Aspiring Lt. Gov. Harris Stumps for Economic Development

Cole Harris
Cole Harris

A couple of weeks out from the upcoming primary election, San Marino’s Cole Harris said he felt comfortable enough to step back from the stumping and take a look at what works and doesn’t work with his campaign.
The Republican lieutenant governor aspirant, having announced his candidacy in March, said he felt his strategically directed TV spots and other forms of campaign outreach have served well to give his name enough recognition with voters, particularly those frequent voters who don’t declare party affiliation.
“We’ve got our foot on the gas pedal,” Harris said in a phone interview last week.
The June 5 primary sets up the November general election, and California’s jungle primary system means a Republican is not destined to be one of the two candidates, as is customary nationwide. However, Cole said he felt he had two things working in his favor: the plethora of Democratic candidates in Democrat-heavy California creates more splits among those voters, and Harris’ campaign has tried to avoid being overtly partisan.
Instead, he said, he has tried to focus on the purpose of the state’s lieutenant governor position, which is economic development, to distinguish himself among the 11 total candidates.
“It isn’t left or right stuff,” he said. “Having this ridiculous amount of debt, the situation of our state isn’t left or right. This is about the economics of California.”
The state’s budget is expected to run a $6 billion surplus this year, Harris acknowledged, but he said that came at the expense of services he felt were needed rather than being particularly efficient with tax dollars. The longtime CEO of Capital Stone Holdings (which he started in college), Harris said he hopes to use his financial acumen to promote California as an investment destination for domestic and international businesses.
“We’re doing nothing to make the cookie jar bigger,” he said. “This is what China understands. This is what Singapore understands. This is what other states understand. We need to grow economically, via economic development; we need more sources of revenue stream to make the cookie jar bigger so we don’t have to raise taxes.
“All this stuff is being kicked down the road for the next generation and we can’t do that anymore,” Harris added.
Harris, born in Downey and raised in the Antelope Valley, said he first entered business at 14 by mowing lawns in his neighborhood. By 17, he said he had 30 employees and nearly 400 homes for clientele. He and his family have lived in San Marino since 2010. They will have two Valentine Elementary School students starting next school year.
After stints at Pierce College and Loyola Marymount University, Harris said he decided to move forward with Capital Stone Holdings, which he founded as a student with the savings from his lawn mowing business. The company has dealt with importing and exporting and later focused on investments in real estate, information technology, software development and food distribution.
“My company grew from a rinky-dink dorm room office to a company with regional offices all over the globe,” he said. “My formula for success is simple: I invest in people, not things. For me, it’s like, ‘Who’s going to be the person running it? What are they like?’ I invest in the structure of the people who work there.”
In addition to chairing the Commission for Economic Development, the lieutenant governor also is tasked with serving on the board of regents of the UC system, California State University board of trustees, Ocean Protection Council, California Emergency Council and State Lands Commission. The seat also presides over the state senate.
If he reaches the seat, Harris said he hopes to find the best and brightest as his appointees to help tackle issues in the most informed ways, especially when it comes to reaching out to the world’s business leaders.
“I’m a Republican and I don’t like creating bigger government, but what we do in private sector is called auditing your auditor,” he explained. “That’s what we’re not doing here. What I want to do is have evidence-based solutions at looking at what’s being spent. We need get efficiency there, too.
“There’s a lot to tackle,” Harris continued. “We do have wasteful spending and we can try to start with that, but if we’re pushing economic growth, then we can get our arms around wasteful spending down the road. We need to get things started because otherwise people are just going to keep complaining about the issues that we’re having.”
For more information about Harris’ campaign, visit harrisforcalifornia.com.

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