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North State elections: Republican House candidate Kevin Kiley

Kevin Kiley, a Republican, is challenging Democratic candidate Kermit Jones in the November election to represent California’s 3rd congressional district. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kiley.
Kevin Kiley, a Republican, is challenging Democratic candidate Kermit Jones in the November election to represent California’s 3rd congressional district. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kiley.

Republican candidate Kevin Kiley is running to represent California’s newly redrawn 3rd Congressional District. Kiley is challenging Democratic candidate Kermit Jones.

Kiley is currently an Assemblymember in the California State Assembly, representing the city of Roseville and its surrounding areas. Last year, he ran as a replacement candidate during the recall election of Governor Gavin Newsom.

Kiley was recently interviewed by NSPR’s Jamie Jiang about wildfire mitigation, education and climate action.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

On the top three issues facing the region

Well, number one is the cost of living, that needs to be the first priority … curbing inflation, getting the cost of living under control, making life more affordable for families in our area and across the country. I'd say the second and third issues would be public safety. We're seeing levels of violent crime go up and people are not feeling safe in their communities largely as a result of liberalizing the criminal laws and efforts to defund police, which I am adamantly opposed to. And the third issue is immigration, we need to get back to having a secure border.

On how to keep constituents safe from wildfires

The cause is largely rooted in failed policies at both the state and the federal level. And so as a member of Congress, one of my top priorities is going to be to prioritize forest management.

There are common sense practices when it comes to brush clearing, when it comes to tree removal that we should take. We have a lot of regulations that prevent that from happening as well, which have really decimated our timber industry. And so I want to work to remove unnecessary regulations to forest management as well as to focus state and federal resources on clearing out our forests.

On any plans to make insurance in wildfire-prone communities affordable

The fire insurance rates have posed an enormous hardship for many homeowners. And so what I proposed as a legislator in the state legislature is to give a tax credit to folks who have seen this astronomical increase in their fire insurance rates. They shouldn't have to bear the cost of that, when the risk was created by negligence on the part of the government.

On how Kiley would use the position to help fire survivors rebuild

Well, first, we need to get the sort of federal relief that we are entitled to, you know. We have not been given the assistance that is needed following the Caldor Fire, even though our representatives in Congress have been calling for that. I've worked on legislation to try to make it easier to rebuild homes, to remove harmful regulations that make it very difficult to get homes rebuilt. And, you know, I plan to continue to do that in every way I can at the federal level.

On any plans to address the cost of housing

Well, it's just way too expensive to build in this state, we pile on so many fees, so many costs, so many regulations, so many taxes, that it can cause tens of thousands of dollars to build a home before you even break ground. So that's what has created this housing situation, this housing shortage that we have in California. We just need to make it easier to build. And we need to give people the ability to, you know, do with their property as they see fit.

On plans to advocate for education in the district

Well I believe that this is one of the most important issues we're facing right now because we just had a school shutdown that lasted longer in California than anywhere else in the country. It's really important that we do everything we possibly can to sort of mitigate the harm that was done by this, to overcome learning loss, to give students access to the sort of educational resources and support as well, mental health support that they need. But ultimately I want to see reforms to our education system that put parents back in the driver's seat when it comes to their kids’ education and make sure that every child has the opportunity to receive the education they deserve.

On whether access to affordable healthcare is a priority and plans to improve access

Absolutely. I've tried to work on reforms as a member of the legislature that provide greater access to health care for folks in rural communities. But I think we need to also, more broadly, address the rising costs of health care. I've advocated for reforms that increased competition, that increased access, that increased transparency when it comes to cost that give consumers a greater ability to compare different plans. And those are the type of reforms that I plan to pursue as a member of Congress.

On plans to address the drought

Rationing is being proposed. You have officials at the state level that are trying to curb indoor use to really almost unbelievable levels and it's all so unnecessary. Because we get more than enough water by the grace of God in this state, we just fail to properly store it and use it. So I've actually proposed an amendment to our state constitution to allocate a fixed portion of the budget every year to water storage and water supply projects until we have a sustainable supply of water to supply for indoor, urban, agrarian and industrial use.

On how to address illegal weed operations

The way California has changed its criminal laws, it's made it very difficult for law enforcement to get this situation under control. And so I've been an advocate for returning, swinging the pendulum back the other way, towards having appropriate consequences for criminal activity and for giving our law enforcement the tools that they need to keep our community safe.

On whether curbing the effects of climate change is a priority and how to take action

Certainly, where that is appropriate. I've been one of the biggest champions in our state for clean energy and promoting clean energy. I've advocated keeping Diablo Canyon open. I think that you know that what we need to be doing is encouraging the sort of innovations that will allow those new technologies to flourish. What we don't need to do is impose regulation after regulation after regulation that only drives up the cost of energy and make life more difficult for people.

On the rising cost of gas

I've been fighting in every way I can to suspend our gas tax, which would take 54 cents off of every gallon of gas.

I think more broadly, we need to look at what it is that makes gas so expensive in California, all of the taxes and fees and regulations and restrictions on domestic energy production. Those all add to the price of gas, which is why it's so much more expensive here than in the rest of the country, even when it is very expensive in the rest of the country right now as well. And so I'm going to be a very strong and vocal advocate for American energy independence so that we don't have to be reliant on foreign sources of energy, but we can provide for our own needs domestically.

Jamie is NSPR’s wildfire reporter and Report For America corps member. She covers all things fire, but her main focus is wildfire recovery in the North State. Before NSPR, Jamie was at UCLA, where she dabbled in college radio and briefly worked as podcast editor at the Daily Bruin.