The candidate forum was organized and sponsored by the Redwood Caucus, led by local resident Dave Sky. The three-hour program was broadcast on KMUD Redwood Radio and KZYX, Mendocino, and on public access television.
For the record, the candidates are Susan Adams, Dan Roberts, Brooke Clarke, Tiffany Renee, Stacy Lawson, Andy Caffrey, John Lewallen, Jared Huffman, Norman Solomon, and Dr. William Courtney. Huffman, who enjoys the support of the Democratic Party structure is considered the front-runner.
Candidates filled the stage and left just enough room for moderator Ed Denson. Each brought their own nameplate to place in front of themselves; some were printed, some homemade on the spot. Questions had been solicited ahead of time on KMUD. Denson selected one about corporate personhood to get things rolling.
It was a good start. All ten of the candidates want to see the ruling that corporations have the same rights as people overturned. The second question tested support for requiring that foods containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) include that information on the label. Once again, there was agreement, with Huffman, a member of the California Assembly, noting that he had already introduced AB88, legislation to do just that.
The third question was a complicated one, dealing with permit fees for rock cod fishermen. The fees are different in different zones and the question dealt with disparity between fees charged in one zone as opposed to another.
The other candidates all expressed support for a “level playing field” for small business competing with large corporate businesses, but candidate Lewallen, who is a seaweed gatherer, went so far as to say that he wanted a review of the entire Groundfish Management Act and would take steps to put a stop to “the privatization of regulations.”
The next question asked each candidate to reveal their earnings for 2011. The range of incomes was astonishing. Susan Adams earned $90,000, Dan Roberts $300,000, Brooke Clarke $100,000, Tiffany Renee $16,000, Stacy Lawson $30,000, Andy Caffrey $12,000, John Lewallen $20,000, Jared Huffman $85,000, Norman Solomon $55,000 and William Courtney $110,000.
They were all asked about their contributors. Most have received money from friends, family and individual supporters. Huffman has received PAC money. Renee said that she had raised $10,000 from individual supporters and needed another $15,000 to get statements on the primary ballot. She said the process of raising money to run for office has convinced her that a new paradigm is needed for the election process. All the candidates will have to disclose their donors in the next few weeks.
All were asked if they believed that climate change is real. All answered yes, except Roberts. He said “no.” Clarke said he had believed it was real, but was uncertain now and waiting to hear from scientists he had contacted.
Naturally, the candidates were asked about marijuana. The consensus was that it ought to be legalized, taxed and regulated like cigarettes and alcohol in a way that protected small growers from agribusiness corporations. Even Roberts, who said that he had to respect federal law regarding marijuana, said he favored legalization.
Renee said she thought the issue ought to be addressed at the federal level by reclassifying marijuana. Courtney referred to the persecution he has suffered at federal hands but declared himself ready to “go toe to toe” with the authorities over the benefits of medical marijuana.
Huffman said he didn't think the country as a whole was ready to legalize marijuana. He favored approaching the federal government and working out a system that would satisfy federal concerns while protecting patients and suppliers.
The candidates were also asked to present their environmental credentials by listing the organization they belong to or work with. Each candidate had a list. The Audubon Society was mentioned, along with Save-the-Redwoods, EPIC, Mendocino Environmental Center, Bay Keepers, and somehow, the League of Women Voters got on the list.
All of the candidates oppose the use of drone aircraft to bomb countries with which we are not at war and all believe that indefinite detention is a violation of the Constitution.
”What people want in other countries is no different from what we want,” she said. “A save place to live, food on the table, and a meaningful life.”
Lawson said she was “thrilled we're all in agreement on this.”
All the candidates were given a final three minutes to tell the voters why they should be elected to the office.
Lewallen identified himself as the oldest candidate in the race and said that if he was elected it would be “real reform” and that the voters could be sure that his youth would not be destroyed by Washington.”
This prompted Renee to identify herself as the youngest candidate who was the first Latina ever elected to the Petaluma City Council.
All of the candidates have websites where voters can learn more about them and their beliefs.
REDWOOD TIMES PHOTOS BY MARY ANDERSON
Ten candidates filled the stage at the Mateel Community Center Sunday evening. Reading left to right, Susan Adams, Dan Roberts, Brooke Clarke, Tiffany Renee, Stacy Lawson, Andy Caffrey, John Lewallen, Jared Huffman, Normon Solomon, and Dr. William Courtney answered questions submitted by voters. As near as anyone can remember, it's the first time a Congressional candidates debate has ever been held in Redway.