The Coast News Group
Sherry Hodges (left), Farrah Douglas (center) and Rocky Chavez at a debate hosted by MiraCosta College and the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Jared Whitlock

Candidates running for state Assembly take part in a debate

OCEANSIDE — Three Republicans vying for the 76th District seat in the state Assembly squared off in a debate at MiraCosta College on April 16.The three candidates offered similar solutions for the state’s ailing economy: no new taxes, eliminate regulations on businesses and cut spending to balance California’s budget.Sharing the same political party and many views, the candidates, Rocky Chavez, Sherry Hodges and Farrah Douglas, sought to differentiate themselves for voters in the newly redrawn 76th District, which includes Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and Vista.

Chavez emphasized his experience as undersecretary and later acting secretary of the state Department of Veterans Affairs several times.

“Thirty-five thousand veterans in the state of California are returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq — the opportunity to go serve them to meet their healthcare needs, educational issues and housing was a great experience,” he said.

Before working with veterans, Chavez served on Oceanside’s City Council for about seven years.

Chavez believes the biggest issue facing California is the budget. To address the deficit, he advocated cutting red tape for businesses. He believes this would create jobs, consequently adding revenue and shrinking the state’s deficit.

The three candidates rejected tax increases to bring down the state’s deficit.

When asked about the most pressing issue facing the state legislature, Douglas, who is a small business owner and currently sits on the Carlsbad City Council, answered the lack of bipartisanship.

“If I want to talk about the budget, jobs, regulations, those are all issues that we are facing,” she said. “But the main thing is they have to be able to work together, and they’re not.”

To balance the budget, Douglas recommended making the process more transparent, eliminating programs and not filling positions when they become vacant.

As an example of fiscal responsibility, she cited Carlsbad’s government.

On the topic of making education more affordable, Douglas said colleges should make the switch to e-books. She also believes education shouldn’t be the first area on the chopping block when there’s a budget shortfall.

“Anytime we have a budget deficit they put education right there and they grab money from it,” Douglas said. “Government has to stop doing that.”

Hodges, who has served as a legislative aide for three lawmakers, insisted that California is losing jobs because of burdensome business regulations.

“We have lost a tremendous amount of jobs and businesses in our state,” Hodges said. “Nearly one business a day leaves our state.”

She also said that tax rates should be lowered on businesses to draw companies to California.

“As a native San Diegan and someone who has worked in various capacities at our state, I know that when we bring jobs back that revenue will return to our state,” she added.

Hodges said three of her children left California to find a job in another state.

“This is not Kansas, this is California,” she said. “And the California I grew up in was the leader in education, prosperity and in infrastructure, and we need to return that back to our beloved state.”

As well as removing business regulations and lowering taxes, Hodges promoted pension reform as a key way to reduce the state’s deficit.

Several differences emerged between Hodges and the other candidates when they were also asked to respond to about a dozen questions with a yes or no answer and no follow up.

With the others against, Hodges said she backs Proposition 29, a tax on cigarettes that would fund cancer research, smoking reduction programs and tobacco law enforcement. Hodges’ stance on the proposition was later clarified to state that she did not support the tax and blamed her original answer on an inadvertent response.

Douglas and Chavez supported the concept of a part-time legislature, while Hodges was against.

Douglas and Chavez supported the concept of a part-time legislature, while Hodges was against.

All three of the candidates supported drilling for oil off of California’s coastline and requiring voter identification to vote; the candidates were unanimously against the DREAM Act, a recent law granting illegal immigrants access to state financial aid for education.

The debate was sponsored by MiraCosta and the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce.



LeAnn Starr April 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I agree with Stephanie. Hodges was seen at a Tea Party Rally saying she did not vote for the cigarette tax but both Coast News and North County Times reported she did. She is either confused or not being truthful.

Stephanie April 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Hodges says that she is against any new taxes and then she stated she would be for a tobacco tax. Well, which is it?

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