Democrat and retired Benicia Fire Chief Gene Gantt will run in the newly drawn 11th Assembly District, joining what is rapidly becoming a crowded race.
Gantt joins Oakley Mayor Jim Frazier and labor negotiator Patricia Hernandez of Rio Vista, both Democrats; former Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine, running as an independent; and Republican Suisun City Vice Mayor Mike Hudson.
The majority of the new district is in Solano County but it stretches into eastern Contra Costa County including Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay and Knightsen. (Click here to see a map.)
Here’s Gantt’s news release:
Vacaville, CA—Fire Chief, Gene Gantt (Retired) today announced his campaign for the California Assembly in the new 11th District. With a 35 year connection the community, and as the only Democrat from Vacaville in Solano County which holds 54% of the voters, Chief Gantt is well-positioned in this contest.
In a letter to friends and family, Chief Gantt stated: “Never in a million years did I think I would run for a seat in the legislature. But the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission has created a new 11th District in which I have spent decades serving the public, raising a family and fighting to protect our natural resources. My time to lead is now.”
Chief Gantt grew up in this district and has lived there since 1957. After graduating from Vacaville High School, he became a firefighter at age 19. For 35 years he served the communities of Benicia and Vacaville, retiring in 2008 as the Fire Chief of Benicia. Gantt’s fire service career took him on calls to all areas of this region: Fairfield, Suisun, Rio Vista and Contra Costa County. Today, he teaches emergency preparedness at Solano Community College.
Chief Gantt stated, “This district is where my wife and I raised our children and enjoyed the unique open spaces, fishing, camping and wildlife of this region together as a family. Those experiences led me to be a leader in protecting our watersheds and the Delta. I have also had a hand in shaping statewide public policy through my work with the California State Firefighters’ Association, for which I am now the Executive Director. Before my retirement from public service, I was the Legislative Director for the California Fire Chiefs’ Association.”
Chief Gantt emphasized that he is not a career politician. “This is not an experiment for me. Nor is it a stepping stone to some higher office. This is a labor of love; love of my neighbors, love of the communities I’ve protected for 35 years and love for this unique part of Northern California that has given me and my family so much.”
The 11th Assembly District consists of Fairfield, Vacaville, Suisun City, Rio Vista, Isleton, Oakley, Antioch, Brentwood, Knightsen, Bethel Island, Elmira, Discovery Bay and Byron. Thanks to his career in fire service, Gant has strong connections to the communities that make up a majority of the district’s turnout. As a result, Gantt has a unique regional advantage over the other Democratic Challengers. Democrat Jim Frazier, Mayor of Oakley, represents 6.67% of the voters of the district. Democrat Patricia Hernandez, a contracts negotiator for the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, hails from Rio Vista which represents less than 3% of the district. Republican Len Augustine, age 73, has served as Mayor and City Councilmember in Vacaville.
Gene is married to his wife of 32 years, Mary Lou, has two children, Kristen a high school teacher and Taylor a senior at California State University, Chico. For more information about Gene’s campaign please visit www.genegantt.com.