FAIRFIELD — Freshman state Assemblyman Jim Frazier visited eighth-grade students who petitioned the Fairfield-Suisun School District for a post-Halloween holiday and praised them Tuesday for their activism.
He told students in the U.S. history class at Green Valley Middle School that they’re making their voices heard.
“Right on,” Frazier said. “Don’t hold back.”
“The only way people can hear you is if you tell them,” the state assemblyman said.
He later answered a student’s question about how to get involved in politics by referring to student government.
“Determine what office you want to run for,” Frazier, D-Oakley, advised. “Go for it.”
Teacher Monica Brown in October had presented Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees with a petition signed by 206 students and others supporting a holiday after Halloween.
Eighth-grader Samantha Burzynski wrote in the petition that some students are sleepy after Halloween and some are on a sugar high. The school calendar is set for the year but the students’ try won praise from Brown for putting into action lessons from their U.S. history class about democracy.
Frazier on Tuesday invited Brown and the eighth-graders to Sacramento where they could tour the state Capitol and sit in the Assembly gallery to observe lawmakers in session.
“We’re making all that happen,” Brown said. “I have always wanted to do that.”
Student Burzynski said after Frazier spoke that his talk showed people can do something even if they’re not public officials. Student Savanna Gordon said she thanked the state assemblyman for coming to the class.
Gordon said she was going to run for student body treasurer at Green Valley Middle School but didn’t. Frazier’s speech has inspired her to get involved, she said.
Frazier, who represents 11th Assembly District that includes most of Solano County, began his appearance by telling students he sees himself “as a guy who likes to help people” rather than a politician. He was a general contractor who built houses when on Dec. 16, 2000, his oldest daughter Stephanie, 20, was killed and his daughter Lindsey hospitalized in critical condition after a head-on collision because of black ice along Highway 50 on the way to Tahoe.
Frazier learned 143 accidents had occurred in 14 years along the highway but when he tried to get the state Department of Transportation to address problems, the agency showed little interest, he said. Frazier told a Caltrans official, “You don’t know me. I’ll be back.”
The now-state assemblyman said he hired his own safety engineer, flew him from San Diego and was able to present the state agency with a solution. Another Caltrans official met him along Highway 50 near Ice House Road and new pavement that prevents black ice was later put in place. No fatalities have happened along the 2.5-mile stretch since, Frazier told students.
Frazier went on in 2007 to serve on the Planning Commission and City Council in his hometown of Oakley before he was elected last year to the state Assembly.
Local government allows officeholders to do as much or as little as they want but Sacramento is more demanding, he said. He represents 486,000 residents and about 80 calls a week ask for help with state government, including problems involving unemployment checks or the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“I don’t work for the state,” Frazier said. “I work for the people who put me in office.”
“This to me is the best job I’ve ever had in my life,” he said. “I get to help people every day.”
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.