Former fighter pilot Stoll ready to fight for Valley in Congress

Republican Matt Stoll is one of six candidates for the special election to fill Devin Nunes’ 22nd Congressional seat and says he will be running in the midterm primary for the new 13th Congressional seat

VISALIA – Retired Navy fighter pilot Matt Stoll said he wants to continue fighting for America but this time he’ll be doing it from the ground instead of in the air.

Stoll is among six candidates and four Republicans vying to serve out the rest of the year in the 22nd Congressional District, vacated by longtime Representative Devin Nunes in January, before new, redrawn districts take effect in December. An F-18 Hornet fighter pilot, Stoll retired from military service in 2019 after 20 years including flying 44 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Stoll said he is pro-Trump yet pro-Choice and believes entrepreneurial innovation, a capitalist economy and hard work are bedrocks of the country and things worth fighting to preserve.

“I’m here to battle for our Constitution, our way of life, champion the capitalist system, and protect our liberties,” Stoll said.

Stoll said he was not interested in running for election until the last few years of being a business owner employing 18 people. Stoll owns a property management business, Visalia Landscape and Tree Company, Inc., and runs a retail shop, Garden World, in Visalia.  

“I often say that I have combat experience in the military, which is evidenced by my record, but I think the next combat experience I have is the most relevant and that is my war in the business community, because it is its own battle,” Stoll said.

He said California has some of the most stringent regulations on private businesses, a huge bureaucracy to enforce them, yet few people dedicated to helping businesses navigate the government to find answers to their questions and sees those same things happening at the federal level.

“They don’t correspond and that’s inhibitive to business, and, of course, businesses are the backbone of America,” Stoll said.

Stoll understands finishing out Nunes term before new districts take effect doesn’t give him much time in Washington, possibly as little as two months, which is why he said he will also be running in the June 7 primary for the new 13th Congressional District in California. Stoll had not filed for the office as of press time but the nomination period does not end until March 11. He says he wants to be part of a “red tsunami” of Republicans he thinks will be taking back the House of Representatives in the 2022 midterm election this November.

“I’m trying to use the California 22 special [election] to get name recognition, let people know who I am and what I’m about, so I can proceed to a follow-on congressional election in the fall,” Stoll said.

Regardless of how long Stoll has in Washington, he said he will make water for the Valley his top priority. In his 21 years of living in Kings and Tulare Counties, Stoll said the Valley has experienced a 25% population increase but no capacity increases in the amount of water the state can store here. He talked about pushing for additional reservoirs, in some cases higher up on the same rivers as existing ones, as well as decades old projects such as Sites Reservoir near Sacramento. He said more water storage is needed to support agriculture so water used to recharge local aquifers will be available to people living in cities and rural communities.

“I think we can do a much better job managing the resources that we have, not flushing the water away or giving it away,” Stoll said. “There’s no reason that another region of the state should have a priority over us because they have more people, we need to make it fair and equitable.”

He said farmers have become more efficient with new technologies and drip irrigation but the move away from flood irrigation has left little water to percolate into the ground beneath the farms. He said many projects have been stifled by environmental groups who are not prioritizing people over other species. He gave an example locally of the project to widen and reconstruct Highway 198 which took into account the burrowing owl’s habitat.

“I think conservatives are conservationists in the environmental sense,” he said.

Stoll isn’t opposed to greener technologies either. He believes in solar power, hydroelectric power, renewable natural gas and even electric cars but he doesn’t believe any one of them is the solution, including a complete shift away from fossil fuels. He said each of these technologies has their pros and cons, including nuclear energy, and all of them provide consumers with a choice that best fits into their beliefs and budget. He himself has owned electric vehicles and had solar on his house, but that the current energy system doesn’t store enough energy to power homes throughout the night and on rainy days and most rural homes still rely on natural gas for their heating and appliances.

“I don’t believe in the domination of fossil fuels,” he said. “I think human innovation through American capitalism will drive us to efficiencies. So I totally advocate for balance.”

Another key issue for Stoll is immigration, which Stoll argues is affecting every aspect of society from the safety of cities and towns to the validity of elections. He said the United States will always need immigrants’ work ethic, innovative ideas and drive for the American dream but the federal government needs to solve the problem it created by ensuring people are here legally.

He said he believes in more border security, which could include extending and improving on the fencing and barriers along the Mexican border, but more importantly, he said there needs to be a more streamlined, less expensive and extremely accessible process for earning citizenship and legal immigration.

“We need a path to legal immigration, that is expeditious and smart, and rewards people for being straight about their intention to be productive members of our society, and to contribute,” Stoll said. “What we don’t want is a free for all, which is what we have now, which is a disaster.”

At a Republican forum for special election candidates in Fresno last month, Stoll said he was in favor of an audit of the 2020 presidential election. In this more recent interview, he said there were audits done in some states which upheld the Biden victory and said it was time for America to move on because it “would be counterproductive at this point.”

“This is America, we can do better, and we have to champion voter identification and legal voting,” Stoll said. “That’ll be a step towards ensuring that our voter integrity is there.”

Stoll said he is not in favor of California’s all-mail ballot voting instituted during the pandemic but absolutely believes in absentee voting by mail. He said the difference is the identification process absentee voters are required to go through prior to receiving their ballot.

As a career naval officer, Stoll said he had to register as an absentee voter to get his ballot while serving overseas. He was required to give his social security number, address, and driver’s license before receiving a mailed ballot. He said there is plenty of time between elections for county offices to process that information.

“The government has every resource available to verify people, whether they’re alive, whether they pay taxes, whether they have a residence, and this information is readily available,” he said.

Now that he is running for office, Stoll said he was confident local elections offices in the Valley would count the votes accurately and validate all of the voter rolls.

“I will have confidence going forward with the hopes that any loose ends are tied off by our elected officials,” Stoll said. “I’m confident in the process. I’m confident in the talents on counterfeit and the outcomes. And I think it’ll be solid going in.”

Stoll said a Republican win in the special election primary on April 5 for the current 22nd Congressional District and in the midterm primary for the new 13th Congressional District slicing through Visalia on June 7 are key to keeping California from becoming an all-blue state for Democrats. He said a vote for anyone running in the special election not wanting to continue to represent the area is a lost vote. That’s why he’s going to file for the new 13th Congressional District by the primary deadline on March 11.

“This is a red fortress of California, [the Valley] is the last place,” Stoll said. “If we lose that opportunity to capture this moment, and squander it on someone who is not going to fight further into the future, that’s a missed opportunity.”

For more information on Matt Stoll, visit 

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