Restaurateur Johnny Russo, right, welcomes senate candidate Kris Goodfellow to The Haven.

As an entrepreneur and a mom, Kris Goodfellow has a basic understanding of what drives people’s concerns in a state that is highly regulated.

Though she has no political experience, the Redlands resident is diligently campaigning in the Pass area to represent Senate District 23, which includes Banning, Beaumont, Cherry Valley, Yucaipa, San Jacinto and parts of Cabazon, as a Democrat.

The incumbent Mike Morrell, a Republican, will term out in 2020.

A former journalist who wrote for the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times, she co-founded Redlands-based Voyager Search, a search software company. She is the mother of a son who is about to start college.

She arranged to meet with constituents at Johnny Russo’s Haven in Banning Monday afternoon, flanked by members of her campaign.

Virtually no one seemed to come specifically to meet with her, other than John Russo himself, and inadvertently former Banning school board member Jim Smith who had come to visit Russo, unaware that Goodfellow had scheduled an event there.

While attendance was light, Goodfellow explained, “We can’t ignore this area.”

She pulled up a seat to Russo’s and Smith’s table and engaged them in conversation.

When Russo heard that she had no political experience, he exhaled deeply in awe.

“To go from 0 to state senate — wow. I’m impressed,” Russo told her.

Goodfellow explained that “What you accomplish previously in life, you bring those things to the table. I run a business and I do my research; I understand that the best policy is developed just by listening to people.”

Concerns were exchanged back and forth about the creeping presence of automated warehouses that will not really bring that many jobs.

Russo explained that the minimum wage, inching upwards to $15 an hour, “was never intended to be a living wage”; rather, it was intended to ease those who wanted to enter the workforce with a starting point.

Russo said, “In Sacramento it’s predominantly spend, spend, spend. How do you change that?”

Goodfellow believes that networking with the right coalitions can address such issues.

Goodfellow expressed interest in investing in education to broaden the opportunities of those who need jobs outside of moving goods in warehouses.

Smith wanted to know, “How much left do you need to lean to try and fix California? No offense, but this Gavin Newsom’s gotta go. You have good ideas. Fix it.”

Discussion included tackling homelessness, and outlining models of programs that work in her native Redlands.

Campaigners Lorraine Enriquez, Mario Saucedo and neighborhood canvasser Frank Garcia patiently waited several tables away with Democrat activist Jack Brennan of Yucaipa, who happened to be in the area and knew Goodfellow would be in Banning.

Garcia, an Air Force veteran, had walked around to businesses in and around the downtown area prior to the meet and greet.

He reported back to Goodfellow the concerns of a couple of business owners: “The Democrats are giving out handouts,” to which he apparently told that business owner that those EBT dollars were going back into her business; and another business owner, who was described as pro-life, debated with him about abortion.

Garcia explained to that business owner that such an emotional issue came down to cultural upbringing and personal perspectives and experiences.

As she concluded her hour or so at Johnny Russo’s Haven, Goodfellow told the Record Gazette, “Most people want to fix the problems of California,” which usually include addressing homelessness, living wages, traffic issues, the burden of high regulation and taxes, and a need to invest more into educational opportunities.

“We all agree on all of those issues,” Goodfellow said. “We just need to find ways to engage them. California is the fifth-largest economy in the world, with the highest real poverty rate in the country. That’s a lot of people in the Inland Empire alone.”

Goodfellow will hold another meet and greet at the Solera clubhouse in Beaumont on Wednesday, Oct. 2 starting at 6:30 p.m.; and will jointly participate in a meet and greet with Congressional 8th District candidate Chris Bubser in Oak Glen on Thursday, Oct. 10.

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Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.


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