Kokkonen to run for state office

Financial analyst Matt Kokkonen will run for the state Assembly seat being vacated by Sam Blakeslee, Kokkonen told The Tribune on Thursday.

Kokkonen, who said he will make a formal announcement next week, said he intends to work toward “getting a handle on the state budget mess.”

“Just like a family has to live within its means,” so should the state, Kokkonen said. That begins with cutting expenditures, he said.

He said he would elaborate on his positions when he makes his formal announcement.

Kokkonen’s entry brings the number of Republicans seeking to replace Blakeslee to four.

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Katcho Achadjian, Santa Maria Planning Commissioner Etta Waterfield and Paso Robles City Councilman Fred Strong all are in the running.

Santa Maria City Councilwoman Hilda Zacarias is the only Democrat in the race.

Blakeslee, the Assembly minority leader, cannot run for re-election next year because of term limits. He is raising funds for a run at an as yet undesignated higher office, perhaps the state Senate, in 2012.

Kokkonen ran for Assembly in 2004, losing to Blakeslee; for county tax collector-treasurer in 2006, losing to Frank Freitas; and for Congress in 2008, losing to Lois Capps.

The 33rd Assembly District includes Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria.