As a Long Beach-based publication, we’d like to ask why you are the best prepared candidate to represent Long Beach’s interests in the State Senate?
I’m talking about the issues that other candidates are not. I’m talking about education, healthcare, living wage and rent control. I’m the best candidate because I’ve listened to the people and I’ve canvassed. People are tired of the Democratic and the Republican establishment. They say, oh, another politician. It’s the same thing. I listen to what people said, so I decided to run in the Green Party because that’s outside of the two-party system. And we know that Democrats, they’re very organized. So [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez, she won in New York and that’s great. So what’s happening is now there’s talks among the Democratic establishment that they want to remove Ocasio-Cortez, and then the way that they want to do it is they want to run somebody against her or they want to redistrict her out of Congress.
That to me is a threat to our democracy and I’ll tell you why: Because locally, we have [Democrat] Maria Estrada run [in 2018] and she lost against [Assemblyman Anthony] Rendon. She got 44,000 votes. Rendon got 54,000 votes. So that’s relevant to me because she was going to apply for an [executive board] with the Democratic Party of Los Angeles County. And when elections came up, they didn’t put her name on the agenda. So Maria is doing her best to get her name or to maybe resolve the issue. But my concern is that this is what a candidate has to do within their own party. You have to fight them to get on the agenda. So I believe that’s really unfair.
So instead of Maria being on the executive board, she wasn’t on the executive board. So I represent the interest of the working class, the middle class of Long Beach and that’s why I’m the best candidate. I talk about the real issues; I don’t beat around the bush. I’m for the environment. That’s what Long Beach needs.
If elected, what would be the focus of the first piece of legislation you would propose?
I would introduce as SB 562 [The Healthy California Act]. I would reintroduce it and make it better, and more accessible and affordable to the people. Eventually, we want to regulate the pharmaceutical industries and the insurance companies.
Is there a particular endorsement or supporter which is especially relevant or meaningful to you? Why should voters give that specific one particular attention when considering your candidacy?
I did receive an endorsement from Sonia De Leon. She’s actually in the Paramount School Board. We supported her campaign, I canvassed for her. She ran on Clean Environment and Healthy Students. And so that’s saying a lot about her policies and my policies because I supported her. So you can’t have healthy students without a healthy environment. You can’t have healthy people if there’s contamination. And there’s contamination throughout the 33rd state Senate District.
Similarly, how would those endorsements or supporters impact your decisions or voting record if you were elected?
I don’t think that it would impact my voting record. I would just vote on what’s right for the community. Those endorsements are supported, and even if I did get those endorsements, I know that I still canvassed on the issues of healthcare, healthy students in a healthy environment. And so they can’t have one without the other. So that’s why if they would have not endorsed, that’s still what I’m supporting. I’m supporting the people first.
How would you remain focused on the diverse and differing needs of the many cities you would represent and not forget about the needs of local government once you are in Sacramento?
I will collaborate with local officials and push for progressive policies. That’s what I would do. And of course it would be an honor to be a representative of the people because the people want people that are not establishment, not corrupt, not Republican or Democrat. They’re tired of them. They’re tired of false promises.
How would you address climate change?
Right now I’m reviewing the Green New Deal from 2016 from the Green Party. And so we’re going to make a revisement or proposal to it to make it tighter, stronger and for the environment, for the people. What’s going on is that there’s industries that just need to be shut down like the oil industry. It needs to be shut down because it’s contaminating. We have the electric car. In 1990 it was killed by a big oil and other interests, and we need to bring renewable sources of energy by 2025, and this needs to happen radically and immediately. Because the scientific community already gave us 10 years.
So if we don’t do it by 2025, we’re not going to survive and we need to measure what we do within the next five years between 2026 and 2031. That’s essentially what we need to do. And so that’s why I’m supporting a green new deal by 2020, 2025 and it’ll be kind of what FDR did. We gave jobs. So it was the community that’s involved in working in cleaning up the environment and supporting their communities and the planet.
Some state leaders and legislators support action for the state to control local housing development. This is a responsibility traditionally managed by local cities and their citizens. Should the state control local housing development? What do you think of the governor suing a city on their housing policy as has occurred with Huntington Beach?
