NORWALK – Meet Bob Archuleta, Democrat candidate for the regular California State Senate District 32 seat up for grabs in the November 2018 California general election.
This year there are technically four elections; on June 5, the California Primary was held and voters went to the polls in Norwalk, Downey and all the cities represented by the State Senate 32nd District to choose two candidates from two different terms.
This situation came about with the resignation of former state Senator Tony Mendoza, who resigned prior to being scrutinized by the Senate for likely improprieties involving female staff members.
Because this is an election year, no special election was called and the selection process for Mendoza’s remaining term was placed on the June 5 ballot.
This may have caused some confusion, for voters saw almost identical lists of candidates for the two sets of primaries. One for the short term (expiring December 31, 2018), and one set for the regular term which will be for four years starting in January of 2019.
Archuleta’s Republican opponent in the November general election is Whittier attorney Rita Topalian. Topalian agreed to a sit-down interview on Monday, June 25, so the readers and voters can meet her as well.
Vanessa Delgado, mayor of the City of Montebello, was the runner up in the special primary for the remainder of Mendoza’s term and will need to decide if she will indeed run or what other plans she has.
That special election is slated for Tuesday, August 7, and will be solely for the selection of a person to complete the remainder of the vacant term. Delgado’s opponent in that special election will also be Topalian, who had garnered the most votes in the special primary.
Wednesday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Democrat candidate Bob Archuleta at Diana’s Restaurant in south Norwalk.
The format would be about a dozen open-ended questions concerning some of the issues concerning all of the communities of the 930,000 strong California 32nd state Senate district.
WHO IS BOB ARCHULETA?
Bob. Archuleta admits to being “70ish” and has lived in the area all his life. Prior to our sit-down, he spoke with a group of diners sharing that he used to sell roses along the streets in his youth for extra cash.
Archuleta served in the 82nd Airborne for three years during the Vietnam era and was stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. He’s been married to his current wife, Rose, for 15 years (this November), has five children and seven grandchildren.
Two of his sons graduated from the United States Military Academy and are serving as officers in the US Army as a captain and major.
Archuleta shared that he served the public as a sworn police officer in the Montebello Police Department. He admitted that at the urging of Rep. Grace Napolitano, he entered politics, winning a seat on the Pico Rivera City council back in 2007.
He considers himself the “equal opportunity candidate” in that he doesn’t care of age, heritage, hair color or anything when it comes to serving the people.
Why are you running for the 32nd State Senate District?
In answer to the question of why he was running for state Senate, Archuleta made reference to a lifetime of “service and representation.” Asked for specifics, he spoke of his serving through the “military, community service and serving and representing our veterans.”
He made mention of serving almost a million LA County-based veterans as military commissioner of veterans affairs for 24 years.
He also cited his 10-year history of working in the Montebello Police Department, which gave him the opportunity to “talk with people,” directly on issues regarding law enforcement.
Finally, his service as an elected official on the Pico Rivera City Council was his opportunity to “straighten it out.” That is, he said it “was upside down financially, graffiti, the parks were a mess, the library was falling apart.”
“I am here (running for the state Senate) because of the call to duty. My friends and neighbors said, ‘Bob, you got to take it to the next level.’”
Citing the resignation of Mendoza, he saw an opportunity to bring the leadership that the 32nd Senate District needed.
ON THE LABEL “THE REPUBLICAN DEMOCRAT”
His opponents in the primaries sought to label Archuleta a Republican in sheep’s clothing or the “Republican Democrat.” This was done with scathing campaign literature from a fellow Democrat whose supporters are said to have invested nearly $2 million in a campaign where Archuleta raised a tenth of that. His thoughts:
“Wow! I’ve never heard of such a statement (Republican Democrat). But I can tell you this: I have heard of a very conservative Democrat, a Democrat who can reach across the aisle. I’ve heard of a Democrat who can bring people together, and that’s me. I’m going to unite as many people as I possibly can.”
“You can’t tell me that a problem in Norwalk or Downey or Cerritos or wherever, is only a Democratic or only a Republican problem.”
“I want clean air, clean water, I want better public transportation, I want to be able to send my kids to school in a safe environment.”
HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT FROM YOUR REPUBLICAN OPPONENT?
Archuleta considers his campaign a “political miracle.” “Never in the history of the 32nd district, or any district, where an opponent had almost $2 million thrown in on her side, and my side had only $200,000.”
According to Archuleta,” this came from housewives, veterans, independents. Everybody was pitching in.”
“I’m going to bring leadership, integrity and a sense of duty that we’ve never seen before.”
ON THE DEPLOYMENT OF CALIFORNIA’S NATIONAL GUARD TO THE SOUTHERN BORDER WITH MEXICO
The current administration has called for the deployment of National Guard troops along the United States border, including a request for California’s National Guard to participate.
“Their job is to take orders from our Commander in Chief,” said Archuleta. “Whatever mission they’re on, they are going to do it right, do it quick with pride and honor.
“Our job is to make sure they are safe, they come home to their families because they are citizens, neighbors, relatives, aunts and uncles, and we need to make sure we honor them every day, regardless of their mission.”
In the next installment, Archuleta answers questions on public safety, homelessness, the gas tax, handicap accessibility, and California’s natural resources.
By Raul Samaniego, contributor