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?
Today, Congress is run by political insiders who care more about winning their next election than the policies that are affecting the next generation. They will say and do anything to get elected, but then fail to do the things necessary to move our country forward, once in office. I’m running for Congress reform the institution, rein-in federal overreach and put forth 21st century policies to ensure a better future for our country.
As a former legislative aide to a senior member of Congress, I have experience in drafting and moving legislation by building consensus among members. I will take that experience and next generation leadership to Washington in order to reform the institution and get Congress working again for the people of the Central Coast.
How would you prevent another oil spill like the Refugio Spill in Santa Barbara?
The Refugio Spill had federal oversight from Congress and the Department of Transportation, which was the regulating body on the Plains All American Pipeline. In 2011, they passed the Pipeline Safety Act, which had around 42 mandates from Congress to improve the oversight on the pipeline. However, there were a number of mandates that were never implemented by the Administration. We need to ensure that the safety precautions taken on our pipelines are most effective and efficient in preventing and handling environmental crises. This raises the question whether oversight is best suited at the federal level, or whether it would be more effective at the local level.
We need to conserve California’s Central Coast for future generations to enjoy, without jeopardizing our economic vitality. I will support reasonable projects that are safe for our environment, and that don’t stifle the growth of businesses and agriculture within our district.
After the recent San Bernardino shooting and the shootings in Isla Vista, how would you reshape laws surrounding gun control?
We need to make sure our first responders have the necessary resources to do their jobs effectively, and ensure that guns are being bought legally. We also need to address the mental health component, and ensure follow through, so that there are enforceable processes in place to mitigate tragedies like the one in Isla Vista. The San Bernardino shooting was inspired by ISIS. Taking a concerted approach to defeating terrorist groups like ISIS will be a top priority of mine in Congress.
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?
The issue on immigration has existed in Congress for decades. Politicians on either side of the aisle have failed to address the issue due to partisan politics and the dysfunction in both parties. This is why we need to address it systemically by reforming Congress and looking at legislation on a step by step basis.
The Central Coast has a unique understanding of immigration due to the needs of our local farmers and ranchers, as well as those using the student visa system to attend our colleges and universities. I will support a robust, fair and enforceable guest worker program, especially for our farms and agricultural industries, but the federal government must secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws. Additionally, a universal verification system must be implemented so employers can be sure they are hiring employees legally. Legal immigration policies should be merit-based and support economic growth. This will ensure America maintains its standing as a worldwide beacon of opportunity.
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?
The second largest form of household debt in our country is student loan debt. We need to make college more accessible and more affordable through fiscal management and responsibility by government bodies, and modernize and expand programs like the 529 tax free college savings account that allows parents and students to invest and save for college. We also need to focus on providing alternative options to the traditional four-year university, such as technical and vocational training, in order to give students the ability to choose the best option to make them successful in the 21st century workforce.
In addition, the biggest issue facing our students is the lack of jobs available to them after they graduate. In order to truly help our students, we need to focus on reducing taxes, boosting our economy through regulation and budget reform, and eliminating the excess burdens imposed on our businesses that stifle job growth.