A Morro Bay civil engineer will challenge Rep. Salud Carbajal for his 24th Congressional District seat in the midterm elections next June.

"It is time to say, 'So Long, Salud'," said Republican Michael Erin Woody on Saturday afternoon as he announced his candidacy. If elected, he added, he's ready to fight for the "priorities we deserve." 

Vowing to give citizens of the Central Coast what he refers to as better, clearer answers to their questions, Woody said he is running because "this region has received less than what we deserved for the last 20-plus years." 

Woody, who is the owner of Struct One Engineering and Construction in San Luis Obispo, has been a licensed civil engineer in California for 20 years. He is also a licensed contractor with both Class A and B certification. 

He graduated from California State University, Fresno with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering.

At age 26, he was elected to the Fresno City Council. During that time, Woody said, he fought for the needs of small businesses, agriculture, environmental protection and needs of a community of just under 500,000 constituents with a budget of approximately $800 million. 

He also served as vice chair of the Fresno County Transportation Authority and was a member of the Fresno Redevelopment Agency and the Public Employees and Police and Fire Retirement systems. 

Following his service in government, Woody was accepted to Harvard University, where he received his master's in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

After graduation, he went on to do volunteer work for the campaign of Republican Lamar Alexander, who successfully won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2002, representing the state of Tennessee. 

For his campaign for the 24th Congressional District, Woody has written a booklet called "Priorities We Deserve," outlining issues that plague the region and the types of solutions necessary to successfully represent the Central Coast. 

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"It's all about protecting our farmers, oceans and environment," he said. "After 25 years in politics, Congressman Salud Carbajal and his support of the failing California high-speed rail project, cap and trade, Obamacare, his vote against Kate's Law, his support of sanctuary cities, illegal immigration and higher taxes make him completely unfit to represent this area any longer. 

"It is an incredible mistake to continue to treat voters as unintelligent," Woody added. "Voters deserve something better than social media soundbites. They deserve a real discussion of the problems we are facing in our country today. The stakes are too high and the needs are too great."

Elected in 2016, Carbajal, a Democrat, replaced Lois Capps, who retired after nearly two decades in the House of Representatives. She had served the district since 1998.

The 24th Congressional District includes all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, along with a sliver of Ventura County.

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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