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Assembly candidates spar over state's problems; hour-long forum hits on host of issues
Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Posted: 10/26/2010 01:20:06 AM PDT
Answering a host of questions about the ills that ail California, a pair of candidates to represent the state's 1st Assembly District reinforced Mondaythat voters have a clear choice come Election Day.During an hour-long forum put on by the League of Women Voters HumboldtCounty -- broadcast live on KEET-TV and KHSU-FM -- incumbent WesleyChesbro, D-Arcata, and challenger Karen Brooks, R-Arcata, lived up to their billings as the experienced politician and the self-proclaimed “citizencandidate,” respectively.Repeatedly touting his accomplishments over decades in public office andthe last four years in the Assembly, Chesbro maintained that California needsexperienced leadership during these tough times. Brooks, meanwhile, toutedher private sector credentials of having been a small business woman for decades, and argued that fresh, new ideas are the answer to the state'smany problems.Moderated by Anne Hartline, the debate offered the candidates one minuteeach to respond to each of more than a dozen questions phoned in by thepublic.The far-reaching forum touched on statewide issues like the budget crisis, prison reform and marriage rights, as wellas a host of topics of special local importance, like marijuana legalization, the Marine Life Protection Act and water diversions.Hartline asked the candidates to outline how they would work to get the state back on “good financial footing,” urgingthem at a caller'sbehest to be specific and avoid generalizations.Chesbro said his priority in the short term is to avoid“draconian” budget cuts that could make theeconomy worse, pointing to a proposal of Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger that he said he helped defeat which would have cut 430,000 jobs throughout the state.During these tough times, Chesbro said, it's imperative that the Legislature make sure its budget decisions aremaking the economy better, not worse.Brooks' answer was a bit more specific to the 1st Assembly District, as she said she would work to make sure thatland-use and water-use decisions are made that keep the state's wine industry on firm footing and that would boostthe state's timber industry, which she said has been over-regulated.”We grow trees like Iowa grows corn,” she said, adding that she believes the state can increase timber production ina sustainable, responsible way. “We need to get our logging trucks and our mills going again.”The candidates were also asked their position on Proposition 25, which would change the required vote in theLegislature to pass a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.Brooks said the problem lies with the people sent to Sacramento, not the vote requirement.”Sacramento is broken -- this Legislature is broken,” she said. “(Passing Proposition 25) is like giving the Legislaturethe keys to the car and the credit card. ... Prop. 25 is the worst thing we could do in this state.”Chesbro said he supported the proposition, and echoed that support more than once during the debate. He pointedout that California is one of only three states that requires the two-thirds vote, and said Proposition 25 wouldincrease accountability and result in on-time budgets. The two-thirds requirement, he said, has only causedproblems.”That's allowed a tiny handful of legislators to hold the budget hostage,” he said, adding that those legislators havealso demanded concessions for special interests.On the subject of Proposition 19 -- which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana -- Chesbro said he is undecidedon how he will vote on the measure, and Brooks said she feels it's a poorly written initiative that would compromisethe rights of employers and property owners.In the last question of the evening, the candidates were asked how they feel about diverting water from the Klamath
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