I was elected in 2014 and am proud to serve the people in California’s 2nd Assembly District, which comprises all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties, plus northern and western Sonoma County, including the northern half of Santa Rosa.
Northern California has been my home since 1987, when I opened my family dental practice in Cloverdale. I began my public service when I was elected to the Healdsburg City Council in 2006, serving two terms as mayor. My goals, in that position, were to make local government more effective and efficient through reorganizing city departments, balancing the budget, working on environmental and health issues, and streamlining the building permit process. During my time as mayor, we were able to pass a local ordinance prohibiting the sale of tobacco to anyone younger than 21.
I decided to run for the Assembly in 2013 to expand my public service beyond my hometown to affect public policy at the state level. Once elected to the Assembly, my priorities were environmental protection, economic development and health care. I have been chair of the Assembly Health Committee since early 2016.
In my years in the Assembly, I have been successful in passing legislation to protect and expand access to medical, dental and mental health care in rural areas, make progress in reducing the costs of prescription drugs by curbing the marketing practices of pharmaceutical companies and increasing public transparency in how they set prices; protect residents of nursing homes from closures and ensure that owners of nursing homes disclose their related businesses; prevent patients from receiving surprise medical bills, increase the age to 21 for the purchase of tobacco products and begin the process of identifying how California can provide health care to all. Following the devastating wildfires of 2017, I worked in a bipartisan way to obtain $1 billion for much needed vegetation management to help prevent wildlands from fires and have continued to support an expansion of funding for wildfire prevention activities, including creating a new unit within the Office of the Fire Marshal specifically dedicated to this work.
I have passed legislation to protect the environment including funding for managing our working lands and forests, protecting our watershed from abuse, and obtained funding to clean up environmental damage from illegal cannabis grows. Cannabis continues to be a significant part of Northern California’s economy and I was, and continue to be, involved in the development of medical cannabis regulations to protect small farmers and ensure that rules and licensing processes are accessible to small businesses.
During the COVID pandemic, I have continued to fight for funding for local public health departments and have supported the local public health officers in this challenging environment.
A top priority for my district has been economic support and development as well as expansion of broadband. I have pushed Caltrans to expand its “dig once” policy to lay conduit for broadband during large road work projects and have supporting funding for building out the middle mile so that rural communities can access broadband.
In addition to my work in the state Legislature, I am proud to serve as a forensic dentistry expert consultant for five Northern California counties. I established a mass disaster identification team in California and helped pass state legislation to standardize county identification procedures, a model now adopted by other states. I am called regularly to support efforts in several Northern California counties and had the honor to assist in many disasters including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Valley Fire in Lake County and the tragic wildfires in northern California, including the devastating Camp Fire, in hopes that my service provides some closure to family and loved ones.