Thursday, December 3, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 40

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 21st, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 34 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 34

Congressional candidates Carbajal, Caldwell face off in virtual debate

By Malea Martin

U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, the 24th Congressional District incumbent who represents San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, faced off against challenger Andy Caldwell in an Oct. 17 virtual debate, which aired on KEYT Channel 13. The opponents gave their takes on COVID-19 recovery, Diablo Canyon decommissioning, immigration, and police reform.

Moderator Scott Hennessee was joined by a panel to ask incumbent Rep. Salud Carbajal and opponent Andy Caldwell about their respective stances on the issues.

Debate moderator Scott Hennessee kicked things off by asking about COVID-19 recovery plans. Hennessee quoted Caldwell, who has said he proposes to “isolate, serve, and protect the most vulnerable while pursuing herd immunity for those least susceptible.” 

However, Hennessee added, “the head of the World Health Organization [WHO] said, ‘allowing a dangerous virus that we don’t fully understand to run free is simply unethical.’”

“Is that what you’re suggesting?” Hennessee asked Caldwell.

Caldwell disputed Hennessee’s WHO quote, saying it was from an old report.

“The problem here is we shut down parts of our economy,” Caldwell said. “We didn’t shut down Target, Costco, or Walmart, but we shut down mom-and-pop shops and stores, and that was a huge problem.”

Hennessee clarified that the WHO quote was in fact from Oct. 12, five days before the debate, before turning the same question over to Carbajal.

“We shouldn’t have to choose between our public health and our economy,” Carbajal said. “We need to listen to our public health professionals and our scientists … and all the guidance that they’ve been providing.”

Continuing on the topic of the struggling economy, the candidates were asked how they plan to bring high-paying jobs to the Central Coast in the wake of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant closure in 2024 and 2025.

Caldwell didn’t suggest any avenues for job creation, instead he emphasized his stance against the planned closure.

“Diablo is not closing because it’s inefficient, or it’s old, or it’s unsafe. It’s closing because of rules and regulations that California put in,” Caldwell said. “There is no substitute for the base load that Diablo generates 24/7.” 

Carbajal said he supports offshore wind and other renewable energy options as ways to both make up for the energy losses and create jobs. 

“What we need to do is start looking at that facility as a way to be able to help,” Carbajal said. “We also need to look at making sure we’re investing in more renewable energy to create new employment sectors that will help us produce our energy and at the same time create good jobs that will help those workers that will be displaced.”

Candidates also discuseed jobs and the labor force in the context of the local agriculture industry. With a White House administration that threatens to increase deportations and 60 percent of California’s agricultural workforce estimated to be undocumented, the candidates were asked what they would do for the Central Coast’s farmworkers. 

Carbajal pointed to his co-sponsorship of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill that would “provide a legal path for farmworkers and their families, thereby also creating a sustainable labor force for agriculture.”

“I’ve been working to advocate to move that forward, but with this administration, we’ve had no success,” he said. 

Caldwell pointed to his organization, the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business (COLAB), and campaign contributions from local farming families as “proof positive” that he is supported by the farming community. However, he didn’t specify what he would do for the farmworkers employed by these farms.

The candidates were asked to describe the nation’s problem with police brutality and how they each propose to address the issue.

Carbajal said that the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of the police “reminds us that we really need to bring about police reforms.”

“That’s why I supported the Justice in Policing Act that would bring about sensible reforms to law enforcement throughout the country,” he continued.

Caldwell said that while he was “shocked at the treatment of George Floyd,” he was “equally shocked by cops getting murdered, police stations being firebombed, and the like.” 

Caldwell asserted that Carbajal supports defunding the police, to which Carbajal responded, “I am not for defunding the police, I am for moving forward reforms.”

In his closing statement, Carbajal emphasized his commitment to building on the Affordable Care Act, protecting a woman’s right to choose, stopping future oil drilling in the region, and pushing through more federal economic stimulus.

Caldwell closed by saying, “I’ve been working for the general public and taxpayers and small businesses my entire adult life. I want to continue that in Congress.” 

Weekly Poll
Would a second stay-at-home order be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

No, pandemic fatigue is too high to get people to follow a stay-at-home order.
Yes, we need it, otherwise our hospitals will be in rough shape.
Local governments should get a say—not all purple tier counties are the same.
It would be bad news for the economy.

| Poll Results

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