Harper announces Assembly run

Huntington Beach Councilman Matthew Harper announced his candidacy Monday night for the newly created 72nd Assembly District.

Harper, 37, said he's qualified to serve because of his experience of more than 12 years as a trustee for the Huntington Beach Union High School District, his work for the county and his service on the City Council.

Harper has served the last four years as deputy chief of staff for County Supervisor Janet Nguyen. He left the post this month to work as the public affairs manager at the county's waste and recycling department.

"I'm experienced, qualified, I vote responsibly, and I share the same values with most voters in Orange County and in the 72nd Assembly District," Harper said in an interview Tuesday.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission created the 72nd district this year with areas from Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Westminster, Fountain Valley, Seal Beach, Santa Ana, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Midway City and Sunset Beach.

"I feel I have the experience, the qualifications and the record to best represent the citizens of west Orange County," Harper said.

Councilman Don Hansen said Harper is the best possible candidate for the seat.

"He's just on top of the issues, he knows our city and he knows everything about this region," Hansen said. "There couldn't be a better candidate for the district, and I'm 100% behind him every step of the way."

Harper was elected to the City Council in 2010. If elected to the Assembly, he would leave his post before completing his council term.

When asked if he ran for the council seat to use it a stepping stone to a higher political office, and had planned all along to leave it before finishing his term, Harper said he has represented Huntington Beach for many years and would continue to do so if elected to the Assembly.

"It's very important that good candidates make themselves available for the public to be able to choose from so we have the best representation," he said, adding that he became interested this year after many people advised him to run.

If Harper is elected to the Assembly, the City Council would appoint someone to complete his remaining term.

Harper said his first priority would be to balance California's budget and cut spending without increasing taxes.

Westminster Councilman Tyler Diep, 28, has also announced his candidacy for the new district. He and Harper both plan to run as Republicans.


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