United States Congresswoman Lois Capps talked about the importance of voting and political involvement to a crowd of nearly 140 students at Tuesday night’s Campus Democrats meeting.

The crowd listened to Capps, current representative of the 23rd District, in the Graduate Students’ Association Lounge as she encouraged students in the organization to continue their efforts to register voters. She also asked students to support her and other Democratic candidates in the upcoming Nov. 2 election. After she spoke, students asked Capps questions ranging from her stance on improving education to fighting terrorism.

Capps is now running for what would be her fourth term as a House Representative for the 23rd District, which includes Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties, as well as Oxnard and Port Hueneme. She became the representative for the district in 1998 after husband, Walter Capps, passed away.

Republican candidate Dr. Don Regan is vying for Capps’s seat in the House. Regan and various groups supporting term limits for members of Congress have challenged Capps on her decision to run for reelection due to a former pledge she made to only serve three terms. Capps said she would let the voters decide whether or not to reelect her.

“I have a record I’m proud of,” Capps said. “The voters decide ‘yes’ or ‘no.'”

Campus Democrats treasurer Molly Kious said she supported Capps’s decision to run for reelection.
“People are having a problem with [her running for a fourth term],” Kious said. “That’s ridiculous.”

Capps praised Campus Democrats for their involvement in the UCSB voter registration drive.

“This is such a well-known group, far and wide,” she said. “I brag about Campus Democrats to all my friends in Congress.”

She also encouraged members to continue campaigning for Democratic causes.

“It’s a democratic process,” she said. “You guys need to speak your mind.”

As part of their involvement in Campus Democrats, Capps said students should help campaign for Democrat Pedro Nava in his bid for 35th District Representative in the California State Assembly and Susan Epstein for the Goleta School Board.

“[Nava] would be willing to stand up to [Gov.] Schwarzenegger,” she said. “Arnold Schwarzenegger needs to be curbed by a pro-choice, pro-environment [assemblyman].”

Capps said she and members of Campus Democrats used a reference from the movie “Napoleon Dynamite” Monday night at UCSB sorority houses as a playful way to persuade sorority members to vote for Nava.

“Vote for Pedro,” Capps said.

Questions from students at the meeting mostly focused on Capps’ stance on national issues, such as No Child Left Behind Act and the USA PATRIOT Act. Capps voted in favor of both bills, but she said she does not agree with the way the No Child Left Behind Act is being executed.

“It’s reprehensible what we’ve done because we haven’t funded it,” Capps said.

Capps also said the USA PATRIOT Act is not accomplishing its goals.

“It was a crude and clumsy way to deal with terrorism,” she said.

On local issues, Capps said she worked hard to improve transportation problems in the area, for example, by getting $600,000 of federal money to pay for improvements to Highway 101. She dismissed Regan’s claim that he would help to add lanes to the freeway more quickly.

“What is he going to do?” she said. “Get a shovel and start digging?”

Capps said she is also currently working on local environmental issues and housing for the mentally ill and homeless in the district.