A political boxing match ended with three congressional candidates shaking on the agreement that everyone should vote on Nov. 5.
Approximately 100 people attended the 23rd Congressional District’s debate held at the Faulkner Gallery in the Santa Barbara Public Library last night. The debate was between Democrat Lois Capps, Republican Beth Rogers, and Libertarian James Hill. The League of Women Voters, American Association of University Women and Cox Digital Cable sponsored the event.
The first question raised was about the candidates’ position on President Bush’s policy concerning a preemptive strike against Iraq.
Capps, Rogers and Hill all said they supported the president yet agreed a preemptive strike cannot be taken lightly and the U.S. needs to have clear goals to avoid a premature attack.
The USA Patriot Act, which allows the government to incorporate such work as racial profiling into criminal investigations, passed by Congress and was another sensitive issue broached for remark.
Both Rogers and Capps said they supported the USA Patriot Act, but that the government needs a system of checks and balances to protect the rights of every citizen while establishing security as well.
The subject of health care roused many senior citizens in attendance, who made up the majority of the audience. Residents said they are concerned with the shortage of health care plans and doctors and the high cost of prescription medication.
The discussion began to get heated as the first attacks were initiated between Capps and Rogers. Following Capps’ concern with insufficient health care institutions and citizens living without health insurance, Rogers said Capps contradicted herself by voting against the only health care bill brought to the House of Representatives during her term in office.
The debate also covered the U.S. domestic search for oil.
While relations with the Middle East worsen, Hill said the U.S. needs to look elsewhere for oil and decrease its dependency on other countries.
“We need to look in our own back yard,” Hill said. “Too many people are dying in the name of oil.”
Alternative forms of energy such as hybrid and wind was Rogers’ solution for America’s oil dependency.
“Our answer doesn’t lie in oil; we need new technology,” she said.
The second half of the debate was directed by randomly selected questions from the audience.
One inquiry was concerned with education and the candidates’ thoughts on incorporating vouchers in the school system to provide funding for children to attend private and home schools.
Hill and Rogers, who both received private education, were in favor of vouchers. They agreed children should not be stuck in failing public schools and said they should get free education as well.
Capps on the other hand, who attended public schools, was against vouchers. She said the education she received was very rewarding and taxes should go where the majority of students attend.
“Public money should go to public schools,” Capps said.
The last issue raised concerned passenger rail service. All three candidates agreed railway transportation is in desperate need of help.
Capps said alternative forms of transportation need to be investigated to help alleviate traffic conditions and promote a healthier environment. She said trains are not running correctly and she supports increased funding to help Amtrak.
Rogers said she agrees with Capps and thinks that with the amount of people commuting to work, the problem is only growing.
Hill said tax revenue helps pay for air and road transportation but neglects railways.