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Wizard and Addis emerge as front runners for Assembly

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Two Democratic candidates are going head-to-head in the race for the newly formed 30th Assembly District that would put one of them on the general election ballot this November.

While the Democratic Party served up four hopefuls for the June primary, Morro Bay City Councilmember Dawn Addis and Monterey County's Jon Wizard—a Seaside City Councilmember—emerged as the frontrunners. Both are focused on environmentalism, health care, and housing issues.

"All of us in these positions of elected representation experience challenges within our communities," Wizard told New Times. "That's why you see a lot of similarity among people's platforms. But what are [we] going to do about it? Some of us have policy positions, some of us have talking points."

Wizard serves on a slew of housing policy bodies in Monterey County. He is the commissioner for its Housing Authority, a board member for the county Housing Authority Development Corporation, and a committee member for the Housing Advisory Committee.

"The level of detail that I'm fluent in—not just conversant in—is housing, the No. 1 issue in California," he said. "It's by far, at a different level from any of the other candidates in this race put together, because it's what I do professionally."

If he wins the Assembly seat, Wizard plans to tackle housing laws first along with pursuing more funding for Project Homekey to address homelessness. His proudest endorsement, he said, came from Assembly member Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), the chair of the Committee on Housing and Community Development.

"Buffy Wicks is [also] a champion for reproductive rights, who has previously stood on the floor of the Assembly breastfeeding her baby because there was not an ability to vote by proxy or participate virtually during the height of the pandemic," Wizard said. "As a man, she still chose to endorse me because she knows I'm the right person for the job."

Addis, too, prioritizes reproductive rights in her campaign, and her list of causes includes defending Roe v. Wade. In line with her role as a board member on the Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund, Addis attended the rally for safe abortion access in front of the San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Notably, Addis holds the title of the only candidate in the 30th Assembly District race who is endorsed by the Democratic Party. Party chairs from SLO, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties, which encompass the new district, support her. SLO Democratic Party Chair Rita Casaverde found the triple endorsement to speak volumes about both Addis and Wizard.

"Jon Wizard didn't even get the endorsement from his own county party. That was actually why I endorsed Dawn, not just because I know her but I don't know Jon Wizard. I don't think he has done anything in the county yet to say that we know him," Casaverde said.

Wizard said he's unfazed.

"I've done a lot of tours, I've called a lot of voters ... . We're running a real campaign. We're not just sending mail to people and posting online. When I talk to voters, nobody asks me, did the Professional Engineers of California [hypothetically] endorse you? Nobody asks me such a question. Every single time, the questions are: 'What are your thoughts on climate change ... on reproductive rights ... on housing?'" he said.

While Wizard identified housing as his main priority, Addis told New Times that she would focus on multiple issues. They include addressing ocean acidification, increasing green energy production, increasing mental health care, lowering the costs of college, and multiplying employment opportunities.

But the sheer physical size of the 30th District could make it hard for candidates to get in front of voters. Although it could be a challenge to hit the communities across three counties, Addis is trying to appeal to what she calls the "best district" in California.

"In 2020 I earned the most votes of any Democrat ever and built a vast grassroots network of support across San Luis Obispo County when I ran for the old Assembly District 35," Addis said in a written statement. "Now I am building on that momentum and getting to know new voters. Our message resonates with people because I have the background, experience, and effectiveness they are looking for in a representative."

Wizard has a background in law enforcement and worked as a police officer, a deputy sheriff, a firefighter, and a 911 dispatcher. He told New Times it hasn't affected his campaign, and that voters have "moved on" from policing to other issues like climate change and the ongoing drought.

"Almost all people want to talk to me about that. Not many folks are worried about local policing issues when I'm running for state Assembly," he said.

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