I think the state should control it. I want to say that let’s have these cities control it, too. Maybe they can control like a majority of it, like 80 percent, and have the state only enforce 20 percent. Personally, I don’t think some city officials could be trusted. So I wouldn’t want to give them that responsibility to control. No I wouldn’t do that. As far as the issue here in Huntington Beach: I’m not too familiar, but if the governor sued because it was overpriced, I think that I would support that too. But I still would need a little bit more information regarding that.
What do you think should be the state’s role in preventing and solving the homelessness crisis?
The state should invest in affordable housing. I think that statewide, I think for every eight homes that are built, I would build two more for affordable housing. I think that needs to change immediately because people are paying $1,700, $1,800 for a one bedroom. Sometimes these apartments are not even properly cleaned and the living conditions are not fair for them. These people, when they move in, if your stove doesn’t work you can’t really do much, like sue to fix your stove—it would just be dumb to go court for that because it’s a lot of money, it’s a lot of stress. So tighter restrictions on the quality of the overall housing should be implemented and we should definitely support our homeless people because the State of California has money. They have reserves that Gov. Brown gave. And so we should just put it back into the areas that we need it. Housing, education and healthcare and of course cleaning up the environment.
Police use of force issue is a hot-button issue in this state and nationwide. There are competing use of force bills in the legislature right now. What is your position on use of force reform and do you support the pending legislative reforms?
I haven’t looked at all the bills so I wouldn’t be able to give you an exact answer in the overall context of holding police officers accountable. But I do believe that they should be held accountable, and they should be disciplined—if there’s evidence, truthful evidence, that indicate that this person is beaten unfairly or mistreated unfairly, there should be levels of punishment for each action that an officer takes against the civilian. And if they have maybe like so many actions within their career, maybe after a certain amount of time, they can get terminated and they’re not getting benefits for retirement health or pay. And if they go on a leave of absence, that would be unpaid leave of absence.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District is pursuing a one-half cent sales tax measure that would raise about $1.4 billion each year to pay for clean-air projects such as zero-emission cars, trucks, trains and cargo equipment. What is your position on this given that a major freeway corridor, the 710, runs through the district?
I’m in favor of supporting the environment. I’m not too familiar with this proposition that AQMD has done. What they can work on is tightening their restrictions for companies or industries that are contaminating. And if these industries don’t comply, they need to pay heavy fines because right now I think that industries that are polluting, they get fined but it’s like $10,000 to them. So $10,000 to Carlton Forge in Paramount is nothing. They could pay that off easily and still continue to contaminate.
So I would create legislation with the support of the community to make sure that these fines increase dramatically. And why should we have to pay for their contamination? We should be doing this already. Here I think the industries in Long Beach, they pay for the air filters. Why is it that they’re going to tax us even more to pay for something that they created? They have millions of dollars. Carlton Forge is owned by Warren Buffet. We’re not going to come up with some new legislation that creates more trouble by appropriating funds and a misuse. I don’t trust AQMD. I’ve gone to their meetings, several of their meetings in Paramount, and they just beat around the bush. So why should we even give them money when they can’t even do their job as an enforcement agency?
Similarly, what is your position on proposed plans to widen a 19-mile stretch of the 710 freeway through much of the district?
I think that my initial concern is before we start widening anything, we need to address and support the people who have cancer in that range. Because there’s trailer carts and these people have cancer. There’s a lot of cancer there. So before we even move on expanding the 710, we need to address the contamination and the families and their health.
Is there anything else about your candidacy you’d like voters to know?
I think that they should know that I’m in favor of them. My team and I are working daily with the community. We’ve reached out to them, we talked to them about the issues that are facing the cities and the issues that California is facing. And the voters need to make an informed decision and they need to go to my [Facebook] page ‘Cesar Flores for State Senate,’ and review and compare my platforms with the other candidates’ platform, and the issues that I’m talking about, instead of the other candidates. And really make a truthful and a critical decision to support me because it would be an honor to get their support. Because this is not a joke.
This is something serious and while other candidates do their thing, we’re talking to people. I don’t have a problem with walking, canvassing, engaging people about the issues. So they need to be aware that they’re not going to be represented by a corporate puppet or somebody that’s out of touch with their needs.