Weeks ahead of the November elections, candidates representing San Gabriel Valley districts shared their platforms on some of the most pressing issues concerning local voters during the first of two candidate forums in Glendora Thursday.
Hosted by the Legislative Action Committee of the Glendora Chamber of Commerce, candidates for the 48th state Assembly district and 25th Senate district squared off at the Citrus Valley Association of Realtors.
In both sessions, a Republican newcomer challenged a Democrat incumbent.
Joe Gardner, Republican Assembly candidate for the 48th district, reiterated change and reform in Sacramento while incumbent for 57th state Assembly District Roger Hernandez (D- West Covina) preferred to highlight his accomplishments and connections in the Legislature.
While Hernandez remained quiet about his recent acquittal from DUI charges, he took pride in his efforts as a former mayor and city councilman in West Covina, where he said he helped expand the West Covina mall and provide thousands of jobs for the city. He called his local government experience a testament of what he can to do help stimulate job growth as an assemblyman.
Bemoaning the outsourcing of jobs and what he called a hostile environment for small business owners, Gardner, a West Covina resident and former police officer, said focus in Sacramento needed to be on job creation and budget and tax reform.
While Hernandez said he supported Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative to help public schools, Gardner said taxes were not the solution to the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit.
“I feel strongly that we should not increase our taxes, our state has to dig hard and deep to find wasted or redundant spending before they decide to come get more of our money,” said Gardner. “I don’t support any kinds of tax increases for our state.”
But Hernandez called the tax hikes essential in not only supporting education, but investing in the future economic health of the state.
“If our students are not successful, in the next 15 to 20 years California won’t be successful,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez found himself on the defensive when discussing the dissolution of the state’s redevelopment agencies, an action Hernandez was in favor of, but what Gardner called “appalling.”
“Why did we take redevelopment away? Because of many examples of misuse of those dollars, abuse of those dollars where the wealthy were benefitting from the misuse of taxpayer funds,” said Hernandez.
In the 25th District Senate, a district spanning from Burbank to the west and Upland to the east, Republican candidate Gil Gonzales pressed incumbent Carol Liu (D-La Canada Flintridge) about her voting record throughout her 10 years in the Legislature.
While Liu said she supported Brown’s tax initiatives in Prop. 30, Gonzales questioned Liu’s own willingness to pay taxes.
“I find it ironic that there are folks that support taxes, but aren’t willing to pay their own,” said Gonzales, currently Senior Manager at CCG in Pasadena. “They want to tax the taxpayer, but they put millions of dollars of their own tax money in a tax shelter in the Cayman Islands. I think the folks in Sacramento, including Mrs. Liu, need to start paying their fair share.”
Liu, a former educator, said she supported local control of schools and reforming how school districts received funds but said that process begins with the voters.
“Before we voted for Prop. 13, schools were locally controlled,” she said. “Prop. 13 changed that . . . If we want it to go back to where he had it before, it has to go back to the voters.”
But Liu found herself on the defensive when Gonzales took jabs at her voting past.
When Liu conceded she did not know if the California high speed rail system was a good idea, Gonzales reminded her of her vote in favor of the project.
“I’m a little surprised and concerned that one of our state elected officials will state that they don’t know what was in the project, a project she voted for,” said Gonzales. “It’s a waste of money and we all know that.”
The second candidate forum, featuring candidates for the 27th and 32nd Congressional districts will be on Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Citrus Valley Association of Realtors, 504 E. Route 66, Glendora.