Yesterday, the six candidates vying for the AD-11 seat participated in the NAACP forum on civil rights to discuss many issues. I thought these were some of the best questions yet to really get an idea where the candidates stand on issues.
The form was sponsored by the California Democratic Party African American Caucus, NAACP Tri-City Branch, and St. Stephen CME Church. California President Alice Huffman was on hand to moderate the event. I will admit, I dig her bluntness and honesty. She was one of the better moderators I’ve seen run a forum.
Due to my official endorsement of Jim Frazier yesterday, my scoring system will not be shown going forward along with my opinion from these forums. I want to stick to what happened so voters could get a better idea what each candidate is about.
With that said, for the third time in a row, I thought Frazier was miles ahead of his competition and showed the most heart. I thought the runner up was Gene Gantt who was a distant second.
Mike Hudson: Candidacy is all about people and reaching out to people. He explained it’s time to fix Sacramento because it’s broken.
Patricia Hernandez: She stated she was running for political office because she does not hold political office. Explained how she got in because other candidate did not reach voters while further stating Politian’s are out of touch and how she will reach out to everyday voters. She closed stating she did not want her candidacy to be just another Politician in office.
Len Augustine: Gave his background about how he came to Travis Air Force Base and served in the armed forces. Honestly, he somewhat rambled on about many topics that included education is the great equalizer, the system in California is broke, it’s an example of partisan politics at work. Ask for support for a candidate with a lot of experience in many areas.
Gene Gantt: Got into race for 1 reason and that is for the people. He explained his 35 years in public services as a firefighter and wants to continue public service. He also got into the race to help the Delta.
Charles Kingeter: In race to connect to common purpose to make a difference. He wants to reconnect Sacramento with voters.
Jim Frazier: Stated he was the only Democrat endorsed by the Democratic Party. Explained how he led by example by walking the walk and talk the talk. He explained his many accomplishments in Oakley (La Clincia, All-Abilities Playground, Power Plant) while proud to take a stance that welcomes cultural diversity such as the You, Me, We = Oakley along with both his foundations.
Q 1: Do you oppose or support the death penalty?
Augustine: I do support it for certain crimes. There are times when we have to support it—used example of Osama Bin Laden where the President made the decision to execute him.
Frazier: I support the death penalty as a deterrent to horrific crimes against children and police officers.
Gantt: I support it in certain cases. It’s hard to do when it takes someone’s life.
Hernandez: I believe in the death penalty when it involves women and children or against brown people. I’d support anything the voters pass.
Hudson: The world is not fair; I have a problem with how it’s been used such as costs, irreversibility. I want to see something better, but I do not want it abolished.
Kingeter: I was very neutral until my grant jury experience. I am against it. Data says it’s not a deterrent.
Q2: Do you support changes to the Three Strikes Law?
Kingeter: Has not done anything to stop people. Once released, people are worse off. I don’t believe in changing it, needs to be violent crimes only.
Hudson: I support it, but prisons need additional money.
Hernandez: I spoke against implementation in college. There are better ways to deal with offenders. This should be reformed and done for violent crimes only.
Gantt: This should be reformed because it’s heavily weighed one way.
Frazier: Firm believer that reform is necessary. Need to be done fairly
Augustine: I support reform because its obviously not working. It’s not a good law.
Q3: What would you do to bring high level teachers to low income schools?
Note: According to moderator, only Hudson actually answered the question.
Hernandez: People try and get the best education they can. It shows a great divide in society. We need to start re-thinking how we look at teachers culturally.
Gantt: Teaching is an honorable profession. You bring good teachers in by trying to find ways to fund teachers with additional stipends such as for housing and supplies.
Hudson: It’s difficult to attract teachers to low income areas because policy restricts that progress. We need less administrators and keep teachers in the classroom. We need to offer bonuses and open market solutions.
Kingeter: The solution is at a local level by attending school board meetings where they make all of these decisions. Find out where the lotto money is going because most of the answers are in this room.
Augustine: We should look at consolidation of school districts to provide a better way. The state seems to think the solution is a one size fits all solution when it’s not the case. We should also look at possibly combining school boards with city councils again.
Frazier: I am endorsed by Tom Torlakson (Superintendent of Public Instruction) and I told him I am in this race to help make him more successful at improving education. Education is the biggest expense in CA and is the first to be cut—it’s not fair. We need to look at getting the community involved such as I did with Friends of Oakley where I helped raise money for school supplies for Oakley teachers.
Q4: Do you support limiting power to the UC Board of Regents to raise tuition?
Augustine: Regents are overpaid; I absolutely want to limit their power.
Frazier: I oppose any raise in tuition. I have written letters against the UC system who got a raise. I will not support raises. Frazier joked that in a few weeks, his daughter is graduating from college and the Bank of Frazier will finally be closed but explained how tuition costs had increased for his daughter.
Kingeter: We need to strip power from Regents and tuition increases/raises should be done through ballot initiatives. If they want to raise it, put it on the ballot.
Gantt: Wants to trip power from Regents stating its killing the middle class. Refuted Kingeter in stating it’s a legislation problem, not something that should go on the ballot.
