Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
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Tuesday November 8, 2022 — California General Election
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California State SenateCandidate for District 40

Photo of Joseph C. Rocha

Joseph C. Rocha

Marine Captain/Attorney
149,948 votes (46.9%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Helping Families Get Ahead - I will focus on delivering on basic needs that help lift people into the middle class, such as increasing access to affordable childcare, advancing paid sick leave, and expanding access to first-time homebuyer loans.
  • Protecting Choice - I will stand up and continue to focus on protecting choice. As the constitutional right to abortion is threatened, California must expand protections and become a beacon of choice to other states.
  • Veterans - I am familiar with the issues facing our veterans. We need to do our part as a state to provide transitional support for those exiting the military and more access to housing to ensure no veteran is sleeping on the streets.



Profession:Marine Corps Captain/Attorney
Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps (2014–2021)
Bomb Dog Handler (Master-At-Arms), United States Navy (2004–2007)


University of San Francisco JD (2016)
University of San Diego BA (2011)
San Diego City College AA (2009)


Joseph’s grandparents immigrated to California from Mexico to labor in tomato fields and canneries in the 1960s. Through hard work and determination, they climbed into the middle class to build opportunities for their family. Joseph’s mother struggled with addiction, so he spent most of his childhood living with his father, who raised a family of five in Riverside on a truck driver’s salary. But when Joseph came out as gay at 17, he had to move out. Though his early years were marked by hardship, trauma, and housing insecurity, Joseph excelled in school, participated in the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Conference, and worked part-time as a dishwasher.

Joseph joined the Navy on his eighteenth birthday, quickly advancing to become a bomb dog handler, tracking down explosives in the Persian Gulf. After he was discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, he became an advocate for repeal, swearing he would re-enlist and keep fighting to protect his country, as soon as it would let him.

While he fought for repeal, Joseph graduated from San Diego City College, and then the University of San Diego, and the University of San Francisco School of Law. Following the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Joseph kept his word, rising to the rank of a Marine Corps Captain and prosecutor, continuing to fight for justice.

Now, Joseph is running for State Senate out of the same sense of duty and service that has guided him his entire life. Joseph will fight for the hardworking people who have too often been left behind by career politicians who only look out for themselves.


Joseph lives in Escondido with his dog Daytwa.

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California (4)

What programs, proposals, projects, or legislation would you support to meet the water needs of all Californians?
Answer from Joseph C. Rocha:

San Diego has set the bar for water conservation in California; we should not be the only ones shouldering this responsibility. The state should continue to incentivize conservation like the drought-resistant landscape rebate. 


While projecting water use in the future is difficult, we must learn from the miscalculations that are leading to San Diegans paying higher water rates than other major metro areas. We must find ways to reduce this burden on our residents, and ensure we don’t replicate this problem for families across the state.


California’s drought hurts growers, farmworkers, and vulnerable communities. When my Grandfather first immigrated to the United States, he worked in the fields of Davis just miles from the State Capitol. His sacrifices, hard work, and courage allowed him to live out his American dream. Last year, the drought cost 8,700 farm workers their jobs. Investing in ways to capture and store more water can help the agricultural industry save jobs like the one my Grandfather had.  When farmers hurt, everyone hurts. We all rely in one form or another on the produce harvested in California: be it as food or as a major driver of our economy. 

Describe what proposal(s) you would support to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing for middle and low income people in California?
Answer from Joseph C. Rocha:

As I travel through San Diego County, I hear the same issue. Families are stretching their budgets to continue living in the community they love. The life that my father provided for me and my siblings on a truck driver’s salary is no longer within reach for many Southern California families. We need commonsense solutions to ensure every family can make their rent and mortgage payments. I will focus on resources that help families remain in their homes, ending discrimination in the housing process, expanding access to first-time homebuyer loans, and investing in smarter community development.

What programs or strategies would you suggest to meet the educational needs of young, low-income Californians?
Answer from Joseph C. Rocha:


Growing up, I didn’t alway have the benefit of stability at home. Teachers, counselors, and other school staff provided me with the structure and guidance I needed to succeed. I know firsthand that for so many students across California, schools are more than just a place they go to learn. We must ensure that schools have the resources to provide the wraparound services that our students need. It is unacceptable that California ranks 43rd in the nation for per pupil spending. I fully support increasing per-pupil spending to the average level of the top ten states.



I also believe that Charter schools should be held to the same standards as neighborhood public schools. Charters should not be allowed to cherry pick their students, especially those with special needs or are English as a Second Language students. We also must ensure that charter schools are not diverting funds from traditional public schools. Charter School operators should be required to disclose their finances, especially when taxpayer dollars are subsidizing expensive real estate. Too many point to charter schools as a panacea to issues with California’s education system. The truth is that many of the challenges could be solved just by adequately funding public education. 

To reach a goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, as set forth in a 2018 executive order what, if any, proposals, plans or legislation would you support?  Please be specific.
Answer from Joseph C. Rocha:

I will push to find commonsense solutions that will tackle climate change while delivering high-paying and sustainable jobs to our community. Also, we have an opportunity to strengthen our infrastructure and reimagine what that means for our carbon-neutral future. The roads we drive on, the bridges we cross, the schools our kids attend, and the hospitals that provide crucial care can all contribute to reaching our climate goals. I will work to deliver the funding and projects that will strengthen our communities and prepare them for the future.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $1,528,777

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

California Democratic Party
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
California Nurses Association
SEIU California
SEIU United Healthcare Workers West
State Building & Construction Trades Council of California

More information about contributions

By State:

California 97.35%
District of Columbia 0.77%
North Carolina 0.33%
Washington 0.21%
Other 1.34%

By Size:

Large contributions (97.44%)
Small contributions (2.56%)

By Type:

From organizations (88.16%)
From individuals (11.84%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Videos (1)

— May 2, 2022 Rocha for Senate 2022

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