Gay marriage, gun control, abortion and California’s governmental gridlock were the topics of discussion Friday in Laguna Beach.
At least 75 people attended the forum to hear candidates vying for California’s 74th Assembly District talk about their platforms and answer audience questions.
The candidates for the newly redrawn district—an area that covers Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Irvine and Huntington Beach—are Newport Beach business owner and accountant Robert Rush (D-Newport Beach), California Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) and Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle (R-Newport Beach).
Rush and Mansoor attended the event at the Laguna Beach City Hall. Daigle did not and, according to the event organizer, she did not give a reason for not attending.
At the debate, Rush and Mansoor agreed on a number of issues including the problem of inefficiency and partisan bickering in the state capital and their opposition to California Governor Jerry Brown’s new tax plan, which will be on the November ballot.
Both also said the state should not raise taxes on individuals who make more than $250,000 a year.
“I don’t like that idea and I’ll tell you why,” Rush said. “That income bracket, $250,000 to $500,000, is probably where the incomes of small businesses, medium-size businesses actually (reside).”
“I think that we need to look to alternative sources (of revenue) before we start hitting those small and medium-sized businesses that are going to give us the economic growth that we need," Rush said.
Mansoor agreed and said, “$250,000 is a lot of money, but it’s certainly not what it used to be."
"We need some type of reforms in terms of our tax policy," Mansoor said. "Simply increasing it all the time is not going to have a good result."
But they didn't agree on everything.
In addition to disagreements over gay marriage and abortion, the candidates diverged on the issue of the California "Paycheck Protection" Ballot initiative: Rush opposes it and Mansoor supports it.
Rush said that the initiative would hinder the Democratic party's ability to raise money, and Mansoor said that the initiative would stop employers from taking money out of an employee’s paycheck without that employee’s consent.
- For a list of some of the candidates other responses, scroll to the end of the story.
During the forum, occasionally a handful of attendees would wave their hands (instead of clapping) as a sign that they agreed with what a candidate was saying.
Forum attendee Frances Heussenstamm, a Laguna Beach resident for about 10 years, said that she liked the discussion and thought, that “we need more of it.”
Heussenstamm, a registered Democrat who said she “crosses back and forth depending on the issue,” said she was disturbed by how much effort it takes to get anything accomplished in the California legislature.
“Our state is a reflection of the national gridlock, and what I think we’re proving to the world is we’re unable to govern our country,” Heussenstamm said. “And it’s disappointing.”
“I’m getting pretty old and I was hoping to leave a little better world than (the one) I’m leaving to my grandchildren and my great grandchildren,” she added.
Jean Raun, event organizer, said that she didn’t think the candidates gave enough specific responses to questions.
“I just felt we didn’t get the kind of in-depth answers that I was looking for,” said Raun, a 45-year-Laguna Beach resident.
The event was sponsored by the American Association of University Women, the League of Women Voters of Orange Coast and the Woman's Club of Laguna Beach.
Summary of questions and answers
Will you sign a “No new taxes” pledge?
Did you support Prop 8 (the same-sex marriage proposition)?
(Editor's note: this story originally had the respondents' names reversed on the Prop 8 question)
Mansoor: Yes. “I support Prop 8. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Rush: No. “I support same-sex marriage. I do. I opposed Prop 8. I don’t recall if I voted on that issue to be honest with you.”
Do you support giving driver’s licenses to people who pass the driver’s test but are not in America legally?
Do you support the Governor’s tax plan?
What do you think of gun control laws?
Mansoor: “I don’t know that we need additional regulation. … Even if you regulate them more, the criminals will still have guns."
Rush: “I do believe that we need to improve our gun control. … I’m not exactly sure how many people need nine or 10 guns a year.”
What do you think about abortion?
Mansoor: “I am pro life. I believe that in some difficult situations that adoption is something that should be considered.”
Rush: “I am pro choice. I am unambiguous about this. I believe that it is something that the government should stay out of.”