As the only Democrat in the 5th Senate District race, Cathleen Galgiani faces a likely battle with either Republican Bill Berryhill or Leroy Ornellas in November's general election.
Nevertheless, she insists that she's taking the June primary very seriously.
"Traditionally, we have elected more moderate candidates in the Central Valley," said Galgiani, who moved this year to a house in Stockton that she already owned.
She lived in Livingston, which is in the 17th Assembly District, where she is completing her third term. But she has local ties, having grown up in Stockton and being a 1982 graduate of Tokay High School.
Republicans paint Galgiani as a tax-and-spend liberal, but she considers herself a moderate similar to Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills.
"I have the most independent voting record of anybody running for Senate," Galgiani said.
Galgiani's primary objective as a legislator is the high-speed rail system that she hopes will someday link the Bay Area with Southern California. She wrote the legislation placing Proposition 1A, the California High-Speed Train Bond Act of 2008, on the ballot. The train would travel up to 200 mph.
Galgiani admits that she shares concerns with Republicans about the project's affordability, which includes the cost to operate the train system once it's built. She said she tried two years ago to get the High-Speed Rail Authority to use as much existing track and other infrastructure as possible to save money, but the authority ignored her idea until recently. Now the authority is exploring her ideas to cut costs due to the recession.
Thanks to $6.3 billion in federal stimulus spending, construction on the first phase of the high-speed rail will be begin between Bakersfield and the Madera area, Galgiani said. The ACE train system, which includes the Amtrak line that stops in Lodi, will extend south to the northern end of the high-speed line, she added.
Upon completion of the high-speed line, people could travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two hours and 38 minutes, she said.
Galgiani disagrees with Ornellas' assertion that rail construction would be at the expense of area farmers by removing their property rights. Two high-speed rail line tracks will serve the same number of passengers as 12 lanes of highway, she said, and that will save a lot of private property.
Galgiani lists her other major accomplishment as securing funding and support to create the University of California, Merced.
Regarding the state budget, Galgiani sees slightly increased revenues compared to 2011. She advocates streamlining government programs and getting rid of government waste.
This year's state budget stands to contain several triggers of spending cuts if Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-increase ballot measure is defeated by voters in November.
For example, school districts will be authorized to reduce the number of school days if the ballot measure fails, Galgiani said.
Other issues Galgiani cited include requiring the state to maintain an inventory of local water projects throughout California, and supporting groundwater recharge and storage projects while balancing the need to protect the environment
Like Berryhill, Galgiani says she supports charter schools, though charter and non-charter schools alike deserve oversight and accountability, she said.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.