Anthony Farrington, a four-time Lake County Supervisor, announced to the Vanguard that he is running for the Democratic nomination in California’s 4th Assembly District. The 4th District, which will be open as Mariko Yamada is termed out, encompasses most of Yolo County except West Sacramento, most of Lake and Napa counties, and parts of Colusa, Sonoma and Solano Counties.
Recently, Yolo County Supervisors Don Saylor and Jim Provenza announced that they would not be running for the Assembly seat that has been held for 18 years by Democrats from Davis. Mayor Joe Krovoza and Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk are rumored as possible candidates, in addition to Mr. Farrington.
Anthony Farrington, 43, was born and raised in Lake County. He would go to UC Davis and ultimately receive his law degree at Concord Law School.
He told the Vanguard recently that he is running for the Assembly both because of his life history, as well as his ties to the district. He said he has lived in four of the six counties in the newly-redrawn district.
It was his ambition, subsequent to his schooling, to follow in the footsteps of his father and other members of his family, by serving the country in the military. However, due to a health condition, he was unable to do so.
“I chose the second best path, ” Mr. Farrington told the Vanguard, “which I believe to be still a noble calling, and that is public service.”
Anthony Farrington was the first in his family to go to college and it was at UC Davis that he said he “was bit with the public service bug.”
He would intern with then-Senate President Pro Tem David Roberti.
“It was probably the best non-paying job or any job I ever had. I remember working forty to sixty hours a week for free for about three months,” he said. He got the opportunity to see how legislation was produced and how the process can impact both positively and negatively in people’s lives.
Following school, he moved back to Lake County, and briefly worked in the local Office of Education before throwing his hat in the ring and, as a dark horse candidate, was elected to the Lake County Board of Supervisors.
“It’s seeing and helping people get through the bureaucratic maze at the local and/or state and federal level that has been my greatest compensation and I haven’t been able to give it up,” Mr. Farrington said. “With this newly-drawn district and my ties to each community, [it is a] kind of a regional approach to representation, both as a County (Supervisor) and what I think is needed as an effective Assembly member, that has compelled me to run for the seat.”
What would Anthony Farrington bring to Sacramento?
“You’re going to find, especially in these safe Democratic seats, that a lot of the candidates are going to stand very similar – similar positions on the issues, whether it be education, the environment, the economy, health care, the same on social issues,” he said.
“What I bring, that I think is important, is my resume, my experience not only as a County Supervisor and the accomplishments I was able to obtain as a county Supervisor, my service on CSAC (California State Association of Counties) and the Regional Council of Rural Counties of which Yolo is a member,” he said, “is I think [that] moral courage is the most important thing. Not being the candidate that is going to say or do anything to be elected.”
“Not make promises that he or she can’t keep,” he continued, “but look at solutions. Look at being accessible and providing constituent services. And the moral courage to say no, if somebody makes a financial contribution to you that has bought, which seems to be the norm quite often in politics – if it’s not right for the people, that you can look that donor in the face and tell them no.”
He related a story of a constituent of his who was one of his biggest donors. The constituent proposed a project that he thought would be harmful to the district – it would move jobs out and cost the county money.
“I told him no, I voted against it,” Mr. Farrington said. “That’s the type of leadership Sacramento needs.”
“Because of the hyper-partisanship that exists, we’re almost in a state of paralysis at the state and federal level,” he said, “you need to have someone who isn’t just a bumper sticker slogan that is willing to really, truly work across the aisle, find those common issues of interest where… you can put policy in place that’s in the interest of the state of California.”
Anthony Farrington sees himself as a different kind of Democrat. He was not born a Democrat and he described it as a “process” rather than an “overnight experience.” He said when he worked for David Roberti, he didn’t care if he worked for a Democrat or Republican.
The first time he voted was in the city of Davis; he had not voted prior to that. He was registered “Decline to State” for a number of years, but pulled a provisional ballot for the Democrats because his
“social ideology was more in-sync and in line with the Democratic Party.”
