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Valley Voice Delegation Returns From D.C.

Elected officials from all eight San Joaquin Valley counties recently traveled to meet with key federal legislators during the annual “Valley Voice” advocacy trip to Washington D.C.

Making the whirlwind trip from Tuesday, Sept. 6 through Friday, Sept. 9, meetings with officials were scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 7 and 8. The delegation that traveled to the nation’s capital is known as the San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council, and represents the boards of each metropolitan planning organization (MPO or COG), and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

The Regional Policy Council advocated for major transportation related initiatives for the San Joaquin Valley, including funding for major highway projects as part of the new federal transportation act (FAST Act). Federal air quality regulation changes have been added as a priority this year given the region’s difficulty in meeting stringent standards imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency despite significant air quality improvements in recent decades.

The visit included meetings with Senators Boxer and Feinstein, House Majority Leader McCarthy, Congressmen Costa, Denham, McClintock, McNerney, Nunes, Valadao, Department of Transportation (DOT) Deputy Secretary Mendez, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Highway Administration, and Senate and House staff from public works, transportation, infrastructure and the environment subcommittees.

“The Regional Policy Council is a prime example of how several elected officials in the San Joaquin Valley can join together in a common goal: improve the transportation system for our residents and therefore their quality of life,” said San Joaquin County Supervisor Chuck Winn. “The reason for our trip was to take that message of common purpose to Congress, trusting that our meetings will result in either legislative or financial assistance to resolve various transportation issues in our communities.”

The delegation from the Valley included: Chuck Winn, San Joaquin County Supervisor; Bill O’Brien, Stanislaus County Supervisor; Vito Chiesa, Stanislaus County Supervisor; Elbert Holman, Stockton Councilmember; Bill Zoslocki, Modesto Councilmember; Daron McDaniel, Merced County Supervisor; Mike Villalta, Los Banos Mayor; Robert Poythress, Madera Mayor; David Rogers, Madera County Supervisor; Amarpreet Dhaliwal, San Joaquin Mayor; Gary Yep, Kerman Mayor Pro Tem; Allen Ishida, Tulare County Supervisor; Rudy Mendoza, Woodlake Mayor; Justin Mendes, Hanford Mayor and Cheryl Wegman, Wasco Mayor.

“Having an adequate transportation system to support a multibillion dollar Ag industry, along with being able to comply with the clean air act and support a rapidly growing population, is essential in the San Joaquin Valley,” said City of Stockton Councilman Elbert Holman. “Working together with the other members of the Policy Council sends a strong message of collaboration that is needed in order to be successful.”