Some longtime incumbents appeared to be safely fending off challenges Tuesday evening by political newcomers in state legislative races across the Coachella Valley.

In the 42nd Assembly District, incumbent Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, who was disavowed by his fellow conservatives for crossing party lines and supporting Democrat-led cap-and-trade extension legislation, was leading Democrat DeniAntoinette Mazingo.

Mayes has held the 42nd district seat since 2014, after serving for nearly a decade on the Yucca Valley Town Council, including two stints as mayor.

Mayes quickly rose through the ranks to become Assembly Republican Leader less than a year after being elected, but was ousted from the role last year by fellow party members over his stance on the cap-and-trade legislation. Republican challengers Gary Jeandron and Andrew Kotyuk grilled him on the issue before the primary election.

After Mayes left the leadership post, he formed “New Way California,” a group intended to increase Californians’ support of the Republican Party by changing its focus and reaching across the aisle more for solutions. Mayes said that “even while the hyper-partisan environment of Sacramento has certainly tested my temperament — I remain convinced that our best days are ahead of us.”

Mazingo, a Hemet-area attorney who worked in Washington, D.C., for 16 years, was the only Democrat on the June primary election ballot for the 42nd District, which covers most of the Coachella Valley, San Gorgonio Pass cities and portions of the San Bernardino County High Desert.

Mazingo, who also represents the Third District on the Riverside County Commission for Women, has received endorsements from prominent state and local Democrats like Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez and 56th District Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia.

Both candidates have prioritized the environment, tackling homelessness and increasing the availability of affordable health care, housing and education, particularly for the homeless and senior citizens.

In the 56th Assembly District, which covers a vast swath of the Eastern Coachella Valley and Imperial County, Democrat Eduardo Garcia has held a strong foothold on the district, and was last re-elected while running unopposed in 2016.

This year, Garcia was handily defeating Republican challenger Jeff Gonzalez, a former Marine who has decried Garcia’s AB 398 that extended the state’s cap-and-trade environmental program, as well as the assemblyman’s support of SB 1, The Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, which raised gas taxes to fund transportation projects across the state.

Gonzalez’s campaign literature states that Garcia sided with “Sacramento special interests” in both instances, which will result in unfair tax increases levied on working families.

“We need to demand better from our representatives,” Gonzalez said in his candidate statement. “As a result of some terrible votes in the Legislature, we have higher gas prices and our local economy continues to struggle. There is no reason why our district has triple the state average unemployment rate. This is simply unacceptable.”

Garcia’s campaign focus has been on the restoration of the Salton Sea, which is entirely encompassed within the 56th district and remains a central issue for local legislators. The lake’s continuing decline has contributed to health-related issues for nearby residents, as well as a depletion of natural habitats and food sources for local wildlife.

Garcia, a lifelong Coachella Valley resident, previously served as Coachella’s first elected mayor, and is chairman of the Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife. His campaign literature states that during his time in the Assembly, he “helped balance the state budget each year, strengthened California’s finances and saved taxpayers billions of dollars in budget reserves.”

The 28th state Senate District, which encompasses the entire Coachella Valley and a good portion of western Riverside County, incumbent Jeff Stone, R-La Quinta, was fending off a challenge by Democrat Joy Silver.

Stone was first elected in 2014, following three terms on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

After an unsuccessful 2016 challenge of Raul Ruiz’s congressional seat, Stone is looking for reelection to the Senate, and continues to push for public safety, while decrying regulations that he feels have increased the tax burden for working families and veterans. On the public safety front, he introduced legislation to place metal detectors in Riverside County schools, while also “working to repeal the unfair gas tax hike that harms middle-income families and small businesses.”

Silver, a Coachella Valley small business owner backed by a number of local Democrats, describes herself in campaign documents as “an outsider who will bring a fresh approach to getting things done in Sacramento.”

Silver has pushed for expanding health-care access, creating affordable housing and securing funding to solve the Salton Sea crisis.

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