BRAWLEY — Brawley Councilman Luke Hamby spoke at a reception for gubernatorial candidate John Cox at the Stockmen's Club of Imperial Valley October 26. The following is his speech:
"So much of the message John Cox has taken across the state resonates right here in Imperial Valley and we’re glad he’s here today," said Hamby. "John has talked about forgotten Californians that have been left behind. In many ways, it feels like that term, 'forgotten,' applies to us more so than anyone else anywhere here in the state.
I want to talk today about a few issues that matter most to us here in Imperial Valley, ways in which we have been forgotten and feel left behind.
For instance, Sacramento has a one-size-fits-all environmental policy that doesn’t work this far from the Capitol and really affects us here in Imperial Valley. It’s time for common sense leadership that takes into account the vast differences between coastal metropolitan areas and an agricultural desert border county.
Politicians in Sacramento boast about the state’s work in protecting the environment. But if we look around us, we can see just the opposite is true. Originating in Mexico and crossing over the border, the New River carries with it toxic waste and sewage from Mexico as one of the most polluted rivers in America. Our farmers and cities are unfairly punished and regulated-- in most cases forced to discharge water into the river actually cleaner than the toxic sludge that flows from Mexico.
Oppressive California air pollution guidelines ignore the fact that, but for irrigation and agriculture, Imperial Valley would be a desert with heavy dust blowing through the air.
The State further ignores the crisis at the Salton Sea-- a crisis of its own making. The State forced the QSA on Imperial Valley, transferring water that belongs here in our Valley and has been here for 107 years, destroying our economy in its wake. While the State of California promised to take responsibility for the Salton Sea, the record has been disappointing to say the least.
While supposedly progressive State leaders boast about their care for the poor and the planet, we see the highest asthma rates in the state and an environmental catastrophe unfolding before our very eyes.
Let’s ask ourselves: if the Salton Sea was in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, or Sacramento, would it look like it does today?
If the beaches of Los Angeles were covered in dead fish and birds or if Lake Tahoe smelled like rotten eggs, the state would not spare a moment to correct the problem.
But for decades we have seen the Salton Sea decline. It feels that in California, some citizens are more equal than others.
We also look to agriculture, the bedrock and heritage of Imperial County. The Pioneers of Imperial Valley turned empty, barren desert into a lush garden. They took untamed desert soil and created some of the most productive farms in the world.
Could you imagine undertaking such a feat under our State's leadership today? Rather than encouraging our farmers and ranchers to succeed and thrive in a more competitive world, we see and feel the exodus of opportunity elsewhere as it gets harder and harder to compete because of the ever more difficult regulatory burden.
Take One World Beef as an example of a true success story that succeeded in spite of--not because of--the state’s help in reopening the beef plant and keeping it open. It’s incredible, a few years ago thousands of jobs were lost when the plant closed. Today, the beef plant looks like a Tesla factory.
But as I have seen in my short time on the Brawley City Council, the overbearing regulations enacted by the State trickle down to local government, and the spirit of oppression that comes with those regulations swirls even behind the local dais, creating undue hardship for our homegrown, major jobs-providers.
It seems that for much of our leadership, it is more appealing and lucrative to harass and extort entrepreneurs and producers, rather than enable them to succeed, build our economy, create more honest work and job opportunity to propel this County and State’s economy forward.
Decade after decade of infrastructure mismanagement and neglect across California have created an almost impossible backlog of now-critical repairs on our roads and infrastructure. It's an amazing theme-- we pay some of the most for the roads and infrastructure we already have, yet somehow in this state it's never enough, and when the highest gas taxes in the country are not enough to maintain our failing roads, the State raises the gas tax again.
Somehow, I don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth when driving down the road and the fillings nearly rattle out of my teeth.
In a meeting with an auditor for the City of Brawley this past week, I asked about the State’s unfunded pension liabilities issue, whether there is any relief in sight. His very clinical assessment of the situation could be wrapped up in one, quiet word: unsustainable.
It will be decades before the problem rights itself, and there will undoubtedly be casualties along the way. We need leadership in the Capitol willing to make the difficult decisions to get us to the other side of this crisis without bankrupting the state.
I think in many ways, that underscores the path forward. It won’t be easy. We know we are in a challenging place today with both local and state leadership that are out of touch and seem determined to make simple things convoluted, difficult, and expensive.
But if we do truly want to see a brighter hope for Imperial County and California, we have to act. While it can be tempting to call it quits, go home or move to another state, and reserve ourselves to the idea that nothing can be done, I do think there can be and is a bright future ahead of us.
It takes recognition of the problems today and working toward solutions. But let me be clear on something, we can’t trust the wrong people to do the right thing.
It’s funny, the very people you want to see in office-- business people, family people, people of faith--typically tend to be the ones to shy away from this calling.
If we do want to see Imperial Valley thrive again, and see California be the golden state again, we have to work to get people of principle, people of common sense, people of values elected into office.
That starts right here. In Brawley, Calipatria, Westmorland, Imperial, Holtville, El Centro, and Calexico. From School Boards to City Councils to the County Board of Supervisors, the future of this Valley is in our hands if we work to curate and elect the right leadership to guide our future here.
But today, we are gathered here to support and learn from John Cox in his bid to be the next Governor of California. Thank you Mr. Cox, for not forgetting the people, families, farms, and businesses of Imperial Valley on the road to Sacramento. Welcome to Imperial Valley."