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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Luis Chavez was the first in his family to graduate from college and later earn a master's degree. He has worked side-by-side with farm workers and understands the need for agriculture jobs. He is also a Fresno Unified School District trustee.
"I'm not a stranger to the valley," said Chavez, who is running against state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, for the 14th Senate District spot. "I've been working for 15 years in the community and those are the skills and experiences that help you in legislation."
Monday on "First Look with Scott Cox," the Democrat talked about his political strengths and gave his take on core conversations taking place in communities.
Californian reporter Theo Douglas asked Chavez to elaborate on the vocational eduction program -- Linked Learning-- that the Fresno school district is implementing and could be a model for other California districts. Fresno is investing $5 million in vocational programs.
Through Linked Learning, during the first year of high school a student is given an overview of career options from health to business entrepreneurship.
The second year, the program gives students job shadowing experience.
"It's a great opportunity for them to realize or solidify what area they want to go into," Chavez said.
Toward the end of the program, Linked Learning gives students internships and hands-on experience. By the time students graduate, they are experienced and employable or can go to college, he said.
Vidak has questioned the government's mandate to spend more money on the train, saying it could be used in other areas, Douglas said. But Chavez sees the light at the end of the tunnel.
"It will help long-term transportation and create jobs," Chavez said.
Although Chavez is in favor of the train, he does see areas for improvement in the voter-approved project.
A conversation among elected officials, community members and high-speed rail officials needs to occur to create a long-term plan beneficial to everyone, Chavez said.
As a son of a farm worker, agriculture was a part of Chavez's life. The candidate said everyone has been touched by agriculture in one way or another.
"That is one of the reasons why this water drought has hit us really hard," Chavez said.
According to Chavez, there are still seven water bond proposals in the state legislature but there is one main component he has yet to see addressed: storage.
Some water proposals address conservation or conveyance, but storage is what the state needs, he said.
"I"m supportive of raising temperance flats but the challenge is that will take 10 years," Chavez added. "We have political slogans and the blame game that hasn't gotten us one single drop of water."
And Chavez added that the solution isn't rocket science. The majority of water comes from northern California, so conveyance to bring it south is needed.
"We have to get buy-ins from everybody because the valley alone can't afford to pay for all these billions of dollars," he said.
As the June 3 election nears, Chavez said he will concentrate on the "common sense pocketbook" issues that are important to each community.