Hudson: Education is important and we have to invest in young people. He doesn’t care how much the regents are paid as long as they are the best—but stated he doesn’t know if they are the best. He brought up Kobe Bryant being paid the best because he is the best. Stated it’s a legislative problem and something that needs to be looked at.
Hernandez: Regents should not have the power to raise tuition. Mentioned she went to school on scholarships and can’t imagine students to today with the debt—went onto to blame banks for taking advantage of students.
Q5: Do you support privatizing government jobs
Kingeter: Privatizing libraries for an example is a bad idea; stated when you look at everything, his broad answer is yes he would support it.
Hudson: When budgets are squeezed, there is less money and people are looking for solutions. I can’t tell you if privatizing will save money or not. We need to be looking at how we can do more with less.
Hernandez: Against privatizing public sector employees stating its helped create the middle class with pensions, medical, benefits. Government is not a private corporation.
Gantt: No body does it better for the public than public sector employees. No way will I go against them.
Frazier: I understand the value of public employees. I’d never support this. We would be shut down if it was for privatization. I value and support public employees!
Augustine: I don’t support privatization and in my entire career we have never privatized one thing for a reason.
Q6: Pensions: How would you balance the needs of employees with the state of the budget
Augustine: Pension reform is on its way. It will not be done to current employees because they are locked into contracts. It will be done to future employees in a tiered system.
Frazier: Pension reform needs to come from the top down. Public has big misconception because it’s not the average worker, it’s the administration who pension spike. It’s not public waste, its administrative waste.
Gantt: California is not broke because of pensions and public employees. It needs change by legislation and not at the ballot box this November. It should not be called a pension, rather a retirement.
Hernandez: Any changes to pensions should be negotiated, not legislated. Pensions are underfunded due to stock market. Investors and banks caused this problem.
Hudson: We promised pensions, we have to deliver. Not workers fault, its legislators fault. Fix needed in Sacramento, not via the ballot.
Kingeter: Top heavy due to city council/board of supervisors giving away large pensions to administration. We need to protect rank and file workers.
Q7: Do you support “ObamaCare”
Kingeter: I don’t like everything in the healthcare act, but I would vote for it.
Hudson: I have real problems with the Presidents healthcare package. The problem is the day a child is born, they are $45k in debt. I don’t support Obamacare.
Hernandez: I support Obamacare. If Supreme Court strikes it down, CA needs to begin looking at a single payer system. This idea is a perfect idea.
Gantt: I support Obamacare. We can’t’ dump insurance companies, we need to work with them.
Frazier: I support Obamacare, I do want the ability to have an opt out clause but we need a process to support pre-existing conditions where we do not deny people who try and do the right thing by getting insurance.
Augustine: I had stents put in my heart two years ago, my wife had cancer all last year. We need to look at pre-existing conditions. Parts of it I support, but many I do not. I’d like to see the discussion re-opened for a better overall solution.
Q8: Yes or No, Should we regulate the insurance companies from an increase in insurance premiums?
Q9: Yes or No, Do you support Affirmative Action?
Hudson: No – anytime the Government tells you how much you should have of something its bad.
Hernandez: Yes – I am affirmative action
Frazier: Yes, in Oakley we have tried to welcome cultural diversity through the You, Me, We = Oakley program.
Augustine: We need to look at it closer because what has happened is reverse discrimination.
Q10: Do you support Governor Browns Tax Initiative?
Hernandez: I support it, but I did not like the across the board increase, it always hits middle class the hardest. We should be focusing on the very high earners because they can afford it.
Hudson: Legislators spend money and raise your tax. A regressive new tax the rich is really going to tax you and I.
Kingeter: I am neutral. We can come up with solutions after people vote on it.
Frazier: I do support it. I am disappointed in compromise because not enough went to education. We need to start using our money wisely. This really is a revenue problem.
Augustine: I oppose this tax increase because companies are leaving. Who else do you want to leave? Pass this tax, companies will just pass the tax onto you and I. Just go look at the grocery store to see the cost.
Q11: Why should we vote for you?
Frazier: I walk the walk and talk to talk (highlighted his list of accomplishments) and wanted to do more on a higher level. I don’t want to be a bureaucrat because I can do so much for the district with the other elected officials who have already endorsed me.
Kingeter: No connection from Sacramento to the everyday people. I want to be the bridge that fixes that. I want to get more public participation.
Gantt: Reason I am going to win is I am not here for Gene; I am here for the people. I’ve given my life for the community. This is about you and reaching out to you. I want to be apart of the solution working with both sides of the isle.
Augustine: I am running because I have the experience. I’ve done a lot. Look at Vacaville to see what I have done such as the town square. We want to promote equal opportunity. It’s not who you are, its what you have one. We need representation from Solano County. I am not here for myself, I am here for you.
Hernandez: I got into the race because I am not a legislator or part of a club which has turned into a frat. People should chose representation, not be selected by others to be the next in line.
Hudson: We need to take a really hard look at how we spend our money. If we have jobs, a booming economy, discussions like today do not come into play.