Two candidates vying to replace current Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson had their opportunity to stake their claims Thursday night.
Current Assemblymember Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, and Gary Michaels, R-Santa Maria, took part in a candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara. The candidates delivered their best opening pitch to the public for the 37th District Senate seat as they seek to take over for Sen. Jackson, who has served in the Senate since 2012. Sen. Jackson’s term is set to expire this year.
Ms. Limón, who currently represents the 37th Assembly District, said during her opening remarks that her current experience in the Assembly has her feeling confident for any situation thrown at her.
“I certainly feel that over the last four years, they’ve been tough but we’ve been there working hard on behalf of this district, whether it’s making sure we have money to have our fire personnel, ready to go with pre-positioning for any wildfire, whether it’s to generate money for public libraries like Fillmore and Goleta or to get clean water… I’ve been there working hard, and I look forward to the next four years as your representative in the State Senate,” Ms. Limón said.
For 14 years, Ms. Limón worked in education at the community college level, the UC system, and helping high schoolers go to college.
“Those 14 years, I think, is what inspired me to run for office,” Ms. Limón said.
“This is not something that I always planned on doing but something that I was involved with given the work that I did with students and family in this very community.”
Throughout the pandemic, Ms. Limón said one of the roles she had was to make sure the public was getting important information, which is why she hosted virtual town halls with local leaders to help small businesses, the general public, and others.
When asked about taxes, Ms. Limón said that she hopes to continue following in the steps of Sen. Jackson.
“I think that one of the most important things and I was very supportive, that our senator did is to ask for a revision of all our tax credits and also our taxes to look at that in a comprehensive way in the state of California before deciding how and when to move forward,” Ms. Limón said, adding that the public will have the opportunity to vote on important tax credits come Nov. 3.
On environmental issues, specifically the wildfires plaguing California, Ms. Limón said climate change and the current wildfires are “absolutely connected.”
“The increased dry conditions, lack of rain, have all had an impact on the intensity of wildfires, not just in our country, but in our state and here locally. I know what it’s like to lead in a time where our community is having one of the biggest wildfires like the Thomas Fire. I know what it’s like to partner with firefighters, with law enforcement, with community leaders to get these resources here and I’m proud of the support that I have,” she said.
Mr. Michaels, who has resided in Santa Maria since 2005, said the reason he is running for Senate is because “the locally elected in my community are not getting state attention.”
He added that Santa Maria is not a priority for “Santa Barbara-based Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.”
“I’m not running against Sen. Jackson, I’m running against Assemblywoman Monique Limón, but Sen. Jackson has told us publicly that Ms. Limón is her protege and missing with both the senator and assemblywoman is contact with the locally elected,” Mr. Michaels said.
When asked about the legislative priorities regarding COVID, Mr. Michaels criticized a bill, AB308, that Gov. Newsom signed where tenants are only required to pay 25% of their rent, with landlords having to pay the other 75%.
“The effect of this is devastating. Smaller landlords, some of whom are retirees, might get washed out. Larger retirees (and) larger complexes are already making accommodations to reduce the size of their properties by tenants out and none of this spells any good for affordable housing,” Mr. Michaels said.
He also criticized the idea of taxing the rich at a higher rate, saying that the risk of them leaving the state would hurt California.
“I would say that this kind of approach to taxing the rich, to going to private enterprise to fund these COVID-19 relief programs isn’t doing the state any good in that we’re chasing away businesses. We are chasing away the wealthy who have been supportive of this community statewide,” Mr. Michaels said.
Mr. Michaels also stated that the COVID-19 pandemic should be a “wake-up call,” and that he would make emergency preparedness one of his top priorities.
He added that while other countries, such as China, were better prepared with residents having masks from previous emergency incidents while here in the United States, “President Trump and medical advisors were unsure of our response.”
“We greatly need to improve our emergency preparedness for our infrastructure for wildfires, future pandemics, and earthquakes,” Mr. Michaels said.
A replay of the focum can be found at the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara’s Facebook or YouTube page.