Perata Senate seat up for grabs


They'll be voting to replace the second most powerful politician in California. President pro-tem of the state senate Don Perata is being termed out.

Two determined democrats want to fill Don Perata's state senate seat.

Sixty-eight-year-old Loni Hancock is ending her third term in the assembly and is married to Berkeley mayor Tom Bates.

"There's too much to do to stop in mid-stream," said Hancock.

Fifty-eight-year-old Wilma Chan termed out of the assembly in 2006. She recently taught political science at UC Berkeley, and just became a new grandmother.

The environment is a top bill issue this election year. Hancock wants to position district nine as the nucleus of the "green economy."

"I have seen if we do this there will be an economic boon and investment in this state, it's happening already," said Hancock.

Chan envisions a comprehensive "green" policy expanding her earlier work on banning toxic chemicals.

"I was able to pass a bill last year that puts the onus on the chemical companies to tell the state how to find those chemicals so we can either treat the water or get them out of the air," said Chan.

Reducing global warming and environmental hazards are not exactly divisive issues. In fact, District nine voters will also find both candidates have similar agendas when it comes to education and universal healthcare -- just slightly different approaches.

On healthcare, Chan sees low cost measures as a start, such as more regulation of insurance companies.

"Eventually we'll have to put something on the ballot for the original investment in healthcare to get to the long term goal of covering everyone and saving the state money," said Chan.

Hancock seeks revenues by restoring a portion of the vehicle license fee and increasing the state income tax bracket for individuals earning over $250,000.

"We actually just need to restore the taxes that were cut in the last ten years," said Hancock.

On education Hancock supports more career technical-based instruction. Chan wants mentoring programs to help retain young teachers.

In these last few days of the race both candidates sound confident, if not competitive.

"In education and healthcare, I've passed bills I've authored, over 35 measures whereas Loni has only been able to pass four," said Chan.

"Some of her bills are things like Nurse Appreciation Day, well, I'm sorry I am proud of the record of bills I've passed that change this part of the world and for the state," said Hancock.

Hancock and Chan each have about $320,000 left in campaign funding.

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