TULARE – After a decade of serving on the state Assembly (District 33, Porterville), Republican Devon Mathis has made the difficult decision to step down from his seat.
“Out of all of the decisions I’ve had to make since joining the Assembly, my decision to retire is probably the hardest one,” Mathis wrote on his official website. “For almost a decade, I have had the distinct honor of serving the Central Valley as the Assemblyman for the 26th District, and then for the 33rd District.”
Mathis is retiring before he would have termed out of office – he is still eligible to run for a final two-year term. He said he decided to retire early to spend more time with his family. His current term ends Dec. 2.
“As I retire from the Assembly, I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family, who have always been supportive of me,” he wrote. “Despite my time in the Legislature coming to a close, my involvement with public service will continue. Once my term ends, I look forward to working with District Stakeholders on projects that will benefit the Valley. I will release more information as time progresses.”
Mathis was a relative unknown when he upset Rudy Mendoza in the 2014 election. Mendoza, now the mayor of Woodlake, was the former chief of staff to former Congress Member Devin Nunes and had the backing of the party.
Before entering politics, Mathis served in the Army National Guard for 12 years. He was wounded by an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in Iraq. The experience led to his decision to enter public life.
“After serving 12 years in the Army National Guard, where I was wounded by an IED in Iraq, I knew that I still wanted to give back to the community that has given me so much,” he said. “This led me to run for public office, where I was able to win a seat in the Assembly despite having all the odds stacked against a guy like me.”
During his time in office, Mathis advocated for veterans’ rights. He served on the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. He authored Assembly Bill 988, signed by Gov. Newsom last October. Titled the “Miles Hall Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Act,” the bill, named the national suicide hotline number, 988, specifically addresses the needs of veterans in times of crisis.
Mathis also introduced legislation to help Native Americans maintain control over their lands, expand Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) opportunities for underrepresented students, streamline the water projects application process and strengthen laws to prosecute individuals who impersonate police officers.
Mathis was vice chair of the Agriculture and Water Committee and the Parks and Wildlife Committee. He also sat on numerous other committees, including Appropriations, Utility and Energy, Natural Resources, Governmental Organization, Environmental and Toxic Safety, Health and Human Services, and Aging and Long-term Care. He also served as the Republican Caucus Whip and as the Republican Caucus Operations Chair.
Mathis picked up numerous accolades during his time in office. He was awarded the “Friend of the Farm Bureau” by the California Farm Bureau for his work on behalf of rural communities. For his efforts in expanding water access to California residents, CalMutuals named him “Small Water Systems Champion.” He was also named “Legislator of the Year” by the California State Commanders Veterans Council.
On Nov. 19, Democrat Angel Ruiz, Tulare, declared he was running for the 33rd District seat.
On his campaign website, Ruiz, a first generation immigrant from Guatemala, said, “I am running to ensure that the voices of Assembly District 33 are heard loud and clear in Sacramento. My goal is to reflect our district’s rich diversity and immigrant experiences in our policymaking, truly representing our community’s unique identity and needs.”
Prospective candidates running for Mathis’ seat have until Dec. 16 to file with the Tulare County Registrar of Voters.