BARSTOW Newberry Springs resident John Coffey wants to turn the High Desert blue. Coffey, a lifelong Democrat, is campaigning for the new 33rd Assembly District, which includes Barstow, the Victor Valley and the High Desert.

Coffey said he was running because the political system is broken in San Bernardino County.
"We need to have a political solution which does not include the Republican machine," Coffey said.

Coffey works as a paraeducator at the Barstow Unified School District, where he has been employed since 1995. Coffey has also worked at the Social Security Administration, as a paralegal at the Department of the Navy and as a supervisor at the United States Census Bureau. Coffey was a board administrator at the Newberry Springs Community Services District from 2004 to 2005. He moved to Barstow from San Diego in 1995 and to Newberry Springs in 2010.

Coffey earned a Bachelor's degree from St. Martin's College in Laney, Wash. in 1975 and graduated from Western State University College of Law in 1986. Coffey served in the United States Army from 1969 to 1977.

Coffey said his experience at the school district showed him the value of public education. State legislators should limit administrative salaries to 15 percent of a university's total budget to slow the growth in costs to attend the state's public universities, Coffey said.

"The only thing I ever learned from an administrator is that I didn't like them," Coffey said, adding that administrators should only work at state universities if they perform statutorily mandated functions.

Coffey said he would push for economic development in the region, including solar projects that did not harm the environment. Coffey said he would also seek to encourage commercial air service to come to Southern California Logistics Airport as an alternative to Ontario International Airport or Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport.

Coffey said the Barstow area will face serious challenges in the years ahead as Congress cuts defense spending to lower the nation's debt. The move could lead to a new round of military base closures and any closures in the Barstow area would harm the region's economy, Coffey said.

If the region had Democratic representation at the state and Congressional level, it could be more likely to avoid potential base closures and could receive more federal funding should President Obama be reelected, Coffey said.

Coffey said he was working with labor groups like the California School Employees Association in hopes of securing their endorsements.

"Up here there are fewer people who will admit to being a Democrat," Coffey said, but he said his candidacy was still a viable one.

Two other candidates, both Republicans, are currently in the race for the 33rd Assembly District:

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who currently represents the 45th Assembly District
Big Bear Lake Mayor Bill Jahn

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or spearson@desertdispatch.com