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SUPERVISORIAL CANDIDATE FORUM AT CERRITOS LIBRARY

KPPC Radio moderator Larry Mantle joins Congresswoman Janice Hahn and Deputy Secretary Steve Napolitano on stage for a County Supervisorial Candidate Forum at the Cerritos Library.

KPPC Radio moderator Larry Mantle joins Congresswoman Janice Hahn and Deputy Secretary Steve Napolitano on stage for a County Supervisorial Candidate Forum at the Cerritos Library.

 

By Larry Caballero

The election for the Los Angeles County Supervisorial 4th District seat may be a non-partisan one, but there is no doubt that attendees who packed the Skyline Room at the Cerritos Library Oct. 25, for the County Supervisorial Candidate Forum, learned how different the two candidates are.

Whoever wins the spot on Nov. 8 will be overseeing a budget of more than $30 billion that fund numerous services and programs.

KPCC Southern California Public Radio moderator Larry Mantle wasted no time by asking Congresswoman Janice Hahn, and Supervisor Knabe’s senior deputy Steve Napolitano, how they were funding their campaigns.

Hahn said she was relying on small and large contributions from various sectors of society including teachers, firefighters and community organizations.

Napolitano said that he and his family had chosen to invest in the 4th District and self fund his campaign to the tune of two million dollars.

When Hahn was asked why she had to return money to Political Action Committees (PACS), because she had exceeded the funding caps that they could donate to a campaign, she replied that she didn’t realize that it was okay for a millionaire to self fund, but she could only accept a certain limit from PACS that represented teachers, firefighters and law enforcement.

Napolitano said that Hahn was trying “to buy a seat on the County Board of Supervisors,” and that “illegal contributions could have won her the seat in the June primary.”

Hahn replied that she was not able to count on large businesses, corporations and millionaires for her funding, and yet she received about 47% of the vote in a three-candidate race.  If she had gathered three more percent, she would have won the seat outright.

When asked about their endorsements, Mantle said that Hahn has received “tons of endorsements from labor unions.” Mantle wondered since she “owes so much to them,” how will she be able to fairly negotiate contracts with unions and business.

“Well, I won’t apologize for the strong support I have from working men and women,” said Hahn.

She said she was proud of the support that she has received from not only the sheriff departments, teachers and firefighters, but also from business groups and local chambers of commerce throughout the County.

“I believe in a fiscally solvent County,” said Hahn, “and I will represent all of my residents.”

Napolitano said he has always tried to be fair with labor and believes that a sustainable budget is important.  “I may not have a great relationship with the unions, but I have many workers who said they support me.”  He voiced concern with “out-of-reach pensions and salaries.”

Mantle asked Napolitano if he was worried that the Republican Party’s influence is dwindling in the County.  He answered that he is conservative on economic issues, but he has always been more progressive on social issues.  “I’m a problem solver.”

Hahn said she was tired of partisan politics in Washington and was ready to leave the gridlock behind her, although she was one of the few representatives in Congress who actually was able to work across the aisle to pass legislation.

Cerritos Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Scott Smith asked the candidates what they plan to do to make the County more business friendly.  Both replied that they understood the frustrations of local businesses and promised to be supportive by lowering fees, doing more transactions on-line, and cutting bureaucratic red tape.

Hahn also promised to work more closely with the Small Business Administration and to help connect small businesses with the ports of Long Beach.

When asked about Measure M, the local transportation project that will increase sales taxes by ½ cent, Hahn was supportive but didn’t think it was a perfect solution. Napolitano opposed it.

“If it passes, it will mean about $120 billion for more jobs for our residents,” said Hahn.  She promised that once elected, and if the measure passes, she will fight to guarantee fast track projects throughout the 4th District.

Napolitano said there were several cities that opposed it, and “Garcetti is pushing it for his own agenda.”  He would continue to oppose it “until we get our fair share of the money.”

Both candidates did agree that issues with the Men’s Central Jail needed to be addressed because of unsanitary and unsafe conditions for the prisoners and law officers.

Hahn said she was not in favor of arresting mentally ill people.  “We can do better than that. No one should be falling through the cracks.”

Napolitano wanted the jail to be torn down.  Neither candidate was clear as to how a new jail would be funded, but both agreed that it would be expensive.  “And there is nothing on the ballot to address homelessness,” said Napolitano.

Both did agree that more affordable housing was needed, but it would take time. Napolitano wants to fund worthwhile programs, but he said the money is not there.  Hahn said, “First and foremost, the people have to believe it’s the right thing to do, and then anything is possible.”

Pointing to her opponent, Hahn jokingly said, “I support a millionaire’s tax.”

Questions from the audience included Proposition 61, the Prescription Drugs initiative.  Hahn supported it.  Napolitano opposed it.

“The VA is able to negotiate savings and bring down costs for prescription drugs, so why not for all of the residents in the state?” said Hahn.

“I don’t believe we should do it by an initiative,” said Napolitano.

Another question was about Proposition 59 that would send a message to Washington that California is opposed to the Citizens United ruling.

“I support it with both hands,” said Hahn.  “There is absolutely too much money in politics.” Napolitano said he opposed it because he didn’t think it should have been on the ballot in the first place.

In their concluding remarks, both candidates said they would work hard to bring necessary improvements to the 4th District.

Congresswoman Janice Hahn, a Democrat, is the U.S. Representative of the 44th district of                     California. She was elected to Congress in a special election held in July of 2011, and re-elected in November 2012.

Steve Napolitano, a Republican, currently serves as senior deputy to current 4th District Supervisor Don Knabe, who will be termed out in 2016 after serving 20 years.

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