By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada and her challenger, John Munn, have five more months to introduce themselves to Sonoma County voters.
Under the state’s new open primary system, Yamada and Munn — the only candidates in the race — will face off not only June 5 but also in November’s general election.
The two, both from Davis, are competing for the new 4th District Assembly seat, which, on its western edge, takes in a small chunk of Sonoma County that includes parts of Rohnert Park and the Sonoma Valley.
The district spans six counties, including all of Lake and Napa counties and a sliver of the North Bay district currently represented by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, a San Rafael Democrat who is running for Congress.
The open primary gives North Bay voters more time to become familiar with the Democratic assemblywoman and her Republican rival, said Andy Merrifield, a Sonoma State University political scientist.
“This runoff election will give them an opportunity to take some time to look at the candidates,” Merrifield said. “Because of the redistricting the incumbent is unknown, so people may well be more interested.”
Both candidates have worked in government for many years.
Yamada, 61, running for a third and final term, is a social worker by training. She started in government in 1975 as a staff member to a Los Angeles County supervisor. She was a Yolo County supervisor before winning her 8th District Assembly seat in 2008.
Munn, 63, retired in 2010 from the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as a scientist specializing in erosion water quality. He headed the Yolo County Taxpayers Association until April and is making his fourth bid for an Assembly seat.
The two take a similar stance on the ratification of a state gambling agreement for the Indian tribe planning to open a casino outside Rohnert Park. Yamada voted against ratification and Munn said he probably would have too.
“Social workers in general are not real encouraging of more smoking, drinking and gambling,” Yamada said.
Munn said, “I’m not generally favorable toward increasing the number of casinos. I would have to be convinced there was a darn good reason.”
The two differ on another issue, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal for a sales tax increase and an income tax on top-earners.
Yamada termed Brown’s $6 billion tax package “a balanced approach to getting California out of this economic hole.”
Munn disagrees. “In the long run, it’s much wiser to grow the economy to increase revenues with the objective of balancing the budget,” he said.
Munn has staked his campaign largely on reviving the economy by reducing regulations on business. He proposes applying a sunset clause to existing regulations that govern business activity. Under his plan, their “practicality or feasibility” would have to then be proved before they were extended.
“I’m not talking about drastic reductions in the protections some of these regulations require,” he said. “I’m talking about reevaluating regulations that result in very small improvements in protection for immense costs.”
Yamada says government has a place in “encouraging” and “jumpstarting” economic growth, especially in new technologies, but its chief charge is education, public safety and public health.