California State Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) went on AM radio this weekend to discuss growing the GOP in California and promoting transparency in government from the state to the local level.
Olsen was unanimously elected July 1 to be the next Assembly Republican Leader by the Assembly Republican Caucus, and now serves as Leader-Elect during a transition period.
At 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Olsen talked with Ethan Bearman briefly on KSFO AM 560, a conservative talk radio station out of San Francisco.
Bearman referred to Democrats as having a “stranglehold” in Sacramento, asking Olsen if she agrees that Republicans are not monolithic, and using a new term he had heard recently at LincolnLabs Conference 2014 in San Francisco: Conservatarians (presumably a combination of the words conservative and Libertarian).
Olsen responded saying she loved the term, and Bearman qualified that the demographic of Conservatarians are generally, “younger, tech, they have money, and they know how to use the social media to get the word out.” Bearman asked how Olsen manages to reach out to this group of young people to pull them towards the Republican side.
“I think that first of all acknowledging that in any human group dynamic, there are a spectrum of ideas, even within one particular ideology,” said Olsen. “And we need to not only respect that but embrace that diversity. And my goal will be to display the diversity that we already have in the party, but we haven’t done a great job of showing it.”
Olsen went on to explain that embracing the differences of people within the GOP, she would be able to reach out to men, women, and youth of “all ethnicities and geographies and socioeconomic backgrounds.”
In respect to the demographic of younger, tech-minded Libertarians, Olsen explained she wants to listen to their ideas and acknowledge the struggles of young Californians in college.
“It’s tough in California right now,” said Olsen. “We need to show them we have struggled just like them. We’re moms, we’re dads, small business owners, college graduates who want to be able to prosper in this state.”
As Bearman referenced, Olsen has a record of transparency in public office.
“Transparency has been a priority of mine,” said Olsen. “Has been way back even when I was on the Modesto City Council. In the Assembly, I was the first Assembly member to release my office budget for that very reason. We need to lead by example and if we expect a transparent State government then we need to show we’re willing to be transparent ourselves.”
Olsen pointed out that, “it’s not our money – it’s taxpayer money” so they deserve to know how it’s being spent all the way down to local government. She has worked on various policies to push for transparency, one being the Legislative Transparency Act which would require all bills being transparent at least three days before they are voted on so that the public has time to review them.
She becomes frustrated when bills are passed behind closed doors without any of the public’s input. Bearman asked if she thinks transparency can be improved in the California Air Resources Board, which he described as being one of the more notorious agencies for passing legislation behind closed doors.
Olsen said that most recently, she was unhappy with the way the new gas tax was passed, which will begin in Jan. 2015. The tax will increase the cost of gas between 12 and 40 cents per gallon, according to Olsen, and is often being referred to as a “hidden tax” because so few members of the public know about it. The tax comes as part of an expansion of CARB’s Cap-and-Trade program.
Olsen feels that the public is not even aware that this tax is coming, and she wants that to change. She explained that she wants bills to pass that require more public hearings so that when decisions are made without the public being aware, agencies are held accountable.
Olsen will run for reelection to State Assembly for the 12th District against Harinder Grewal (D-Keyes), a Turlock Unified School District Trustee, in the November General Election Nov. 4.