“Fresno is the heart of the Valley” said Duf Sundheim, a Republican hopeful running for the Senate.
Sundheim was in Fresno last week, visiting Fresno State on his border to border tour of California that started in the north of the state in January, and will extend to the Mexican border by the end of February.
Sundheim was chairman of the California Republican Party from 2003 to 2007 and currently is a federal court mediator and a volunteer settlement judge.
Sundheim moved to California when he was 17 to attend Stanford University. He came to California because “it was the land of opportunity.”
“When I moved out here from Chicago there wasn’t opportunity for me in the midwest. New York was all about money, the South was all about tradition, the west was all about the land of opportunity,” Sundheim said.
Sundheim decided to stay in California and raise his family here. He and his wife and their two adult sons live in Los Altos Hills.
“When I would meet people from California, they were just my kind of people, they weren’t thinking about what happened for the last 50 years but what was gonna happen in the next 50 years. That’s gone now,” Sundheim said.
Sundheim is looking toward the future once again with plan to work on the water issues in California.
“I want it to be about science, I want it to be about what is the real effect, because this is having such a devastating effect on Californians,” he said.
His plan consists of four points: increasing storage capacity both above and below ground, increasing water recycling technology, creating desalination plants and creating a market value for water.
“This is not an anti-environmental movement, this is to have enough water to take care of the needs of everybody: the people, the food we need to eat, and the environment that is so important to who we are as a people,” said Sundheim.
Sundheim said that the current water restrictions are a “failure of leadership.” He said that it is easier to change technology than it is to change people.
“If you talk about a land of opportunity, what you do is you talk about how you solve problems,” Sundheim said.
“We need to start focusing on science. We need to start focusing on results. And I don’t care whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican or a socialist or whatever you are, if you want to focus on solutions – I want to work with you. And I have a history of doing that over the past decade. That’s what I’m going to do when I’m a United States senator.”
Sundheim faces major challenges as a Republican running in a primarily Democratic state. A Republican has not been elected to the California senate in over a quarter of a century. Sundheim is running against seven other Republicans to face off with Democratic California Attorney General Kamala Harris or current U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez.
“I want to be part of a movement which is much bigger than me, much bigger than a party. We need to focus on results, not intentions – because year after year the politicians tell us what their intent is. And the child that goes to bed hungry knows that the difference between intentions and results,” Sundheim said.
Sundheim strays from party lines in more than one way, he said he “hopes to obliterate those lines.”
One way in which Sundheim dissents from all of the GOP candidates running for president is that he supports a “path to legal status” for undocumented immigrants.
Under his plan, “there would be a ten year probationary period” and if undocumented immigrants fulfilled certain requirements, they would be given a permanent residency card. In that probationary period, undocumented immigrants would have legal status and would be allowed to stay in the United States, said Sundheim.
This issue is pertinent to the Central Valley, which has a large number of undocumented immigrants. At the start of this semester, Fresno State had 533 undocumented students enrolled.
“I’m here because I care. I’m not here because I am looking for votes,” said Sundheim.
When asked about the high cost of tuition that California students are facing when they seek higher education, Sundheim said that “students need to step up.”
Student issues are not dealt with because students are not voting, and without votes, “their voices are not heard,” said Sundheim.
“My goal is to make this the land of opportunity for all Californians,” said Sundheim.