Lookout Endorsement: Dawn Addis has a tough task ahead of her, representing one of the most diverse geographic Assembly districts in California. While Santa Cruz County represents just 20% of it, we believe that Addis is clearly our best shot at strong representation. She has committed to continuing to spend time in Santa Cruz County and to having an open-door policy, while her opponent is far out of step with local issues and views.
Editor’s note: A Lookout View is the opinion of our Community Voices opinion section, written by our editorial board, which consists of Community Voices Editor Jody K. Biehl and Lookout Founder Ken Doctor. Our goal is to connect the dots we see in the news and offer a bigger-picture view — all intended to see Santa Cruz County meet the challenges of the day and to shine a light on issues we believe must be on the public agenda. These views are distinct and independent from the work of our newsroom and its reporting.
We need representatives who know us — or at least want to get to know us better — and whose values reflect our own and who will fight for our needs.
For state Assembly District 30, our choice is Democrat Dawn Addis, whose policies best align with the thinking of our community and who has spent time in our county over the past few months getting to know Santa Cruz, our leaders and issues.
Her competitor, Vicki Nohrden, is a Republican who has barely campaigned in our district and whose past strong religious and anti-LGBTQ+ writings disqualify her for our vote or support.
Addis, a special education teacher and educational programmer and city council member from Morro Bay, grew up in Northern California, attended Cabrillo College and says she “always imagined” she would move back to Santa Cruz.
“The values represented in Santa Cruz feel like home to me,” she told us during an endorsement meeting.
That matters to us, particularly when we compare her to Nohrden, a mom and grandmother from Monterey County, who is an ordained minister with a background in real estate, nonprofit work and community service. Nohrden is deeply opposed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s policies, particularly his openness to gay marriage and reproductive freedom.
Nohrden has not spent much time in Santa Cruz and shows little understanding of or care for our local issues.
She says she wants to “take the label off politics,” fix the legislature and that she respects the divide between church and state. But her policies, writings and esoteric beliefs worry us.
In 2008, she wrote a book, “Breaking the Shield of Minerva,” which is a rebuke of Newsom (then mayor of San Francisco), particularly his openness to same-sex marriage. She calls it a call to action for “those who are called” to rise up and take back the state. It’s a bizarre, 72-page treatise that contains clear anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, including this line: “If the homosexual agenda takes root in California, there goes the nation.”
In the book, Nohrden refers to herself as a prophet and in the introduction, she says part of her reason for writing is to “expose the spiritual stronghold of Minerva seated over the state of California and the agenda hidden behind the shield she bears.”
In her current campaign literature, Nohrden criticizes cuts to public schools and insists parents, “not bureaucrats and lobbyists,” should be given more choice on what their kids learn. In the book, she offers more clarity on her thinking: “The budget cuts don’t seem to have stopped liberal agendas from moving forward within the education gate with their mandatory homosexual agenda beginning in elementary school.”
Assembly District 30 is new (newly redistricted) and has an odd, skinny shape that resembles a chili pepper. It encompasses four hours of coastline — running from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo — and includes some of the state’s most exquisite oceanscapes, including Pajaro Dunes, La Selva Beach, Aptos, Capitola and Opal Cliffs. It also also swerves inland through Soquel, Corralitos and parts of Live Oak.
Issues of climate change and coastal erosion, affordable housing and transportation will be key in this district. Here in Santa Cruz County, we also face unique challenges of homelessness and mental health. Addis says she will also fight for better child care options and will work with Gail Pellerin — who is running for District 28 on mental health concerns.
That would be useful to our county. In fact, a positive spin on the 2022 redistricting that split Santa Cruz County among Assembly Districts 28, 29 and 30 is that we might get three advocates on the state level.
Of course, we also risk getting forgotten. San Luis Obispo County makes up 55% of District 30’s voting base, Monterey County has 25% and Santa Cruz County just 20%.
We think Addis is our best shot at strong representation and that she will fulfill her promise and be our champion. She has committed to continuing to spend time in Santa Cruz County and to having an open-door policy. She has established relationships with local leaders, including state Sen. John Laird, Pellerin and County Supervisors Zach Friend, Ryan Coonerty and Manu Koening. She is personable and reliable and has surrounded herself with a strong campaign team that has far outpaced Nohrden in fundraising.
She still has much to learn about us, though, and at times, her understanding feels thin. For instance, we believe she cares about homelessness, but does not yet grasp Santa’s Cruz’s unique challenges and history with it. She did a recent walk through the Benchlands, which is encouraging, but, unfortunately, she could not identify it by name or speak with authority about the city’s policy on closing it.
She also had not heard anyone in Santa Cruz County mention crime as an issue.
Still, we think her clear alignment with our values, her personal warmth, burgeoning political relationships and strong efforts to spend time getting to know us make her an obvious pick.