Race for 31st state Assembly District seat features well-known local name

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Joaquin Arambula announced his candidacy for the state Assembly on Monday. (KFSN)

A well-known family name will be back on a Valley election ballot. Joaquin Arambula announced his candidacy for the state Assembly on Monday. He's seeking the seat in the 31st district that was once held by his father, Juan.

Assembly Member Henry T. Perea succeeded the elder Arambula in the seat and is finishing third and final term. At a news conference in Fresno, he officially named his preferred successor. "It is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Joaquin Arambula."

Arambula is an emergency room doctor in Selma. He said he is ready to give up a medical career to help more people get access to health care.

"I love my work, but more and more the limitations of the ER have begun to frustrate me," said Arambula. "There are too many people coming to see us, and we just don't have the resources to take care of each and every one of them."

Arambula also said he'll work toward easing the drought and creating jobs -- something two other potential contenders for the seat also say they will fight for.

Fresno Unified School Board Member Luis Chavez, also a Democrat, is nearing a decision on whether to run. He lost a race for state Senate to Republican Andy Vidak last year, but is considering a run for the Assembly.

"I've got my own track record, did really well here last year when I ran for the Senate, and I represent about 25 percent of the district already," said Chavez.

Voter registration shows the district, which divides the city of Fresno and covers the western half of the county, is nearly 50 percent Democrat. Republican voter registration is less than 30 percent. But that's not stopping Republican Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier from considering a run. He says he is a moderate who can win, citing victories by two other Republicans in similar districts.

"Look at what David Valadao was able to do, just south of this Assembly district. Look at what Andy Vidak was able to do in an area that overlaps this Assembly seat. And I also represent part of this Assembly seat, and I've been elected twice by people who are mostly Democrats," said Olivier.

Arambula's father, Juan, is a political legend. In addition to holding the Assembly seat, he served as a Fresno County supervisor and Fresno Unified School District board member, so the Arambula name carries weight. But along with Olivier and Chavez, two or three more candidates are likely, and the primary ballot in June of next year could give voters a lot of different names to choose from.

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