OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Live from the 45th Congressional District CRA Candidate Forum

Posted by Chris Nguyen on November 21, 2019

We are live from the 45th Congressional District forum for Republican candidates sponsored by the California Republican Assembly.  Participating are the four major Republican candidates:

Hosted at the Norman P. Murray Community Center in Mission Viejo by the the Saddleback Republican Assembly, Tustin Area Republican Assembly, and Anaheim Republican Assembly, the forum is moderated by OC Political’s own Craig Alexander, who is an attorney from Dana Point and former State CRA Executive Vice President.

Much appreciation to the City of Mission Viejo for supplying free WiFi.  (Most OC Political live-blogs are done typing into a smartphone due to most venues not having WiFi.  Thanks to the free WiFi, this live-blog will be done on computer, so there’ll be even more detail than usual.)

After the invocation, Pledge of Allegiance, and Star-Spangled Banner, moderator Craig Alexander is introduced.  He explains the candidate order was by random draw.  There will be several questions from the forum organizers, and then there will be audience-submitted questions via index cards.  CRA delegates will vote on a potential endorsement on January 11.

90-second opening statements begin at 7:20.

Don Sedgwick grew up in San Juan Capistrano and raised his four children here with his wife.  He served 18 years on the Saddleback School Board and two terms on the City Council, more elected experience than all the Democrats and Republicans combined in the CD-45 race.  He says Katie Porter does not reflect the values of the district.  He was ASB President, coached his children’s youth sports, and is involved in the community.  He says, “the freedoms of our country are at stake in this country…our economy is headed toward socialism, and I will do something to reverse that.”

Greg Raths welcomes everyone to Mission Viejo jokingly calling it “home field advantage.”  He introduces his wife as the First Lady of Mission Viejo.  He notes his city is the second largest in the district.  Six years ago, his children had grown up; he had retired after 30 years in the military, including assignments in the White House and Pentagon; and he decided to run for Congress after the election of Barack Obama.  Then he got elected to the City Council after his unsuccessful bid for Congress.

Lisa Sparks is Dean of Communications at Chapman University and serves this area on the Orange County Board of Education.  She speaks of her Midwestern upbringing and family values.  She has been a Republican since age 2.  She raised three of her four children in the 45th District.  She has written 12 books and published numerous articles.  As a college educator, she was frustrated with the way K-12 schools were treating students.  She decided to run for Congress on her father’s 80th birthday.

Peggy Huang is a Yorba Linda Councilwoman and Deputy Attorney General.  She came to the U.S. at the age of 7 after waiting 12 years to legally enter the country.  She described her Christian family fleeing from socialism.  She is frightened by the tyranny of socialism and does not want anyone in the room to endure what her family did.  She warns of the path that Katie Porter will lead us down.  At the Department of Justice, she worked to protect children.  She notes that she has worked on the issues that matter to the district.

7:28: Questions begin. Alexander asks which committees the candidates would like to serve on.

Raths picks Armed Forces (Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee), Homeland Security (Border Security subcommittee), Intelligence (National Security Agency subcommittee), Oversight (National Security subcommittee), Aeronautics, and Veterans Affairs.

Sparks picks Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education as well as Homeland Security, particularly on cybersecurity.

Huang picks Health and Human Services, Transportation, Commerce, Judiciary (Immigration subcommittee), Natural Resources (water subcommittee), Foreign Affairs, and Energy.

Sedgwick picks Education, Budget, and Judiciary.

7:32 PM: Alexander asks which caucuses the candidates would like to serve on.

Sparks picks Republican Study Committee and is interested in the Blue Dog Caucus.

Huang picks the Tuesday Group, the Freedom Caucus, the Asian-American Caucus, and the Taiwan Caucus.

Sedgwick picks the Freedom Caucus and the Problem-Solvers Caucus.  He says this election is about freedom versus socialism.  He says he will solve problems and get things done.

Raths picks the Freedom Caucus and the Problem-Solvers Caucus.  He speaks of speaking with Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows of the Freedom Caucus.  He says as a Marine, he took Marines of all parties into battle and in Congress, he will represent people of all parties.

7:35 PM: Alexander asks about the Equality Act (HR 5) and how they would have voted and why.

Huang says she would have opposed it to protect religious freedom.  She fears the risks to the First Amendment in the present environment, particularly due to social justice.  She says losing religious freedom will threaten Second and Fourth Amendment rights.

Sedgwick says Porter referred to thoughts and minds without prayer after a tragedy.  He says there should be separation of church and state but state should not be separate from God.  Doctors should not be forced to provide services they object to and religious organizations should not be required to insure services they object to.

