Democrats Carbajal, Panetta lead local congressional races

The two congressional districts on the Central Coast lean blue, according to updated vote counts.

U.S. Representatives Salud Carbajal and Jimmy Panetta, both Democrats, hold the most tallied votes for the 24th and 19th Districts, respectively. 

click to enlarge Democrats Carbajal, Panetta lead local congressional races
BUSY WITH BILLS : Congressmen Salud Carbajal (left) and Jimmy Panetta (right) are working on a series of bills, including one that would assist federal firefighters with job hazard benefits and one on workforce housing, respectively.

As of Nov. 21, vote counts show that Carbajal received 61 percent of the votes from the 24th District, which spans from parts of SLO County through Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. His opponent, Republican Brad Allen received 39 percent. 

In a written statement released on Nov. 9—the day after polls closed—Allen said he hoped the new Congress will find solutions to problems that are hurting people, just like he has “for over 40 years as a doctor.”

“I am, of course, saddened by last night’s results. Being a pediatric heart surgeon, I still feel we need to start sending people with real-life experience to Washington, instead of continuing to send career politicians who seem only to follow their party’s ideology,” his statement read. “Our campaign never used personal attacks but relied on facts and provided solutions to solve the district’s problems.”

The most pressing problem, according to Carbajal, is inflation.

“I have to keep working to make sure costs are brought down,” he told the Sun. “Inflation is impacting the daily pocketbooks of families.”

He named other demanding issues like climate change, transitioning from fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources, improving the failing economy through job creation, and lowering the prices of prescription drugs. Carbajal rounded out the gallery of issues with a call to improve fundamental civil rights surrounding reproductive rights and the LGBTQ-plus community and providing immigration reform for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. 

Now, Carbajal is working on a slew of bills including those that deal with offshore wind energy, awarding presumption of job hazard benefits to federal firefighters, child care tax credits for individuals and businesses, and retroactive compensation for those who faced sexual trauma while serving on the military. 

“I am grateful, happy, and vindicated that the voters of the 24th Congressional District have reaffirmed the work that I’ve done in Congress,” he said. 

Farther north, results from the new 19th District that spans the counties of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and parts of San Luis Obispo show that Panetta received 69.6 percent of the votes and his opponent, Republican Jeff Gorman, scored 30.4 percent of the votes. The 19th District used to be the 20th District, which was redrawn during recent redistricting. 

“I think the 19th District is very similar to the 20th District in terms of the issues I’ll be fighting for from D.C.,” Panetta told the Sun.

Panetta is now working on bills to increase workforce housing and capital gains on the sales of homes and trying to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act at the Senate level. He added that he’ll work to boost the “beauty, bounty, military, and bedrooms” of the district, meaning protecting the natural landscape, improving federal funding for agriculture, safeguarding local military infrastructure, and increasing affordable housing options for lower- and middle-income constituents.

California had a roughly 48 percent voter turnout for the general election. While Panetta said, “Any number below 100 percent isn’t satisfactory,” Carbajal told the Sun that it was better than the 2017 turnout but worse than in 2018. 

Does he think voters are disillusioned? 

Some people are tired, Carbajal said.

“When you have the previous administration that continues to question the integrity of elections, I think some people are not participating as they did in the past,” he said. “It’s about reminding people of civic engagement and making sure that their views and values are represented with candidates at every level.” 

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