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Primary Election 2024: State Assembly races

By Alexander Nguyen / Multimedia Producer, North County 

JOSEPH ROCHA

Listed on the ballot as a Marine officer and attorney

Registered Democrat

Lost to Brian Jones for state Senate District 40 in 2022

Housing and homelessness

Housing is a major issue in California, especially in San Diego, where people are priced out of living here. Rocha said it's a supply issue.

"We know that it's easier to keep people in their homes than it is to help them off the streets. So, increasing that supply has to be our focus. And we do that by reducing red tape up in Sacramento. We do that by having bold leadership that is committed to making sure that we're building the housing that's needed for our working families."

He said the older generations are starting to see that there is practically no ability for their children to be able to live in the state and that their ability to stay here is also limited.

"I think housing is No. 1. I know it's repetitive, but again, it touches on everything. It touches on homelessness. It touches on our tax revenue. It touches on the future and security of anyone choosing to stay in the state of California."

Reproductive freedom and LGBTQ+ rights

The 76th District includes Escondido, where two teachers sued the Escondido Union School District over the district policy to protect student's privacy and not disclosing their preferred pronouns without their consent. The teachers said doing so violated their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Rocha said this issue is very personal to him.

"For me, the answer starts with my own personal experience. I grew up in a very abusive home, and it's the fact that I came out as gay that was the catalyst to them actually kicking me out and me living on my own through the last year of high school. So, this is a children's safety issue. You really have to ask yourself, if a child is afraid to tell their parent who they are, then what kind of condition are they living in?"

Regarding reproductive rights, Rocha said it needs to go beyond access to abortion.

"It means privacy protection. It means protection from prosecution from other states."

Public Safety

"We want to reduce gun violence in the state. We're at a point now where you can't be sure that when a loved one goes to a grocery store or goes to church that they'll come back."

As a Marine prosecutor, Rocha said he has an understanding of the criminal justice system and will work to address the root cause of the crime and enforce gun safety laws.

"I think that's something that is nonpartisan and everyone cares about. I think that as a Marine Corps officer, I'm able to enter spaces and have conversations about gun safety that doesn't threaten people's Second Amendment, but make sure that our children are safe in schools and that our families can come home to us from everyday tasks."

Climate Change

"The Department of Defense years ago had already rated climate change as a top national security issue. That's how serious it is."

While there are things that each individual could do to offset climate change, Rocha said we also need to hold major corporations accountable as well.

"I think that there's a lot of made-up fear around holding big business and corporations accountable, that they will leave the state of California or that it'll hurt them in some way and trickle down to us. When in reality, I think that we are the fifth-largest economy in the world. People want to play here. Business wants to play here. And so I think we need to not be afraid to hold bad actors accountable and have a standard of conduct for those that do business in the state of California, especially if it's affecting our voters."

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