California State Assembly District 28: Gail Pellerin appears headed for a win over Liz Lawler

Gail Pellerin was all smiles outside Santa Cruz SEIU headquarters Tuesday night.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz’s Gail Pellerin had captured 65% of the vote for Assembly District 28 as of Wednesday. Her Republican challenger, Liz Lawler, a Monte Sereno councilmember, garnered only 35% of the vote.

Election 2022: Santa Cruz County

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Santa Cruz’s Gail Pellerin took an early lead in the race for California Assembly District 28, capturing 65% of the vote. Her Republican challenger, Liz Lawler, a Monte Sereno councilmember, garnered only 35% of the vote.

Pellerin, the four-time Santa Cruz County Clerk, pulled in 75% of the vote in Santa Cruz County and a decisive 62% of the vote in Santa Clara County. Santa Clara County makes up 70% of the newly drawn district.

Surrounded by supporters chanting her name, Pellerin told Lookout she was thrilled with her apparent victory.

“I’m overwhelmed and grateful for all who voted,” she said. “If I’m elected, we’ve made history. I would be the first woman [from Santa Cruz County to serve in the state legislature,] but I won’t be the last.”

She said the path to these results has been unforgettable.

“It’s been an amazing experience, and I had an amazing opponent who focused on the issues and who was committed to a thriving District 28,” she said.

The boundaries of the new district have made for strange political bedfellows. District 28 sprawls from Santa Cruz through the Santa Cruz Mountains to Boulder Creek and east to Los Gatos, southwest San Jose and Morgan Hill. It includes people who live along the coast, in the mountains and in cities and even on small farms.

Candidates largely spoke well of each other throughout the campign, but offered diverging views on some of the election’s most pressing issues, such as abortion.

Pellerin, an early supporter of full reproductive rights, campaigned vocally in favor of statewide Proposition 1, which would enshrine abortion rights into state law.

Lawler campaigned on a platform of fiscal conservatism and ending the Democratic supermajority in California’s state legislature. She opposed Proposition 1, insisting it is not necessary because state law on abortion is already clear.

On homelessness, Lawler said she would address the issue first by listening to service providers to understand their needs and working to improve the delivery of programs across agencies.

Pellerin emphasized her deep connections with state, federal and local officials that could help her push for better collaboration among a patchwork of agencies involved in homelessness, which are spread across different levels of government.

— Max Chun contributed to this report.


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