BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The battle is on for the newly created 22nd Congressional District at the heart of the Central Valley.
The coveted seat currently belongs to Republican David Valadao in the 21st Congressional District, but with new census data changing district lines, Valadao will be running in new terrain.
The district used to include San Joaquin and Lemore counties along with parts of Fresno County, but the new district has shifted down to include parts of Tulare County like Porterville, as well as parts of King and Kern counties.
The crowded field of candidates includes Valado running for re-election against two Republic newcomers, Chris Mathys and Adam Mederos, and Democrat Rudy Salas.
"Regardless of someone's party affiliation, people are tired of this crazy inflation and tired of gas prices and they want to get back to work and get back to where America once was," said Mathys.
Mathys is a Republican candidate from Sanger, California who has served on the Fresno City Council. His main concerns include government overreach and preventing critical race theory to be taught in schools. Other focuses in his campaign are ending abortions, securing gun rights, stricter immigration laws that do not support amnesty, and pushing to get permits to grow oil-based jobs.
Mathys’ beliefs are very similar to that of fellow Republican and opponent Adam Medeiros, who says he never planned on running until the shutdowns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"My business was affected. We were shut down completely, and it came to the time where we really felt challenged. Where we said you know are we going to whine about it or are we going to get up and do something about it."
Medeiros is a hairdresser from Hanford who is running on the idea that Christian values are missing from the policy. He believes there should be stricter immigration laws and when asked what he would do for crime and homelessness said he believes more resources should go toward police.
Medeiros echos Mathys in saying incumbent Valadao has lost sight of what the people want.
Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Rudy Salas is currently representing the 32nd Assembly District covering parts of Kings and Northwest Kern County and was the first Latino to serve on the Bakersfield City Council. He is now hoping to use his previous experience to get to D.C.
"I have been able to talk about my record that we have built over the last decade, about how we are bringing millions of dollars towards safe drinking water, where we have installed water wells, where we have actually done real projects."
Salas calls himself a product of the Central Valley, being born and raised here.
Although this district is primarily Latino and leans Democrat, he notes he is not afraid to vote against the party if he thinks that is what the people want, noting he was the only Assembly Democrat to vote against the increased gas tax.
Being willing to work across the aisle, is something Republican incumbent David Valado is also hoping will sway voters in his favor. Valadao was born and raised in Hanford to immigrant parents from Portugal. Before his career in politics, he was involved in agriculture and dairy industry groups, and his family still grows almonds, alfalfa, and other crops in Tulare County.
He notes that although the new district is Democrat-leaning, the previous district in which he won had a similar district makeup. He says the legislation he works on is for all residents of the Central Valley.
"It helped us with the way we managed water in the Delta, so a bit more flexibility there for actual water deliveries. But also we have some infrastructure improvements. We got some dollars right there in the Kern River canal that are going to help us repair the damage that has happened over the years and bring that up to full capacity so we can again deliver more water to the valley."
Valadao also addressed the concerns his Republican opponents have expressed in terms of his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump saying that he hopes voters do not base their decision on one vote in Congress and take a wider look at his whole voting record.