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Live from the 74th Assembly District Candidate Forum

Posted by Chris Nguyen on April 17, 2014

We’re live from the AD-74 candidate forum in the 2014 Feet to the Fire Forum series, sponsored by the Orange County Register, the Daily Pilot, and the Voice of OC.

Emceed by Barbara Venezia of the Orange County Register and John Canalis of the Daily Pilot, the media panel consists of Jack Wu of the Orange County Register, Alicia Lopez of the Daily Pilot, and Norberto Santana, Jr. of the Voice of OC.

All five candidates are here and are seated in this order: Keith Curry (R), Karina Onofre (D), Matthew Harper (R), Anila Ali (D), and Emanuel Patrascu (R).

7:07 PM: Venezia asks if the candidates think that they’re good politicians. Harper, Patrascu, and Ali raise their hands while Curry and Onofre do not. Venezia then asks Curry and Onofre why they didn’t think they were good politicians when they’re running for an office that, by definition, is a politician.

Curry says there need to be more businesspeople and problem-solvers, not political people searching for their next job.

Onofre says, “I agree with Keith Curry.” She says the third definition of politician in Webster’s is negative. She says the Legislature needs more businesspeople.

Ali says forums like this can give politicians a good name.

Venezia says money is necessary to tell voters what they stand for. She asks the candidates how much they’ve each raised for their campaigns, excluding personal loans.

Patrascu says he’s raised $100,000.

Ali says she’s raised $20,000-$25,000.

Harper says he’s raised less than $50,000. After being pushed by the media panel, he says $30,000-$50,000.

Onofre says $11,000.

Curry says $150,000, plus a $100,000 personal loan that he’ll spend.

Wu asks incredulously if Harper raised between $24,000-$44,000 in one month.

Harper says yes.

Wu asks what Harper’s cash on hand is.

Harper says issues matter, not money.

Wu asks Harper how will people know his stances on the issues if he can’t get his message out.

Harper points to forums like this as a way to get his message out.

Wu reiterates his point.

Curry says donations are an indicator of community support. He has 200+ donors. He says it’s difficult to believe Harper raised $24,000-$44,000 since Harper hasn’t reported any $1,000+ contributions since $1,000+ contributions require 24 hour reporting.

Santana asks what’s the point of sending another Republican to a Democrat-controlled Sacramento. He asks what can a Republican accomplish in the Legislature.

Curry says he can represent his district. He says 1974 and 1992 have demonstrated big party shifts can occur unexpectedly. He points to issues like taxes and education, where Republicans can win.

Wu reiterates Santana’s point.

Patrascu speaks of bringing a more diverse set of people, but people who oppose fee increases. He says that Curry has voted for 100+ fee increases.

Wu reiterates his point and Santana’s point.

Ali says she can get money from Sacramento because she is a Democrat and will have a seat at the table.

Harper says Republicans should not surrender and should build towards a majority.

There’s lots of cross-talk until Venezia shuts it down.

Onofre says she’s a Democrat female Latina conservative.

Ali jumps in to say she’s the sole Democrat to be endorsed by the state party.

Onofre says she can work across the aisle.

Ali says Onofre’s definitely proven that, pointing to Onofre’s party-switching.

Wu points out that Onofre sought the California Young Republican Federation endorsement days before she reregistered as a Democrat.

Onofre says Republicans don’t respect women and minorities.

Wu says he’s a minority Republican.

Onofre says she will stay a Democrat, with the laughter coming all her opponents, the reporters, and the audience.

Canalis asks what are Onofre’s conservative beliefs.

Onofre says she is a businesswoman and believes in the state spending within its means. She says she’s pro-choice.

Ali says Onofre said she was pro-life in a Tea Party flyer in this campaign.

Onofre says she represents the majority and that she is pro-choice.

Ali says she is endorsed by the Democratic Party.

Onofre calls Ali “girl” as she argues that the Democratic Party endorsed before Onofre became a Democrat.

Lopez asks if the candidates can work across the aisle.

