State Senate candidates speak out


Four candidates are vying for the California State Senate seat that was vacated upon the death of  Senator Dave Cox (R) last year.  District 1 stretches from Mono County northward along the Nevada border all the way to Oregon, including nine complete counties plus parts of three more. 

Candidates were asked to distinguish themselves from the other candidates and to answer the following question.  They are listed in the order in which they appear on the Mono County Precinct 7 Sample Ballot.   



Ted Gaines

Party:  Republican

Age: 52

Occupation: Independent Business Owner

Family: Married for 25 years, 6 children

Experience in CA state government: I have served in the California State Assembly 4 years.

I will continue to hold the line on tax increases and the growth of government and I will continue to reach out to rural Mono County.  I am the only candidate who has been over to visit all 12 counties in the Senate District.  

Obviously the bear issue is huge and we need to figure out how Steve the ‘bear whisperer’ can interact with the Department of Fish and Game and the forest service without having to kill any bears and I think there is a way to do that.

I think another issue in the rural district is making sure that I am accessible, that you can communicate with me,  express what your concerns are,  and I will make a commitment to make sure that I am communicating on a regular basis with my constituents,  especially in the rural parts of the senate district.

I know that tourism is very important for the Mammoth area and forest management issues.

Another focus is adequate medical services for the constituents in the rural community, making sure that they can get ambulance service quickly and get to a medical center as soon as possible.


Ken Cooley

Party: Democratic

Age: 57

Occupation: Mayor/Finance Consultant

Family: Married for 35 years, two sons

Experience in California State Government: I am the only candidate to have served both the Assembly and Senate as a top advisor on banking, finance and insurance.  I know the legislative process better than anyone can acquire in six years.  

The state of the economy is a key issue affecting youth (four groups of college grads have emerged since 2007 to a “jobs poor” economy) and there are countless parents/heads of household who cannot get all the work they’d like.

I view the jobs challenge as one requiring energized, broad-based advocacy in concert with Senate District 1 leaders, businesses and communities.  This is something I am accustomed to doing and I will be able to pursue such a strategy working off the platform of my existing nationwide network of business/financial sector leaders and my statewide network of relationships based in my leadership at the League of California Cities. 

To set the agenda for such an advocacy strategy, I’ll convene community meetings across the 1st Senate District to assess:

• Where do people encounter state government in their daily lives?

What is helping and what is hurting.

• What local social and bricks and mortar infrastructure is important to long term future economic growth/opportunity.  A common “social infrastructure” element is health care facilities, without adequate local health care options, it’s hard to attract significant new employer investment. 

More tangible infrastructure can be anything from water treatment facilities, improved community college facilities, roads and interchanges, etc.

• How do people see private sector policies helping recovery or hurting recovery?

Based on these discussions, I will develop advocacy strategies at the state and national level, as well as across private industry, that can be pursued by the leaders, business partners and communities in the 1st Senate District.


Barbara Alby

Party: Republican

Age: 64

Occupation: Small Business Owner

Family: Married for 42 years, 5 children

Experience in CA state government: Taxpayer advocate on California’s TaxBoard, 3 terms in California State Assembly

I am the only Republican on the ballot who never raised taxes and I am the author of California’s Megan’s Law.

Jobs.  People are out of work and businesses are afraid to hire.  Rural communities want government to stay out of their lives.  They are self-sufficient and independent and they want to solve their own problems.

These issues can be addressed with a budget mandate and regulatory reform to scroll back government, get their hands off people, to let small business do what it does best--to hire people, thereby robusting the local economy.


Every time Sacramento has a difficult problem, I will slap their hand every time they want to go to local government to make up the budget difference.

You can’t do that on your own when you’re part of a minority caucus.  You have to quit telling the other side how wrong they are and start telling them how they can work together to help their people.

For a start, you can roll back the perks for power.  Roll back the 7 days a week per diem paid to legislators.


Roger Niello

Party:  Republican

Age: 62

Occupation:  Business owner, running an automobile dealership  Family: Married 40 years, 5 children

Experience in California state government:  I have served 6 years in the California State Assembly and 6 years on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors

I have been a very effective conservative leader. 

Right now the most pressing problem for Mono County as well as the rest of the state, but more acutely for Mono and the rural counties, is jobs and the economy. The unemployment rate is high in the entire state, but it’s highest in counties like yours.

What I intend to do about that and have been doing about that is to try to reduce the regulatory burden in this state on businesses.  

We are totally dependent upon the economy to recover, first to decrease unemployment, and to increase employment as well, because that is the only way we are going to satisfy and to meet our budget challenges.

The economy has to recover and we have to make sure we don’t do anything to hamper that recovery.  I think we can help by the state just getting out of the way and allow businesses to do what businesses do best, that is to provide jobs.