LANCASTER – Six candidates running for city, county and state offices outlined their platforms Wednesday to a crowd of about 60. Hosted by the Democratic Club of the High Desert (DCHD), the event was billed as a Question and Answer Forum to allow candidates to introduce themselves to Antelope Valley residents.
Candidates were given three minutes for an introduction before taking three questions from the audience.
First up was senate candidate Star Moffatt who said she had already received the California Democratic Party endorsement, and she stood for fairness, accountability, and transparency. If elected to California’s 21st State Senate District, Moffatt said she would legislate for the protection of jobs, education, small and midsize businesses, social security, disabled people and senior citizens.
When asked, Moffat said she was “pro gay rights” and “pro choice.”
“Every woman has the right over her own body,” Moffatt said. “I’ll give you the hypothetical, you have a young lady who is raped by her own father… you should have the right to choose to keep or abort; that is her choice.”
Moffatt became emotional when explaining her stance on medical marijuana. She said her mother was a breast cancer survivor and going through a lot of pain, which could be relieved by medical marijuana.
“I hate seeing her suffer so I am pro marijuana dispensaries,” Moffatt said. “I think that we should have them in the communities and they should be taxed, and then those tax revenues, we could put back into the schools, we could put back into the communities and most importantly, we could have the sheriff’s [department] monitor those dispensaries for the safety of the entire community.”
Michael Rives introduced himself as a democratic candidate for Lancaster City Council before launching into an attack on the current city government.
“We are a divided city, we have people living in fear, not of criminals, but of our law enforcement,” Rives said. “Our city government does not do anything for seniors, we have workers struggling because of high gas prices, we have homeowners facing new taxes like sanitation fees, but yet our city government does nothing.”
Rives said the City Council was responsible for losing $50 million in the “redevelopment fiasco,” and if elected to the council, he would give the public straight answers on the state of the city’s finances.
Rives also blasted the city’s latest agreement with Ecolution for a proposed Materials Recovery and Conversion Facility.
“It’s a garbage dump and it’s going to create minimum wage jobs, that’s what it’s going to do,” Rives said, adding that he would like the city to look to smaller retailers for bringing jobs into the community.
“I think instead of starting big like Rex Parris and his friends who make deals with Solar City and big companies throughout California, let’s stay small and try to get some of these retail people to come in town and create small,” Rives said. “Start small and then we work our way up.”
Lancaster City Council candidate, John Kiramis, the sole Republican on the panel, also stressed the need for the city to take a different approach in creating jobs for residents.
“Lancaster has two huge forces in its arsenal to get jobs, one is an immense labor pool, the second is cheap land,” Kiramis said. He cited Stockton, California as a city that had successfully used its cheap land and labor pool to bring in jobs from technology companies in the nearby Silicon Valley.
“In Stockton you have the labor force of National Semiconductor, Qualcomm, Hewlett Packard… there’s no reason Lancaster can’t do that,” Kiramis said.
But standing in the city’s way, said Kiramis, was a tarnished reputation filled with “inferences and accusations of racism that stem from Section 8 housing.”
Kiramis said the primary reason he had decided to run for city council was to bring transparency to city government.
“We have a City Council in Lancaster that shows up, votes, and leaves. The votes are always 5-0 or 4-0, depending on whether the mayor decided to show up that night,” Kiramis said. “There’s no discussion, there’s no debate… the absence of transparency even clouds some of the good work they’re doing.”
In stating his case for public office, State Assembly candidate, Steve Fox, emphasized the need for a sound economic plan to balance the state’s budget and said cuts across the board had crippled the education system.
“As a teacher, I’ve watched the extremely large classes and how unnatural it is to actually teach,” Fox said. “They’re now cutting the buses, now the kids won’t be able to get to classes… all of that’s wrong, all of that has to be reversed.”
On another note, Fox said California should heed states like Florida and Texas that had eliminated taxes for the middle class.
“Why can’t we do something like that to give you more money, more spending power, and we’ll make some money on the backend from the sales tax?” Fox said.
Fox harshly criticized Assemblyman Steve Knight for his voting record.
“Out of 150 votes, he only voted yes nine times in the last three years… he voted against women, he voted against education, he voted against jobs, all he does is cause gridlock in the state assembly,” Fox said. “What we need to do is get rid of the legislators who are not helping us and causing gridlock, the Runners, the Knights, and now, Mr. Smith.”
Speaking for her husband, LA District Attorney Candidate Steve Ipsen, Catherine Ipsen described a faulty criminal justice system that targeted minorities and tried to “felonize” as many cases as possible, especially in the Antelope Valley.
“Essentially what they’re doing is felonizing every possible nonviolent, nonserious, nonsex offender crime that they can,” Catherine Ipsen said. “There’s a monetary incentive to do that, it’s based on the number of people that are sent to state prison.”
She said, if elected, Steve Ipsen would put into action “Reform First,” a plan that allows youthful, nonviolent offenders a chance to avoid the felony label by completing monitored employment programs.
“Get a job and work for a year, you won’t become a felon, you come back in a year, we’ll reduce it to a misdemeanor, you work for another year, we reduce the misdemeanor so you won’t have anything on your record,” Catherine Ipsen said.
Last to speak was Congressional candidate Lee Rodgers, who criticized Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon for his part in the Countrywide loan scandal.
“They’re out targeting minorities and giving them higher interest rates, he got a special interest rate that would have saved him $68,000 on his mortgage,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said McKeon’s wife was running for Assembly in the 38th District and McKeon was using his influence to get federal lobbyists to donate to his wife’s campaign, which was illegal.
“If you look at their financial reports, pretty much all their money came from the defense industry,” Rodgers said. “Why does the defense industry have any interest in a sleepy little assembly race? They’re currying favor with him because he happens to be the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.”
Asked about the separation of church and state, Rodgers said religion had no place in politics or in the government. Additionally, Rodgers, who is a doctor, said he would strongly advocate for both Medicare and social security, if elected.
“Being a specialist in diabetes and complications of diabetes, I see a lot of patients on Medicare and also on social security, and that’s what’s keeping them out of poverty,” said Rodgers. “You have to strengthen entitlements and not weaken them.”
Congressional candidate, Laura Molina, and LA District Attorney Candidate, Mario Trujillo, were scheduled to attend the forum but did not show.