In anticipation of forums to be broadcast live on-air by KCRW in Santa Barbara, all candidates for the 24th Congressional district were asked to respond to this questionnaire. The responses have been published without editing.
Given how dysfunctional Congress is now, how do you intend to get anything done?
One of the things I pride myself on most is my strong record of working across party lines, bringing Democrats and Republicans together to solve problems and get results for our constituents. As a Santa Barbara County Supervisor, I’ve worked across the aisle to promote sound fiscal stewardship of our financial resources, to expand health insurance for our kids and invest in our highways and roads to create jobs and maintain our quality of life.
The partisanship in Congress is unfortunate and is damaging our nation. There are still opportunities, however, to build relationships with colleagues across the aisle and create trust and bring positive investments and opportunities for our citizens along the Central Coast. I believe that’s the kind of leadership we need in Congress today.
How would you prevent another oil spill like the Refugio Spill in Santa Barbara?
The Central Coast is home to some of the most diverse and beautiful places in the world. In Congress, I will continue to support Congresswoman Lois Capps’ legislation to improve federal oil and gas pipeline safety regulations. It is imperative that we work to reduce our dependence on offshore oil drilling along our Central Coast. I will continue to say no to any new offshore drilling and instead encourage us to move toward cleaner energy solutions that help create new jobs, like we did with the solar power facilities in the Cuyama Valley and on the Carrizo Plain.
I am proud to have served on President Obama’s task force on climate change to come up with a range of sustainable solutions to be implemented at the state and local levels and to have the Sierra Club’s endorsement. I will fight to protect our Central Coast’s environment and renew our investments in clean energy sources, so that future generations have the opportunity to enjoy these open spaces in our region.
After the recent San Bernardino shooting and the shootings in Isla Vista, how would you reshape laws surrounding gun control?
Our country is witnessing a terrible epidemic of gun violence – one that became deeply personal in our community after the tragic massacre in Isla Vista in 2010. Gun violence touched my own family when my sister committed suicide using a firearm. There is nothing in the Second Amendment that precludes us from taking reasonable restrictions on the sale of military-grade weapons or restricting the capacity of extended ammunition clips and armor piercing bullets.
We need to take issue with the horrendous level of gun violence experienced everyday in our country. California is one state that has taken considerable action on expanding universal background checks for the purchase of firearms and I believe that measure should be extended throughout the country. I believe the government should hold straw purchasers accountable for the sale of illegal firearms and close dangerous loopholes in our laws to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, domestic abusers and the mentally ill.
This March, Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials raided Bonita Packing Company in Santa Maria and forced the company to fire 291 farm workers because of their non-legal immigration status. According to the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, about 72% of the roughly 17,000 farm workers in Santa Barbara County are undocumented. This comes when there is a 25% labor shortage in the county, according to the Agricultural Advisory Committee. How would you handle the issue of undocumented workers and the need for labor across the district?
Millions of immigrants currently live in the United States without documentation and without legal protections in constant fear of deportation. These are families that came to America in order to give themselves and their children a chance at the many remarkable opportunities this country has to offer.
When I immigrated with my family, it was through a system that worked. Now that system is broken. The real answer to fixing our broken immigration system is through comprehensive immigration reform that only Congress can enact. In the interim, I support the President’s executive action on immigration reform. When I am in Congress, I will make it a priority to work across the aisle to pass bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform to protect and to keep these families together. Families that, like all of us, want live with dignity, without fear and to contribute to our great nation.
Recent studies have shown that on average students graduate with $30,000 in student debt. What would you do to help make college more affordable?
It is becoming more and more difficult for students to graduate from college without an inordinate amount of loan debt. I was the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university with the assistance of financial aid, student loans and the Veterans Education Assistance Program. Unfortunately, these resources are not going far enough to reduce the crushing debt for students and their families.
We need to do everything in our power to make college more accessible and affordable including lowering interest rates for government backed loans, allowing students to refinance their loans, just like mortgages and car loans, expanding the Pell Grant program, and pushing universities to keep costs down if they want to continue to receive federal research dollars and other aid. We should provide public service employment opportunities allowing for student loan reduction or forgiveness. I would also work to implement President Obama’s proposal to allow for two years of tuition-free community college to allow students to take their first step toward a college education.