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Assembly, House hopefuls debate

Neither McKeon attends first televised forum for candidates in both races

Posted: May 1, 2012 4:00 a.m.
Updated: May 1, 2012 4:00 a.m.

Santa Clarita Valley's first televised forum featuring candidates in both state Assembly and congressional races took place Monday without the valley's most prominent campaigning couple.

Incumbent Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, and his wife, Patricia - running for the upcoming 25th Congressional District seat and the 38th State Assembly District seat respectively - were the only candidates who did not take part in back-to-back forums recorded at SCVTV studios in Newhall on Monday morning.

Their respective opponents minced few words drawing attention to the fact that the McKeons were noticeably absent.

"I have to address the white elephant in the room, or the invisible elephant, which is representative McKeon for not being here," congressional Democratic candidate Lee Rogers said at one point.

All four congressional candidates - McKeon, Rogers, Catherine Wright and Dante Acosta - were invited to take part in a televised forum hosted jointly by The Signal, KHTS Radio and SCVTV, said moderator Leon Worden.

"This is my job interview," Rogers said about the forum. "But this is your annual job review. You (McKeon) need to be here and be responsive to the people who are voting."

Candidates were asked questions alternately by Signal Executive Editor Jason Schaff and the radio station's Carol Rock.

On the issue of Afghanistan, Acosta said he was not in favor of timelines when it comes to troop withdrawal.

His son, Army Spc. Rudy A Acosta, was killed by an Afghan hired by a security firm to guard American soldiers.

"As someone who has skin in the game, as they say, after losing our son in Afghanistan last year. I am keenly aware of some of the issues ... I don't think we have a cogent strategy in terms of what our mission plan is," he said. "It's time for us to get out and get out as soon as possible while leaving the forces that are necessary to properly train and assist the Afghans in their mission."

In answering the question: What more should the U.S. government be doing to speed economic recovery, Wright said:

"The biggest problem we have is that we are over-regulated and that burdens employers and entrepreneurs from wanting to do anything at all," she said, citing the Cayman Islands as an example of successful deregulation. "They have a 10 point regulations (system) for all businesses to start. People are going there to start their business."

Three of the four state assembly candidates - Scott Wilk, Paul Strickland and Edward Headington - reiterated for TV audiences what they've been telling live audiences this past month.

"There are so many things wrong with California," Strickland said. "There are so many rules and laws that are keeping business from flourishing in California."

Wilk, on the issue of the state's prisoner realignment program, said: "I am 100 percent opposed to Gov. (Jerry) Brown's realignment plan," he said. "The highest priority for government is public safety so we need to do a number of things. One, we need to build more prisons."

On the issue of over-regulation, Headington said: "When you talk about regulation, you need to talk about an overall business-friendly environment and I don't think we're there yet.

"The problem is that we have these polarized sides in the state legislature - one is probably too pro-labor and the other is probably too pro-business," he said. "We need to reconcile the balance between revenues and spending."





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