We’re live from Orange City Hall for the 68th Assembly District Candidate Forum, sponsored by the California Republican Assembly.
The four candidates are:
*Steven Choi, Mayor of Irvine
*Harry Sidhu, former Anaheim Councilman
*Alexia Deligianni-Brydges, Orange Unified School District Trustee
*Deborah Pauly, former Villa Park Councilwoman
The emcee is Dale Tyler CRA Vice President for Orange and San Diego Counties. Orange Councilman and OC GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker delivers the invocation. Orange Mayor Pro Tem Mark Murphy leads the Pledge of Allegiance.
The forum is being recorded for Chapman University’s broadcast station.
The moderator is OC Political blogger and CRA Executive Vice President Craig Alexander, who lives in Dana Point in the 73rd Assembly District.
Alexander will take all questions from the audience but admonishes the audience that questions on areas beyond the scope of the Assembly will not be asked, giving the example of troop levels in Afghanistan.
Alexia Deligianni-Brydges gives her opening statement. She speaks of California’s former economic opportunities and how her family fled from Communist Romania to California. She blasts high taxes and excessive regulation. She states she is an independent businesswoman and educator who can fix California.
Harry Sidhu gives his opening statement. He says he believes in free enterprise, traditional marriage, and pro-life values. He speaks of immigrating to the United States and working in engineering and then business.
Deborah Pauly gives her opening statement. She notes the cyclical nature of politics. She says there needs to be a conservative course correction in light of the liberal control of Sacramento. She notes her service on Central Committee. She urges electing a conservative not a moderate.
Steven Choi gives his opening statement. He speaks of his election as Mayor delivering a conservative majority seizing control of the Irvine City Council that was held by a former liberal majority. He spoke of his record on the City Council and School Board. He speaks of his faith and his family.
Alexander asks if Prop 13 limits should be changed.
Sidhu says he will fight to protect Prop 13. He says he will fight against high taxes. He says he will fight crime. He points to SB 259 (Bates), which modifies Prop 13 with the backing of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and he argues that unions oppose SB 259.
Pauly points to her fight against an OUSD Bond, which she noted was an end run around Prop 13. She speaks in detail about SB 259 and how it is clean up legislation closes a loophole on business property tax avoidance. She points to her Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association endorsement of her second Villa Park City Council run and her Supervisor run.
Choi warns that high taxes endanger jobs and the economy. He argues in favor of Prop 13 and conservative economic policies to strengthen job creation.
Deligianni-Brydges speaks of how taxes harm the economy and how she supports Prop 13. She speaks of her record fighting bonds and other high tax issues on the OUSD Board.
Alexander asks about the Governor’s proposed gas tax increase.
Pauly states the social engineering of getting people out of cars is causing the decline in the gas tax. She calls for greater creativity and points out that the Governor is pointing to record surplusses. Pauly challenges the wisdom of the Vehicle Mileage Tax proposal.
Choi opposes the gas tax increase. He proposes lowering the gas tax to stimulate economic activity because when people buy more gas, there will be more revenue from increased gas consumption.
Deligianni-Brydges states California has the highest gas taxes and worst roads. She calls for building more refineries and drilling to create energy independence away from OPEC.
Sidhu calls for administrative fixes and closing loopholes instead of raising taxes. He blasts high speed rail. He says transportation companies deliver food to his restaurants, and his businesses will be impacted by a gas tax increase.
Alexander asks if the candidates would sign the Americans for Prosperity “No New Taxes” pledge.
Choi says he signed it several months ago. He believes in lower taxes to help the economy and job growth. He blasts high taxes for driving business out of California.
Deligianni-Brydges says she will sign any “No New Taxes” pledge. She says she made that pledge to her school district constituents.
Sidhu says he pays more taxes than the rest of the candidates combined. He says he knows how to balance a budget. He says he was the first to sign the pledge.
Pauly is sorry that taxes are so high and that Sidhu has to pay so much in taxes. Pauly says she would sign the pledge and that she has made her career on fighting taxes. She says she twice agendized abolishing the Villa Park business license fee. She attacks Choi for not doing so in Irvine.
Choi responds to Pauly. He notes Irvine has one of the lowest business license fees in Orange County. He says that taxpaying residents would have to subsidize businesses if they abolished the fee.
Alexander asks about crony capitalism.
Deligianni-Brydges says crony capitalism is terrible and is where lobbyists run the show. She has fought it on her school board.
Sidhu states his campaign contributors are citizens and blasts unnamed opponents for receiving campaign contributions from home builders.
Pauly blasts Republican crony capitalists who pick winners and losers by giving sweetheart deals to special interests. She says if a policy is good for one entity, it should be good for everyone. Pauly attacks Sidhu for giving tax breaks to specific businesses instead of tax breaks for everyone.
Choi wants to stimulate small businesses as the real job creators. He opposes giving subsidies to big corporations. He notes he has not received any union funds and notes an unnamed opponent has received significant union contributions in the past.