Raths argues the federal government’s reach has gone too far.  He says national defense, common currency, and interstate commerce are its responsibilities.  He says government should not be in people’s bedrooms.

Sparks notes that protesters are trying to take away the ability to have invocations at the board of education.  She expresses agreement with the other candidates.

7:40 PM: Alexander asks Save the Internet Act (HR 1644) which would restore Obama-era regulations for net neutrality.

Sedgwick speaks of the importance of the Internet being able to transmit information, such as President Trump’s tweets.  He speaks out in opposition to hate speech but supports freedom of speech on the Internet.  He says parents should be able to opt out of things they object to in school.

Raths says he doesn’t know the details of HR 1644, but the federal government needs to get out of people’s homes.  He says his goal is to make Katie Porter a one-term Congresswoman.  She joined the Progressive Caucus and called for impeaching Trump.  Raths notes the district is Republican because every City Council in the district has a Republican majority.

Sparks speaks in support of free speech and speaks of encouraging it at Chapman University, noting the event they sponsored with Robert Gibbs and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  She says she despises hate speech but it must be protected under free speech.

Huang says the question was about net neutrality.  She notes the regulation forbids cable companies from charging other companies for using their Internet cables.  She says taxpayer dollars should not be used to pick winners and losers.  She says the market should decide.

7:44 PM: Alexander asks about signing the discharge petition to allow a vote on SR 962, which would provide immediate medical care for a child born alive after a failed abortion.

Raths speaks in opposition to abortion and urges adoption.  He opposes late-term abortions and all other forms of abortion.

Sparks says she is pro-life and especially opposes late-term abortions.  She supports adoption instead of abortion.

Huang says she would support the discharge petition.  She says they need to support President Trump.  She speaks of the Susan B. Anthony health clinics that provide women’s health services in contrast to Planned Parenthood, which she refers to as an abortion group masquerading as women’s health services.

Sedgwick says it took seven years for him and his wife to have children and were initially told they wouldn’t have any.  He expresses support for life and is pro-life.  He expresses opposition to Planned Parenthood programs in the schools.

7:49 PM: Alexander asks if the candidates had any reason where they wouldn’t vote to defund Planned Parenthood.

All four support defunding Planned Parenthood without reservation.

Sparks calls it an easy question.

Huang supports funding health groups like Susan B. Anthony instead of Planned Parenthood.

Sedgwick says Katie Porter is out of touch with the district.

Raths expresses disappointment that Trump and the Republican Congress did not do this in 2017-18.  He speaks of seeing the movie Unplanned.

7:52 PM: Alexander asks the first audience question.  The question asks for opinions on DACA, comprehensive immigration reform, and border security.

Huang supports immigration reform.  Her parents waited 12 years to get permission to enter the U.S. She calls for reform of skilled visas vs. unskilled visas.  She does not support DACA. She says federal law dictated that children under the age of 5 would be presumed to be Americans if found in the U.S.  She worked on legislation to undo that, but it was vetoed by President Bill Clinton.

Sedgwick wants to work on Day 1 to end illegal immigration.  He says it is not compassionate to expose children to human trafficking, the drug trade, and immigration coyotes.  He says the U.S. is a nation of laws and that sanctuary cities are wrong.

Raths says borders must be secured because drugs and human trafficking are a major problem.  He served as a Marine with DACA Marines.  He will not send them to a country of birth that they do not know.  He wants immigration reform.  The U.S. needs labor because there are 7,000,000 open jobs and only 6,000,000 unemployed.

Sparks wants to secure borders.  Her husband waited 10 years to immigrate and is finally a citizen.  Her stepson took 12 years to immigrate and still only has a green card because the system is so slow.  She has DACA students at Chapman.  She says the U.S. needs to know who is entering the country.

7:57 PM: Alexander asks the candidates: what would be their top three legislative priorities in Congress?

Sedgwick says the federal government should get out of the way on education.  He wants to pass a federal opt-out law, noting that parents can opt-out of everything by homeschooling, so parents should be able to opt out of individual things in schools.  He wants to work toward eliminating tariffs because he supports free trade.

Raths wants Veterans Affairs to be run better.  He says Trump has made progress but needs to do more.  He expresses concern about pay for medical personnel at the VA.  He wants a constitutional amendment for term limits for Congress, 6 terms in the House and 2 terms in the Senate.  He wants to break up health company cartels and allow health care across state lines while protecting pre-existing conditions.

Sparks wants to allow crossing state lines and protect pre-existing conditions.  She wants to find ways to allow 529 funds to provide relief for people who are caring for both their parents and their children.

