Current 23rd District Congresswoman Lois Capps and challenger Abel Maldonado will square off on campus tonight in a debate hosted by UCSB’s Carsey-Wolf Center and the Santa Barbara Independent.

The debate, which is one of the few public events of its kind being held for this election, will be held in Pollock Theater at 7 p.m. with a simulcast being shown in Buchanan 1910 due to the fact that all of the seats in Pollock have been reserved. The event will be moderated by UCSB political science professor John Woolley and Independent news writer Chris Meagher. It will be followed by a wine and cheese reception for the audience in Pollock Theater and a panel discussion with political science professors for those viewing in Buchanan.

Republican candidate Maldonado, who formerly served as Lieutenant Governor, and Democratic candidate Capps, who has held the position for the past 14 years, are contesting to represent the newly created 24th District, which includes Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties as well as a small portion of Ventura County. The inclusion of more area north of Santa Barbara in the new district has led to a more Republican constituency and, in turn, has made this election one of the most fiercely contested and expensive of Capps’s tenure.

Capps, a UCSB alumna, was a school nurse and health advocate in the Santa Barbara School District when her late husband Walter, a former UCSB professor and 22nd District congressman, passed away suddenly in office, leaving his widow to successfully run in a special election for his office in 1998. She has retained the seat ever since.

Originally a Santa Maria farmer, Maldonado first became involved in politics when he ran for Santa Maria City Council after having trouble attaining a building permit for his farm. From there, he became mayor of Santa Maria and later went on to serve in the State Senate and Assembly and as Lieutenant Governor to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In addition to the debate, Carsey-Wolf is also hosting a number of other political events in the days leading up to the Nov. 6 election, including a lecture on campaign financing Oct. 17 and a special forum on the presidential election Oct. 25.