Upcoming forum aims to inform on Assembly District 33 vote

In order to help local voters prepare for the upcoming California State Assembly District 33 election, the League of Women Voters Candidates plan to hold an informational forum

Tulare County Office of Education center on Mooney Boulevard in April 2022 - Photo by Rigo Moran
Mid Valley Times Staff
Published January 6, 2024  • 
10:00 am

VISALIA – Due to the early retirement of Assemblymember Devon Mathis, who recently left his position despite having two years left in his term, this year’s California State Assembly District 33 vote has taken an unlikely turn as there is now an open seat being sought after. However, anyone interested in learning more about what this unexpected vacancy means can do so at the upcoming League of Women Voters Candidates’ (LWV) Forum. 

The event will be hosted on Jan. 12 at the Tulare County Office of Education and will detail the goals of the candidates who hope to take Mathis’ spot. 

The LWV, a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political candidate, is holding the event with hopes of informing voters about their choices before they receive their 2024 primary ballots on Feb. 5, which will be followed by the general election in November.

Five candidates are running for the Assembly District 33 spot, a position which encompasses Kings County as well as various parts of Tulare County, including north Visalia, Dinuba, Tulare, Porterville, Lindsay and a slice of Fresno County by Reedley.

According to a recent press release, Ruben Macareno (D-Farmersville) is an at-large member of the Farmersville Unified School District school board in California. Macareno is also a one-time migrant farmworker who had a long career with a national media company, later serving as a Farmersvilles City Councilmember, as well as a former Democratic Party Chairman and a chamber of commerce executive director in the West Valley.

In the past, Macareno has helped to raise awareness of Grand Jury responsibility and selection, served as president of the Tulare County Chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens and raised funds to send under-privileged children to attend camp. 

The next candidate, Angel Ruiz (D-Tulare), is marking his first foray into politics with his plans of running for the 33rd District Assembly seat. According to his website, Ruiz is a first generation immigrant from Guatemala, who currently works as an organizer with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 52, a labor union representing almost 1.9 million workers.

“Assembly District 33 deserves a representative who not only understands its challenges but is also ready to bring innovative and tangible solutions,” Ruiz said in the announcement of his running. “Our campaign is about more than just addressing issues; it’s about building a thriving community where every resident’s voice is heard and valued.”

Ruiz is endorsed by the California State Democratic Party and backed by the Visalia Democratic Club, which Joshua Evans — the Vice President of the club — says is due to Ruiz’s “track record of fighting for the middle class, immigrants rights, advancing educational opportunities, and all around fighting for California’s Central Valley,” according to Ruiz’s site

Alexandra Macedo (R-Tulare), a former mentee and colleague of Mathis, is a lawyer and fourth-generation farmer from Tulare. According to a past article by The Sun-Gazette, Macedo felt compelled to run for office after witnessing how fulfilling it can be to serve the community through her own work and her work with Mathis.

“I want to encourage oversight at the state level for the taxes that we put into place, making sure we keep as much money in the pockets of these hardworking men and women … (while) making sure we’re providing the resources and infrastructure that we need for people to have beautiful towns and schools and libraries,” Macedo said in a past interview.

Mathis, the former Assembly District 33 representative, shared his support for Macedo by taking to twitter and asking his followers who have trusted his “leadership and insight” to support the agricultural attorney, who has worked closely with various governmental regulatory and planning agencies to fight for and protect the industry she’s always loved.

Xavier Avila (R-Tulare) quietly announced his candidacy for the 33rd Assembly District by filing for the election just shortly before the deadline in December. In a past interview with the Sun-Gazette, 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, issues he feels he can better help to solve at the state level.

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, but said his “focus for right now is the needs of the district itself.” 

If elected, Avila would advocate for area colleges to expand their nursing programs and let in more local students, as well as advocating for the state to take better advantage of opportunities to store more water in wet years, which would help to ensure his community (farmers) can continue tend to their crops during the drier years.

Hipolito Cerros (D-Lindsay), a life-long resident of Lindsay who currently serves as its mayor, is also throwing his hat into the ring. According to the city’s site — in his role as Mayor — Cerros’ focus has been on improving the city’s infrastructure, promoting economic development, and reestablishing a trusting relationship between public officials and their constituents.

Cerros is stressing three issues in his District 33 campaign. The first is addressing water infrastructure, second is strengthening the workforce and third being an advancement of agri-technology which will help improve conditions for farmers and farmworkers.

The Jan. 12 forum, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will be moderated by former Visalia Times-Delta Opinion Editor Paul Hurley. Each candidate will have 1.5 minutes to introduce themselves. Candidates will then be asked prepared questions from the Forum Planning Committee, followed by screened questions from the audience.

“Hearing and seeing candidates engage in healthy debates before an election is an important part of our democracy,” stated League of Women Voters California. “Candidate debates and forums help us determine which candidates align with our values and which ones we want to support with our votes.”

The nonprofit added, “Due to our deep roots and long history of nonpartisanship, communities across the country have put their trust in the League to host these events.” 

Mid Valley Times Staff