Todd Cotta, Republican candidate for the 32nd State Assembly District seat, says he’s running for the office to protect his fellow California residents from the lawmakers they’ve elected.
“They pass laws in Sacramento without regard for the people of this state,” Cotta said. “They have no idea what they’re doing up there, passing these laws. They’re going to keep doing it and making lives in California worse and worse and worse.”
Currently, the 32nd District is represented by Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield). The extensively gerrymandered district snakes from northern Kings County to southern Kern County, with its tail-end boundaries hooking around to avoid most of Bakersfield.
“It’ll make you cry,” Cotta said of the layout. “It goes basically from Laton all the way to the Grapevine.”
Police Officer Turned Businessman
A retired Fresno County deputy sheriff with 20 years experience, Cotta now owns and operates the Kings Gun Center in his hometown of Hanford.
Cotta’s foray into weapon sales started with him reviewing firearms on his YouTube channel.
“I was kind of dared to open a gun store in Hanford,” he said. “I turned it into a $1.2 million gun store.”
Cotta can claim experience as a rancher, having grown row crops, as well as fruit and nut trees, on the family farm. He also spent 12 years helping direct the Laguna Irrigation District, serving as supervisor for District 1.
Now, he’s looking for a job in the state capital undoing what he sees as an intentional effort to erode the rights of the state’s citizens.
“I’m way tired of my rights being stripped away,” Cotta said. “Sacramento is ruining this state. I had to act.”
Too Much Control
Specifically, Cotta is against the passage of Proposition 13, an initiative up for voter approval in March that will use an increase in commercial property taxes to increase funding for education. He is also not a fan of the state’s new rent control law, which he says will force landlords to raise the rent annually to avoid losing revenue.
He’s also upset at the way California is addressing its water needs.
“The water issue with this state is the state refusing to look at new ways to capture water,” he said. “If we had a few more reservoirs in this state, we could have clean water running all the time.”
Currently, the California Department of Water Resources is planning such a project–the Sites Reservoir near Colusa in the Sacramento Valley–that would add up to 640,000 acre-feet of water storage. The project is projected to cost $5.2 billion.
That, however, is not enough for Cotta.
“They still refuse to look at the obvious,” he said. “There’s no excuse why we can’t do it.”
Making California Great Again
California lawmakers, Cotta says, are driving people out of the state. Especially egregious is the state’s take on gun-control law. Cotta is also a firearms instructor.
“We talked in class about gun laws and people,” he said. “I asked how many people have had a friend or family member leave this state in the past few years. Every hand in that room went up. Nobody could say this is the California they dreamed of.”
The state’s reputation, Cotta says, is suffering because of a perception California laws are overly restrictive.
“I contact people all over the nation, and they’re embarrassed for us,” he said. “This is the best state in the nation. Everything about this state is better than every other state, yet we’re the laughing stock. It’s got to stop.”
He says the answer is to wrest away control from those currently in office, replacing them with legislators whose politics lean right.
“My goal is to try to get as many conservatives elected with me so I can stop the violations happening,” Cotta said. “They (lawmakers) still look at the Constitution and give it the middle finger.”
Homelessness and Drugs
The problem of the state’s large homeless population, Cotta says, could be easily remedied.
“It’s not a housing problem. They’ve put these people in houses, and they just go back on the street,” he said. “There may be people who need some help, but by and large it is a drug and mental health problem.”
The solution, according to Cotta, is to both increase mental health spending and roll back changes made by the voter-approved Prop 47, which reduced simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. The move, he says, has cost judges the ability to force people into rehab.
“Now, because cops can deal with drug users, there’s no hammer to force these people to turn around,” Cotta said. “At the end of the day, by giving drug users a pass, we’re actually hurting them because we’re giving them no chance to get their lives back on track.”
Not initially a supporter of Donald Trump, Cotta says he has since come around.
“In the 2016 election, in the primary I voted for Ted Cruz,” he said. “In the general (election), I voted for him (Trump). I still held my nose a bit. Since then, I’ve become a megafan of that man.”
Cotta says he admires the way Trump uses social media to bypass the mainstream media. He also believes Trump has done well following up on campaign promises.
“He is doing exactly what he said he’s going to do. It’s refreshing to see honesty in the office,” he said.
On the subject of his incumbent opponent, Cotta says that while Salas often votes against his party’s line, he only does so because the Democrats allow it.
“Rudy, my opposite team, will say he votes for things we want in the Valley,” Cotta said. “They allowed him to vote against (Prop.) 47 because they have the votes already. If he voted against Democratic policy, they’d turn him out. They give their members in different districts a pass to vote against policy.”
Democrats, Cotta says, want an authoritarian control over California and its residents.
“They want government housing. They want government jobs,” he said. “They want control over this state, and it has to stop.”
Cotta’s campaign website is cottaforassembly.com.