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Forum attracts local, national candidates

Posted: October 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Libertarian vice presidential candidate Jim Gray speaks at a candidate meet-and-greet event at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Wednesday.

Speaking before a crowd of about 50, Libertarian vice presidential candidate Jim Gray painted a stark outlook for the United States and called for a radical change in policies, at a forum on College of the Canyons’ Valencia campus on Wednesday.

The federal government must stop trying to manage individuals’ decisions and become financially responsible, Gray told the crowd.

“You have every right to be worried,” Gray, 67, told the assembled students. “My generation has made a real mess of this country.”

Gray spoke as part of a higher education forum Wednesday hosted by the COC Associated Student Government. The event also attracted local candidates including Democratic Lee Rogers, who is running against Republican Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon to represent California’s 25th Congressional District; Edward Headington, a Democratic candidate for the 38th Assembly District; Star Moffatt, Democratic candidate for the 21st state Senate District.

Scott Wilk, Headington’s Republican opponent and a member of the COC Board of Trustees, did not attend the event himself and spoke through a representative.

His absence added fuel to Headington’s increasing criticisms.

“I think this speaks volumes,” Headington said. “I think he’s shown you what’s really important to him.”

Ryan Hubbard, Wilk’s representative at the event, said Wilk had a prior engagement.

“Scott Wilk does truly believe in education,” Hubbard said. “He will not forget the lessons he learned (at COC).”

Rogers spoke on the magnitude of student loan debt, which has surpassed $1 trillion nationwide. Rogers said $200,000 of that belonged to him.

“It’s our education policy that drives our economy,” Rogers said, calling for more financial aid so students can avoid education loans. “We should prioritize government spending where we have the greatest return on our investment.”

Moffatt decried what she called the “raiding” of California’s education system by legislators, saying $21 billion that was borrowed from education funding has yet to be paid back.

“And we wonder why classes are being cut and teachers are being laid off,” she said.

Steve Fox, a self-described conservative Democrat running for the 36th Assembly District, said education was one of his primary concerns. Fox chastised legislators for “cutting the wrong thing” when they voted to reduce education funding.

His opponent in November, Republican Ron Smith, said success in education will come from economic prosperity.

“If we had the economy we should, we wouldn’t be worrying about cutting your education,” said the only Republican candidate to speak at the event.

Alex McHaddad, the COC student trustee who emceed the event. said he believed it effectively helped students connect with some of their candidates.

“Lots of people that I know are politically apathetic,” McHaddad said. “But (I) think things like this, where they can come and meet and hear some of the people they’d be voting for, can get people a lot more energized and interested in voting.”


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