Huang supports a bipartisan bill (Feinstein and Stivers) that will address mental health and homelessness, which Katie Porter has failed to coauthor.  She wants bonuses for employees with student loans where the bonus is not taxed for employees or employers.

8:02 PM: Alexander asks which think tanks would advise the candidates in the House.

Raths says he would work with the Club for Growth, who’s he’s met with.  He says free college is available if you join the Marine Corps, and you won’t have student loans.

Sparks picks the Heritage Foundation, Club for Growth, and Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, all of which she has already worked with.

Huang picks the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Children’s Defense Fund, all of which she has already worked with.

Sedgwick picks the Club for Growth, who he’s worked with.  He notes he is the only businessman and understands the challenges businesses face.  He expresses disgust that Katie Porter blasts “CEOs when she hasn’t even run the corner store.”  He says the people in the audience are the best think tank.

8:05 PM: Alexander slightly alters an audience question: the question asks how they support diverse ethnic groups in California and voice their concerns.

Sparks says the Republican Party needs to reach out to all groups and peoples.  She says the “Democrats have taken a lot of those groups hostage.”

Huang notes she is the only Asian-American on the stage.  She says she does not run on identity politics but she is running on freedom and liberty.  She says common issues are the best way to reach out to these groups because they all desire freedom and liberty.  She says Democrats have called minorities victims.  She says America is the land of opportunity where she could come not speaking English and then finds herself running for Congress.

Sedgwick speaks in Spanish (OC Political’s Spanish is rusty from college).  He says Hispanics are an important part of the fabric of the community.  He says most of his employees are Hispanics, and they support his stance on immigration.

Raths says television keeps talking about racists.  In the military, he says everyone worked together regardless of race.  He sees that as Mayor in his city.  He will fight racism and discrimination in Congress.  He says racism is overblown by the media.

8:10 PM: An audience question asks for candidates’ opinions on Common Core.

Huang has two children, and Common Core math makes no sense.  She calls for parental rights, local control, and electing school board members who will stand up to liberal mandates.  She says Integrated Science does not teach legitimate science and fails to prepare students for the future.

Sedgwick was President of the California School Boards Association even though he is a conservative.  Many people would boo him but others would come up to him privately to express support.  He calls for more local control and parental rights.

Raths’s wife was a teacher, and his daughters are both teachers.  He was a substitute teacher and jokes that it was the worst job he ever had, expressing his admiration for teachers doing this difficult work.  He calls for local control and getting the federal government out.

Sparks speaks of the craziness of Common Core that she is seeing on the County Board of Education.  She expresses concern about California Health Youth Act (CHYA) and holding a forum to inform parents.  She says health is the window dressing that is used to sneak all sorts of programs into schools.

8:15 PM: Alexander asks: What is your opinion on the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act which would allow military families to redirect funds for their children’s education to private school.

Sedgwick wants to give military families any leg up.  He wants to give more opportunities to children from Gold Star Families with increased educational tax deductions.  He wants the private sector healthcare expenses to be reimbursed for the military.

Raths is on the Orange County Veterans’ Advisory Committee for the Board of Supervisors.  He supports local nonprofit organizations assisting veterans in addition to the VA.

Sparks proposes each year of service for a military servicemember resulting in a year of free education for the military servicemember’s child.

Huang notes that military families are often forgotten.  She wants strong social networks and mental health care for military families, not just military servicemembers.  She wants to support nonprofits because government involvement results in inefficiencies from funding bureaucracy.

8:20 PM: Alexander asks: Do you agree with President Trump’s efforts for a better deal with China, including tariffs?

Raths says China nearly became the economic superpower until President Trump stopped them.  He says Trump has done a phenomenal job.  He doesn’t normally support tariffs but has found the tariffs on China are reasonable.

Sparks says “America wins when we lead at home and abroad.”  She praises the USMCA as an improvement over NAFTA.  She warns tariffs are taxes that are passed on to American consumers but has been surprised how well the tariffs on China are working.

Huang calls for student visa reform because students get shipped back to their countries and compete against the U.S.  She opposes tariffs because she is a free-market person.  She says tariffs hurt American consumers and companies.

Sedgwick says tariffs are a tax on consumers.  He supports President Trump’s efforts but believes it will eventually reach “zero, zero” tariffs.  He has been on Fox News six times in the past four months.  He warns the country to look to California to see what would happen if one of the Democrats wins the presidency.

8:26 PM: Alexander asks about policy on Iran and North Korea.

Sparks supports sanctions on Iran and North Korea.  She supports pressuring these dictatorships.

