Endorsement: Thurston “Smitty” Smith for Assembly District 34

Redistricting, the requirement to draw new district lines every 10 years based on the latest census numbers, can sometimes be a game of musical chairs that leaves two well-qualified lawmakers battling for one seat.

That’s the case in the newly drawn 34th Assembly District, which runs through San Bernardino County from the northwest corner of Los Angeles County to the Nevada border, catching a small portion of Kern County. The district encompasses Barstow, California City, Twentynine Palms, Big Bear Lake, Apple Valley and portions of Palmdale, Highland, Hesperia, Victorville and Lancaster.

Voters in the new AD 34 will decide a Republican-on-Republican contest between Assemblyman Tom Lackey, whose current district is 88% in Los Angeles County, and Assemblyman Thurston “Smitty” Smith, whose current district is located entirely in San Bernardino County and includes Barstow, Victorville and Apple Valley.

Elected to the Assembly in 2020 following service on the Hesperia City Council and the board of the Mojave Water Agency, Smith has done a solid job in his first term in the Assembly. Sixty percent of the voters in the new district live in San Bernardino County, and Smith was the top vote-getter in the June primary thanks to his strong support in the communities he currently represents. He has earned reelection.

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Although Lackey points to his record of working across the aisle as a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, Smith has also demonstrated an ability to get things done. For example, Smith was the principal co-author on Assembly Bill 359, working with Democratic Assemblymember Jim Cooper to remove a needless barrier that prevented out-of state physicians and surgeons from becoming licensed in California. The legislation helps to address the problem of an acute shortage of primary care physicians. AB 359 has now been signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The governor signed another bill authored by Smith, AB 1998, which helps the Lake Tahoe and Palo Verde community college districts by allowing them to exempt some out-of-state students from paying nonresident tuition. This makes the districts, which are close to the state border, more competitive with nearby colleges in Nevada and Arizona.

Thurston “Smitty” Smith has shown the kind of practical, hands-on leadership that seeks to make government work for the people he represents.

He has our endorsement.