Raised in Farmersville, Ruben Macareno earned an AA degree from Los Angeles City College after attending Exeter Union High School. He went on to California State University, Los Angeles, before working in the news media, fundraising and political spheres. The founder of Latino Democrats of Tulare County, Ruben, self-employed, is currently chairman of the Tulare County Democratic Party. He is married, and has two children.
WHAT ELECTED EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE THAT GIVES YOU CONFIDENCE IN SEEKING THIS OFFICE?
Basically, I’m the chairman of the Tulare County Democratic Party, so I see the process up front. And I have worked with people that are currently in the legislature right now. I’ve served with them on statewide boards prior to them being in the Assembly. So I do have communication with them. I’ve also worked with the Los Angeles Times as an administrator in the newsroom, so there’s always a political interaction between the media and with the political arena. But most importantly, I think above all else, I think a good representative is someone that has a good connection with the community, has the pulse of the community, and I’ve been an activist for a very long time, since 2007. And to listen to the needs and concerns of the community I think is what gives me the confidence to say I can speak on their behalf. I feel like I’m part of the fabric of this community, and I feel that I’ll be able to do a good job.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING – WHAT ARE YOUR AIMS?
First of all, I’m running because I didn’t see anyone that was really someone that would represent the district in its entirety, when we’ve had our current legislator’s focus has been on the farmers and keeping taxes down, and I think that’s important. However, it’s not all that makes this district. This district is composed of many other professionals, many hard-working people, and I just felt compelled to run when I didn’t see a candidate that would perhaps fulfill those needs. But one of the things I felt was most important in the area is that we have what I would call a brain drain. We don’t have a state university in the area, or any university, and I think we need to start having that communication once again. And one of my central points in the legislature would be to present a study of bringing a state-run university to Assembly District 26. There’s various locations for that, but if we were to look at projections of the future, and population projections etc., there’s going to be a need to build more universities. And I think this area needs to be in the forefront. I think it’s important that we’re part of that particular agenda.
HOW DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE RUNNING IN SUCH A HEAVILY REPUBLICAN DISTRICT?
I think it’s important we look at the issues foremost, beyond the political lines. I think it’s important that we see what the needs are in this county, you know? We don’t have the jobs that we need here, or the university. We don’t have the infrastructure to bring in quality-type jobs. And I think that’s what everybody wants and needs in this area are jobs. So we need to draw away from the political lines and say, “What do we need in this particular county?” Now, I’m a Democrat, because in the political process you have to pick one or the other to have some kind of traction. Now, I believe that Democrats, the Democratic platform, best represents the needs of this particular community. Whether it’s heavily Republican or heavily Democratic, the platform of the Democratic Party I believe is what supports this area more than the Republican Party. And it is tough, but that message needs to go over those party lines. You know, we got to look at what we need, and not because I have an R or I have a D. It’s important that we look at what the needs are and address those.
HOW DO YOU THINK GOVERNOR BROWN IS DOING SO FAR?
I’m very happy that when the governor took office he told us up front that it was going to be a very tough time. That we were going to have unions that are not going to be happy, we’re going to have business people that are not going to be happy, but that we needed to tighten the belt. And he did it. He was successful. Democrats worked behind him. We had to swallow something that we really didn’t want to happen, but we knew it had to happen for the survivability of our state, for us to continue forward, and I think he’s doing an absolutely wonderful job for all Californians. I’m definitely very pleased with his work.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON GUNS – ON GUN CONTROL, THE EXPLOSION OF GUN VIOLENCE, AND THE PROLIFERATION OF FIREARMS?
I’m for gun control, and an extension of it. I’m very clear with that. I think that gun violence is a tragic thing; we see it more and more every day. In fact, just yesterday we’ve seen two shootings in the city of Visalia, and I believe we need to do something about gun control. Make it more restrictive. I don’t like the idea of taking away people’s rights. I’m not for that. However, we have to work at what’s best for the general good. And I think for the general good, may it be here in Tulare County or may it be back east, we have to have more control over issuing guns and ammunition.
THE ACA WILL NOT COVER UNDOCUMENTED PEOPLE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?
I think the ACA and any new law that comes into play is a work in progress. I think that we’ll see some changes. That’s an issue I would like to see figured out. To be quite honest, I don’t have a really strong position either way, particularly because I believe that the law will be changing, it’ll be flexing with the issues. It’s a major piece of legislation. I didn’t think that most people would think that would be the perfect law to address everybody’s needs, but I think in general it’s a good thing for all Americans, particularly here in Tulare County. As far as covering everybody, my position basically is wait and see, and I think there will be some kinks that will have to be worked out.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON FRACKING?
I’m totally against fracking in every which way and form. I think we need to protect our water. It’s one of those things I don’t think is a partisan issue. It’s an issue that’s important to everyone, not only here in the Central Valley, but all throughout California. You know, people need to realize that our farmers need water, and we need to continue to have a strong economy, and we can’t have it if we don’t have the water to do that. We need to figure out how we’re going to be able to keep our water within our region. One voter told me that a lot of the water that is bottle and sold and taken out of the state is from California. She asked why we didn’t stop bottling the water and keep it here. You know, a legislator or representative should have that ability to connect with the voters so that their ideas and solutions can be actually presented. I think that water is going to be a big, big issue to address. It’s very important, and the fracking industry, if you will, is not going to help us in any which way. So I’m definitely 100% against fracking, and I stand strong and proud in regard to that.
PURSUANT TO THAT, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE WATER BOND INITIATIVE?
Quite frankly, I haven’t been too up to speed with the bond at the moment, so I really can’t make a comment on that just yet.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON THE HIGH-SPEED RAIL?
The high-speed rail, I think, is very important to the local economy, but it’s more important environmentally. I think that if we don’t build something such as the high-speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco that we’re going to see an increase in bad air. We already have bad air. The last thing we need is another freeway. With the projections of population increases in metropolitan areas, and even in the Central Valley, we need to have something like the high-speed rail and not more freeways. So I support the high-speed rail.