A native of the San Gabriel Valley who leads the family business of local auto dealerships, Victoria Rusnak is running for office for the first time in a bid to represent the 41st Assembly district.
Rusnak makes her home in Altadena and serves as the president of Rusnak Auto Group in Pasadena. A graduate of George Washington University, Rusnak has pledged to help reform California's school funding process to bring more state dollars to local schools.
Patch interviewed Rusnak by email as a part of our series of candidate profiles.
1) This is your first run for public office. Why are you qualified to represent this district in the Assembly and what do you hope to accomplish?
I am the best qualified candidate in the race. I am a successful businesswoman and attorney who sees job creation, getting our economy moving again and restoring funding for neighborhood schools as the most important responsibilities of our next State Assembly member.
2) The gridlock in the Assembly has frustrated lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, and the budget mess in California keeps getting worse. What can you do as an individual lawmaker to effect change in Sacramento?
I'm not a politician, I'm a problem solver. I have a proven track record of bringing different groups together to find real solutions. I will work to reduce the partisan bickering and work together in an honest, open and accountable way to address the needs of regular people - not special interests.
3) What are your priorities if elected? What are the key things that need to get done to solve the budget crisis?
As I say below, I intend to focus on balancing the state budget, protecting funding for neighborhood schools and working to promote job creation and retention. We need to learn to live within our means. I won't vote for any new program that does not have an identified source of funding.
4) What do you intend to do for the 41st district. What unique needs to you see for the district?
I intend to focus on balancing the state budget, protecting funding for neighborhood schools and working to promote job creation and retention. As the President of a company with 700 employees, I am uniquely qualified to understand the issues relating to job creation and retention and I intend to work closely with employers and cities in our district to improve the economic climate.
5) What's wrong with public education in California? What kinds of reforms are necessary to fix the system?
The first problem is the $20 billion in budget cuts over the last four years. Having said that, there is no quick fix on this issue. We also need more community involvement in our schools. That is why I co-founded an after-school and summer program that teaches art to at-risk teenagers to build their confidence and keep them away from trouble. I think we need more local control. I think we need a stronger link between education and jobs. That is why I established extensive worker training programs at my own company. I think we need to simplify the school funding formulas and address our need to recruit teachers. I think it is a matter of making education a priority and systematically working on the issue.
6) The 710 Tunnel extension is coming up at a time concurrently with the election and one of your opponents, Mr. Cacciotti is a vocal opponent of it. What's your position on it?
I oppose the completion of the 710. I think the "tunnel extension" is a waste of time to consider because there is no currently identifiable source of funds for it.
Interviews with other candidates in this race: