Jay Obernolte

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Jay Obernolte
Jay Obernolte.jpg
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 33rd district
Assumed office
December 1, 2014
Preceded byTim Donnelly
Mayor of Big Bear Lake, California
In office
December 2010 – 2014
Personal details
Born (1970-08-18) August 18, 1970 (age 48)
Political partyRepublican
ResidenceBig Bear, California
Alma materCalifornia Institute of Technology
University of California, Los Angeles
OccupationBusiness owner

Jay Phillip Obernolte (born August 18, 1970) is an American politician and programmer currently serving in the California State Assembly in 2014. He is a Republican representing the 33rd State Assembly district. He was elected to the city council of Big Bear Lake, California in 2010, where he served as mayor. He is the owner, president, and technical director of FarSight Studios, an American video game developer established in 1990.


Obernolte graduated from Edison/Computech High School in 1988. In 1992, he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering and applied science from California Institute of Technology and in 1997, he received his Master of Science in artificial intelligence from the University of California, Los Angeles.[1]

Software development career[edit]

Obernolte launched FarSight Studios, an independent developer and publisher of family-friendly video games for the PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Apple iPhone and PC, in 1990. Notable games FarSight Studios has developed include Game Party, Hotel for Dogs and Pinball Hall of Fame.[1][2] FarSight Studios claims Sony, Microsoft, Google, and Apple among its clients and employs 25 workers.[3]

Early political career[edit]

In 2005, Obernolte was elected to the Big Bear City Airport Board where he served for five years. He then served as President of the board for three years and as Vice President for one year.[1][4][5]

In 2010, Obernolte was elected to Big Bear City Council, where he served as Mayor.[1] Obernolte also served on the Big Bear Lake Fire Protection Board, director of the Mojave Desert and Mountain Integrated Waste JPA Board, the Mountain Area Regional Transit Authority Board, and on the League of California Cities Desert-Mountain Division.[3][6]

California State Assembly[edit]

Obernolte has served as State Assemblyman for California's 33rd State Assembly district, which encompasses a wide expanse of the High Desert (areas of the Mojave Desert), from the eastern fringes of Los Angeles metropolitan area to the Nevada and Arizona borders, since 2014.

2014 California State Assembly election[edit]

On February 10, 2014, Obernolte announced his candidacy for the California State Assembly to succeed California Republican Party Tim Donnelly in the 33rd district.

Obernolte was endorsed by the California Republican Party,[7] San Bernardino County Republican party, the California Republican Assembly,[8][9] The Press-Enterprise,[10] the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association,[11] Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC),[12] San Bernardino County Safety Employee's Benefit Association (SEBA),[13] the California Conservative Christians,[14] and the Independent Voter Political Action Committee.[15]

In the June 2014 primary, Obernolte finished second with 18.89% of the vote with 7,887 votes and faced Democrat John Coffey in the November 2014 general election, winning with 65.9% of the vote.[16]

California's 33rd State Assembly district election, 2014
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Coffey 9,865 23.1
Republican Jay Obernolte 8,028 18.8
Republican Michelle Ambrozic 7,566 17.7
Republican Rick Roelle 6,574 15.4
Republican Art Bishop 5,956 14.0
Republican Brett Savage 1,811 4.2
Republican Scott Markovich 975 2.3
Republican Jerry J. Laws 814 1.9
Republican Robert J. "Bob" Burhle 802 1.9
Republican Robert Larivee 299 0.7
Total votes 45,690 100.0
General election
Republican Jay Obernolte 46,144 65.9
Democratic John Coffey 23,828 34.1
Total votes 69,972 100.0
Republican hold

2016 California State Assembly election[edit]

On January 25, 2016, Obernolte announced he would seek a second term as the representative for California's 33rd Assembly District[17] to face Scott Marcovich, a contractor.[18]

In the June 2016 primary, Obernolte finished first with 60.7% of the vote with 43,526 votes and faced Democrat Scott Markovich in the November 2016 general election, winning with 60.6% of the vote.

California's 33rd State Assembly district election, 2016
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jay Obernolte (incumbent) 43,526 60.7
Democratic Scott Markovich 28,220 39.3
Total votes 71,746 100.0
General election
Republican Jay Obernolte (incumbent) 84,000 60.60
Democratic Scott Markovich 56,086 39.4
Total votes 140,086 100.0
Republican hold

2018 California State Assembly election[edit]

California's 33rd State Assembly district election, 2016
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Socorro Cisneros 12,566 19.2
Democratic Scott Markovich 9,854 15.0
Total votes 65,520 100.0
General election
Republican Jay Obernolte (incumbent) 72,109 60.2
Democratic Socorro Cisneros 47,603 39.8
Total votes 119,712 100.0
Republican hold

Political actions[edit]

Caucuses and committees[edit]

