Kelly Seyarto, candidate for state Senate. Photo courtesy Kelly Seyarto

Editor’s note: On Nov. 8, the state’s general election will be held. Voters will choose a state senator for District 32, which includes the Hill. As a result of redistricting after the 2020 Census, there is no incumbent in this race. The two candidates are Republican Assemblyman Kelly Seyarto and Democrat Brian Nash. The Town Crier interviewed each candidate and both stories appear in this edition of the paper.
Kelly Seyarto lives in Murietta with his wife Denise. Besides helping Denise raise three daughters, he was a firefighter for 35 of his 62 years. In 2015, he retired as a battalion chief for Los Angeles County Fire Department.
During his firefighting career, he also served as a Murietta Council member and mayor. In 2020, he was elected to the California Assembly to represent the 67th District, which stretches from the Temescal Valley east to south of Hemet. It includes Murrieta, Menifee and Wildomar.
California law limits an individual’s opportunity to serve in either the Assembly or state Senate to 12 years. Consequently, Seyarto accepts that he will not have the opportunity for three Senate terms. “We knew going into [the race] it was potentially two terms.”
He accepts this limitation because he believes he can be more effective for his constituents in the 40-member Senate rather than the 80-member Assembly.
As a former firefighter, Seyarto understands what State Responsibility Areas are and how Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and local fire agencies must work together to reduce the risk of wildfires and to suppress a fire if one starts.
Consequently, he would like to see more emphasis on vegetation management to reduce the risk of major fires. “We need more protection on state and federal lands,” he stated. “Over the years, maintenance has dropped, now there is too much fuel. Fire breaks are environmentally unpopular, but we need them now.”
Seyarto introduced Assembly Bill 380 to address some fuel reduction issues. “One major issue occurs when fuel reduction contracts [are being developed] by any agency. The [California Environmental Quality Act] can sometimes be frustrating. And it may take years and years to get the contract through,” Seyarto asserted. “Sometimes you can’t wait that long.”
While it didn’t pass the Legislature, he hopes its chances will improve if he is elected to the Senate. He also wants Cal Fire to identify critical fuel-reduction projects each year that need to be completed soon and would qualify for these exemptions.
While a critical issue, wildfires are not the only issue that attracts Seyarto’s attention. He has identified many issues ( he believes are important this year. These include energy policy, water storage, homelessness, and education and schools.
With respect to energy, he sees the lack of generators as one of the major problems. “On the horizon, there is an increase in the amount of consumption. But we’re making policies that decrease the number of generators.”
Since the state policy is to replace gas-driven cars with electric vehicles, Seyarto argues, “We can’t take Diablo offline. That would be absolute devastation for charging electric vehicles. We don’t have enough generators to accomplish the goals at this speed.”
In a recent Stanford University study, a conflict with future transportation policy and electricity generation policies was described. In the future, as electric vehicle ownership grows, the demand for power will increase. But as the electric grid shifts to renewable sources, especially solar, it will be easier and safer to charge electric vehicles during the day rather than nighttime. Currently, most electric vehicle owners charge at night at home.
And this perception of “unintended and conflicting consequences” characterizes his position on many policies. As an Assembly member, Seyarto sees how the Legislature’s actions can affect individual’s pocketbooks. “They are getting hit hard in the wallet. At the state end when creating policies, are we adding to the cost-of-living since not everyone benefits from these actions, but all of us pay for it through taxes?” he noted.
Water policy is another example of these conflicts. The state is not building storage facilities as quickly as necessary to avoid a potential crisis, he believes. He added, “We know we’re susceptible to the drought, but we are not updating our storage systems nor looking for other sources of water supply such as desalination.”
Unfortunately, he averred, ‘We can’t do nothing which is what we’re doing now.”
Understanding policy consequences influences his views of all legislation, especially homelessness. He believes strongly that the problem needs more work from charitable organizations and legislation that addresses the “root cause.”

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported that nearly $150 million worth of federal grants to the three main housing agencies working to reduce homelessness in Greater Los Angeles went unspent between 2015 and 2020, as the number of unhoused people soared.
“Instead of being used to address L.A.’s acute homelessness crisis, the money was returned to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to data provided to The Times by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.”
When asked if charitable organizations have sufficient funding, he replied, “From a legislative perspective, I want to enable nonprofits to have access and greater access to grant funding …
“A lot of homelessness is driven by alcohol and drug and medical conditions,” he said. “Besides more aggressive treatment, we need to evaluate a programs’ success. The key is seeing what’s working, whether rural or urban and how. I will continue to work with Riverside County.”
A son of a special education teacher, Seyarto learned that there is not a universal school environment or structure that benefits every student. “I really value school choice. One environment may not work for all kids. It’s important to support a system that gives parents choice … so that when students graduate, they have tools whether they go to college or into trades.”
At the end of June, when the primary campaign season ended, Seyarto’s campaign coffers had nearly $180,000 in cash. His opponent, Brian Nash, has yet to file any campaign financial reports.
Since Aug. 1, Seyarto has collected another $46,000. These contributions have come from a variety of sources, including educational, energy, health care, transportation, farm and veterinary organizations. Cal Fire Local 2881 and the California Real Estate PAC gave $9,700 in May for the primary. In August, the California Real Estate PAC donated another $9,700.
Seyarto and Nash were the only two candidates on the June primary ballot. Seyarto garnered 62% of the ballots cast. And he remains optimistic about the November results.
If elected, Seyarto would join a legislative body that is nearly 80% the opposite party. Nevertheless, he believes he can work, thrive and succeed under those conditions.
“If you don’t have the ability to work with others, work with different viewpoints, you’re not going to be successful,” he said. And his local government service has given him the experience to achieve without being partisan. “I won’t let issues be tossed to the side because of partisanship.”