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Das Williams Kicks Off Campaign for 35th District Assembly Seat

The candidate says that despite tough times at the state level, there is still a way to 'get things done'

California 35th District Assembly candidate Das Williams is not wasting time.

Williams, a second-term member of the Santa Barbara City Council, announced his candidacy for the Assembly on Monday. Surrounded by a group of supporters at Fire Station No. 3 on East Sola Street, he started his second news conference of the day at least 15 minutes early and quickly got down to business.

“As a local City Council member and activist in Ventura, I have seen firsthand how the state’s displaced priorities and budget cuts have wreaked havoc in our communities,” he said. The 35th District includes parts of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Working in “that madhouse in Sacramento” would be his opportunity to protect public education, fair wages, safety, the environment and the economy on a local level, Williams said.

“I know all too well that Sacramento is broken,” he said. “When Sacramento is broken, bad things happen to real people.”

Though Williams’ core issues of education, the environment and the economy are repeated in many candidates’ campaigns, he said he relies on his experience to do most of the talking.

On the City Council, he helped balance the city’s budget to enact $10 million worth of changes. Councilmembers tried to protect “basic” programs and services such as public safety, parks and recreation and education without creating the need for layoffs, he said.

“Even in the most challenging of times, there is still a way to get things done,” he said. “There’s no reason we can’t get them done in Sacramento as well.”

Though state government has given tax breaks and loopholes to corporations “so big oil and tobacco can get richer while everyone else gets by on less,” Williams believes that one person can make a difference in resolving state budget issues and representing local areas one vote at a time.

“Now is the time for action, for new ideas and for new energy,” he said. “Now is the time for leadership that puts local communities first and has renewed focus on just getting some basic things done.”

His first priority, if elected, would be to contain the damage to the public education system, he said. His education experience, outside of politics, includes years as a local teacher and involvement with the Peabody Charter School board.

Williams hopes his history of environmentalism will contribute to his votes in the Capitol, as well. He said the difference between a 20th- and 21th-century environmentalist translates not only to saying no to things such as offshore drilling, but saying yes to opportunities such as alternative energy, green jobs and transportation issues.

Campaign plans for Williams include strong fundraising, much like his second-term City Council run, and a mixture of new media and more traditional methods. While he has profiles on Twitter and Facebook, walking miles of sidewalk to meet local residents face to face is his main goal.

“I know I look younger than I am, so it makes it more important to talk to people face to face so they know that I have experience, that I’m not just some kid,” Williams said.

Former Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced Williams with strong words of support, emphasizing his “right mix” of experience, energy, leadership and commitment to his local community.

“He has an independent and no-nonsense approach to issues affecting the community,” she said.

Williams is running against fellow Democratic candidate Susan Jordan, wife of incumbent Pedro Nava, and Republican Mike Stoker.

Many people have drawn comparisons between the two Democrats, especially in their priorities of education and environmentalism, but Williams said his experience gives him the edge.

“You can tell everybody anything you want until you actually have to vote on a budget; that proves the priorities that you have,” he said. “To me, it’s more than talking about an issue; it’s about having background dealing with an issue like education, budgets or public safety.”

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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