Gus Mattammal, a Republican entrepreneur who last year vied for a seat in the U.S. Congress, announced Tuesday that he is running for a state Assembly seat that is currently occupied by Marc Berman.
A resident of El Granada, Mattammal is one of two recently declared challengers for the seat in the 23rd District, which covers Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Atherton, Woodside, Pacifica, Ladera, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley, Saratoga and Campbell. Palo Alto Mayor Lydia Kou, a Democrat and a longtime critic of Sacramento's housing mandates, announced last week that she plans to challenge Berman for the Assembly seat.
Mattammal, a director at the tutoring company Advantage Testing, isn't entirely new to politics. Last year, he was one of seven candidates who competed for the District 15 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that was long occupied by Jackie Speier. He finished third in the heavily Democratic district with 16.5% of the votes, behind eventual winner Kevin Mullin and runner-up David Canepa.
In his announcement, Mattammal said that he is running because he wants to make it easier for California to "grow and thrive." He noted that the state population has been declining even as Texas and Florida are picking up residents and Congressional representation.
"The consequences of having so few Republicans in the state Assembly are real, and they are growing," Mattammal said in the announcement.
He took a shot at Sacramento's housing policies and said he wants to consider ideas for building housing "where it makes sense, rather than forcing housing on every community whether they want it or not."
In his campaign last year, he similarly focused on ways to reduce government mandates. He opposed, for example, efforts by local jurisdictions to ban natural gas in new developments and favored giving people incentives to voluntarily make the switch.
He also supported creating educational savings accounts for low-income individuals in areas with poorly performing public schools and making additional investments in nuclear fusion and carbon-capture technology.
Mattammal said in his Tuesday announcement that he would like to talk about ways to make it easier for schools and nonprofits to spend money that they get from the government without "drowning in a sea of compliance paperwork and regulatory micromanagement." He also said he wants to explore reforms to the permitting process and regulatory relief that would "enable real progress on climate and make it easier to start and grow a business."
"Our state government has been far out of balance for almost 20 years now, and the result is that it's too hard to run a school, too hard to operate a nonprofit, too hard to start or grow a business, and too hard to do the big things we need to do to address climate change," Mattammal said in the announcement. "And now, Californians are beginning to pay the price."