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Assemblyman Areias to Run for State Controller

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Saying California government must be held more accountable for how it spends taxpayer money, Assemblyman Rusty Areias (D-San Jose) announced Monday that he is running for state controller.

“I will follow the example of 20 other states in ripping the lid off the bureaucracy,” Areias told a Capitol news conference, “exposing the sacred cows by implementing a complete audit of state government.”

Areias said “it makes no sense” that state government does not already demand strict auditing and accounting procedures that could save millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

A dairyman and the chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, Areias, 44, was among the “Gang of Five” that tried to dump Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) from his position in 1988. The five rebel Democrats failed to persuade enough Republicans to join them and the coup failed.

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The Speaker stripped Areias of his Governmental Efficiency and Consumer Protection Committee chairmanship as punishment, but the rebels later returned to the good graces of Brown, who is still Speaker.

Areias is the author of a state law requiring handgun purchasers to pass gun safety tests before they can acquire weapons, starting April 1. He also is sponsoring legislation that would revive a home earthquake damage insurance program.

The controller’s office is being vacated by Democrat Gray Davis, who is running for lieutenant governor.

Kathleen Connell, a Westside financial accountant and former Los Angeles city housing director, has announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for controller. Alameda County Supervisor Don Peralta also is expected to enter the race.

Republicans who have entered the race include former Assemblyman Tom McClintock of Thousand Oaks, a conservative, and John Morris, heir to a department store fortune.

Democrat Brad Sherman, chairman of the State Board of Equalization, had filed papers in the same race, but said Monday he has decided instead to seek reelection to the tax body.

Sherman, whose longtime Los Angeles County board district had been divided among three districts, paid filing fees for all three board seats, plus the controller’s race.

“We had to make a decision now or fall behind,” Sherman said in a news release. Candidates who file for multiple offices have until Friday to decide which one to pursue.

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