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Oceanside Chamber of Commerce President David Nydegger moderates a forum for candidates running for 76th Assembly District seat Wednesday evening at the MiraCosta College campus. Photo by Shana Thompson
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Candidates stake positions at 76th Assembly forum

OCEANSIDE — All but one of the the candidates for the State Assembly 76th District seat said they opposed the state’s controversial gas tax – including one of the two Democrats running for office – at a political forum Wednesday night.
MiraCosta College played host to six of the candidates in the 76th State Assembly District race, as they fielded questions on topics ranging from support of the so-called gas tax to how to improve California’s business and tourism climates.
The candidate forum, hosted by the MiraCosta Colllege Associated Student Government, featured all but two of the candidates for the seat currently held by Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, in the district that encompasses Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, Encinitas and Camp Pendleton.
Republicans Phil Graham, Amanda Rigby, Thomas Krouse and Brian Wimmer and Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Tasha Boerner Horvath answered questions fielded from the student government group, the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce and audience members over the 90-minute panel.
Republican candidates Maureen Muir and Jerome Stocks, who committed to attend the event, canceled on Friday, MiraCosta College officials said.
One of the highlights of the event was when candidates were asked if they supported Senate Bill 1, which increased gas taxes by 12 cents and also increases vehicle registration fees to pay for infrastructure and road repairs.
All of the candidates except for Boerner Horvath said they opposed the tax, which they said would impact the state’s working class families the most. Taxpayers, they said, have already paid a gas tax that was supposed to go to road repairs but has been diverted to other projects.
76th Assembly District Candidate Elizabeth Warren responds to a question posed to her during a forum for candidates. Photo by Shana Thompson

Warren broke from fellow Democrat Boerner Horvath to express opposition to the tax.

“So I’m probably the only Democrat in California who is opposed to the gas tax,” Warren said. “I think we need to go somewhere besides people who have no choice but to commute, small businesses who have to get their goods from one place to another, people who are working very hard who live in Escondido, but work in the coastal cities and have to commute every single day.
“We are nickel and diming working people and small businesses into poverty,” she said.
Boerner Horvath said she supported it because the price tag for repairing the roads was cheaper than waiting longer to fix them.
“If we do not have roads and bridges and the infrastructure we need to get from A to B, we will have major costs for businesses and major costs and delays for individuals,” Boerner Horvath said.
The two Democrats broke from their four Republican counterparts on support of the state’s so-called sanctuary laws, which the Trump Administration has challenged in federal court.
Rigby, Krouse, Wimmer and Graham said they didn’t support Senate Bill 54, the California Values Act, because it stifled cooperation between state and federal agencies to ensure that undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes do not return to local streets.
“It’s illegal, it’s dangerous and it’s unconstitutional,” Graham said.
Krouse said that while the law carves out exceptions for violent crimes, some of the non-violent crimes covered under the law are actually very serious crimes, and cooperation between state and federal agencies should not be stifled by state law.
There were some questions where all of the candidates found common ground, including the issue of reforming the state’s environmental quality laws.
76th Assembly District Candidate Thomas Krouse responds to a question Wednesday. Photo by Shana Thompson

Each of the candidates said they believed that the state Environmental Quality Act, while crafted with good intentions, has been used by special interests to stifle development.

They also agreed that the state should ensure that it can fund a recent bill that guarantees a free first year of community college.
Warren said she would re-institute the so-called estate tax to pay for the cost of free community college.
Graham, who along with Rigby railed against the state’s anti-business environment, said he would cancel the proposed high-speed rail, which he called a “high-speed boondoggle,” to pay for community college.
The candidates were also asked an individual question based off of information from their website or published articles. Krouse, endorsed by the Libertarian Party, was asked to elaborate on how he would take special interests out of politics, a pledge on his website.
Krouse said he defined special interests as large contributions from a special interest group, including corporate and labor interests and advocates removing them from the political process.
Rigby and Wimmer were asked about their pledges to reach across the aisle to get things done in Sacramento. Rigby pointed to her experience on the new taxation committee of the League of California Cities, where she has worked with both Democrats and Republicans to scrutinize proposed tax increases. Wimmer said he would examine the issue from all sides and gather facts and make fact-based decisions rather than partisan ones.
76th Assembly District Candidate Tasha Boerner Horvath. Photo by Shana Thompson

Warren was asked to name two taxes she felt were unfair. She pointed to the gas tax as well as utility fees, which she said impact the elderly on fixed incomes the most.

“I talked to a woman who was working full-time at Walmart and living in her car,” she said. “We can do better.”
Boerner Horvath, when asked at the end of the forum what question she would have liked to have been asked, spoke passionately about gender equality, both in the workforce and in education.
“What are we going to do to raise up women so that we are not making X cents on the dollar,” she said. “Women are the potential and the talent of the workforce of the future and making sure that we have equal opportunities – these are the things that will make our communities strong and resilient for the future.”

1 comment

Elizabeth Warren May 11, 2018 at 9:18 pm

YOU STATED MY POSITION ON AN ISSUE, BUT YOU LEFT OUT SOME IMPORTANT CONTEXT. Your readers should understand that first, I oppose the gas tax, and I also oppose all the “pass through” charges that keep utility bills on the rise. I also think we need to do a better job of funding post-secondary education, so our kids aren’t saddled with mountains of debt before they get started. The fact is, California needs money for road repair, education, healthcare and more. I believe that individaul taxpayers and small businesses have been asked to pick up too much of the tab–for too long. And it’s creating a problem in our local economies. When people are so strapped they can’t buy things, our small businesses suffer. But the state needs money to run. One way to raise necessary funds–that would be painless for everyone–is to reinstate the estate tax–only on estates of a certain size. Under the plan, 99.8% of California Estates would NOT–repeat NOT–be taxed. Only the TOP 1/5 OF 1% OF ESTATES would be taxed. The tax would have no impact on individuals or small businesses as it would apply only to very large personal estates. Remember, this is inherited wealth. Unearned income. It would keep the state running without nickel and diming the rest of us into poverty. In the past, America expected those who could afford to pay taxes without feeling it, to contribute their share to the necessary public infrastructure that helped them prosper. The Gettys and the Rockefellers somehow survived this era of heavy taxation with their fortunes intact. I think California’s billionaires will too.

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