Idyllwild Town Crier


News & Features
From the Idyllwild Town Crier weekly newspaper, 01.07.10 edition.

Emmerson seeks Senate seat

By Marshall Smith, Staff Reporter

Assemblyman Dr. Bill Emmerson (R-Redlands, AD 63) will contend in the April 13 primary for the state Senate seat in the 37th District with backing from the man who held it before, current Riverside County 4th District Supervisor John J. Benoit.
With endorsements from Benoit and neighboring Assemblyman Brian Nestande, Emmerson runs against two who ran against Benoit in the June 3, 2008 Republican Primary — businessman Russell Bogh and former Hemet Unified School District Trustee David Peters. In that race, Benoit handily won with 56.5 percent of the vote. Bogh had 32.1 percent and Peters 11.4 percent.
Palm Springs Lincoln Club Chairman Jim Stuart, and founding member of the Coachella Valley Lincoln Club, tagged Emmerson as a carpetbagger, charging that he changed his residence from Redlands to Hemet to make the run. Stuart has even called on Emmerson to resign his Assembly seat since, according to Stuart, Emmerson no longer lives in his Assembly district.
Emmerson counters that his family roots in Hemet go back to the 1950s. He practiced dentistry there and in Idyllwild, both parts of SD 37, for over 25 years. “I’ve probably lived in Riverside County longer than Stuart has,” said Emmerson. Emmerson’s political consultant, Jim Nygren, said, “The state’s election laws clearly allow Bill Emmerson to run for the 37th Senate [district] while continuing to provide Riverside County the representation it deserves in the state Assembly.” Part of Emmerson’s Assembly district is in Riverside County (including Riverside and Moreno Valley) and part in San Bernardino County.
Born in Oakland, Emmerson has spent the majority of his life in southern California’s Orange and Riverside Counties. He graduated in 1967 from La Sierra University in Riverside with a B.S. degree in History and Political Science. He pursued post-graduate study in Public Administration at American University in Washington, D.C. while on the staff of Congressman Jerry Pettis of California (CA 33 and 37). He returned to California in 1969 joining the staff of Assembly Republican Floor Leader W. Craig Biddle, while continuing studies at California State University Sacramento.
After service with the Legislature, Emmerson entered and graduated in 1980 from Loma Linda University School of Dentistry with a D.D.S. degree. He continued graduate study in orthodontics at Loma Linda, completing his M.S. degree in 1982.
After over two decades of orthodontic practice, Emmerson was elected to the California State Assembly in November 2004. He is vice chair of the Business and Professions Committee and sits as a member of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and Health Committee. Many of the bills Emmerson has introduced deal with health and wellness issues of his Assembly constituents, a key concern of his. Through an innovative approach that brought insurance companies into the conversation, Emmerson and legislative colleagues preserved 700,000 registrants in the Healthy Families program that provides low cost insurance for children, teens and pregnant mothers. “Otherwise these people would have been Medi-Cal patients which would have impacted the General Fund,” said Emmerson. “It’s important [given the current budget crisis] that we find ways to fund fewer things out of the General Fund.”
Emmerson believes the current budget crisis demands innovative solutions. One of those solutions would be to strip layers of bureaucracy from education spending. “You can reform education [without raising taxes] by cutting so many redundant layers of administration and putting those dollars into the classroom,” said Emmerson.
Emmerson cited, as an example, overlapping bureaucratic layers with the State Department of Education, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Credentialing Commission and the State School Board Commission, with duplicative or similar positions within the county, local boards and each school. Emmerson is an advocate of local control in educational funding. “In this last round of budget negotiations, we reduced categorical funding allowing block allocations to be made to locals to make appropriate local education decisions.”
He is an advocate for small businesses and local government control. “I’m opposed to taking funds from cities to Sacramento,” he said. “Local governments should be able to do what they do best, knowing what they need. I will continue to fight for local government and more local control.”
Emmerson has been recognized as the Outstanding Assembly member for 2005 and 2007 by the California State Sheriff’s Association, 2008 Legislator of the Year by Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California and 2009 Legislator of the Year by California Society of Healthy System Pharmacists.
Emmerson and wife Nan have two daughters, Kate and Caroline.

   Marshall Smith can be reached at

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