AD20 candidates: Asm Bill Quirk, Luis
Reynoso, Jaime Patino

ASSEMBLY | 20TH DISTRICT | Assemblymember Bill Quirk says his Republican opponent in the 20th Assembly District is a nice guy. Jaime Patino, the first-time office-seeker, says Quirk is a fine fellow, himself. Hayward school board member Luis Reynoso, who switched from Republican to no party preference will likely not have nice things to say about the latter and the former, but he hasn’t joined the fray. Just wait.

Nevertheless, Patino said his first encounter with Quirk was by accident. A charity breakfast a few months back Patino found himself in the food line with Quirk, who didn’t know him until Patino introduced himself. “What don’t you like about me?” Quirk asked, somewhat hurt, according to Patino’s description of the encounter. The question is not surprising since Quirk has showed a somewhat thin skin when it comes to few instances he has been criticized since taking office last year.

At the Republican state convention last weekend, Patino said he wants to create jobs, but he believes Quirk’s policies so far have not and will not provide results. Noting Quirk’s professional background as a scientist, an occupation he often trumpets as a unique perspective he brings to the Legislature, Patino said, “He might be a rocket scientist, but when it comes to public policy, his ideas are way out of this orbit.”

Even though the first year of Quirk’s first term was somewhat uneventful, he has attracted no opposition from the Democratic Party. In addition to access to vast party resources, Quirk has amassed an enormous fundraising advantage over Patino and Reynoso. Quirk reported a $180,000 ending balance through the end of 2013, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. Meanwhile, Patino and Reynoso will likely run bare-bones campaigns.

Reynoso, who has burnished a reputation for speaking his mind on the Hayward school board and for a doggedly questioning school district expenditures, has run against Quirk in the past. Two years ago, the pair competed in the primary for this same office, with Reynoso finishing fourth. Reynoso changed his party affiliation this time around after repeated sparring with the Alameda County Republican Party leadership, which, in both assembly races, encouraged him not to run. Reynoso won re-election to the school board later that year.

Absent of resources, Quirk’s conservative opponents have a wealth of Quirk’s strong opinions to use against him. Even as a Hayward council member Quirk has been quite open, if not blunt, about his beliefs. Last year, Quirk took aim at gun advocates at a press conference in Oakland when he said, “In the area we come from guns are for killing people.” He later said firearms in the home is the leading cause of death and added you can’t fire a gun without bullets. Based on science, Quirk has long advocated for the legalization of cannabis in the state, but when it comes to scientific inquiry, his strong support for the Russell City Energy Center based on chemistry, is likely a hot-button election issue this June and beyond.

Environmentalists and student activists at nearby Chabot College along with the school’s administration has long opposed the natural gas-fired plant on the Hayward shoreline. The plant came online last October and Calpine, which constructed the plant, is also one of Quirk’s largest campaign contributors. Last month, staff for the Bay Area Air Quality Management Board issued a complaint alleging the water particulate from the plant is 10 times higher than the allowable amount.