Candidate makes stances known

John Colbert said he never considered running for office until he saw the way Congress was killing jobs in California.

Colbert was driving through the Central Valley in 2008 when he witnessed farmers clearing trees dying from a lack of water. The trip came after Congress voted to protect the endangered Delta smelt by diverting less water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for agricultural and municipal uses.

That's when Colbert decided to campaign against Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who voted for the water legislation, health care reform and a controversial carbon emissions cap-and-trade bill.

"Adam Schiff needs to be replaced because he is voting along the extreme left lines for all the legislation that is taking jobs and destroying our economy," Colbert said.

The 45-year-old is entering the main stretch of his first run for political office after 13 years in law enforcement and a second career at Pasadena-based security company Guidance Software Inc.

Colbert favors repeal of healthcare reform and lower taxes. And he said his platform is simple: "Create a pro-business environment for this country, period."

The Altadena resident was raised in Santa Clarita, and after graduating from high school he entered in the U.S. Army, serving as a helicopter crew chief at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska.

After a three-year stint he joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He spent 13 years with the agency, he said, advancing from officer to investigator and gaining the experience that would shape his business career. In the mid-1990s he joined a new computer forensics unit, breaking down information stored on computers to provide evidence in murder and sexual offense cases.

In doing that work he met entrepreneurs in the field and left the sheriff's department to join Guidance, which was launched in 1997. Colbert said his police and business background give him a valuable perspective on government and the economy.

"I've experienced all the problems and pains small business owners go through," he said.

After helping take Guidance public in 2006, he retired in January 2008. As government regulation expanded under President Obama, Colbert said his wife, Tamara, encouraged him to run.

Earlier this year they met former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, and Tamara Colbert helped secure Gingrich's endorsement. But Colbert said his focus is on locals, and cited the Pasadena Patriots as an independent group tapping grassroots political energy by hosting community meetings and working for candidates they believe in.

Colbert said union precinct walkers or campaign cash — Schiff has $2 million while Colbert personally invested most of his campaign's $200,000 — should not determine the outcome of elections.

"The citizens should control the vote," he said. "It should be neighbors talking to neighbors."

Colbert said he is not a member of the Tea Party, the loose affiliation of libertarians who have extended strong influence in recent campaigns. But, he said, "My priorities are in line with the people found in the Tea Party movement."

In what has so far been a relatively quiet campaign for the congressional district, Schiff took issue with Colbert's assertions.

"I've been focused on creating jobs in our district and helping small business get moving again," said Schiff, emphasizing efforts to reduce payroll taxes, increase access to credit for small businesses, fund teachers jobs and launch infrastructure projects, including the Gold Metro line.

"In my view, small business has powered our way out of every recession and will power our way out of this one," he said.

Schiff said he supported the water legislation because the solution to the state's water problem must include more conservation, better storage capacity and attention to environmental concerns. The nation should also focus on new energy technologies to create jobs and better compete with China, he added.

What's more, most of his constituents agree with major healthcare shifts, such as denying insurers the ability to refuse to coverage to those with pre-existing health conditions.

"My opponent would like to repeal healthcare reform," Schiff said. "I'd like to see it succeed."

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