Truckee resident enters race for governor
Following a career in the construction business, Lonnie Sortor looks to ‘fix’ California’s problems
Truckee local Lonnie Sortor has made a career out of fixing problems.
With decades of experience in the construction business, Sortor has made a life out of overcoming all kinds of obstacle in an effort to finish a greater project. He sees solving the challenges facing California as no different.
“It’s about representing people and not an agenda or an idea,” said Sortor, who is running as a Republican for governor of California. “The reality is, a politician is supposed to listen to the people that they serve, take their ideas, help them formulate them, and put them into action.”
During the past few weeks, Sortor has crisscrossed the state, giving speeches, meeting new people, and experiencing different aspects of California, all while learning the ins and outs of running an election as he enters the political realm for the first time in his life.
“Everybody comes with their own ideas, but for me personally, I’m a true outsider,” said Sortor. “I’m not a politician. It hasn’t been my lifelong dream, but the way things are going it appears politicians don’t know how to roll up their sleeves and get the job done anymore.”
Namely, Sortor sees the past few years and the handling of the pandemic as an affront to personal freedoms.
“We have a government that really enjoys telling people what they can think, and what they can do, and how they can live,” said Sortor. “We’re all adult enough that we can make our own decisions, what’s best for each one of us. When government oversteps that boundary, then we’ve got a bigger problem. Then it’s all about power and not representing the people they serve.”
Sortor argues the state mishandled its response to COVID-19, specifically the use of state of emergency mandates and forced closures of businesses.
“We’re seeing how today it has truly impacted businesses and people’s livelihoods,” he said. “The economic consequences of those decisions are huge … we are all old enough, and mature enough as adults that we can make decisions that are right for us. We don’t need people to tell us, ‘You need to close your business because somebody might walk in who’s sick and might get you infected.’ That is just a power grab.”
Sortor also identified education, crime, homelessness, the economy, taxes, climate, and housing as key issues facing the state.
“Things are going in a wrong direction in a hurry,” he said. “When people are working harder and the cost of living continues to rise so much that younger generations can’t afford to even rent an apartment anymore, things definitely have to change … we’ve got a lot of people that sit in these offices in Sacramento and tell everybody what needs to be done, but they don’t follow up.”
As a first-time candidate, the toughest part about running has simply been name recognition, said Sortor. The speeches, events, and meeting new people come naturally to the 20-year Truckee resident, but there’s a harsh reality when it comes to election day and which boxes voters check.
“It’s difficult,” said Sortor. “There are places where people know who I am, and then somebody invites me to speak at an event and I don’t know a single person in the room … this is the biggest challenge in any kind of campaign or election, getting people to know you by name.”
California hasn’t elected a Republican governor since first selecting Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2003 recall. Sortor will have to overcome a field that includes 12 other Republicans, along with Democrat incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom. Based on his experiences from campaigning, Sortor said he feels there’s a general sentiment among Californians that time for change has come, bolstering his hope to be named to the state’s highest office in November.
Between now and election day, Sortor hopes to create enough buzz to be selected by voters as the state’s next governor. He then plans on serving his term, and then disappearing from political life afterward, leaving the office in a better place for the next generation of elected officials.
“I am running for governor because I don’t want to be a career politician. I want to get in and I want solve the problems, and I want to leave it a better place for the next generation to take office in four years and have a clean slate where they can take the state where it needs to go. I’m looking at this as getting in, getting it cleaned up, solving the problems that we face today, and turning it over to the younger generations to lead California back to its prominence.”
Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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