LOS ANGELES, California — Three different sets of candidates vying for open seats at three levels of government presented their cases in front of an audience of constituents at University Synagogue in Los Angeles on Sunday. With just three weeks to go until the highly-anticipated November 4 general election, candidates for Congress, California State Senate and Los Angeles City Supervisor convened to discuss their views on topics such as education, immigration, taxes and gender equality. The candidates agreed on many issues but differed on a critical few.
The event was co-sponsored by the local Brentwood News.
First up were Republican Elan Carr and Democrat Ted Lieu, who are vying for iconic Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman’s seat in California’s 33rd congressional district. The men disagreed on several topics such as minimum wage as Lieu stuck close to the left, throwing his support behind implementing an immediate increase, while Carr pushed for first strengthening the local economy by bringing more jobs back to California.
Both men are from immigrant families; Lieu–who is giving up his seat in State Senate — is Taiwanese and Carr–a criminal gang prosecutor at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office–has ties in both Israel and Iraq. Both men have served the Air Force (Lieu) and Army (Carr), and agreed on the need for proper training of hospital staff to handle the deadly Ebola virus, as well as putting a stop to insider trading within Congress.
Second in the forum were the State Senate candidates, Democrats Sandra Fluke and Ben Allen. Despite being from the same political party, Fluke and Allen (both lawyers) differed tremendously in their style and approach with Fluke enjoying national recognition following her spat with conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh over birth control, and Allen courting greater support from local institutions as a board member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
Fluke and Allen agreed on most issues, including opposition to the recent Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby, in which it was ruled that the company could observe a religious exemption to abortifacient contraceptives. Hobby Lobby currently offers its employees 16 out of 20 birth control options.
Fluke, who referred to herself as a “refugee here in Los Angeles,” having moved to the area just seven years ago, said during the forum that the community she lives in “has a lot of values I agree with,” while emphasizing that she “unfortunately was raised in a conservative community.”
Last was a presentation by Bobby Shriver and Sheila Kuehl, both candidates for Los Angeles County Supervisor. Kuehl, a former State Senator, could not be present in person, so she prerecorded and videotaped an approximately 10-minute speech on her past achievements, including her position as chair of the Natural Resources and Water Committee and Health and Human Services Committee while in Senate.
Shriver, the former Mayor of Santa Monica, spoke to the audience after the video presentation in person, emphasizing that his top three issues if elected would be transportation, water and social services, specifically with regard to the mentally ill population, focusing on efforts to move non-violent patients out of jails and into specialized facilities.
After addressing a question about financing for education from an audience member at the end of the forum, Shriver said “I’m here in front of you. She [Kuehl] is not. Who will you vote for?”