A small but enthusiastic group of Porterville locals gathered in one of the meeting rooms at The Pizza Factory on Thursday evening to participate in a meet and greet with 25-year-old Drew Phelps. Phelps is on the march to the next election where his name will show up on the ballot as a candidate for the 26th District Assembly seat, the same seat currently held by Porterville native Devon Mathis.
The meet and greet was hosted by the Porterville Democratic Club (PDC) and open to the general public. Once Phelps had arrived, John Coffee, a member of PDC, introduced himself and Phelps before directing all attention onto Phelps.
“Thank you all for coming in support of me,” said Phelps. “But not just in support of me, but, more importantly, in support of such an important race.”
Phelps then covered his background and why he feels qualified to run for office.
“I have been building thus far based on my past experience working for both Democratic and Republican elected officials in the state and federal governments,” said Phelps.
Currently, Phelps works as the Senior Policy Analyst at GV Wire and is well versed in the process policies and bills undergo towards getting approved. He has worked under the direction of Jim Costa and Connie Conway, and has also gained experience through working with Andy Vidak.
“There is so much that obviously needs to be done out here in the 26th District,” said Phelps. “And so I got into politics.”
Phelps has some priority issues he’s standing on as platforms for his campaign. Among these priorities that are vital to the Central Valley, Phelps feels strongly about the water issues that face a lot of residents in Tulare County, and thinks he can bring more jobs to this area as well.
“We have a great Democratic majority, but at the same time they have neglected us here in the Valley for quite some time, and that’s looking to change right now,” said Phelps. “My priority number one is making sure that folks in the district, because there is upwards of 10,000 who don’t have clean water in the 26th District alone, is making sure that those folks when they wake up in the morning and turn on their tap, they can drink the water that comes out. At the same time my scope isn’t going to be limited to that.”
He believes in keeping things local, and, if he wins the Assembly seat, would like to bring the Central Valley to the forefront of Assembly conversations.
“For me, health care access is another one of those top priorities, making sure that we are able to hopefully avoid any hospitals closing their doors for any period of time, but if that does happen I’d like to make sure that other options are available. Whether that is looking at programs like residency programs that will attract doctors to our area. Residency programs have been shown to keep doctors where they’re at.”
Phelps even addressed his approach to the homelessness problem that has invaded and spread across the Central Valley.
“Homelessness, it is one of the toughest question because it is so multi-faceted,” said Phelps. “Really when it comes to homelessness, we like to talk about them like they are one block, and that’s impossible. We can’t say one size fits all for every single person. There is some folks who couldn’t make rent at the end of the month, other folks have mental wellness issues and have been more chronically homeless for a period of time.
“I think when people do think of the homeless that is often what comes to mind first is the more chronically homeless, and so for those obviously mental health is number one. We have such a deficit here in Tulare County of mental health services and so building upon that base that is barely there is priority number one. Then just working on housing is number two for me.”
Growing up in the Central Valley, specifically Tulare, Phelps feels he’s the best fit candidate for the 26th District Assembly seat, and is hoping he will see himself in that seat by 2021.