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Smyth and challengers spar in debate

Politics: Assemblyman and hopefuls Diana Shaw, Peggy Christensen lay out views

Posted: October 14, 2010 9:37 p.m.
Updated: October 15, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Signal Editorial Board member and moderator Leon Worden, far left, gives instruction to, from left, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, Libertarian candidate Peggy Christensen and Democratic candidate Diana Shaw before their debate Thursday at SCVTV studios in Newhall.

A depressed economy, the loss of jobs and the state budget dominated a three-way televised debate Thursday night among candidates vying for the seat in the state Assembly.

Incumbent Republican Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, Democratic nominee Diana Shaw and Libertarian Peggy Christensen sat shoulder-to-shoulder at the SCVTV studios in Newhall for a polite exchange of basic party views before a panel of Signal Editorial Board members.

Shaw introduced herself as a “beneficiary of former Gov. Pat Brown” because she graduated from UCLA and then law school due to her “universal access to education.” She added that she is a regular mom committed to improving education.

“I came to Los Angeles with my mother, a disabled veteran, just before high school. We lived in a one-room apartment, surviving on her veterans disability and Social Security.

“I am not a career politician. I have a family. I was raising my kids like other people in Santa Clarita. I moved here in 1988, making sure that the house was painted and the lawn was mowed and driving back and forth on the freeways and watching Sacramento go from bad to worse.”

Shaw said she voted for Proposition 98 on funding for education because she wants to improve learning for children.

“California is the eighth largest economy in the world yet our funding per pupil is No. 47,” she said in her opening remarks.
Smyth reminded everyone that he seen “firsthand the damages being done by the liberal majority” in Sacramento these past four years, and said he has plans to fix many of the wrongs he sees daily.

He, like Shaw, identified himself first and foremost as a regular family person — in his case, a husband and dad raising a family of three kids in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“California, like our country, is at crossroads,” he said in opening. “And on Nov. 2, we are going to have an opportunity to decide the direction we want this state to follow.

“If we want to go with more of the same — with high taxes, overspending, not enough money getting to the classroom in our school system — then we’re going to vote in one direction. But, if you want to change the way you do things in the Capitol and you want to make a difference, you’re going to vote another direction.

“We have an opportunity in the next couple of weeks to really make a difference.”

Christensen, the Libertarian nominee, stepped outside the parent box drawn by her opponents, saying: “I’m not going to talk much about myself, because frankly, I think it shouldn’t matter too much about who the individual politicians are. It should matter about the policy and the principles that go with that.

“I agree with Mr. Smyth that things are at a critical juncture,” she said. “It’s very important that people wake up.”
She compared complacency to a sleeping giant.

“Complacency starts to become part of a process across our nation. ... We start to give away our freedom a little bit at a time. So, pretty soon we’re pretty depressed, carrying this heavy weight. We need to start waking up. We need to say, ‘Wait a second, I didn’t intend to give away my life, my property and everything else.’”


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