By Ric Llewellyn
Michael Rubio quit the California Senate. That won't be the end of the story, but maybe it should be.
It's fair to review his voting record. Project Vote Smart provides insight into how he represented the 16th Senate District. Some of the most interesting votes were his "not voting" votes.
Of course, Rubio basically supported the Democrat-led legislative agenda. But occasionally the issue was out on the fringe of social meddling. At least it would be the fringe in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Instead of walking in lockstep with the Democrats, Rubio represented his constituents -- at least by not betraying their values.
Perhaps the most controversial position he took was with respect to the California Environmental Quality Act. Rubio was leading the review of our environmental policy and seemed to be moving away from the current course of more governmental command and control. Good for resource development; bad for environmentalists.
It's also fair to look at his integrity as a politician. Obviously I'm not a Democrat. And I'm usually opposed to the social management and overbearing governmental intrusion Democrats tend to embrace. So a Democrat stumbling would be raw meat for a true partisan.
But are Rubio's real estate dealings really that sketchy? I don't get the sense of a political quid pro quo with the wealthy oil man.
Of course, I could have used some help in the '90s when I went through a short sale in Santa Maria. Like a lot of other people, I had to wait a few years and repair my credit before I could buy another house. And a $681,000 second home in a gated community? That was out of the question.
Yet I do not begrudge the man his friends. My friends have helped me in ways others probably would have liked. So I say, big deal. I'm sure that won't be his political legacy.
Now the important thing for the constituents of the 16th Senate District is to pick someone new who will serve them well. I'm afraid it will be more of the same.
Do we want a politically well-connected career "public servant" to step into the role? I cringe as names are sweeping through my head! Do we need someone representing us who is looking to build a career in politics? Or restart one?
Wouldn't it be refreshing to elect "one of us" to go to Sacramento and speak with a clear and reasonable voice for all the people of the 16th District?
I'd like to elect someone who would be happy to crash at an apartment in downtown Sacramento rather than purchase or lease a house in the suburbs. The counties of Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern are home! Sacramento is where our representative goes to work for us.
I don't want a back-scratcher with a political pedigree. I want someone who can influence hearts and minds in the Senate. Someone smart and engaging. Someone well loved regionally, not just in her or his own neighborhood. Someone approachable and ready to serve.
I want someone who can stand up against the one-party nonsense that seems to drive policy these days. Instead, our new state senator should bring the district to Sacramento and build coalitions based on mutual interdistrict interests.
Just look at their ridiculous shapes! Are our interests throughout the southern valley really that disparate?
Certainly it is essential to keep close to our economic bedrock. Successful business people have success to share! Surely our state government could use some success strategies in policymaking right now.
But we also need a new state senator who will spend time communicating with the regular people of the district. After all, we know best what we need from our government.
Michael Rubio is out. That's a good thing for a government that is politically lopsided. It's an opportunity to send someone to Sacramento who will be a force for ideological compromise in governing.
It's good for Rubio too. My advice? Stay out. Some people are skeptical of a manager of governmental affairs. Words like "lobbyist" and "revolving door" are flying around. It's not fair but it's happening.
Chevron is a great opportunity. And Rubio can do more there than he could as just one more Democrat in the California Legislature.
Good luck Michael.
-- Ric Llewellyn is one of three community columnists whose work appears here every Saturday. These are the opinions of Llewellyn, not necessarily The Californian. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week: Heather Ijames.