He said that fiscally he was more moderate to conservative.
“Where it really sunk in was that every time I ran for election at the local level, Republicans kept running against me,” he said. “It was pretty clear that I was on the left side of the political spectrum. I was comfortable with being partisan and registering Democrat.”
He said he worked for Obama, and ever since then he has identified with the Democratic Party, but added, “With that being said, I don’t think you should put labels on people by party affiliation. I think it’s hard and it’s part of the problem that we have in Sacramento.” People become Democrats and Republicans, they tend to stay in that box and they tend to toe the line.
“I think I provide an opportunity for people to look at politics differently,” he said. “I’m not the type of candidate that you can just put a label and say he’s a Democrat and this is where he’s going to be on every single issue.”
“There’s going to be a time when I’m going to be in a different place politically in terms of what I think is best politically,” he said.
“Our state, our government has somewhat lost its way; I think we need to focus on core services,” he said. Issues critical to him are education, safeguarding the environment, and creating a business-friendly environment. “California has a negative stigma about being business-friendly, there’s been quite an exodus to Nevada, Arizona and Texas. Businesses leaving the state,” he noted.
Other issues include providing the core services like health care and “most importantly where I think we’ve lost our way is investing in infrastructure – water, sewer, and roads.”
He said, “It’s because it’s not politically expedient for politicians to invest in infrastructure because the time to put the money there and go through the CEQA requirements – they’re not going to be there at the ribbon cutting ceremony, it’s going to be someone else who’s going to be there.”
“They’re looking for quick fixes,” he said. “I think that’s where we’re missing the mark in California in terms of investing in infrastructure.”
Anthony Farrington also talked about the need for political reform.
He said they have always had a balanced budget since he’s been on the Lake County Board of Supervisors.
“I don’t even know what the term ‘unfunded liability’ means,” he quipped. “We’re very proud of that, of that philosophy, and I think the state needs to practice the same philosophy to get back on a path to a balanced budget.”
He spoke of the need for multi-year budgeting to increase stability for local jurisdictions. He also spoke of the need for efficiency in the government and services it provides.
“I believe that the government in Sacramento, there needs to be a reformulation or tax reform,” Anthony Farrington stated. “What I mean by that is I think that we need to look at re-allocating tax resources. The monies that are raised at the local level, the lion’s share, stay at the local level versus being sent to Sacramento and doled back.”
“I don’t know if this is going to be popular with a lot of Sacramento politicians, but I truly believe that part of the solution… is that the state give greater control to local governments and school districts, greater discretion of spending, and where those revenues are realized, that those monies stay within that jurisdiction or community,” he said.
He sees that as the way to provide for increased funding for education and other local services.
“I support Prop 13 and I support when it comes to raising taxes, the two-thirds threshold,” Anthony Farrington stated. “I’m also supportive of passing a budget with a majority but when it comes to raising taxes, keeping the two-thirds threshold in place to protect the taxpayers.”
“I don’t support any increase in raising revenue, I think the government needs to look at increased efficiencies,” he continued. “I think we have more of a spending problem than a revenue problem at the state [level].”
“I think these are serious times that require serious leadership ,” he said, arguing that he is someone with a record of providing solutions as an elected official.
He believes it is important for people to know what he and his colleagues have achieved as a board in Lake County.
He noted achievements such as the green energy award – the county is a net exporter of energy. They have the largest municipal solar array facility in the western part of the United States, they have a record of bringing business to California, they brought a private campus to Lake County, they are managing the lake, fostering preservation of open space, and they have an MOU with Yolo County.
“I think it’s important that voters are able to vote for somebody that has that experience, that track record, that can provide solutions, that doesn’t make promises that he or she cannot keep, that isn’t tied to Sacramento or the political machine and is not running on name recognition but really the motive of dedicating their life to public service,” he said. “That’s what I offer and that’s my motive, nothing more.”
Anthony Farrington is the first announced candidate to replace Mariko Yamada in the newly-formed 4th Assembly District.
—David M. Greenwald reporting