Who will replace State Assemblywoman Diane Harkey? The first area Republican has stepped forward to run in 2014
Current Rancho Santa Margarita City Councilman Jesse Petrilla, who launched a two-year campaign that led to his becoming the youngest city councilman in RSM history, said this week he will have a go at higher office.
Petrilla, 29, announced Thursday his intention to run for the California State Assembly in the 73rd District, a two-year seat currently held by Harkey, R-Dana Point.
The seat seems a lock for whichever Republican prevails in the primary. First elected in 2008, Harkey handily beat Democrat challenger James Corbett, a history teacher at Capistrano Valley High School, 64 percent to 36, in November.
Even though California voters changed the term limits for state politicians in the June 2012 election, Harkey is grandfathered in under the old rules that allowed an Assembly member to serve only three, two-year terms.
Petrilla served a tour in Afghanistan from April to September with the California Army National Guard. He said in a press release he would be honored to fight for Californians in Sacramento.
"California is where I was born and raised, and I want to do my small part to help ensure our future is the best possible for all our families," he said. "I look forward to meeting with the voters of South Orange County between now and the election, and would be humbled to have their support."
Petrilla says his platform consists of fighting for lower taxes, pension reform, and bringing jobs back to California.
His term as a councilmember expires in 2014. He was elected in 2010 after an aggressive campaign he says included knocking on every Rancho Santa Margarita door twice.
Petrilla did not respond to a text request for a response.
His time in elected office has not been without obstacles. After attending four council meetings, he spent nearly four months in training at Fort Knox in 2011 before missing the five months in 2012. He also made statements through social media without being able to document his claims, and gave misleading answers about receiving council benefits though he was still receiving them at the time. Patch asked, during the public comment portion of Petrilla's last council meeting before departing to Afghanistan, to explain his false statements and correct the record; he did not respond.
Petrilla is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton and married his wife, Vesna, in 2009.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated Petrilla would face Harkey in the 2014 election, but she must follow an older term-limit law that has her termed out in 2014.