In January 2016, Obernolte was elected to served on the California Legislative Technology and Innovation Caucus, which is co-chaired by Assemblymembers Ian Calderon and Evan Low.[19] Obernolte also sits on the following committees: Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media as Vice Chair; Budget as Vice Chair; Appropriations; Budget Subcommittee 6 on Budget Process, Oversight and Program Evaluation; Budget Subcommittee 6 on Budget Process, Oversight and Program Evaluation; Utilities and Commerce; Joint Committee on Arts; and Joint Legislative Budget.[20][21]

Fire tax and fire insurance[edit]

Obernolte authored Assembly Bill 1642, which would extend the deadlines to either pay the fire tax, which is a state fire prevention fee, or file a petition for redetermination from 30 days to 60 days.[22] In July 2017, the fire fee was suspended as part of Assembly Bill 398.[23]

Obernolte opposes raising fire insurance costs, which is calculated by factors in the risk of wildfire, fuels, slope and road access for emergency vehicles.[24]

Minimum wage[edit]

In an April 2016 op-ed published in the San Bernardino Sun, Obernolte wrote on the effects of increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. He wrote that "income inequality is the defining challenge of our generation" and the recent push to increase the minimum wage "is an effort to address the very real problem that wages are less than we feel they should be. However, we need to remember that income inequality is the result of a multitude of factors — among them, globalization, technological change, the efficient employment of capital and changing institutions. In other words, low wages are a symptom of the problem of income inequality, not the root cause of income inequality."[25]

Frontier Communications[edit]

In April 2016, Frontier Communications took over Verizon's voice, video, data, and FiOS network. In May 2016, Obernolte voiced his concern over Frontier Communications' acquisition of Verizon services noting that it has "negatively affected my constituents... It is particularly disturbing to me that the public safety of our residents has been threatened by the faulty landline telephone service they have experienced since the (acquisition)."[26]

Legal affairs[edit]

In May 2016, Obernolte introduced Assembly Bill 2341, which would provide San Bernardino and other rural counties with additional judges to resolve backlogged court systems. "San Bernardino County currently faces an unacceptable shortage of judicial officers. My hope is that this bill will provide the necessary judicial resources to alleviate this critical problem" Obernolte said.[27] The bill would have shifted seats from Santa Clara and Alameda counties to the counties in San Bernardino but it died in the Senate Appropriations Committee without a hearing.[28][29]

In January 2017, Obernolte released a statement on his opposition to Xavier Becerra's nomination as California's Attorney General stating, "While Congressman Becerra possesses many of the qualifications necessary in an Attorney General, many of his positions on constitutional issues deeply concern me. His stances on both the First and Second Amendments clearly don't align with my values or those of my constituents. California's Attorney General should be committed to protecting these Constitutional rights."[30]


Every year, California State Assemblymembers select a veteran in their district to be recognized as the Veteran of the Year and honored in Sacramento with a ceremony and luncheon. In 2015, Obernolte awarded Hesperia Chamber of Commerce President Brad Letner.[31][32] In 2017, Anthony "Tony" Cooker was recognized as the 2017 Veteran of the Year for the 33rd Assembly District.[33]

In 2016, Obernolte sponsored approved Assembly Concurrent Resolution 180, which dedicates a stretch of California State Route 247 (SR-247) to the late Sgt. Brian L. Walker.[34]

California budget[edit]

Obernolte stated that Governor Jerry Brown's $179.45 billion budget proposal, which focused on "long-term fiscal responsibility", was "responsible", although he expressed a preference for fixing existing programs over creating new ones. Obernolte also stated an interest in funding job skills training, improving the state's Denti-Cal program, repairing infrastructure, and working on the housing crisis. Obernolte pushed for lawmakers to limit long-term funding commitments and also noted that the budget proposal does nothing to address the "state's out-of-control pension debts and retiree health care liabilities."[35]

California Roll – AB 1103[edit]

Obernolte co-authored Assembly Bill 1103, which would allow California bicyclists to roll through stop signs, if it was safe to do so. The bill is based on a law adopted by Idaho in 1982 and will be voted on in 2018. Under the proposed legislation, cyclists would be authorized to "[approach] a stop sign, after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way, to cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping, unless safety considerations require otherwise."[36][37]

Personal life[edit]

Obernolte married his wife Heather in 1996 and together they have two sons: Hale and Troy.[38][39] The family has lived in Big Bear Lake since 1997.[1]

Obernolte holds an airline transport pilot's license. He is also a certified flight instructor and has flown light aircraft since 2005. He worked with Embraer as a member on its Pilot Advisory Board during the development of the Phenom 300.[40][41][42][43] Obernolte is a member of the Young Eagles, a program created by the US Experimental Aircraft Association designed to give children an opportunity to experience flight in a general aviation airplane while educating them about aviation.[1][44]

