Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, 33rd district, is running for California’s 8th congressional seat as he aims to make life better in the state.

First a little background on Obernolte, according to his website, he has been in public service for 15 years. His first elected position was on the Big Bear’s airport board in 2005 where he served for five years holding the positions of president and vice-President. Obernolte then served four years with the city of Big Bear Lake on its city council and two terms as mayor.

He currently is serving his third term in the state assembly, a seat that he has held since 2014. In the last legislative session, Obernolte authored 12 bills, nine that were passed in the state senate and signed into law by Gov. Newsom. One of the bills signed into law was Assembly Bill 1396 addressing elder abuse. The law will go into effect in January of 2020 and would require employees in eldercare facilities who have been found guilty of abusing a resident to participate in mandatory clinical counseling or anger management courses.

The veto of AB 394, however, hit close to home for Obernolte. If that bill went into law it would have made it easier to build more evacuation or exit routes in high-risk fire areas. The problem of exit routes arose during the Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise back in 2018, killing 85 people. Obernolte said he was very disappointed when Newsom vetoed the bill and wonders how many people have to die before this issue is addressed.

Obernolte wished there was more cooperation with the federal government and the forest service in fuel reduction.

Issues Obernolte wants to tackle if elected are reducing and paying off our nation’s budget deficits, the cost of healthcare and making sure veterans get what they are promised after leaving the military.

He says the budget deficit is expected to exceed $1 trillion next year and that if we don’t do something about paying down the deficit before the year 2050 we will “consume over 10 percent of our gross domestic product on making payments on our national debt.”

Obernolte believes we are asking the wrong questions when it comes to health care, he says the current “debate is centered around access to health care,” when the question should be “why on earth does it [health care] cost so much here.” He went on to say that our country spends the most in the entire world on health care “with the worst outcomes.”

Obernolte believes that we have “a national epidemic” in this country when it comes to mental health. He said, “We have gotten into the habit of not thinking about mental health holistically as a part of overall physical health and it really ought to be.” He also said the homeless problem in California has its roots in mental health problems.

Obernolte thinks “we live in an incredibly polarized political environment,” and that this polarized environment has not been seen since the 1960s during the Vietnam War. Obernolte “hopes that this is the worst it gets,” in regards to the gridlock in Washington, DC.

Regarding education Obernolte said, “It amazes me that we are stuck in this educational model that is 200 years old,” where we are busing millions of children to a classroom “dozens of miles from there home” and “making them listen to a teacher who is giving a lecture.” Obernolte is “100 percent confident that 100 years from now that is not the way education is going to be conducted.”

He wants “to be at the forefront of some experimentation and some open-mindedness about the way we approach education.”

He says something else that has to change is “that we have this view of education as it being something you do at the beginning of your life, you acquire an education, then you use that education in a career.” Obernolte thinks that is “old fashioned thinking,” and that “technological society moves so fast now and information changes so much,” and that to be “competitive and be successful we all have to have commitments to lifelong learning.”

He says “early education needs to be devoted toward teaching children that they can learn, teaching them how to learn and how to be self-directed in their learning,” and that “teachers are there to help when self-direction fails or a student does not know how to progress.”

Obernolte supports charter schools and thinks, “they truly are the crucible of experimentation in education.”

Obernolte says he “really loves making life better for his constituents that he represents,” and finds “it extremely fulfilling.” Obernolte said, “I am hopeful that I find being in congress to be just as challenging and just as fulfilling as being in the legislature.”

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