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Six Questions for Assembly Candidate Victoria Rusnak

Victoria Rusnak, one of five candidates running to represent the new 41st Assembly district, answers Patch's questions ahead of the June 5 election.

A native of the San Gabriel Valley who leads the family business of local auto dealerships, Victoria Rusnak is running for office for the first time in a bid to represent the 41st Assembly district.

Rusnak makes her home in Altadena and serves as the president of Rusnak Auto Group in Pasadena. A graduate of George Washington University, Rusnak has pledged to help reform California's school funding process to bring more state dollars to local schools.

Patch interviewed Rusnak by email as a part of our series of candidate profiles.

1) This is your first run for public office. Why are you qualified to represent this district in the Assembly and what do you hope to accomplish? 

I am the best qualified candidate in the race.  I am a successful businesswoman and attorney who sees job creation, getting our economy moving again and restoring funding for neighborhood schools as the most important responsibilities of our next State Assembly member.

2) The gridlock in the Assembly has frustrated lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, and the budget mess in California keeps getting worse. What can you do as an individual lawmaker to effect change in Sacramento?

I'm not a politician, I'm a problem solver.  I have a proven track record of bringing different groups together to find real solutions.  I will work to reduce the partisan bickering and work together in an honest, open and accountable way to address the needs of regular people - not special interests.

3) What are your priorities if elected? What are the key things that need to get done to solve the budget crisis? 

As I say below,  I intend to focus on balancing the state budget, protecting funding for neighborhood schools and working to promote job creation and retention. We need to learn to live within our means.  I won't vote for any new program that does not have an identified source of funding.

4) What do you intend to do for the 41st district. What unique needs to you see for the district? 

I intend to focus on balancing the state budget, protecting funding for neighborhood schools and working to promote job creation and retention.  As the President of a company with 700 employees, I am uniquely qualified to understand the issues relating to job creation and retention and I intend to work closely with employers and cities in our district to improve the economic climate.  

5) What's wrong with public education in California? What kinds of reforms are necessary to fix the system? 

The first problem is the $20 billion in budget cuts over the last four years.  Having said that, there is no quick fix on this issue.  We also need more community involvement in our schools.  That is why I co-founded an after-school and summer program that teaches art to at-risk teenagers to build their confidence and keep them away from trouble.  I think we need more local control.  I think we need a stronger link between education and jobs.  That is why I established extensive worker training programs at my own company.  I think we need to simplify the school funding formulas and address our need to recruit teachers.  I think it is a matter of making education a priority and systematically working on the issue.

6) The 710 Tunnel extension is coming up at a time concurrently with the election and one of your opponents, Mr. Cacciotti is a vocal opponent of it. What's your position on it? I oppose the completion of the 710.  I think the "tunnel extension" is a waste of time to consider because there is no currently identifiable source of funds for it. 

R. Ray Morford May 31, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Ms. Rusnak is a Democrat. If she expects to survive in Jerry Browns Tax and Spend Government, she must fall in line. I don't care how much good she may have done locally, Sacramento is a whole different ball game. Secondly, why do these candidates fail to place their party affiliation on their advertisements? Be up front and tell the truth.
Raul Corbera Sr May 31, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Agree. Nothing will change, as long as the liberal Democrats control Sacramento. All these individuals running for office do is make promises that do not keep.
Jan SooHoo May 31, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Ms. Rusnak, you are too dismissive of the possibility of an extension of the 710 to the 210 via a tunnel. Metro plans to build it as a Public-Private Partnership, and it appears that at least one foreign firm (from Spain) is interested in doing the project. What's in it for them? Revenue from the tolls that would be charged every vehicle using it, currently estimated at at least $5. SCAG included the project in the constrained portion of its 2012 RTP in spite of the fact that funds have not been committed yet, knowing that the PPP is viable. Measure R only provided $780 million -- not enough to build a tunnel whose cost is ill-defined at the moment, but Metro's own superficial estimate is $5.6 billion. Other estimates have totaled more than twice that number. The Measure R funds have been used for the Geotechnical Feasibility Study and also the EIR/EIS currently underway. Metro is ramming this tunnel down the throats of the 210 corridor. The public participation process is flawed and heavily criticized. Metro refuses to commit or the other on the issue of goods movement via big rigs through the tunnel -- even though there is plenty of documentation that this has been a goal of connecting the 710 to the 210 since the 70's, at least. They narrowed the alternatives from 43 to 12 without any input from the Technical Advisory Committee nor the public, and none of the alternatives being studied include the electric rail or other options for freight movement.
Peter Hoffman May 31, 2012 at 05:40 PM
If we want to change the way Sacramento operates, we have to start electing people like Victoria Rusnak. The Democrats can't get past their hostility to employers and their loyalty to the public unions. The Republicans have forfieted all credibility and influence. A business-oriented democrat with no allegience to any special interest and a sensitivity to education, the environment and jobs is what we need.
Gem City Dude Man May 31, 2012 at 11:16 PM
The Federation of American Immigration Reform's recent study estimates by the end of the year illegal immigration will cost California tax payers close to $22 Billion dollars. Our current state budget deficit is conservatively estimated at $16 Billion and could go as high as $25 Billion. The Federal Government doesn't even pay 10% of the cost of this huge budget burden created by the illegal immigration problem. Why should Californians have to pay for a problem we did not create, is not our responsibility, and the Feds will not allow us to fix even when we have tried? The Feds are forcing this state into a long term commitment as a Welfare State. When you talk about tax reform the current tax structure where our state tax revenues go to Washington and then the Plutocrats and Oligarchs decide just how much of OUR tax money they think we should get back is wrong, corrupt, and totally unfair. In fact, when you compare what Americans pay in income taxes between Federal and State it should be reversed. The majority of our taxes should stay where we live, work, and play. The Federal Government has overstepped their government responsibilities as outlined by the Constitution. The balance of government power needs to be restored between the Federal, State, and local branches. Too much government power has migrated to Washington where it is too far from the people and away from our control! We are now living through what happens when governments become too centralized.

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