There’s More to Elections than Just the President


Picture by Melissa Canales

By Melissa Canales, Editor in Chief

Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Regardless of who you support, you have probably heard both of their names hundreds of times over the last few weeks. With the elections so close, though, we have to remember that the Oval Office is not the only place with positions up for grabs. This year, elections for the Antelope Valley will include our 25th Congressional District, Palmdale Mayor, and Palmdale City Council – both for District 1 and District 2. So, let’s go through some of the lesser-known names around this time of year to make sure you’ll be making informed decisions this November.


25th Congressional District


Mike Garcia

Currently, the Representative for California’s 25th Congressional District is Mike Garcia, who won the special elections held May of this year following the resignation of former representative Katie Hill. He is seeking re-election this upcoming November.


Garcia is running as the Republican candidate for the district. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis with a major in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. Then, he went on to graduate school at Georgetown University and came out of it with a Master’s Degree in National Securities Studies.


As a recent figure in the world of politics, there is not much of a legislative history to track. However, since his victory in May, he has voted in legislation worth noting.

  1. He voted against George Floyd Justice in the Policing Act 2020, which increases police accountability for misconduct and increases transparency and data collection of law enforcement encounters. The act requires police to have in-car video and audio recordings and a body cam. Moreover, it prohibited racial profiling and included training against racial profiling as a part of federal law enforcement training.
  2. He supported in favor of safely facilitating child care access during the pandemic.
  3. He voted against a bill that would prohibit the US Postal Service from making any changes to their operations and levels of service from the day of its enactment to January 31, 2021, or the end of the pandemic, whichever came later.
  4. He voted in favor of the removal of statues memorializing Roger Brooke Taney, former Supreme Court Justice who authored the decision of the Dred Scott case in 1857, and other controversial, pro-slavery political figures of the 19th century.
  5. He voted against making the information about how the Small Business Administration (SBA) disbursed and distributed financial aid to small businesses and businesses of economically disadvantaged individuals public.


Christy Smith


Christy Smith lost the special election to Garcia earlier this year but has been in positions of power long before the Congressional loss. After attending College of the Canyons and transferring to UCLA, she got a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. She served two terms as a governing board member of the Newhall School District before representing the 38th Assembly District in the California State Assembly in 2018.


Smith is running as the Democratic nominee after winning the primaries back in March. Among her key messages, the following are some of her votes on issues during her time with the State Assembly.

  1. She voted in favor of requiring corporations have directors from underrepresented communities, particularly those who “self-identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, or who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender,” no later than the end of 2022.
  2. She voted in favor of making affordable housing a right, meaning all residents would have access to legal and financial assistance to avoid homelessness, decent living conditions if they do become homeless, and access to affordable permanent housing.
  3. She voted against authorizing duplex housing in single-family zones. The bill allows for housing developments with 2 residential units in a single-housing zone be reviewed without the Planning Commission’s approval as long as it meets all the pre-established housing requirements.
  4. Smith supported a bill that would create a Task Force responsible for studying and proposing reparations for the African American community. The people in this group must represent communities of color and background in racial justice.
  5. She voted in favor of amending the California State Constitution that repealed a previous prohibition of affirmative action. This bill, instead, would forbid the discrimination against or favorable treatment to individuals because of their sex, gender, race, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, education, and contracting.


Palmdale Mayor


Steve Hofbauer


Hofbauer is the current Mayor of the city. He was first elected in 2018 and is running for his first re-election. He earned an education in emergency medical services, fire and building codes, and fire inspection and investigation from a range of schools, including Los Angeles and Valley Colleges, Rancho Santiago, Santa Ana, and Rio Hondo Colleges, UCLA Extension, and California State University Los Angeles. Before going into politics, Hofbauer worked in fire services for 32 years.


Among some of the listed issues on his site promise to have safer roads and parks and upgraded equipment for the Emergency Operations Center. His previous actions for the city’s economy during the pandemic included the Palmdale Cares initiative which helped small businesses apply for one-time grants of up to $10,000 and projects to help small businesses stay open while following the public health guidelines. He also has stated that he is in favor of implementing environmentally sustainable policies.


Laura Bettencourt


Bettencourt was first elected to the Palmdale City Council in 2009, through a May special election, and has been elected 4 times since. She also works as a crime and intelligence analyst for the LA County Sheriff’s Department and as a professor in criminal justice at Antelope Valley College. Bettencourt received her Associate’s degree from AVC, a Bachelor’s degree in social ecology from UC Irvine, and a master’s degree in criminal justice from CSU San Bernardino.


Among the goals Bettencourt lists on her website are her plans to bring in jobs to the AV to keep residents from having to commute; provide better infrastructure, improve parks, and reimplement community events for youth and seniors; and make Palmdale the location for the next UC or CSU school.


Xavier Flores


Unfortunately, Flores does not have a running website for his campaign, and information surrounding his platform is vaguer than that of previously reviewed candidates. Flores has centered his education around Chicano studies and received a major in social science.


He shared some of his plans if elected Mayor. Flores hopes to reduce crime by reducing the number of businesses that sell tobacco and alcohol – thereby reducing their consumption – and plans on creating a sort of system that would help big and small businesses enjoy protection from closures and an inability to meet payroll requirements.


Rick Norris


Norris has a Juris Doctorate Degree law degree from the Western State University of Law. This won’t be his first time in politics as he has served as a City Council Member after winning in 2000. Currently, he is Chairman of the Palmdale Regional Medical Center.


His campaign platform consists of his five-step plan RAISE Palmdale: Revitalize, Achieve, Improve, Strengthen, and Enhance. Norris focuses mostly on boosting the economy through “active, aggressive marketing,” towards new businesses, eliminating funds for “misguided and misdirected” programs, and creating wider access to treatment programs in the city, rather than force residents to make long drives to find the proper healthcare resources.


Eric Olhsen


Olhsen is the youngest name on the ballot for Mayor this year. At 37, Olhsen served on the United States Coast Guard Joint Terrorism Task Force and, later, the Marine Safety and Security Team straight out of high school; afterward, he moved to Palmdale to start his career as a film producer. Earlier this year, he lost the primaries for the California State Assembly District 36.


As Mayor, he would focus on infrastructure, education, and the economy. According to his website, the three are intertwined: Investment in infrastructure, for example, creates jobs, stimulating a growing and prosperous economy that will fund improvements to education.”


Tonya “Alenna” Schofield

Schofield has worked in a multitude of positions, including Credit Specialist, Reading Coach, and CEO of The Reading Tutor, an academic tutorial service. Her educational background is also plentiful, seeing as she’s attended CSU Dominguez Hills, Aenon School of Theology and Bible Studies, Strayer University, and the University of Phoenix and has degrees in liberal studies, English and religious studies.


Her platform, as her life, is not geared towards a single-policy campaign, but rather aims to address issues in education, healthcare, police reform, voter suppression, green technology, career opportunities, and youth and senior programs.


This is certainly a brief run-down of some of the candidates to look out for this November, so if you or anyone else you know is eligible to vote, I recommend using this article as a starting point in the process of making informed decisions in the voting booth. And, make sure to look out for a follow up with the candidates running for City Council!