Dairy farmer Xavier Avila joins Assembly District 33 race

Xavier Avila of the Tulare Public Cemetery District and Tulare Local Healthcare District announces his campaign to succeed Assembly member Devon Mathis

Serena Bettis
Published December 30, 2023  • 
12:00 pm

HANFORD – A life-long Valley dairy farmer and representative for various special districts has joined the race to replace Porterville Republican Devon Mathis in the California State Assembly.

Xavier Avila announced his candidacy for the 33rd Assembly District on Dec. 21 after quietly filing for the election before the deadline earlier in the month. Avila said that his past involvement with local boards and other lobbying organizations has shown him the myriad of issues people in the 33rd Assembly District face, and he feels he can better help to solve these problems at the state level.

“From an early age, I always felt to be part of something in society that helps build up society, build up your community,” Avila said. 

A fourth-generation dairy farmer, Avila founded his own farm in 1992 and has operated out of Hanford since 1998. He has worked with numerous dairy industry trade groups, including DairyCares, Ag Council of California, California Dairy Campaign, Cattle Council of California and the Land O’Lakes Leadership Council and corporate board.

Avila currently holds positions on the Tulare Public Cemetery District Board of Trustees, the Tulare Local Healthcare District Board of Directors and the Adventist Health Central Valley Network Community Board. His term on the cemetery board is set to expire on Jan. 8, 2024, and his term on the health care district board is set to expire in November 2026. 

According to his campaign announcement, Avila plans to work to protect the needs of farmers and their water rights, better the rural health care system and support law enforcement, 2nd Amendment rights and the pro-life movement. 

While his personal work and past experience has led him to center policy discussions on water rights and the health care industry, Avila emphasized that he cares about all of the different challenges District 33 constituents face, and his main goal is to represent the underserved population of the Valley.

“My focus for right now is the needs of the district itself, and so those things I mentioned are probably some of the biggest things that could help the district out,” Avila said.

Solving local issues

Avila said that he approaches issues from a lens of working on something rather than fighting for it. He said that he believes it’s the state legislature’s job to make California a better place, and in order to do so he would work with others in the State Assembly to identify and address problems while taking personal agendas off the table. 

To find solutions to these issues, Avila said he sees “everything through the eyes of how a farmer would solve problems.” For example, one significant issue Avila said he wants to work on is the nursing shortage that Valley health care providers are experiencing. Farmer thinking says that “if there’s not enough nurses, you go educate more,” Avila said.

Thus, if elected, Avila would advocate for area colleges to expand their nursing programs and let in more local students who are likely to stay in the Valley. 

“The nurses that practice and the doctors that practice in the Valley, most of them are from here,” Avila said. “So if we’re not getting students from here, that means we’re really impacted.”

Regarding water rights, Avila believes that the state needs to take better advantage of opportunities to store more water in wet years, and pump more water from the Delta to the Valley when it is available, that way there is enough to get through droughts. 

“Being a farmer, that’s my community, (and) the 33rd District is an agricultural district,” Avila said. “If farmers can’t water their crops, the ground has to sit empty, (and) that hurts everybody. … We should all be fighting for more water for the Valley.”

According to his campaign announcement, Avila has received endorsements from multiple Kings County Supervisors and Hanford City Council members, as well as former Assembly member Nicole Parra and other Tulare special district representatives. 

Current District 33 Assemblymember Mathis announced he would not seek reelection on Nov. 27 after 10 years of serving the district, which covers areas of Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties. Other candidates running in the primary election include Republican Alexandra Macedo and Democrats Hipolito Cerros, Ruben Macareno and Angel Ruiz.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter