Longtime Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, a Coachella Democrat whose political career in the valley has spanned the past two decades, will not seek re-election in his district next year, leaving the door open for bags -one who came to the Legislature – including a candidate he already endorsed. .
Garcia, who was first elected to the California Legislature in 2014, did not complete the paperwork with the county registrar to run for re-election by the December 8 date for incumbents.
Because the incumbent did not file for election, the filing deadline for others to run in Assembly District 36 has been extended until Wednesday, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.
A representative for Garcia did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Desert Sun on Monday, but a press release sent out Monday morning indicated that Garcia has already endorsed a potential replacement. in place: Coachella Valley Unified School District board member Joey Acuña.
“I believe Joey is the best candidate to replace me in the State Assembly and continue the fights to address climate change, build affordable housing, expand access to higher education, and improve infrastructure in mental health care,” Garcia said in a prepared statement. “I am proud to endorse Joey Acuña, and I look forward to playing an active role in his campaign.”
Acuña, who qualified for the ballot last Friday, thanked Garcia for his nine years of legislative service in his campaign announcement.
“I hope to continue his legacy of delivering results for our district and effectively advocating for our most vulnerable neighbors,” Acuña said.
Acuña added, Republican Jeff Gonzalez submitted voter signatures to get his name on the ballot on Friday. Two other people, Kalin Morse and Indio City Councilman Waymond Fermon, have signaled their intention to run, but did not appear to have filed the necessary paperwork as of Monday afternoon, according to information posted online by the Riverside County Registrar. of Voters.
Having already served five two-year terms, Garcia is only eligible to run for one more term under state rules on term limits. In California, a person can serve no more than 12 years total in the state Legislature.
Since his election to the California Assembly in 2014, Garcia has steadily risen to committee leadership positions, with a focus on issues such as lithium development in the Salton Sea and infrastructure funding in the eastern Coachella Valley. He recently served as the chair of the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee, and this year he chaired the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee.
Garcia’s political career began as a member of the Coachella City Council in 2004. Two years later, he became the city’s first elected mayor at the age of 29, serving several terms in the position.
In late 2021, after the state’s latest redistricting process, Garcia is considering a run for Congress in a redrawn district currently represented by Democratic US Rep. Raul Ruiz.
But Garcia ultimately decided to seek another term in the redrawn Assembly District 36, which includes Coachella, Indio, all of Imperial County and a sliver of eastern San Bernardino County. He won re-election against Republican Ian Weeks with 53.4% of the vote.
With Garcia’s departure from the Democrat-dominated Legislature, it is unclear how many candidates may join the fray and compete for the vacant seat. Acuña announced his campaign Monday with several endorsements, including Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez and Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, but other candidates could still emerge before Wednesday’s deadline.
The primary election in next year’s race is set for March 5.