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
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
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.
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