Gabriella Holt hopes her leadership experience will inspire voters

gabriella-holt-photo.jpgBY NICK DIAMANTIDES
Staff Writer

In the upcoming June 3 primary election, Gabriella Holt is running against fellow Republican Michael Jackson for a place on the ballot of the November general elections. Both candidates hope to eventually occupy the 54th District State Assembly seat. Democrat Betty Karnette, who currently holds that position, is barred from seeking reelection by California’s term limits law.
Holt served on the board of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District and is currently a member of the Los Angeles County Probation Commission and the L.A. Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee. She is also a registered nurse, a credentialed teacher and owner of a clinic with her husband Ken, who is a doctor. Recently interviewed by the Signal Tribune, Holt explained her positions on some of the important issues in the race.
Noting that helping to solve the state’s budget crisis would be her top priority if elected, Holt said her experience on the school board taught her how to tackle tough financial woes. “In 2003, we had something very similar to our present situation, and Gray Davis was recalled because of the huge deficit in the state budget,” she said. “At that time, I was on the school board and the state cut back our funding significantly.”
She explained that to deal with reduced funding, the school board overhauled the district’s budget. “We tore it all the way down to zero to see how we spent the money,” she noted. “The amount of waste we had in that budget was amazing, and it was just because we had never reviewed it so closely.”
She said she would push for a similar overhaul of the state budget. “First of all, we need to look at the commissions and committees that have been put together over the years,” she said. “What is their function? What are they actually doing? How much are they costing? Has their usefulness expired? That is something that should be looked at right away.”
Holt added that she would also push for an overhaul in the way Medi-Cal is administered. “Medi-Cal fraud accounts for about ten percent of the Medi-Cal budget,” she said. “Nothing has been done to cut into that.” She said the technology exists to put a system in place that would ensure that the medical system only pays for legitimate services. “Rather than cutting Medi-Cal ten percent, cut the major part of the problem, which is fraud and other waste.”
As for the rest of California’s budget, she said she would first look at cuts that would be completely painless to the state’s residents. “That includes eliminating waste and fraud as well as unnecessary commissions and committees,” she explained. “The cumulative cost of all those types of things is very high.”
Holt added that, if elected, she would also push for the elimination of many unfunded mandates that put excessive financial burdens on local governments.
Those unfunded mandates also negatively impact school districts, Holt insisted. “The state has put an education code in place that is so complicated that on the local level too much time and energy has to be spent in trying to meet requirements that have not been proven to positively impact the educational outcome,” she said, adding that getting rid of those unfunded mandates would make more money available for classroom instruction, books and other materials that advance education in the schools.
Turning to another hot-button topic, Holt said she would not vote for a universal healthcare system funded by tax dollars. “I am not a proponent for socialized medicine,” she said. “As a state legislator, I would look to a coordinated or managed healthcare model for the state,” one in which a patient has health insurance and the doctors get reimbursed for patients enrolled, not for patient visits.
Holt added that there are many low-cost clinics funded by private donations and federal funds that offer affordable, but not enough people know about them.
Touching on another controversial issue, Holt said she would vote against any bill that would legitimize same-sex marriage. “The people voted no and I would not vote against the wishes of the majority,” she stressed. “I think this goes back to an equitable redistricting. We need to have people in the legislature that truly represent the people.”
Holt also talked about a state plan to release state prison inmates who are “minor offenders” and place them in the probation programs run by counties.” That would be a huge savings to the state,” she said. “But as a state legislator, I would want the state to make sure there are funds attached to those plans that would support job training and employment programs for those released inmates.”
In closing, Holt emphasized that her years as an elected and appointed public official make her the best choice for Republicans voting in the primary election.
“I have demonstrated an ability to work with other elected officials and manage on a local level,” she said. “I also just graduated from law school with an executive juris doctorate in health law and a large part of that doctorate was writing legislation. I have broad experience. The budget situation and the severe polarization of the legislature provide a great opportunity for new leadership to come in, get away from partisan politics and get back to talking to each other.”

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