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Senator Rubio visits Woodville
WOODVILLE — A small crowd of people turned out for state Sen. Michael J. Rubio (D - Shafter) when he visited Woodville as part of a “Listening Tour” through his 16th State Senate District.
Rubio visited several communities in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties, including the towns of Lindsay, Woodville and Poplar.
It was Rubio’s first tour of the district he inherited in redistricting.
“I grew up in Lost Hills and went to a school just like this. That’s where we went for our immunizations, that’s where we ate. That’s where our library was and where we watched movies,” Rubio said to the small group gathered at Woodville Elementary School. “The school was the mecca of the community.”
He mentioned the importance of going to all of the small communities to listen to what the people had to say and learn about their concerns.
Rubio talked about the importance of having safe drinking water, the importance of balancing the budget, and his concern for education before taking questions from the audience.
“I’m the only one, actually only two of us, who has gone against his [Gov. Brown] leadership, going against the party and voting against the budget for a number of reasons,” Rubio said.
Primarily, he said, was his concern that the minimum school days has already been cut from 180 to 162, with talks of cutting it down further.
“If you live in Brazil, Russia, India or China — those kids go to school more than 220 days a year,” Rubio said. “How are our students, the next generation of California, be able to compete with other students in the rest of the world in the world market? I want us to get to the table, roll up our sleeves, and find a way to solve this budget issue so that education isn’t constantly being cut, particularly Kindergarten through eighth-grade.”
Woodville Board President Monica Romero, who sat in the audience, was the first to ask a question — asking him what he can do about saving teaching jobs.
Rubio talked about his desire last year to freeze taxes, something that did not happen.
He then asked for a show of hands of how many planned to support the Governor’s tax initiative, and how many were not voting for it. A few hands went up against it and Rubio asked why they felt that way.
“I would support a sales tax because everyone has to pay it,” said Sharon Lamagno who sat in the audience. “I don’t think they should pick on this one group — I don’t care if they make a million dollars a year.
Rubio said he did not disagree with her but also realizes a sales tax would not pass, and added that if he had been governor, he would have made a compromise in order to get people to work and taxes frozen.
People in the audience also asked him about drinking water problems and the importance of teaching young adults job-training skills.
Rubio responded that the water issues can not be solved in Sacramento or in Washington D.C., but must be fixed regionally.
“We have to fix it locally, ourselves,” he said. “I’m not promoting raised rates. I’m not promoting raised fees. But we can’t do it in small communities of 10,000; 15,000 or 50,000. Let’s look at it from a larger district.”
As Rubio left, Carissa Hernandez, 12, followed him out to have her picture taken with him.
She said she wanted to attend when she heard a senator was visiting.
“It was really cool meeting him,” Hernandez said. “I’d like to be a lawyer some day.”
Armando Lopez, also in the audience, said he did not trust politicians and though he didn’t answer when Rubio asked, said he did not support the tax initiative because the taxes would not start until January and take an entire year to collect.
“They don’t ever tell you that,” Lopez said. “I want something done now. We need change now, especially in this community where everything is limited. The kids in our town are missing out on basic funds that kids in Porterville get on a regular basis.”
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.