My name is Patricia C. Bates, but I am better known as “Pat.” I am honored to serve as the senator for the 36th Senate District in the California State Legislature since December 1, 2014, representing nearly 1 million people from Encinitas in San Diego County to Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County.
On April 12, 2017, I became the Senate Republican Leader. I am the second woman to lead a party caucus in the Senate’s history – Democrat or Republican.
Elected public service was not something I sought growing up. It came gradually when I became a wife, mother and community volunteer. My professional background is one of a Los Angeles County social worker, a position in which I helped people deal with some tough challenges in their personal lives.
What I learned as a social worker was that government must not rob people of their self-esteem and initiative. Government has an important role in protecting public safety and health, but it must act within the limits placed upon it by the people. After all, government exists to serve the people, not the other way around.
In the Senate, my focus is to solve everyday problems for Californians in a way that will preserve our quality of life, protect taxpayers, and restore fiscal common sense to government. That is what I did as the driving force behind Laguna Niguel’s campaign for cityhood and when I became its first mayor upon the city’s incorporation in 1989. I served four terms as mayor and then continued serving as a city council member until my election to the State Assembly in 1998, earning the trust of a large majority of Orange and San Diego County voters.
When I was in the Assembly, I served as vice chair of the Assembly Appropriations and Assembly Health Committees, and was the founding chair of the Republican Women’s Caucus to ensure that women from across the political spectrum were fully represented. While serving in the Assembly, I was appointed to the prestigious Little Hoover Commission, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed me to serve on his historic California Performance Review Commission – responsible for providing recommendations on reforming state government and its operations.
On January 9, 2007, I was sworn-in as an Orange County Supervisor by former California Education Secretary and Senator Marian Bergeson. As only the fourth woman ever elected to the Board of Supervisors, I worked diligently to protect taxpayers and improve the county’s fiscal outlook; create business friendly policies to attract jobs; maintain high levels of public safety; shorten the timeline for delivery of transportation projects; implement pension and retiree medical liability reforms; and protect our coastal environment.
In the Senate, I have stood up for taxpayers by defending Proposition 13 (which keeps property taxes from spiraling out of control) from efforts to gut it and helping lead the opposition against the massive gas and car tax increase. Pro-taxpayer groups have consistently given me high marks for my record to defend Californians from numerous attempts to raise unnecessary taxes and fees.
I have authored several measures to make every community safer, such as SB 722 (2015) that would crack down on sex offenders who willfully remove or disable their global positioning system (GPS) tracking devices; SB 1323 (2016) that would enhance criminal penalties for illegal distributors of fentanyl, which has been linked to numerous deaths in California; and SB 1283 (2016) that would address the growing concern over the presence and proliferation of sober living homes in residential neighborhoods.
To help improve our schools, I authored SB 1249 (2016) to restore the full ability of school districts to save money for a rainy day, and urged the Governor to expedite the distribution of voter-approved school construction and modernization funds.
Even though I am a Republican in a Democratic-controlled Legislature, I have worked with Democrats to advance common goals. For example, I jointly authored SB 197 (2017) with Senator Toni Atkins to lower the cost of building needed medical facilities that would serve veterans and military personnel afflicted with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions. I also supported measures to address ocean acidification (AB 2139, 2016), integrate scientific data concerning the impact of climate change into state infrastructure engineering (AB 2800, 2016), and reinforce opposition to new oil drilling off of our coast (SR 35, 2017).
I am a proud native of Southern California, growing up in Long Beach and moving to South Orange County four decades ago. My husband John is an accomplished architect, and I am proud to have two adult children and four grandchildren.