44th Assembly District debate held- candidates differentiate themselves

By George Miller  (Originally published May 13, 2014- republished due to election race between McCoy and Irwin)

There has been a paucity of real debates this season. Certain partisan groups have held “candidate forums” which are little more than “beauty contests” to introduce candidates to the party faithful. There was only one other debate by The League of Women Voters. All that changed on Saturday, May 10 with the CLU/Acorn newspaper-sponsored debate at CLU (California Lutheran University). which drew about 175 (in a district of about 500,000 people), many of whom were associated with campaigns or people who usually follow such things. The timing was good, because absentee ballots, which account for half of voting, have been arriving at households.

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Mario de la Piedra, Jacqui Irwin, Rob McCoy

The Assembly Debate:

State Assembly District 44 covers a large chunk of Ventura County. The current incumbent is moderate Republican Jeff Gorell, who has decided to attempt a trade-up to the 26th-Congressional District seat, now occupied by Liberal Democrat Julia Brownley. The debate is about whether to continue Republican representation and just how Conservative it would be, or to switch to more Liberal advocacy, as well as who would be most competent and who has the support to get elected.

The Assembly Candidates:

Mario de la Piedra– Republican- 26 year old insurance broker, started his own agency two years ago. Favors amnesty, business-friendly regulations. Endorsed by Scot Wilk, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assoc., Connie Conway.  No prior political office.

Rob McCoy- 49 year old Pastor of Calvary Chapel Godspeak Church in Newbury Park, Coronado, AC native, Conservative,  Supported by TX Governor Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Peter Foy, Tom McClintock, Shannon Grove and more. No prior political office.- http://www.victorymccoy.com/

Jacqui Irwin, 52, Thousand Oaks ten year City Councilwoman and Mayor, civic leader,  housewife, former Teledyne Systems employee, wide range of support of mostly Democrat govt. officials, unions, PACS; endorsed Julia Brownley- http://www.jacquiirwin.com/

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CA 44th AD candidates just before start of May 10, 2014 debate at CLU

Voters are being given a choice of a fairly Liberal Democrat (Jacqui Irwin), an acknowledged competent and experienced government official who supports Barack Obama and Julie Brownley, has extensive civic involvement and support of unions, PACS, government officials; a “moderate” Republican (Mario de la Piedra) who supports more spending than a Conservative Republican, but less than a typical Democrat, supports amnesty and various “social issues”; and the third candidate, Conservative Christian (Rob McCoy), who is very strong on low taxes, lower spending, lower deficits, fiscal responsibility,  promoting jobs and business, socially Conservative, but believes that government should not interfere with how people choose to live, business friendly, favors low taxes, smaller government.

They have varying levels of life experience and approaches to solving problems and certain political views.

 The proceedings:

Event Video http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/47388696  (sound track and main event doesn’t start until 15:45)

Video streaming by Ustream

 A few highlights:

ThousandOaks– During the introduction, Jacqui Irwin let it be known that unlike her opponents, she would not need to be trained on the job. The other two candidates, de la Piedra and McCoy, were able to make the point that they were free of the conditioning and commitments of a longtime politician  and perceived that as an advantage. Irwin is an experienced longtime politician/elected official, with extensive contacts and endorsements.

– Mario  de la Piedra brings youth (26 years old) and Latino ethnicity to the party, is a self-employed businessman. He is focusing on the economy and jobs.

– All candidates agreed that that the drought and limited water supply are a huge issue and that infrastructure and storage are very high priorities, as is reasonable conservation. McCoy was big on water as vital to agriculture, one of  California’s largest and most important industries. Irwin wants the water bond passed, to get government grants, to restrict water-intensive crops in dry areas, balance environmental vs demand considerations. McCoy was very critical about govt. now favoring things like the non-native delta smelt over people in water allocation decisions.