Harper points to his work with his Council colleagues, who range from conservative Republicans to liberal Democrats.

Lopez asks about Harper’s Council record and if he believes there’s any role for government in environmental regulations.

Harper points to population growth, waste/recycling issues, and transportation. He says government should be curbed and smaller. He says government shouldn’t ban bonfires.

Santana asks about Harper’s jobs working for Supervisor Janet Nguyen and for OC Waste & Recycling in a position that did not exist until filled by Harper. He asks if this is ideologically inconsistent with smaller government.

Harper says the question is irrelevant and that it’s not a policy question.

Santana says it is relevant and that Harper grew government.

Harper says he left the County last year. He says OC Waste & Recycling is an enterprise fund. He says his duties at OC Waste & Recycling were necessary PIO (Public Information Officer) and PRA (Public Records Act) functions.

Venezia asks about Curry’s experience on the City Council, and specifically, the cost of Newport Beach City Hall.

Curry says he led the opposition to building Newport Beach City Hall in its new location, but the voters – knowing it would cost $100 million – voted to put it there. He points to a library expansion, a pedestrian walkway, and a dog park that were built as part of the City Hall project. He says the senior center was built in 3 years while Harper has a sign in a dirt field because Harper opposes construction bonds.

Patrascu says the City Hall project soared from $40 million to $230 million with the bonds. He compares it to buying a Louis Vuitton bag with a taxpayer-financed loan.

Curry asks what Patrascu would have cut from the City Hall project.

Patrascu says he would have cut the extra parking lot spaces.

Curry says that’s less than $200,000.

Patrascu says the spaces are rarely full.

Several in the audience shout the lot was full today.

Curry says he is a problem-solver, not an ideologue, pointing at Harper and Patrascu.

Ali says that it is important to build infrastructure for a global economy. She says she opposes tax increases and supports tax credits for small business. She says she will be more effective as a member of the majority party, the Democrats.

Harper points to Tom Daly, Sharon Quirk-Silva, and Jose Solorio as Assembly Democrats from Orange County. He says Solorio blew it on the budget.

Ali says there’s a surplus under a Democratic Governor.

Wu says the Governor raised taxes in Prop 30.

Venezia asks if Ali opposed Prop 30.

Ali says she would not vote for any tax increases.

Venezia says Onofre and Ali have never held public office, like City Council, to understand how politics work and asks if they’re qualified.

Ali says she has been on the front lines teaching students. She says she’s an Irvine City Commissioner. She says her grandmother was an Indian Assemblywoman.

Venezia asks Curry to weigh in.

Curry points to his record in Newport Beach. He says the best man in Patrascu’s wedding was a Democratic Assemblyman who’s helped fundraise for Patrascu. Curry says Republicans shouldn’t rely on Democrats for fundraising.

Canalis asks Ali about the Prop 30 tax increases again, in light of her being a public school teacher.

Ali says she supported Prop 30 and that taxes are now high enough to produce a budget surplus.

Harper says it is brave of Ali to oppose the split-roll for property taxes, which she did in prior forums. Harper says he, Patrascu, and Curry share Ali’s position on the split-roll. Harper says he doesn’t know Onofre’s position, as she has not appeared at prior forums.

Onofre says she has been busy with her tax preparation business up until April 15, so that’s why she missed prior forums.

Santana says OC gets $0.06 per $1.00 in property tax money from Sacramento. He asks how can other counties be persuaded to send more money to rich OC.

Ali says she would be in the majority party.

Santana asks for specifics.

Ali says Washington, DC needs to give more money to California.

Santana asks for specifics.

Ali talks about private-public partnerships.

Santana asks for specifics.

Curry points to post-Prop 13 education funding formulas drafted by Willie Brown. He says the formula benefits Santa Ana but harms Irvine. He proposes building coalitions to recraft the formula because post-1979 housing developments aren’t being accounted for.

Santana asks how this can be done.

Harper suggests a ballot measure.

