Q and A Candidate Forum Recap

(L to R) Lee Rodgers, Candidate for Congress, 25th District; Steve Fox, Candidate for State Assembly,36th District; Michael Rives, Candidate for Lancaster City Council; John Kiramis, Candidate for Lancaster City Council; Catherine Ipsen, wife of LA District Attorney Candidate Steve Ipsen.

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.

Star Moffatt said she had spent six years in the military, was a college graduate, and had completed one year of law school.

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.”

We have a dysfunctional city government that quells dissent and misspends money, Rives said.

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.

Catherine Ipsen spoke for her husband, LA District Attorney candidate Steve Ipsen.

“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.

Congressional candidate Lee Rodgers sharply criticized sitting Congressman Buck Mckeon.

“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.

About 60 residents attended the Question and Answer Forum.

“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.

  15 comments for “Q and A Candidate Forum Recap

  1. CKAY
    March 1, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Where are you hiding now Sandra? You won’t debate, you have no opinions other than what your “handlers” write for you and others pass out. Who are you and do you even exist? The only evidence you are even in the race are your silly political door knob hangers and your lawn signs the bend in the wind like you. I’ll give you some credit. You seem to prove that not only can you run, but that you can also hide.

  2. S. Moore
    February 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Star Moffatt and Mr. Ispen are the right choices. We must stop electing the same ole musical chairs and expecting different results. I admire Mr. Ispen for taking a stand exposing what he has witnessed in a monsterous system. Based upon his stance of exposing this travesty, I think it is time that the people get behind him.

    With respect to Star, we need people with intrigity, we need new faces and people with the values of the people. Between Star and Ispen being elected, we can say this is the beginning of a new day.

    Personally speaking, I endores both Star and Ispen..

  3. ImTrixKat
    February 28, 2012 at 11:19 am

    A vote Star Moffatt is a vote for people’s rights and involvement in our representation!! She is the first Democratic minority to ever run for this office. Star cares for her constituients. Star cares what the people she represents have to say. Star cares what your needs are and what has to be done to help. Star is NOT bought by corporations! Star is of the people, for the people. Star is transparent, fair and accountable. If you do not like what is going on now, Vote for Star, so we can see change, for the better, in our community! No more incumbants – they had their chance. It’s time for a new regime and Star Moffatt is uniqely qualified to lead the way by listening to our needs and ideas for a better tomorrow!! I encourage everyone to VOTE FOR STAR MOFFATT!!! And please vote all new candidates – it’s time to kick out the incumbants before they tear this city down!! Thank you! :)

    • Sara
      February 28, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      ……are we desperate for votes or what?

  4. February 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    John Kiramis is a newcomer to Lancaster and really needs to be considered as a council member, so lets get out and vote!! We need some honest members on our council

    • Stinger
      February 27, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      I have to agree. Since Kiramis at least has the honesty to be available for the people to question him, even in a location that is not filled with people hand-picked for him, he has shown a responsiveness to the community that the current members of council clearly lack.

      I am supporting Rives and Kiramis for council!

  5. ChrisMan
    February 25, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Better for Sandra and Ken to keep their mouthes shut and be thought of as dumb puppets belonging to Prince Rex than to open their mouths and have the fact confirmed.

  6. Lynda Liatliano
    February 24, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Why are we questioning why council members Man and Johnson do not want to debate. Are they not in the race.

    • LILANN
      February 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      It is official. Sandra Johnson ducked out of her second debate and will skate to the finish line without answering one question from the voters. The reason this time is because she had to go to DC (But not with Rex mind you who’s also there begging HUD to stop the suit). Her reason is because of some issue regarding her University and its accredidation. I guess if you take a vocational school and call it a university, you can also avoid facing the public and still get elected. Can’t underestimate people who vote often in the same election. I must admit, she learns from Rex real fast.

      • Stinger
        February 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm

        Somehow, I am not shocked at Sandra Johnson’s FAILURE to give a flying … about answering to the people. Face it, she just EXPECTS everybody to vote for her because she’s Rex’s new girlfriend.

  7. ImTrixKat
    February 24, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Thank you, Catherine Ipsen, for touching on this subject again. People are NOT supposed to be “felons for life”. Once the debt to society has been paid (as prescribed by law), we are supposed to be able to return to society as contributing members of society. The fact that a felony on your record keeps you from getting a job and, sometimes, housing is something that the average person, much less someone running for office wants to talk about.
    This is a huge subject that deserves a LOT of discussion, so I won’t go further. I just wanted to thank you for remembering the last “minority” that have no rights, Low-level, non-violent formerly incarcerated people.

  8. CKAY
    February 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Let’s keep asking why Johnson and Mann duck out of the debates? Ask Rex to allow you to debate. There’s no free pass from the voters, only Rex’s sheep. But then again, that might be all Johnson and Mann need to get re-annointed.

  9. Anita Wilson
    February 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I just want to commend you for the very professional coverage you have delivered for this event. Makeeda did an excellent job abd the 3 clubs that participated as well as the candidates made this a very informative and pleasant expereince.

  10. Catherine Ipsen
    February 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Thank you for covering this event. It is true that there is a financial incentive to send as many people as possible to state prison from LA County. I spoke directly with Jean Hurst who works in Governor Brown’s office. She is considered the expert on the budget for AB 109. She told me that many counties in California were upset with the amount of funding they received because they were working hard to find alternative sentencing programs to keep people out of state prison. She mentioned that those counties received far less money from the budget for their criminal justice system. She said LA County receives 30% of the funding for the AB 109 budget.

    Also of note – you will hear many people say crime is down across the state and in LA County. This is true if you look at the California Department of Justice website, but if you look at the statistics on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website you will find that the numbers don’t make sense. The number of people sent to state prison every year has continue to increase over the past 20 years. How is it that crime is down, but the number of people sent to state prison is drastically up? Wouldn’t the number of people sent to state prison be drastically down if crime were down?

    Most people agree violent criminals need to remain in jail. Unfortunately, the overcrowding crisis is so problematic that violent criminals are released from state prison after doing 50% of their time and county jail after serving 10% of their time. If we want to keep our streets safe, it only make sense to find a way keep nonviolent offenders out of jail, busy and productive rather then wasting our tax money while they sit in prison. When they return to society as “felons for life” they have no choice but to return to crime when they can’t get a job, financial aide or a higher education. We need to create productive tax payers not an unemployable class of citizens who ultimately return to crime because they can’t find work to support their families.

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