*Sep 18 - 00:05*– McCoy relentlessly attacked California overspending, overtaxing, over-regulation and business-unfriendly climate, including the massive exodus of companies and the jobs they provide and vowed to address these. When Irwin mentioned jobs fleeing to Texas, he mentioned that TX Gov. Rick Perry is telling people to vote for him (Perry has endorsed  McCoy) to deal with that. He stated that it costs $3000 to rent a U-Haul truck to Texas, but only $900 on the way back. He said there were several good routes for small business success: I-10 to Texas, I-5 to the Pacific Northwest and I-80 to Nevada.

– All candidates wanted solutions to the immigration controversy. None advocated mass deportations.

De la Piedra is focusing on the economy and decried the job recovery as one which has not restored the good-paying  jobs, citing a huge decrease in jobs paying over $90,ooo- basically what’s required to live a real middle class existence in the region.  McCoy lamented the departure of Toyota as more evidence of a poor business climate.  In response to the Republicans’ claims of businesses moving out of CA due to government policies, Irwin stated that 60% of all national capital investment is in CA (much is in Silicon Valley, though) and CA has more foreign investment than any other state.

Irwin touted her achievements in helping Thousand Oaks to gain jobs, be clean, keep crime low and suggested that she could apply that knowledge and skill to state government.

De la Piedra lamented some of the Obama administration green energy disasters such as the $500MM Solyndra loss.

While not specifically denying global warming at the debate, McCoy stated that by far the biggest climate problem in the state was the business climate, not climate change.

All candidates praised the public college system, and the opportunities afforded to citizens, but MCoy lamented the “bloated” centralized system and control. No questions were asked about K-12 education or Common Core (moderator Jolley previously moderated a major Common Core debate in T.O. last year).

Both Republicans want to keep Prop 13, while Irwin suggested reforms were needed and advocated reassessment of business property after certain sales. CJ contacted  HJTA, which has endorsed De la Piedras and was told that “both Republicans are equally Conservative,” but they thought “de la Piedra was more likely to keep ‘Gorell’s seat.'”

All three candidates indicated an acceptance of  gay marriage, even though a state proposition passed a few years ago affirmed  that a marriage is between a man and a woman. Irwin said the state had been moving in the opposite direction. McCoy pointed out that he went to his lesbian sister’s wedding, accepted it, loves her, but would not perform the ceremony, because it was against his beliefs. He pointed out that a single judge overturned the will of the voters.

Both Republicans favored “fracking”with reasonable precautions and emphasized meeting energy needs and job growth. McCoy derided California “hyper-environmentalism” which he said is unjustifiably restricting energy resource development and jobs. Irwin was far more skeptical about the safety of the process, even though previous studies have indicated that it is safe when done properly. She wants more studies, fully supports the Pavley bill , which would force drillers to prove they don’t pollute, rather than opponents prove that drillers do pollute.

Although most of the questions posed by the Acorn seemed fairly even-handed, one put to McCoy did not (paraphrased): “You have been quoted as saying that California should be restored to its past glory. Critics are saying that your own view is living in the past. The district has changed and moved more to  the center. For a candidate so far to the right on so many issues, how do you expect to get elected?” McCoy’s answer was that he he didn’t have to be less “Conservative”, but more persuasive, showing the merits of his views and listening to constituents.

A McCoy campaign person later asked us: How is it “far right” to be for such things as rule of law, the constitution, fiscal prudence? Another one of McCoy’s supporters told CJ that it is not a good sign that Irwin endorsed Congresswoman  Julie Browley, rated by The Club for Growth as the least Conservative member (3%) of the entire House of Representatives. Heritage foundation rated her at 6%.

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John Loesing, Publisher; Kyle Jorrey, Editor, Acorn


The event was held on a Saturday afternoon, an inconvenient time for those with weekend plans. Not covered were the pension crisis, unfunded liabilities, whether a de facto deficit exists, Second Amendment issues/bills, etc.





More: Another McCoy-Irwin debate scheduled for May 11, 3 PM at CLU


George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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