Brown, Reyes supporters reflect on Assembly race

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Photo/Anthony Victoria: Eloise Reyes, center in red, and her supporters/volunteers.

The election race for the 47th Assembly District seat is featuring contentious debates relating to the petroleum industry, smog pollution, and special interests.

As a result, the district’s constituents–residents who live in the cities of Colton, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Rialto, and San Bernardino–say they are “divided” between two candidates that provide distinctive qualities to the region.

“I continue to support Cheryl Brown,” said San Bernardino resident Johanna Silva. “But I think both candidates make strong points.”

Incumbent Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernardino) has been accused by her opponent, fellow democrat Eloise Reyes and her followers of “selling out” to special interests, while the Assemblywoman and her allies have alleged Reyes of conducting a smear campaign.

Disputes among both sides originate from Brown’s opposition to a provision in Senate Bill 350–legislation that would have cut the state’s petroleum use by half by 2030. Brown told the the Sacramento Bee in April she was concerned Governor Jerry Brown’s bill would hurt commuters that travel out of the district to work.

Courtesy Photos: Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, left, and Eloise Reyes, right.
Courtesy Photos: Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, left, and Eloise Reyes, right.

Besides the Assemblywoman’s opposition to SB 350, Chevron’s $1 million endorsement to an independent expenditure committee supporting Brown drew the ire of environmentalists and labor unions.

Brown, 72, was elected into her Assembly seat in 2012 on promises of creating more employment opportunities, providing quality education for children, and developing transparency between local and state government agencies. Brown’s received endorsements from a large number of government officials, community advocates, and law enforcement groups.

Reyes, 59, currently works as an attorney and adjunct professor. She’s helped serve hundreds of low income residents through legal aid clinics. The longtime community advocate has received endorsements from various environmental groups, labor unions, and various leaders, including Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino).

Linda Gonzalez, a small business owner and the President of the Democratic Women of San Bernardino County Club, is a supporter of Brown. Although she empathizes with Gomez-Reyes’ pollution concerns, Gonzalez said no viable solutions have been presented.

“I highly respect Eloise and her career,” Gonzalez said. “However I feel she’s presenting an argument without a solution.”

Gonzalez said Brown’s time in the Assembly demonstrates she’s represented the district well. “She’s pro-jobs and pro people,” Gonzalez said. “Once she stops doing her job, I’ll be the first one to speak up.”

Earl Dennis and Yolanda Martinez, along with their six children, volunteer time to help Reyes’ campaign. They disagree with Gonzalez’s assessment of the Assemblywoman.  

“[Brown] is not doing anything to help improve our environment,” Dennis said.

Dennis’ two sons, Isaiah Espinoza, 12, and Michael Espinoza, 16, are both asthmatic. He said they both struggle to breathe because of the region’s high levels of smog pollution.

“We’re trying to do our best to make sure Eloise gets elected,” Dennis said. “She knows what it takes to bring solutions.”

Marleen Melendez, a student at San Bernardino Valley College, explained she decided to volunteer for Reyes’ campaign to learn the political process.

“It’s important we understand who is real and who is not,” she said. “We have to dig for truth.”

Fontana resident Bill Weiss said he’s undecided on Brown and Reyes, but hopes that neither candidate is dishonest or seeking office for personal gain.

“Internal corruption is a destructive force all over the world,” said Weiss. “We’re beginning to see it here. It’s a scary thing to consider for the next generation.”

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