkara, Patricia Washington and Clovis Honore, all Democrats.
Barry Jantz, a former La Mesa councilman who blogs for the conservative SDRostra website, says England will have a challenge being elected.
“Given the party registration in the district, the 79th is viewed by many as an uphill battle for anyone other than a Democrat,” Jantz said via email.
“But given the high percentage of those independents who decline to state a registration—at 23 percent—this seat is more competitive than it appears, especially for a sitting councilmember known fairly well in two cities within the district.”
Jantz says England is a popular figure in Lemon Grove and is known in a positive light for her Chamber of Commerce work in La Mesa.
“Her decision to run makes the campaign for the seat exceedingly more interesting,” he said.
In her email, England said: “My priorities will be to encourage private-sector job growth, balance the state budget without raising taxes and reform of the state’s public pension system.”
Her decision comes in the wake of La Mesa Councilman Dave Allan's announcement in late November that he would drop out of the race. He originally said he would run in the 79th but nine days later, citing his father's failing health in Los Angeles, said he would step aside.
In an email to supporters, England said: “Fixing California so that it works again for all citizens is a daunting task. But it’s a challenge that I am prepared to meet.”
She said her experiences as a businesswoman, council member and chamber executive “have given me valuable perspective on what we need for a healthy, vibrant economy.”
Her formal announcement of candidacy will come in a few weeks, she said. The San Diego Registrar of Voters Office said Feb. 13 is the first day to file nomination paperwork. England can save money on the filing fee by submitting petitions supporting her candidacy at the rate of 63 cents a name.
“But I am working already to build a successful campaign to bring common sense and real world experience to our state capitol. I hope you’ll join me in that fight.”
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.
“Party registration in the district is about 43 percent Democratic and 29 percent Republican,” Jantz noted on his blog, “with just under 23 percent decline-to-state. [Democratic] Assemblyman Marty Block, who lives in the area, is running for Senate, making this year’s open seat race a potential barn-burner.”