Editor’s note: The Town Crier interviewed Kelly Seyarto for the May 12, 2022, and Sept. 29, 2022 issues.
Kelly Seyarto, a Republican, will be the next person to represent the Hill in the California State Senate. Until January, Melissa Melendez represents District 28, which was primarily Riverside County. She could not run again because she reached her term limit in the Legislature.
The California Citizens Redistricting Committee drew new lines last year and the Hill was moved to the new Senate District 32, which also includes small portions of neighboring counties — Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego. However, the majority of the district’s voters were in Riverside County, including Idyllwild, Pine Cove, Garner Valley and the Anza areas.
Seyarto, who is currently representing Assembly District 67, chose to try for this Senate seat since much of his current Assembly district is in this new Senate district, too. Brian Nash chose to challenge Seyarto. Nash is a novice politician and the election results from the first count clearly supported Seyarto as the district’s choice.
When asked how this victory felt compared to his previous races for council and mayor of Murietta and the Assembly, Seyarto said, “It feels similar to the other races. But it was not quite as stressful as previous races …
“My opponent has much less experience,” Seyarto added. “And a lot of the [Senate] district is in my Assembly district.” This also is why he did not feel there were any surprises in the voting results as the counts were released.
Congressional District 41 and State Assembly District 47 were and are much closer races than Seyarto’s. He believes, however that, while this reflects the role of Independents, it also reveals how polarized voters are today and thus their tendency to vote Republican or Democratic.
“This district had about 11% Republican advantage from the start,” he noted. “This influenced how much the Democratic Party would invest in this race and no experienced Democrat was willing to step up to run.”
As of Oct. 27, Seyarto had about $145,000 remaining in his campaign coffers. He said this would be a start for his reelection if he decides to do that in 2026.
Just before his talk with the Town Crier, Seyarto had returned from Sacramento where he had some training to begin his Senate term in January. At his point, he hopes to be a member of the Housing, the Public Safety, and the Energy and Utilities committees.
“Also, Natural Resources and Water Committee affect us the most, especially folk in Idyllwild, Julian and Anza,” he added. “These issues are very important to these constituents.”
His first bill will likely address the fentanyl crisis, he said. It will be similar to the one he introduced in the Assembly. But some changes are planned based on the response to it.
“I’ll adjust the language. I want a bill and the make up of a task force to drive the process,” he said.
A celebration is not planned soon, but in January after his swearing into office. He hopes to take his family out to dinner.
“I’m mostly looking forward to meeting with the communities and their leaders,” he stated. “I’m anxious to get back to work.”