P.J. Mellana gets head start on campaign for Assembly seat

It's not every day that someone decides to run for a seat in the California State Assembly, but P.J. Mellana believes his motives couldn't be more genuine."Ever since my 12th grade government class, I've had a passion for politics," said Mellana, who is campaigning to become the 50th District's next assemblyman. "I feel it's now or never. I need to fight for the things I believe in and the principles I stand for." Mellana is just one of the many eager politicians across the Southland already gearing up for campaign season as the 2010 state election looms in the distance. For Mellana the decision to run for State Assembly in the 50th District, which includes Bell, South Gate, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Bellflower, Lynwood, Florence Graham, Walnut Park and a portion of Downey, came out of disappointment. "In this district, I felt there was no one representing me and my values," said Mellana, who is a registered Republican. "I came to the conclusion that I could do a better job." As the only republican candidate in a race that has four challengers vying for the nomination of the Democratic Party, Mellana acknowledges that his candidacy is an uphill battle. "If I have a chance, it's now," he said. "There's been a shift. The people don't want the same political jargon - they don't want the status quo that's going on in Sacramento right now." Although Mellana's Democratic challenger will not be chosen until next year's primary, the 30-year-old Bellflower resident has already characterized the four contenders as political insiders who already have connections with people in Sacramento. "I may be a lone voice," he said. "But I think I have the ability to listen and address the concerns people have." For the last 10 years, Mellana has worked in recreation for the cities of San Ramon, Glendale and Bellflower. He is currently a recreation supervisor for the City of Bellflower where he administers programs for youth, adults, and senior citizens. As a part-time instructor, Mellana also teaches general education subjects at the University of Phoenix. With not much political experience, Mellana admits there will be a learning curve if he is elected; however, he is confident that voters are not looking for experienced leaders with bad policies. According to campaign resources, Mellana's key issues include fiscal restraint, limited government and taxes, and government reform through accountability. "The principles I'm running on transcend party lines, racial lines and economic lines," he said. "The economy is horrendous right now and it only got worst when they decided to increase taxes on people." Mellana said there is a need for government, but does not agree that government should be creating jobs. "We need to allow businesses the opportunity to create more jobs," said Mellana. "We can stimulate the economy by limiting taxes. If the climate is not friendly, people will take their businesses to Nevada or Arizona." Mellana is also adamant about spending in Sacramento. "We need fiscal discipline now," he said. "I'm experienced enough to know where that red button is to say "no" to wasteful spending." Kristen Smith, campaign manager for Mellana, worked with him during most of his years in recreation. For Smith, helping Mellana seemed natural. "He began working for me when he first entered the field of recreation in the city of Bellflower," said Smith in an e-mail response. "I have nothing personal to gain other than the satisfaction of knowing I am helping to promote a responsible and ethical person that will represent his constituents well." Mellana's wife, Kari, and two children, Peter and Reagan remain a constant figure in his campaign along with several volunteers who believe in Mellana's message. "I believe California will get better," he said. "If we just give the people a chance to make it better."

********** Published: September 4, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 20