HANFORD, CA - In less than two weeks, the valley will vote to elect a new 16th District State Senator. In our second profile of the candidates, 17 News features Republican farmer Andy Vidak.
Vidak ran for Congress in 2010 and fell short. But when Senator Michael Rubio's seat opened up, the cherry farmer said he was urged to run to represent the Central Valley.
"I don't usually do it, but it's been so darn hot," said Vidak to his workers on his ranch.
This week Vidak is harvesting his cherry crop on his small farm in Hanford.
"It's been the American dream here right in the valley," said Vidak.
Vidak built his farm from the ground up. Growing up in Visalia he is the son of a school teacher.
"When I was a young boy I wanted to be a pro-baseball player and a cowboy," said Vidak.
But instead, Vidak went to college first in the Central Valley then in Texas, all the while dreaming of being a farmer. With no land to inherit he started in the fields.
"I worked hard in the fields, transplanted and harvested vegetables," said Vidak. "I kept saving and saving and I was finally able to buy my own ranch, planting cherries."
In 2010, Vidak ran for Congress but lost by a slim margin. Three years later, a state senate seat is open and he's running again.
"I want to give back to the community. I want to help. I want to serve," said Vidak.
He's running with four main goals: create jobs and balance the budget, invest in education, deliver more reliable water supplies and stop the high-speed rail.
"Most of my life I have been an employee of someone else and that made me a better employer," said Vidak. "I've built businesses. I've taken risks. I know what it's like to work by the hour."
Even though he's from Tulare County he promises to represent the entire district.
"I know folks up and down the valley," said Vidak. "I've employed folks up and down the valley. I am about as valley as you can get."
Vidak is running against Fresno businesswoman Paulina Miranda, Tulare County business consultant Frank Ramirez, Independent candidate Mohammad Arif and Democrat and Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.
We will have profiles on all of the candidates leading up to the primary election May 21st.