Ever since Lodi became a part of the 14th Senate District after the legislative reapportionment in 2002, no one from San Joaquin County has represented the area in that district.
Republicans Chuck Poochigian of Fresno and Dave Cogdill of Modesto were the first two senators in the district. This year, the Lodi area will be represented by someone living either in Manteca, Modesto, Oakdale, Columbia or Fresno.
While Democrat Larry Johnson of Fresno is unopposed in the June primary, five Republicans tossed their hats in the ring. They are Assemblyman Tom Berryhill, who moved from Modesto to Oakdale in order to live in the Senate district, Bret de St. Jeor of Modesto, Heidi Fuller of Columbia, Tim Campi of Manteca and Tom Marsella of Fresno.
District 14 is an open seat because Cogdill, R-Modesto, chose to not seek a second term in the Senate.
On the Republican side, a deciding factor for voters may be whether they want a senator who will fight Democrats tooth and nail on the budget without budging an inch, or if they want someone who is more willing to compromise, realizing that the Democrats are in the majority, at least this year.
Fuller, Marsella and de St. Jeor advocate a hard-line attitude with absolutely no tax increases. Campi says he is willing to compromise with senators from both parties. Berryhill said he voted against the 2009 budget because of the tax increases it proposed, yet he says he's looking forward to the next reapportionment to ensure a greater chance of compromise.
"These (legislative) seats are so safe that we are polarized up here," said Berryhill, currently an Assemblyman in Stanislaus County. "It's hard for leadership on either side to come to a consensus in the middle. Those types of attitudes have gotten us into the gridlock we're in today."
Like most of his opponents, Berryhill said that Republicans need to adhere to core principles like no new taxes when deliberating the budget, but three of his opponents say they won't bend.
De St. Jeor, explaining why he won't support new taxes, says that California is on the "cusp" of bankruptcy the way the state is spending money.
"You don't borrow money," de St. Jeor said. "You don't borrow our children's and grandchildren's future and force them into debt because of the people of today and their selfish needs.
"If that means we don't pass the budget, well guess what? We don't pass the budget," he added.
Speaking along the same lines, Fuller said, "I think the Republicans have compromised way too much. It's time for the other side to compromise."
Marsella not only wants no new taxes, he wants to go retro — he wants a 25 percent state income tax reduction for individuals and businesses. He says the Legislature wouldn't have to cut more from the budget to offset the tax cut because people will spend more money, thereby generating more tax revenue.
Marsella also supports a tax exemption for the first $1,000 on all bank accounts, annuities and other investments.
The Fresno candidate is in no mood to compromise with his colleagues in the Legislature. If he doesn't get what he wants, he vows to use the initiative process.
"I'm not going to Sacramento to make friends," Marsella said. "I'm going there to get things done."
Campi, who has not raised any money for his campaign, supports working with lawmakers from both parties.
"Something has to give because the state is not getting better," said Campi, a Manteca resident and the only candidate from San Joaquin County. "There has to be some compromise. "I'm tired of hearing every time the state needs money, they need to fire teachers, firefighters and police."
Campi advocates eliminating some state agencies and consolidating others to save the state money.
"The state really needs to start working with the unions because the unions haven't given an inch when it comes to compromise," Campi said.
On other issues:
Fuller: Supports Arizona's recently-enacted law to require law enforcement to request citizenship papers when someone is suspected of a possible crime and that California should consider using the Arizona model.
Candidates at a glance
Education: Attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Career: Assemblyman in 25th District. Elected in 2006 and 2008. Family has farmed in Stanislaus County for four generations.
Family: Wife, Loretta, and two daughters, Samantha, 9, Jessica, 25.
Education: No college.
Career: Manufacturing industry out of high school. Worked for several companies.
Family: Wife Diane, died in 2009; two children, Destiny, 22, Nick, 19.
Bret de St. Jeor
Education: International business degree, University of Utah.
Career: Self-employed businessman in Oakdale who manufactures tin boxes for retail sales, decorative paper boxes and drinking straws. Also owns patent on drinking straws. Owns Charlie Choo Choo's Party Train for children.
Family: Wife Andrea; two sons, Sterling, 14, Thomas, 8.
Education: B.A., history, UCLA; law degree from George Washington University National Law Center in Washington, D.C.
Career: Attorney and utility consultant.
Family: Husband Kevin, daughter Emily, 14.
Education: Bachelor's degree in economics, California State University, Fresno; attended University of California, Berkeley.
Career: Venture capital investment adviser.
Family: Single; three sons, Cary, Mark and Darin.
Campi: California should do something similar to Arizona's model. He wants to ensure that there is no racial profiling.
Berryhill: California should enforce federal law to secure borders; supports a guest worker program to allow farm workers from Mexico to harvest California crops and then send them back to Mexico.
Marsella: California needs a guest worker program. Borders must be secured and use National Guard troops if necessary.
"I'm concerned about (Middle Eastern) people coming in. If that means we have to (use racial profiling) a bit, we need to protect America. I'm concerned about people who hate our country."
De St. Jeor: "Our border is a national security issue, not an immigration issue." Need to be concerned about Middle East as well as Mexico.
Moving into senate district to run for office
Fuller: Sued California Secretary of State's office over its refusal to enforce state law that requires a state legislative candidate to live in his or her district a year before filing for office. What makes the issue unclear is that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that candidates don't have to live in the district for an entire year.
Berryhill: Lived about a mile outside the 14th District in Modesto, so he moved to Oakdale, which is in the district. Says it is important to live in the district in which a legislator serves, which is why he moved to Oakdale.
Marsella: It's extremely important to follow the California Constitution and live in the district at least one year before filing.
De St. Jeor: People should be represented by someone who lives in their district. If voters believe otherwise, they should work to get the law changed. "Tom Berryhill should accept the fact that he didn't look far enough ahead."
Painting Berryhill as a liberal Republican
Some opponents paint Berryhill as too liberal for the 14th Senate District. De St. Jeor criticizes Berryhill, as an assemblyman, for supporting an insurance tax to fund taxpayer-subsidized health care, expanding use of Mello-Roos taxes to finance renewable energy on private property, voting twice to confirm "extreme liberal Republican" Abel Maldonado as lieutenant governor last year and supporting Proposition 14, which would allow for an open primary for state offices.
Berryhill said he stands by his 100 percent approval rating by the California Tax Association and his endorsement by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
He didn't remember all the bills de St. Jeor referenced, such as the Mello-Roos bill, saying, "When you're voting on 20,000 bills a year, that one doesn't jump up to me."
As for Maldonado being confirmed for lieutenant governor, Berryhill said he supported it so that Maldonado wouldn't vote for tax increases as a senator.
And on the open primary issue, Berryhill said he voted merely to put the issue on the June ballot, but he opposes Proposition 14.