Rico Oller and wife, Londa
Rico Oller, who represented Mono County first as a member of the State Assembly from 1996-2000 and then as a State Senator from 2000-2004, is running for State Assembly again this year in the newly created District 5.
The new district is comprised of seven full counties (Amador, Calaveras, Alpine, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Madera and Mono) and parts of two others (Placer and El Dorado).
The portion of El Dorado accounts for 28% of the district’s population.
The district is considered right-leaning, with 11% more registered Republicans than Democrats.
It’s an open primary, which means the top 2 vote-getters in June will advance to a November showdown, even if both are from the same party.
Oller, a private businessman in the construction materials business who hails from Calaveras County, describes himself as a conservative Republican. “In this state, that makes me somewhat of an endangered species,” he says with a laugh.
When asked which Republican presidential candidate he supported, Oller said, “I’m more of a Santorum guy … I like how he expresses respect for working-class folks, people who get their hands dirty.”
Oller, who lost a U.S. Congressional bid to Dan Lungren in 2004, believes public sector labor unions have accrued vastly too much power. “They’re destroying our future,” he says. “And we can’t squeeze another egg out of this goose. Entrepreneurs [overwhelmed by taxes and regulation] are moving to other states where the business climate is more favorable.”
Oller says AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, is a particularly irksome piece of anti-business legislation – so much so that he says his number one goal, if elected, would be to repeal it.
“The issue is setting priorities. Most of our economic problems can be solved by full-employment. The new carbon rules put me at a disadvantage [to the competition],” says Oller, who mostly competes with firms based outside the state.
“I don’t believe in global warming,” he adds. “It’s pseudo-science, and there’s no consensus of opinion about it. And it’s just hubris to think we’re solely responsible for it if it does exist.”
Oller is also a fierce opponent of the California high-speed rail initiative. “We’ve already wasted $3 billion on this,” he says. “And it won’t happen in our lifetimes.”
“Weather, the seaboard, the fertile land, a great labor pool … we Californians have everything going for us, except our government.”
In his previous stint as a state legislator, Oller’s accomplishments included facilitation of permits for the local geothermal plant as well as pushing legislation which made it easier to eliminate mountain lions predating upon Sierra Nevada bighorns.