2012-05-10 / Front Page
Packed house hears from House hopefuls
Candidates square of at CLU forum
Hosted by CLU and the Acorn Newspapers, and taped for replay by Time Warner Cable, the debate marked the first time in this year’s race that all the candidates were present at the same event.
In the campaign are Julia Brownley, Democrat, Assembly member in the 41st Assembly District; Albert Goldberg, Democrat, Realtor from Ventura; Jess Herrera, Democrat, Oxnard Harbor District commissioner; Linda Parks, independent, Ventura County supervisor; Tony Strickland, Republican, state senator in the 19th Senate District; and David Cruz Thayne, Democrat, businessman from Westlake Village.
The newly drawn and mostly balanced 26th District includes Westlake Village and Ventura County, except for most of Simi Valley. With no incumbent, the race is being watched closely by Washington and the rest of the nation. The top two vote-getters in the June 5 primary will advance to the November general election.
During the two-hour event, each candidate answered questions about unemployment, tax cuts, healthcare, Social Security, foreign policy and immigration. Herb Gooch, professor of political science at CLU, and John Loesing, Acorn managing editor, served as moderators.
The first question concerned the bleak employment outlook for this year’s college graduates.
Brownley and Parks both said they want to make higher education more affordable. Strickland and Thayne advocate a better economy so that more jobs can be created. Herrera said college students should prepare to deal with their student loans before they finish school.
When asked about the tax cuts set to expire at the end of this year—which were passed under former President George W. Bush and extended by President Barack Obama—Strickland said he would vote to extend them.
Herrera received loud applause for saying he opposed the tax cut extension.
“I don’t think I’m in favor of giving more tax cuts to the already advantaged people in our country,” Herrera said.
Goldberg called for a complete overhaul of the tax system, while Thayne said he wants to simplify the tax code. Brownley said “the wealthy need to pay their fair share” in taxes.
All the candidates agreed the nation needs comprehensive healthcare reform.
Herrera and Parks support a system in which preventive healthcare is a priority. Brownley said she wants the California Department of Insurance to have the authority to oversee health insurance companies in the same way it can monitor auto insurance companies.
Strickland, who received both hoots and applause after declaring his opposition to the Obama Affordable Healthcare Act, said the government needs to find a way for “healthcare to move with you instead of with your job.”
Thayne, who said he likes what he’s seen so far in the Obama plan, urged citizens to “be patient” while the reforms go into effect.
Parks, an independent, denounced a recent Democratic mailing campaign that placed her in photos with Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
She said the fliers intentionally misstated that she wanted to end Medicare and Social Security.
“The partisanship . . . by the Democratic Party just dumbfounds me,” Parks said, adding that she’s always been a proponent of protecting Social Security and Medicare.
Strickland defended Parks and called the mailers “shameful.”
“I know the attack machine is after Linda Parks in the first round, and they’ll probably be after me next,” Strickland said. “So let me be clear. I am against any plan that would take Social Security from seniors.”
Brownley said current House Republicans “want to end Social Security as we know it.”
In response to a question on foreign policy, all six candidates said they were against allowing Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.
“We can’t stop science and we can’t stop progress, but certain science and progress is destructive, and purely destructive,” Goldberg said.
On the final group question regarding illegal immigration, all the candidates credited the United States with being a great nation of immigrants but also called for a measure of reform.
“I believe we have to create a pathway to citizenship,” said Thayne, who’s mother emigrated from South America. “There are a lot of people who have been here a long time, contributing to our society. We need to make it possible for them to eventually get citizenship.”
Questioned about his war chest of $781,000—about a quartermillion dollars more than the rest of the candidates combined—Strickland said he was “honored to have the wide breadth of support” and turned the focus on the volunteers helping him to get elected.
Herrera, who was asked about his readiness for U.S. Congress, said he has the “best qualifications” of any of the candidates.
“To even insinuate that a mere harbor commissioner is not capable of being a congressman is totally silly,” he said.
Thousand Oaks couple Audrey and Bob Giuffrida said Monday night’s forum will help them make an informed decision on whom to vote for in the June primary.
“It was interesting,” Bob Giuffrida said. “I learned some things— positive and negative. I learned that I would be horrified if one of those candidates were to be elected. And I think I gained some respect for a couple of the other candidates.”
Kimberly Gonzales of Camarillo said the upcoming election will be “most critical” for Ventura County.
“I was surprised by some of the heckling in the audience,” she said. “But it was a great opportunity for all of us voters to see the candidates and what they stand for.”