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A Vital Economy and Business Success

Author: John Lowry
June, 2014 Issue


We can discuss revenue and spending choices in a less partisan and more informed manner.

I am a candidate for the California Assembly in the North Coast (Second) District. I’m running because we need wider opportunities and more effective government. Opportunities depend on good jobs, effective education, adequate public services, housing opportunities and infrastructure investment. All of these depend on a vital economy and business success. There’s a role for government in providing opportunities, but it must reconsider practices that thwart opportunity and weaken the economy.
I’ve recently completed a 28-year career, with 15 years as executive director, at Burbank Housing, a successful nonprofit affordable housing company, working primarily in Sonoma County. Burbank Housing has developed more than 3,500 affordable homes and apartments and has brought hundreds of millions of dollars of investment into our community. I’ve had experience running a business with 140 employees, facing many of the same issues that confront other California businesses. I have business experience running a private company with a public purpose.
Those of us who are involved in agriculture, development and construction are aware that environmental policy is burdensome. We need to protect our environment and move toward renewable energy, but we need a more proactive and results-oriented approach that focuses on long-range planning, incentives and reasonable regulations. Instead, we have chaotic and reactive practices that constrain our economy, threatening jobs, agriculture, housing and, ironically, even effective environmental protection. 
Our public pension system unfairly burdens local and state governments, and pension reform is needed. I supported the initiative proposed by San Jose Mayor, Chuck Reed, that would have allowed for the reduction of guaranteed benefits related to future work. I am the only Democrat in this race who has taken this position and who is willing to work for fair and meaningful pension reform.
Taxes are an issue that has traditionally divided Democrats and Republicans. While disagreements will persist, we can discuss revenue and spending choices in a less partisan and more informed manner. We should evaluate tax and spending policies on the basis of how they affect economic vitality, their effect on essential public services, and the trade-offs implied for various taxpayers. As well, we need to consider impact fees, unfunded mandates and regulatory exactions when we try to evaluate the economic effects of taxation.
Government is more effective when it isn’t beholden to special interests. Unfortunately, legislators from both parties are constrained by special interests. These groups often represent legitimate and important concerns, but their rigidity and practices of stoking the fears of their constituencies, rather than engaging in more honest and candid conversation, can make government ineffective.
In 2010, the voters adopted a “top two” primary that’s intended to encourage more independent and pragmatic candidates to seek election and to give them a chance of winning. I’m a Democrat who understands the importance of a strong economy and the constraints it faces. I have the knowledge, the will and passion to seek a new pragmatic center in California politics. I’m eager to represent our North Coast district in the California Assembly.
John Lowry is a 40-year resident of western Sonoma County, where he and his wife built their home and raised a family. He had a 28-year career at Burbank Housing and served as executive director from 1998 to 2012.


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