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Three Assembly candidates compete for 15th District

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Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2002 10:00 pm

Two Republicans and a Democrat - all from the East Bay - hope to represent Galt and Thornton in the vastly reconfigured 15th Assembly District.

Gordon Blake of Brentwood and Guy Houston of San Ramon are competing for the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by Lynne Leach, R-Walnut Creek, due to term limits.

The Republican Primary Election winner will take on Donna Gerber, D-Walnut Creek, a Contra Costa County supervisor, in November. Gerber is running unopposed in the Democrat Primary Election.

Candidates at a glance

Name: Gordon Blake Age: 40 Occupation: Owns dental laboratory specializing in crowns and bridges Residence: Brentwood Education: Graduate of Ultra-Tec School of Dental Technology in Concord

Name: Donna Gerber Age: 55 Occupation: Contra Costa County Supervisor Residence: Walnut Creek Education: Bachelor of arts degree in sociology and history at University of California, Santa Barbara

Name: Guy Houston Age: 41 Occupation: Mortgage broker and certified financial planner Residence: San Ramon Education: Bachelor's degree in business, master's of business administration at St. Mary's College in Moraga

Houston was mayor of Dublin for seven years before resigning in October so he could move into the 15th District.

Most of the 15th Assembly District is in Contra Costa County, with smaller parts of the district in Alameda, San Joaquin and Sacramento counties.

Houston, 41, whom political observers consider the front-runner in the race, said his biggest priority is to address infrastructure at the state level like the city of Dublin has.

"We made sure that when we built, we didn't just build houses. We made sure we had parks, schools, open space, water and sewer," said Houston, a mortgage broker and certified financial planner.

Blake, 40, and Houston agree that all gasoline taxes be used for transportation purposes rather than to the state's general fund. However, they differ on how to take care of the state's road problems.

"I am against going into debt. My opponent wants to float bonds for infrastructure," said Blake, who owns a dental laboratory.

In addition to allocating all gasoline tax revenue to transportation, California can address its road needs, yet remain frugal, by having the state retain the 18 cents of every gallon of gas that goes to federal transportation, Blake said.

Additionally, Blake would like to reduce red tape by the state concerning construction projects. He cited the Santa Monica Freeway collapse as a result of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake as a prime example of government efficiency.

Then-Gov. Pete Wilson declared a state of emergency, which wiped out the red tape, Blake said. That got the freeway rebuilt in 66 days.

"Why do we have to declare a state of emergency to get things done?" Blake asked.

Blake has run for Congress three times, but he has never won a seat. However, he has served five terms on the Contra Costa County Republican Central Committee, three of them as committee secretary.

"I am the more conservative candidate," Blake said.

"(Houston) has completely run away from the social issues. I am pro-life and pro-family. I signed the pledge that I wouldn't undermine the marriage between a man and a woman," he added.

Blake's endorsements include former Assemblyman Larry Bowler, R-Elk Grove, the California Republican Assembly, College Republicans of California and the National Tax Limitation Committee.

Houston's endorsements include Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, Stockton Mayor Gary Podesto, Board of Equalization member Dean Andal of Stockton, Assembly Republican Leader Dave Cox of Fair Oaks and several other Assembly members.

Gerber, 55, was elected to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors in 1996 and re-elected in 2000. She was director of education 15 years for the California Nurses Association, where she developed education programs and conferences for nurses and consumers regarding health-care policy.

She was appointed by Gov. Gray Davis to the California Medical Board's Division of Licensing in 2000.

Gerber said her goals in the Assembly are to protect open space and farmland while curbing urban sprawl. She said she would like to persuade the state to give cities and counties incentives to plan in a regional manner instead of local agencies protecting their own turf.

All three District 15 candidates have been invited to speak at the next Galt District Chamber of Commerce luncheon, which will begin at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Golden Acorn Restaurant at Dry Creek Ranch Golf Course, 805 Crystal Way. For more information, call (209) 745-2529.

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