By Steve Collett | Published in ElectCollett.com
On Thursday, May 17, 2012 candidates for Congress in California’s 33rd Congressional District held their second debate.
The debate was sponsored by the Santa Monica College Law Club and Associated Students of UCLA and was held at UCLA’s beautiful Moore Hall.
The debate included Democrats Tim Pape and Zein Obagi, Republican Christopher David, Green Party candidate David Steinman and Libertarian candidate and author of this article, Steve Collett.
What was most remarkable about the debate, was the near unanimity among the five candidates on diverse topics like ending marijuana criminalization, opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act, opposition to the growth and influence of California’s powerful prison union, and the failure of the incumbent to stand up to lobbyists to protect our economy, reduce health care costs, improve access to mass transit, and end massive deficit spending.
While several of us extolled the need for encouraging sustainable transportation, including rail, electric vehicles and bicycles, all but Tim Pape (D) cautioned that the proposed $100 billion bullet train could be a potential economic boondoggle, while Californians struggle with massive cuts to education and other vital services in order to balance the budget.
Zein Obagi (D) spoke emphatically about his support for eliminating the Redondo Beach power plant, while others favored elimination of the plant but suggested we proceed with caution to avoid legal exposure similar to what occurred in Hermosa Beach with the enormously expensive McPherson dispute.
I encouraged respecting the rights of property owners to achieve the most environmentally sound result and carefully considering the recommendations of Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Ginn who has spoken extensively on the issue.
Twenty-five year old Republican candidate Christopher David mocked a direct mail campaign from the “declined to state” party candidate Bill Bloomfield, who has claimed various Republican endorsements but has failed to respond to questions about his positions on the issues or show up to any debates.
David Steinman promised that at least one of the candidates at the debate would make it to the general election to unseat incumbent Henry Waxman, who he said does not even live in California, let alone the 33rd District.
Each of the candidates characterized the incumbent as pandering to special interests, including trial lawyers, insurance and pharmaceutical interests on health care matters, prison builders and unions on issues of justice, and military interventionist interests on matters which support seemingly unlimited funding for the biggest polluter in the world, the U.S. Department of Defense.
During the incumbent’s near 38 years in Congress, the number of prisoners in the U.S. has more than quintupled, and the national debt has increased thirty-fold, from less than half a trillion dollars to over 15 trillion dollars today.
Henry Waxman is ranking member of a house committee blocking H.R. 2306, which would allow each state to decide its own policies on marijuana prohibition, and the incumbent supported the deceptively titled Patriot Act and National Defense Authorization Act, as well as failed bills SOPA & PIPA, which would have eviscerated the free exchange of information on the internet.
California’s new 33rd Congressional District includes nearly the entire Los Angeles County coastline, from Malibu to the Palos Verdes peninsula, and includes Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Playa Del Rey, Marina Del Rey, Venice, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Agoura Hills, Topanga Canyon, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, and parts of Hancock Park. The district is one of the most physically beautiful, environmentally sensitive and vibrant districts in the country.
The event marked the anniversary of my first bid for Congress in 2011, in the special election to replace Jane Harman in the old 36th Congressional District. That primary election included the surprise top two victory by Republican Craig Huey, who is now the leading candidate in the race for California’s 66th Assembly District seat. Janice Hahn won the 2011 general election and is now running against Democratic incumbent Laura Richardson in the newly constituted 44th Congressional District.