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GOP challengers sound off at forum

Posted: March 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Heaping praise on the Santa Clarita Valley and scorn on Sacramento, local Republican candidates in this year’s Assembly seat race Friday unanimously called for more jobs and less government.

About 60 of the Santa Clarita Valley’s leading conservative figures, guests of the local Lincoln Club, sat down for lunch at the Tournament Players Club of Valencia and listened to the three Republican candidates express their views on a number of election issues.

Bickering and in-fighting that has come to typify many local interactions among Republicans lately was kept to an isolated question from a lunch guest asking about slinging mud via the Internet.

Despite that, the three candidates — Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon’s wife Patricia McKeon, College of the Canyons Trustee Scott Wilk and William S. Hart Union High School District board member Paul Strickland — opened with terse rehearsed two-minute-long introductions, answered half a dozen predictable questions and closed with a 90-second wrap-up of their political platforms.

Democrat Edward Headington was not invited to the debate.

Opening remarks

McKeon, who arrived with her husband, opened with: “We live in a wonderful conservative Republican district.

“Because we haven’t had Democrats to fight, some Republicans have unfortunately chosen to tear down other Republicans,” she said.

“(President) Ronald Reagan had good advice about this: ‘Thou shalt not speak evil of thy fellow Republican’ ... and that’s why I’ve chosen to run a positive campaign on the issues.”

Strickland, after focusing on his 30-year career in the film animation industry, argued that experience counts.

“Throughout that career, I had 12 layoffs, two forced strikes and six corporate buyouts, so I clearly know what it is to work in the private industry,” he said. “We can no longer have business as usual or political posturing, and we have to solve the unfunded mandate problem that affects school boards and small business, and that’s why I’m running.”

Wilk, who apologized for his wife, Vanessa, not being able to attend the luncheon forum, said someone with leadership, courage and vision can solve the state’s problems.

“I’m running today because California of today is not the land of promise that I was born in and raised,” he said, citing “misguided spending” and high unemployment.

“This state Legislature is facing more than a budget deficit,” he said. “It’s facing a trust deficit.

“I want California to, once again, be a place of opportunity, a place that promotes and supports business and a place where policy decisions build our future not destroy it.”

As lunch guests — Santa Clarita Mayor Laurie Ender, Newhall Land’s Marlee Lauffer, Santa Clarita Councilman Bob Kellar and tea party activist Sharron Angle among them — finished their football-sized salads, candidates summed up their political platforms in 90 seconds.

Closing statements

McKeon closed saying: “It’s time to grow the economy, get rid of debilitating regulations and put people back to work — I brought a visual aid,” she said, picking up a sheaf of papers.

“So I went to the Internet just to see what the (legislated) bills were this last year — 66 pages, single-spaced, stuff like, ‘Oh, we don’t want to have maids in hotels using flat sheets because somebody’s grandmother was a maid who hurt her back so we want them to use contoured sheets.’

“Some men have never made a bed because — don’t they know? — that the things at the corners of the sheet are the hardest thing about making a bed, and that contoured sheets are harder on your back than doing the flat sheets.

“So when I looked at this I thought ‘It’s broken. It’s broken bad and we need to change it.’”

Strickland reminded the lunch crowd that he was “the person in the room, up here, who has been elected the most.

“I’ve won four elections,” he said.

“I realize that the most important issues are a safe environment, adequate fire and police protection, quality education,” he said.

“We have to work hard to end the polarization that exists between Republicans and Democrats. And I clearly see a need to rescind restrictive bills with unfunded mandates that affect small businesses.”

Wilk used most of his 90 summation seconds to list the people who have endorsed him.

“This is far too short,” he said about the time limit, urging people to visit his website for details.

“I have a plan for educational reform because our schools are not doing well enough, and plans on how to reform the budget and re-prioritize that, as well as a plan to reduce regulation.

“I will go up there (to Sacramento) and serve you with dignity and honor,” he said. “And I will fight for you.”

What the candidates had to say

Patricia McKeon
On Cemex:
“I hear a lot about Cemex in our house. It’s not something the state can do anything about.”

On chloride content in the Santa Clara River: “Many of you know Mr. (former Valencia Water Company President Bob) DiPrimio, who now heads all the water issues for the San Gabriel Valley ... and there are some discrepancies in the numbers. Mr. (Jim) Holt wrote a story that I read that said that part of water we get is heavily salted. Mr. DiPrimio said  that is not the case and a lot of it has to do with what’s going on here in the valley. It seems to me that it’s not difficult to desalinate the water.”

On redevelopment agencies: “There are areas in California that really need redevelopment money. The cash coming out of Sacramento is money given out to contractors to use, and it becomes money for other things.

Paul Strickland
On Cemex:
“It would be horrendous with the number of trucks traveling in and out of there. It’s dangerous right now, and we have to do whatever we can to stop it.”

On chloride content in the Santa Clara River: “The chloride issue goes beyond our valley. What happened 40 years ago? We lived the same way; we farmed the same way.
Suddenly, we’1l have an obligation. I know we did all we could do, except pay millions of dollars. The state should look closer at this.”

On redevelopment agencies: “It’s a shell game. They take money, pick it up here and put it over there, and that has to be reformed. But you cannot simply throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Scott Wilk
On Cemex:
“This is the largest aggregate mine in the county. It will mean more than 12,000 (trucks on Highway 14) a day. It will affect our air quality and it will affect filming done by our film industry.”

On chloride content in the Santa Clara River: “Half our water comes from groundwater, the other half from the state water project. The problem with too much salt in the water comes from water we get from the state water project, which is salty. If Sacramento did its job and fixed its water infrastructure back in 1982 — including salt water intrusion and farming practices — we wouldn’t have this problem.”

On redevelopment agencies: “I’m not in favor of redevelopment agencies, but we can’t just pull the plug on them arbitrarily.”



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