Five candidates for the 24th Congressional District faced off last week in a forum focused on business topics and job creation.
The forum was co-sponsored by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Maria Times and Committee to Improve North County and held at the Historic Santa Maria Inn. The five candidates included in the forum were:
- Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider
- Bill Ostrander
- Justin Fareed
- Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal
- Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian
Those in attendance were encouraged to submit any questions for the candidates, and asked to focus primarily on business-related issues. Below are some of the topics covered and a highlight from each of the five candidates present.
Local job creation
Salud Carbajal believes in order to aid in job creation, we need to raise the minimum wage and create better paying jobs. He also believes we need to invest in new job sectors like renewable energy. Carbajal commented on the need to support emerging enterprises, citing the SLO Hothouse and Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as two local examples.
Bill Ostrander believes the federal deficit and issues with the budget on a national level are not a “question of waste, but instead a question of willpower”. He discussed a need for tax reform, commenting, “when you have Warren Buffet saying, ‘I should pay more in taxes,’ something is amiss.”
Issues with infrastructure
When discussing issues with infrastructure, Helene Schneider mentioned her experience dealing with such issues as Mayor of Santa Barbara. She said we need better efficiency with our infrastructure funding efforts, particularly “better coordination of local and national funding efforts.” Schneider also mentioned that we should be better utilizing existing technology to reduce our impact on roads.
Katcho Achadjian believes “we’ve done a lot for our veterans, but there’s much more we can do.” He specifically mentioned making hospital care more widely available for returning vets, and also better understanding the specific needs of both male and female returning veterans when they return from serving.
Diablo Canyon Relicensing
The final question of the afternoon dealt with a local issue, the relicensing of the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant. Justin Fareed said he would keep his response “short and to the point,” saying “I am for jobs and I am for efficient energy.”
The event ended with final closing comments from each of the candidates.