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Dodd & Country

Pro-biz Napa Democrat Bill Dodd is running for State Senate

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Bohemian: It sounds like what you are saying is it would be great to have a $15 minimum wage, but what's the point of having it if there isn't a job to pay the wage?

Dodd: I guess I'd say that. But the fact of the matter is that the increased cost of living, and the cost of housing and all of that throughout my district and future Senate district, demands that people get more than the minimum wage. And that's not lost on me. I will tell you that as a former businessperson for 25 years, that when the unemployment rate goes down, as it has in the stronger counties, I would fully expect that wages will go up because of the demand for high-quality workers and the lack of supply. . . .

One thing I want to bring up—you brought up Henry Perea, he was a moderate. The two people that picked me in concert were the Speaker right now, Toni Atkins, and the new one coming in gave his approval, too, Anthony Rendon. They're both progressive, strong-Democratic-value leaders that know me and work well with me, and know that I have the balance to balance these real important issues. And I'm really appreciative of their confidence.

Bohemian: Do you think there's anything to the idea that undocumented workers are taking jobs from American workers?

Dodd: I reject that notion. I don't think there's a significant workforce willing to do the type of jobs that our immigrant population—legal or illegal—provides for our economies. . . . I think that a lot of the workforce that we have today, their kids are getting a great opportunity. They are advancing the economy, our local economies which are renowned worldwide, their kids are going to our schools and in many cases excelling, and many times are the first generation in their families to go to college, and they're not looking to be farm workers in the future. So this issue is not going to go away. We've got to have programs that are going to satisfy our need for labor in these agricultural areas.

Bohemian: Your opponent in this race is a supporter of capital punishment. You?

Dodd: She is? I am torn between the families of victims and how they would feel about this, particularly violent murders, rape, etc., but I also understand the almost barbaric nature of the death penalty. Certainly that is going to be an issue that I am going to have to work hard on the policy moving forward. I think the other thing is the cost of our prison systems—we used to be the fifth, top five, in the nation in spending per pupil, and at the bottom five in per-prisoner spending. Today, we're at the top five in prisoner spending and the bottom five in education spending. So that balance has got to be there as well.

Bohemian: Last question. Hillary or Bernie?

Dodd: You've just spent like 45 minutes turning your readers on about me, I hope, and now I'm going to piss 'em off in one breath. [Laughs] No, I am all in with Hillary. Matter of fact, I talked with her while she was in Napa Valley, I had dinner with her in a very small group. And she's talking about the same things that I am talking about, and our congressman is talking about: schools, education of our kids, jobs and the economy, the environment . . . And the one thing that I was really impressed with was her wanting to change the status quo on mental health in the United States. . . .

Bohemian: I think about that famous line from Mario Cuomo, that you campaign in poetry but govern in prose. Are Democrats campaigning in the poetry of Sanders but will eventually accept the prose of Hillary Clinton?

Dodd: I think so. That's not to say, if you go back and listen to Bernie's stuff, go back to 2000, the 1990s, I don't know how early he was making those predictions about income inequality, what was going to happen in Iraq. He may not be the next president of the United States, but you've got to give him some props for being a very smart public servant.

Bohemian: I will make sure that comment makes it into the story.

Dodd: [Laughs]

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