Obernolte holds a third-degree black belt in Pacific Unified Martial Arts and is co-owner and instructor at PUMA Karate in Big Bear Lake.[1][45]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Mayor Jay P. Obernolte – Biography". City of Big Bear Lake. Archived from the original on 15 April 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Game Companies: Farsight Studios". Game Faqs. Game Faqs. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b Johnson, Shea (11 February 2014). "Big Bear mayor joins crowded race". Daily Press. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  4. ^ Johnson, Shea (22 October 2014). "Top two in primary seek to succeed Donnelly in state Assembly". Daily Press. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  5. ^ Bowers, Judy. "Campaign trail keeps candidates busy". Big Bear Grizzly. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  6. ^ "JAYObernolte". Big Bear Lake. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Party Endorsements". California GOP. Archived from the original on 26 September 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  8. ^ Johnson, Shea (1 April 2014). "Candidates building up war chests". Daily Press. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  9. ^ "2014 Primary Election Endorsements". California Republican Assembly. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Editorial: Obernolte, Mayes and Steinorth for Assembly". The Press-Enterprise. 15 August 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  11. ^ Johnson, Shea (18 September 2014). "Obernolte, Coffey make case at VVC forum". Daily Press. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  12. ^ "ENDORSED ASSEMBLY CANDIDATES BY CHAPTER" (PDF). PORAC. Retrieved 30 September 2014.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "SEBA endorsements". San Bernardino County Safety Employee's Benefit Association. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  14. ^ "The Christian Voter Guides 2014". Christian Citizens. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  15. ^ "Jay Obernolte | AD 33". Independent Voter PAC. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  16. ^ "2014 Statewide Primary Election". San Bernardino County Elections Office of the Registrar of Voters. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Obernolte announces re-election campaign". Big Bear Grizzly. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  18. ^ Hagen, Ryan; Emerson, Sandra (June 7, 2016). "Election 2016: Obernolte leads Markovich in the 33rd Assembly District race". SB Sun. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  19. ^ Cassling, Steve (January 27, 2016). "Assemblymember Jay Obernolte Picked to be Part of Historic Tech Caucus". KBHR933. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  20. ^ "COMMITTEES". California State Assembly. California State Assembly. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  21. ^ "Assemblyman Obernolte blasts legislative shell game". Daily Press. April 29, 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  22. ^ Casting, Steve (April 13, 2016). "Senator Morrell and Assemblyman Obernolte to Hold Fire Tax Town Halls in Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear". KBHR933. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  23. ^ Johnson, Shea (July 26, 2017). "Obernolte lauds fire fee suspension, but not deal that made it happen". VV Daily Press. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  24. ^ Fron, Heidi (June 6, 2016). "Obernolte Fights Fire Insurance Increases". Mountain-News. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  25. ^ Obernolte, Jay (April 4, 2016). "Minimum wage hike treats symptom, makes problem worse: Jay Obernolte". SB Sun. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  26. ^ Johnson, Shea (May 12, 2016). "Ahead of hearing, Obernolte seeks local input on Frontier takeover". Daily Press. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  27. ^ "Obernolte bill addresses judge shortage". Lucerne Valley Leader. May 31, 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-08-07. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  28. ^ Macduff, Cassie (August 12, 2016). "Cassie MacDuff: Another attempt to address Inland judge shortage goes down in flames". Press Enterprise. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  29. ^ "EDITORIAL: I.E. needs more judges". Press Enterprise. August 17, 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  30. ^ "Obernolte opposes Becerra as AG". Daily Press. January 13, 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  31. ^ Cassling, Steve (May 11, 2016). "Assemblymember Obernolte Seeks Nominations for Veteran of the Year". KBHR933. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  32. ^ Gambone, L.J. (June 23, 2016). "Letner "Veteran of the Year"". Daily Press. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  33. ^ "World War II vet from Victorville honored as 2017 Veteran of the Year for 33rd Assembly District". VV Daily Press. June 22, 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  34. ^ Day, Peter (September 8, 2016). "Obernolte: Walker Highway dedication next year". The Leader. Archived from the original on 2016-10-02. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  35. ^ Johnson, Shea (January 10, 2017). "On proposed budget, Republicans urge long-term caution". Daily Press. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  36. ^ Koseff, Alexei (May 8, 2017). "Rolling bicycle stop bill pulled in California". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  37. ^ Downing, Shane (May 10, 2017). "Flat Tire: 'California Roll' Bill Stalls In Assembly Committee Until 2018". Hoodline. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  38. ^ Neufeld, Michael (13 December 2013). "Jay Olbernolte Re-Elected Mayor of Big Bear Lake". ROTW News. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  39. ^ Johnson, Shea. "Donnelly's son urges donations, votes". Daily Press. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  40. ^ George, Fred. "Embraer Phenom 300". 1 June 2013. Aviation Week. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  41. ^ Velocci, Tony (7 October 2014). "Phenom 300: One Hot Airplane". Forbes. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  42. ^ "The Racing Pilots". Racing Jets. Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  43. ^ Cox, Bill. "Twin Commander 1000: The Ultimate Turbine Commander". Plane and Pilot Mag. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  44. ^ "Young Eagles 100+ Mission Pilots". Young Eagles. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  45. ^ Fisher, Jerry (17 June 2009). No Regrets: The Life of an American Martial Artist. Trafford Publishing. p. 294. Retrieved 22 October 2014.[self-published source]

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