Huang supports Trump policy on Iran and North Korea.  She calls for putting enough resources for the 7th Fleet to strengthen the first line of defense against North Korea: South Korea and Japan.  She wants to protect Israel.

Sedgwick says the role of government is protection from threats, foreign and domestic.  He says socialism is a domestic threat.  He says the border needs to be protected.  He says Trump is right to open communications with North Korea.  He wants to keep the military out of battle.  He wants diplomatic solutions as much as possible.

Raths served two tours of duty in Japan and South Korea.  He had seven tours of duty in the Middle East.  He supports protecting Japan, South Korea, and Israel.  He says it is time to reduce American troops in “countries that don’t like us.”  He says troops should not be in Syria or Lebanon.

8:30 PM: Alexander asks an audience question asking about protecting the Second Amendment and opposing the Assault Weapons Ban.

Huang says she supports the Second Amendment.  She says she opposes all bans and jokes about the straw ban.  She says bans punish responsible people, not criminals.  She wants to reform HIPPA to allow families to speak to medical personnel about relatives’ mental health.

Sedgwick supports the Second Amendment and says, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  He notes gun control would not have prevented the Saugus High School shooting because the shooter already broke existing gun control laws.  He calls for more mental health services.

Raths says the Constitution is clear about the right to bear arms.  He says 99.9% of gunowners are responsible people.  He says the NRA has fantastic gun safety education programs.

Sparks supports the Second Amendment.  She speaks of going shooting with her family.  She notes her parents sent her to camp to get rifle training as a youth.  Her family was very diligent about gun safety.  She says families need to be helped when there are mental health problems in the home.

8:34 PM: Alexander asks the last audience question: “What do you plan to do when you get to Congress about the national debt?”

Sedgwick notes Laguna Hills will be debt free in 3 years.  When he joined OCFA six years ago, he put together a “snowball” plan to pay off the pension liability; he notes interest payments have decreased by nearly $25 million as a result.  He says that attitude is needed to balance the national budget instead of just supporting the presented budget.

Raths says Mission Viejo had a $6 million surplus this year due to $4 million in unexpected revenue and $2 million in cost savings.  He opposes omnibus bills.  He wants a 10% phased-in reduction of federal bureaucracy.

Sparks blasts the size of the deficit.  She opposes the previous budget deal.  She speaks of being on the County Board of Education, where she voted to remove 1% of the budget from expenses for lobbying and travel, and is fighting the Superintendent on that.

Huang notes Yorba Linda is the first city with OpenGov to show every dollar of City expenditures online.  She would start with Health and Human Services and with Education.  She calls for eliminating certain federal agencies, noting there are several in the EPA that should be eliminated.

8:39 PM: Alexander thanks the organizers and discusses the CRA.

8:41 PM: Closing statements begin.

Raths thanks the audience for attending.  He speaks of a life of service: being a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Eagle Scout, 30 years as a Marine, 5 years as a Councilmember and now Mayor, and now he wants to go to Congress to represent the people of the 45th District.  He will ensure Katie Porter is a one-term Congresswoman.

Sparks is “an accomplished scholar-teacher and a builder.”  She built the Chapman University School of Communications.  She has only been in politics for a couple years.  She will represent the people of the district and fight for them just as she is fighting for freedom of speech through her work at Chapman.  She says Porter does not represent the district, and Sparks will be the one to beat her.

Huang thanks the audience for attending.  She says next month marks the 30th anniversary of her citizenship and her registration as a Republican the day she was naturalized.  She worked on affordable housing and human trafficking not through reading about them but by working in the trenches with people directly.  She says she worked on the Unabomber case.  She has fought sex trafficking and the drug trade.  She says Porter has worked in theory brainwashing the young offering nothing of value to the people of the district.

Sedgwick says a democracy is only as great as its people.  He wants to strengthen parent rights, local schools, institutions of faith, and the free-market economy.  He wants Congress to not be paid if they don’t pass a budget; he wants to run government more like business.  His city contracts for most services.  They have no pension liability because they have few employees.  He called it ironic that the LA City Council was complaining about the expense of construction when it was their regulations that made it so expensive in the first place.

8:47 PM: Alexander thanks the candidates, the organizers, and the audience and adjourns the forum.  Two raffle prizes (a Thanksgiving basket and a Trump hat) are awarded to the audience.

2 Responses to “Live from the 45th Congressional District CRA Candidate Forum”

  1. Robyn Nordell said

    Thanks so much, Chris! So helpful!

  2. Craig P Alexander said

    Thank you Chris for Live Blogging at our event! Hope voters find this information useful!

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