U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer dropped by a San Jose bus maintenance facility Friday to tout local stimulus-funded projects and proclaim she is ready for her re-election fight against a group that includes two Silicon Valley Republicans.
Boxer's visit came one day after former South Bay congressman and state finance director Tom Campbell announced he is ending his candidacy for governor and will instead run for Boxer's seat. Another area notable, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has also entered the race.
When asked about her local opponents, Boxer added that she also faces Assemblyman Chuck DeVore and Southern California businessman Al Ramirez.
"The Republicans are going to pick their candidate," she said. "It's up to them who it is. I'm up for the fight ahead."
The Democratic senator toured the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's Cerone bus maintenance facility and spoke to several dozen workers who had just completed their early morning shift.
The VTA is adding 70 hybrid buses to its fleet using $42.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. The agency has received a total of $56 million in stimulus funds, the rest going to various transit maintenance and improvement projects.
According to the VTA, the bus purchase created 35 new jobs. Nearly two-dozen road improvement projects around the area are also keeping people employed.
"We saved jobs and we created some jobs with these projects," Boxer said to the assembled group. "What you are literally doing is keeping us moving here."
While the country has technically emerged from the recession, Boxer said, many people still need jobs.
The buses are being built by Hayward-based Gillig Corp., founded in San Francisco before the 1906 earthquake and the oldest surviving bus company in the country, according to company officials present at the event.
"Surviving is important," noted San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed as he introduced Boxer. "It's great to stand in front of a lot of people who are working."
Boxer said she hopes to see even more such projects created in the final version of the jobs bill being wrangled in the Senate in the coming weeks. As chair of the Senate's Environmental and Public Works Committee, she will be providing input on the transportation and infrastructure portion of the bill, according to spokesman Zachary Coile.