While seeking the Lodi-area seat on the California Board of Equalization in next year's election, former Lodi Mayor and Assemblyman Alan Nakanishi got a head start.
Nakanishi was recently hired by a Board of Equalization board member from another district to represent her at meetings and confer with people who will testify at upcoming board meetings. Nakanishi's position pays $94,224 annually.
Nakanishi is running for the Board of Equalization seat being vacated next year by Republican Bill Leonard, who will term out of office. Also filing notices of intent with the Secretary of State's office are State Sen. George Runner, of Lancaster; former Assemblywoman Barbara Alby, of Fair Oaks, who is Leonard's chief deputy; Roy Ashburn, of Bakersfield; James Brulte, of Rancho Cucamonga; Tom McClintock, of Ventura; and Edward Streichman, of Fresno.
Former Galt Mayor Tim Raboy, who lost to Leonard for a Board of Equalization seat in 2006, has filed a notice of intent to run again next year. Raboy also has insider experience on the Board of Equalization as a criminal investigator. Other Democrats filing notices of intent are Louis Ambrose and Chris Parker, of Sacramento.
Nakanishi, who served eight years on the Lodi City Council and six more as an Assemblyman in the 10th District before being termed out in 2008, is running for one of five seats on the Board of Equalization. It's an extremely large district, extending from Redlands in San Bernardino County north to the Oregon border in Siskiyou and Modoc counties. Lodi and Galt are smack dab in the middle of the district, which Runner describes as serving one-quarter of the state's population.
Nakanishi, who has been rumored to be considering a run for State Sen. Dave Cogdill's seat, told the News-Sentinel on Monday that he has no interest in the Senate seat. He's focusing solely on the Board of Equalization, where he was hired by board member Michelle Steel, who represents four Southern California counties and portions of two others.
In his new staff role with the board, Nakanishi said he attends legislative hearings while serving as a liaison to the Legislature and tax groups.
"I report to her on what's happening," he said.
For example, he recently attended a meeting on taxation of American Indian property, and on Wednesday, he will attend a meeting of the Tax Reform Commission appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Nakanishi said he got the job when his predecessor took another position. He knows Steel personally, and she knew he was available.
Despite what some observers consider a political appointment, Runner didn't criticize his two primary opponents, both of whom now work at the Board of Equalization and have the ability to tout their position on the ballot.
Since there are limited funds for such a low-profile position and a quarter of the state's population to attract, Runner said the listed occupation is extremely important for a candidate. But Runner says he has an advantage of his own — as a "taxpayer advocate" for an organization called "Americans for Prosperity," which deals with taxpayer issues at the local level.
When it comes to comparing Republican candidates next year, Runner said the question among voters may very well be, "Will being an employee of the tax board be a good thing or bad thing?"
What does the California Board of Equalization do?The California Board of Equalization serves the public in sales and use taxes, property taxes, special taxes and the tax appellate program. It is also the appellate body for franchise and income tax appeals.
Revenues support hundreds of state and local government programs and services, including schools and colleges, hospitals and health care services, criminal justice, correctional and social welfare programs, law enforcement and consumer services.
Source: California Board of Equalization