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Students put Smyth in the hot seat

Hart grad grilled at Valencia

Posted: October 9, 2008 9:19 p.m.
Updated: December 11, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Senior Chris Beckett, listens to Republican Assemblyman Cameron Smyth as he discusses with students from Saugus High School's AP Goverment and Politics about the California Legislature and its role in American Goverment, Thursday morning.

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Thirty-eighth District Assemblyman Cameron Smyth is used to being in the proverbial "hot seat," answering tough questions from his constituents about important issues. But he faced an unusually tough crowd Thursday morning: a classroom full of Saugus High School students.

In the interest of full disclosure, Smyth first told the students he was a graduate of rival Hart High, but the advanced placement government students didn't seem to hold it against him as they asked questions about the California Legislature and its role in American government.

Saugus senior Stephany Rudd wanted to know if Smyth, a Republican, ever voted on the side of the Democrats.

"Absolutely. If it's a good bill, I'm happy to vote for it," Smyth said. "President Reagan said that it's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit."

The students' teacher, Zaid Bakoo, asked how Smyth dealt with special interest groups attempting to influence his vote.

"Lobbyists are paid to like you - your ideas are great, you're so smart, your joke is so funny - but it's really all a farce," Smyth told the class. "Whether I'm lobbied on an issue or not, I will always return to my core beliefs."

Senior Justin McCance asked Smyth what he thought of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

"I think she really energized the Republican base, and I think that's what McCain was lacking," Smyth said.

Senior Tyler Daher wanted to know if there is a "Governor Smyth" campaign somewhere on the horizon.

"Did I mention I'm a Republican? In California?" Smyth said, but he didn't rule out a future gubernatorial run. "You have to be ready. I was ready when this seat came up, so now I'm trying to prepare for the next seat that comes up. I would like to keep doing this for a while."

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