In the first salvo of next year’s race for the state Assembly, Santa Maria Planning Commissioner Henrietta “Etta” Waterfield has accused San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Katcho Achadjian of “being caught in a major tax flip-flop.”
Explaining his position, Achadjian said he worries that the race will turn into a “mudpie.”
Waterfield is challenging Achadjian in the Republican primary for the opportunity to replace Sam Blakeslee, who cannot run again for the Assembly because of term limits.
Paso Robles City Councilman Fred Strong and financial consultant Matt Kokkonen are the other GOP candidates. Santa Maria City Councilwoman Hilda Zacarias is the lone Democrat running.
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Waterfield said Achadjian “flip-flopped” when he denied on a radio show that he ever supported lowering the vote required in the Legislature to pass a state budget from two-thirds to 55 percent.
In fact, Waterfield wrote in a news release, Achadjian had supported exactly that in February, when he joined other county supervisors in backing a legislative agenda that it asked its Sacramento lobbyist to work on.
Most of the supervisors’ positions were about bills that had a more local flavor, but they also took stances on broader issues such as the required two-thirds vote to pass a budget.
“Such a change would effectively end legislative Republicans’ ability to stop higher taxes,” Waterfield wrote.
Achadjian acknowledged that he supported the supervisors’ legislative recommendations, but added that he had in mind requiring 55 percent for local ballot initiatives, not the state budget.
“If you want to raise local taxes, let’s have a say,” Achadjian told The Tribune.
Whoever wins the Republican primary next June will face Zacarias for the right to represent people in the 33rd Assembly District, which encompasses northern Santa Barbara County and all of San Luis Obispo County.
Blakeslee is collecting money for a run at a higher office, possibly the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Abel Maldonado in 2012.