Meet Congressman Tony Cox and Senator Melissa Hurtado


TJ Cox

TJ Cox was sworn in last month as the new Congressman for California’s 21st Congressional District, which includes all of Kings County and portions of Fresno, Kern and Tulare Counties. A Democrat, Cox replaces the six-year incumbent, Republican Congressman David Valadao from Hanford.

Cox is a California native and the son of Chinese and Filipino immigrants who moved to the Valley two decades ago. He earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno and an MBA from Southern Methodist University. A licensed engineer, he spent a decade working in engineering and construction and founded two nut-processing businesses. In 2010, he started the Central Valley Fund, which raises money for projects located in economically-disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout the Valley. The fund has raised and invested more than $65 million dollars to build health clinics, job-training centers, affordable housing and clean energy plants.

On his website, Cox says he “understands firsthand the importance of the agricultural industry as a driving force in California's economy,” and that while in office, he will work to create high-paying jobs in health care, agriculture and other industries. He says he will work to foster new agricultural businesses, create innovative farming techniques, fight for fair trade deals, and invest in job training.

Cox’s wife, Kathleen Murphy, MD, is a pediatric intensive care physician at Valley Children's Hospital. The couple has four children.

Cox has been named to the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee for Natural Resources.

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Melissa Hurtado

Melissa Hurtado now represents the 14th Senate District, which includes cities in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties. Hurtado, a Democrat, replaces Republican incumbent Andy Vidak, a Hanford farmer.

Hurtado  was born in Sanger to immigrant parents and graduated from Sanger High School. She went to Sacramento State where she studied government and philosophy, becoming the first member of her family to attend and graduate from college. She returned to her hometown after college and worked as a local advocate for Health Access, a Sacramento-based consumer advocacy organization. She was elected to the Sanger city council in 2016.

On her website, Hurtado says she looks forward to working on legislation that will expand access to healthcare for all, create quality jobs, improve public education and protect water. She says she supports building more water storage projects, including Temperance Flat and water conveyance projects like the Friant-Kern Canal. She says she understands that agriculture is the backbone of our local economy and will “advocate to protect and expand existing water supplies for our Valley farmers.”

Hurtado has been assigned as chair of the Human Services Committee for the 2019–20 Legislative session and has been designated to the Health, Veterans Affairs, Budget and Fiscal Review, and Governance and Finance Committee.

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