Patrascu says that Republicans need to work across the aisle to get things done. He says he didn’t check his best friend from seventh grade’s party affiliation (referencing his best man alwho had been earlier attacked by Curry). He says again that people need friends across the aisle to get things done.

Santana asks about Patrascu’s statement opposing Larry Agran’s proposal for a friendship city with a city in Communist Vietnam due to its human rights violations. He says Assemblyman Travis Allen, Patrascu’s boss, went on a junket to Communist China. He asks Patrascu what is the difference between Vietnamese Communists and Chinese Communists.

Patrascu says the question needs to be asked of Allen and that Patrascu wouldn’t have gone on the trip.

Ali says she believes in people-to-people diplomacy, pointing to Obama’s efforts in Russia.

Wu asks about Ali or Onofre’s abilty to win. He asks about Democratic registration in AD-74.

Ali says Democratic registration is growing but declines to state a number.

Someone jumps in and says it’s 29%.

Wu asks how can a Democrat win or even make the November runoff when two female Democrats are running.

Ali talks about precinct walking and turning out the Democratic vote.

Wu asks how she can send mail with the $25,000 she’s raised, noting that he knows city council candidates who have raised more.

Ali says issues matter.

Onofre says she will use aggressive voter registration of Latinos to win.

Venezia asks if Onofre believes she will simply win the Latino vote solely because she’s a Latina.

Onofre says voters will vote for someone who looks like them.

Venezia says qualifications matter, not what people look like.

Onofre says she has run several businesses and has two Bachelor’s degrees. She criticizes the audience for laughing at her.

Harper says experience is important. He says voting records prove what a candidate stands for.

Lopez asks Patrascu about his experience with Travis Allen painting the public perception of Patrascu.

Patrascu says he’s running because he believes in smaller government. He says the 1994 Contract with America is a good example. He says Republicans cannot just say no, Republicans must stand for something. He says he hasn’t just worked for Allen, as he owns a consulting firm, worked for Senator Tom Harman, and has run several campaigns.

Canalis asks the Republicans for specific legislation they could get passed in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Harper says he could pass a bill protecting beach bonfire rings, which he says Curry would oppose.

Curry says his position on such a bill would depend on how it’s written. He says bonfires do pose a scientifically-proven health risk and that the decision should be made by City Councils, not the State or AQMD. He says state bureaucrats should not decide the fate of the bonfires and that it should be decided locally instead.

Patrascu says he just had his two-year-old son’s first bonfire. He points to having helped write Allen’s bill, which simply bans AQMD from banning bonfires. He says Curry believes gangbangers have bonfires, and Patrascu says he himself has held bonfires with his church.

Ali says her son enjoys bonfires. She wants a compromise between environmentalists and bonfire supporters, such as gas bonfires, like Newport Beach proposed.

Onofre says she agrees with Curry and Ali. She says Newport Beach has properly regulated bonfires.

Curry says his position has been misrepresented.

Patrascu says Curry is arguing semantics. He says Newport Beach supported AQMD’s decision.

Venezia asks if climate change is real or not: yes or no?

Patrascu equivocates.

Ali says yes.

Harper says yes, it does, but it’s not man-made.

Onofre says yes.

Curry says no.

Venezia asks if the candidates support medical marijuana: yes or no?

Patrascu says yes.

Ali says yes.

Harper says no.

Onofre says yes.

Curry says no.

The forum is over.

Wow, the Feet to the Fire Forum for AD-74 moved quick. This blogger kept up, but just barely. Most candidate forums are easy to liveblog, but this was a speedy challenge.

4 Responses to “Live from the 74th Assembly District Candidate Forum”

  1. Scott Carpenter said

    Nice work Chris…I feel like I was there after reading this!

  2. Interested said

    That’s funny. Some people tell me Karina Onofre is running as a Republican, other people tell me that she is running as a Democrat, and I thought she was running as a joke.

  3. These forums have almost no impact on the electorate but you did a fine job covering what went on Chris.

  4. […] Nguyen gave a great play by play on the lively forum that featured the candidates running for Assembly District 74. After reading it […]

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