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California rice farmer sworn in as U.S. Congressman
Doug LaMalfa discusses his unexpected journey to House
By LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 1/16/13
Doug LaMalfa, a fourth generation rice farmer in a northern California town so small it’s not included on many road atlases, didn’t expect to find himself a member of Congress.
“It’s been such a whirlwind,” he said Friday during a telephone interview. “It’s certainly been a great run, a fascinating one and, hopefully, productive in the eyes of our constituents.”
LaMalfa, 52, a Republican from Richvale — a small rice-growing community of about 250 people east of Oroville, Calif. — took the oath of office in the U.S. House of Representatives and joined the 113th Congress Thursday. He is among 84 first-term House members.
He was joined by his family as House Speaker John Boehner administered the oath of office.
“Being on the House floor with my daughters, you really feel a sense of history. It’s something to come from a town of 250 people to this,” he said of Washington, D.C.
A lifelong farmer, his geographically large Congressional district includes Modoc, Siskiyou and nine other far northern California counties.
“Serving the North State in the House of Representatives is an honor and responsibility that I take very seriously,” he said in a statement after the swearing-in ceremony. “Our friends and neighbors placed their faith in me as the North State’s voice in the Capitol, and I will work to uphold that trust.”
He believes his agricultural background will serve him well on his assignments to the House committees on Agriculture and Natural Resources, noting, “I think they both fit very well for our district.”
LaMalfa praised retiring Rep. Wally Herger, who supported LaMalfa’s candidacy, and promised to continue many of Herger’s efforts, including the Quincy Library Group bill. Herger worked with Calif., Sen. Dianne Feinstein on renewing the controversial bill, which says national forest policy should consider local and national interests.
“We’re not doing nearly enough on forest management,” he said.
He also pledged to work to improve government.
“With so many newly elected and very recently elected members of Congress, I am hopeful that we can change Washington for the better,” LaMalfa said. “Our nation faces difficult challenges that will require thoughtful consideration to resolve. However, it is important to recognize that many of these challenges were created by an overzealous government and that many of the solutions will come from restraining its growth.”
Who is Doug LaMalfa?
Doug LaMalfa and his wife, Jill, along with their four children, live on the family farm in Richvale, Calif.
He graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture/ business.
LaMalfa, 52, manages the family farming business originally founded by his greatgrandfather in 1931. He is owner and manager of the Dsl Lamalfa Family Partnership. The family raises about 2,000 acres of rice, with other acreage used for growing seed rice. About half of the rice is marketed domestically and half is sent to Asia and the Middle East.
He was elected as a founding director of the California Rice Commission from Butte County and also served on the domestic promotion committee of the USA Rice Federation. In his hometown, Richvale, a community of about 250, he chaired the Richvale Foundation Boosters, an organization dedicated to maintaining the profitability of the Richvale Cafe, the community’s meeting facility.
Because of the challenges of taking office — including hiring his office staff, learning the nuances of traveling the Capitol’s passageways and immediately tackling controversial legislation, such as emergency funding for Hurricane Sandy victims on Friday — LaMalfa hasn’t yet found a place to live.
“I didn’t want to worry about house hunting,” he said, noting the House office building has a gym and showers. “At least on a temporary basis, the office couch should work out fine.”
His stance on KBRA
Don’t expect newly seated Rep. Doug LaMalfa, whose massive Congressional district includes Siskiyou County, to support the existing Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and its accompanying Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.
LaMalfa, who is familiar with the agreements from his years as a California assemblyman and senator, is especially opposed to the removal of hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River.
“The basic concept of dam removal I don’t believe is a sound one,” he said, indicating he believes efforts should focus on creating fish passage “instead of this head-long hurrying into questionable steps favored by environmentalists.”
Doug ’s political career began when running as a Republican, for the California Assembly’s 2nd District in 2002. He won the general election with 67 percent of the vote. He was re-elected by similar margins in 2004 and 2006.
He ran for the California Senate 4th District in 2010 and won the general election with 68 percent of the vote. He resigned Aug. 30, 2012, to prevent the need for a special election for his seat if he won the Congressional election.
LaMalfa terms himself a Constitutional conservative, explaining, “I like the idea that freedom starts with the people and not by the government.”
He was an early supporter of a bill that ended affirmative action in California, worked for passage of a bill banning gay marriage in California, opposed efforts to mandate businesses of certain sizes provide health insurance for employees, supported legislation empowering law enforcement to crack down on illegal immigration and supported a law to prevent the seizure of firearms in emergencies or natural disasters.
He took office after Congress approved legislation that avoided the “fiscal cliff.” LaMalfa said he had not read the entire bill but said, “I probably would have had a difficult time voting for it … I’m uncomfortable with portions of the bill.”
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Page Updated: Tuesday January 08, 2013 12:26 AM Pacific
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