Sidhu argues Pauly has never run a business in her life. He says there is nothing wrong with special concessions to bring business to a city.
Alexander asks about Common Core.
Sidhu says he opposes Common Core. He states California schools are last in the nation. He says high school students are not even at the eighth grade level. He blasts federal mandates.
Pauly says she opposes Common Core. She says students and education should not be common. She blasts both political parties for selling out children for federal dollars. She blasts social engineering in education. She calls for scrapping Common Core.
Choi says he is the most experience education experience of any of the candidates. He speaks of his after school tutoring center of the last 25 years. He notes his business experience there in rebuttal to an earlier Sidhu comment. He says Common Core have frustrated parents at his tutoring centers. He says Common Core has lofty ideals but it totally ignores the basics, and he objects to Common Core for that reason.
Deligianni-Brydges points to her educational doctorate and opposes Common Core. She argues children should not be punished for getting the right answer. She wants to align standards with college and the work force.
Alexander asks a question about AB 32 and global warming.
Pauly calls global warming a bogus idea. She spoke of the global cooling theory when she was in school. She says global warming has been disproven and that is why climate change is the new term by its advocates. She blasts AB 32 and social engineering.
Choi says it is good to keep the environment clean but completely questions the idea of global warming being caused by human intervention. He opposes cap and trade and other government imposed environmental regulations, calling them an extreme effort to tax businesses and economic growth.
Deligianni-Brydges speaks of the importance of a clean environment but does not want to harm the economy or raise taxes. She points to AB 32 causing gas tax increases.
Sidhu calls global warming a hoax. He asks if there is a wall between California and Arizona or California and Nevada. He says it is a scheme to drive out business from California. He points to aerospace and manufacturing being driven out. He says global warming is a money making scheme for environmental lists.
Alexander asks about legislation to require pro-life centers to post literature in favor of abortion.
Choi says he is opposed to that legislation because he is a Christian, he is pro-life, and he wants to protect all lives, including those of the unborn.
Deligianni-Brydges says she wants to defund Planned Parenthood. She says she is a Christian and is pro-life.
Sidhu says he was horrified by videos showing Planned Parenthood selling body parts. He says he is pro-life and would oppose such legislation.
Pauly says she is a Christian and that the Bible informs her views on life. She speaks of hearing the Roe v. Wade debate as a child. She warns of the creep from the first trimester in the 1970s up to partial birth abortion in the present day.
Alexander asks about SB 277, the vaccination bill.
Deligianni-Brydges warns this could harm certain children and supports parental right to choose.
Sidhu blasts the bill, mandatory vaccination, and removing the religious exception.
Pauly speaks of researching the bill while running the precinct walking operation for John Moorlach. She argues in favor of parental choice and the right of families to determine the safety of their children. Pauly says she personally chose to immunize her children, but would not impose the decision on others.
Choi calls it an intrusion on lives and should be left to parents to decide with their physicians. He says some children have unique needs, and the Governor and Legislature should not impose one side fits all.
Alexander asks how the candidates would prevent another attack like in San Bernardino.
Sidhu blasts social welfare programs. He says it took him 4 years to legally immigrate 42 years ago. He says illegal immigrants have broken the law and should be sent back to their native countries.
Pauly notes she is a veteran of the United States Air Force. She is a cofounder of the Anti-Jihad Coalition of Southern California. She supports legislation to allow only American law in American courts in order to block Sharia law. She says she stood up against radical jihadist efforts to recruit from college Muslim Student Unions. She wants to stand up for America and its values.
Choi says national security is an important and serious issue. He defends the Second Amendment and argues an armed citizenry would discourage violent attacks. He wants to secure more funding for local governments to protect their citizens. He notes that his city of Irvine has been the safest big city in America for the past 11 years.
Deligianni-Brydges calls for a wall on the border. She says the Second Amendment is important for self-defense. She urges more thorough background checks of immigrants, including social media checks to prevent anyone with anti-American sentiment from entering the U.S.
Alexander asks about making California a shall issue state for concealed weapons permits.
Pauly says she gun control is ineffective. She supports the Second Amendment. She wants federal law to trump state law on the right to keep and bear arms. She says gun control simply protects criminals’ guns.
Choi states he believes the right to bear concealed arms is important. He says Korea bans individual gun ownership, and when he immigrated to the United States, he understood that self-defense is a critical part of American culture. He says gun ownership is important to self-defense. He argues most people would carry concealed weapons rather than brandishing them.
Deligianni-Brydges says gun control would only allow criminals to have guns. She says gun ownership is a constitutional right.
Sidhu pulls out his NRA card and says he owns several guns. He wants more support to fight gun control.
Alexander asks about the use of eminent domain for private uses.
Choi opposes it entirely. He says a fundamental tenet of capitalism is the right to private property. He attacks using eminent domain to convey private property to someone else and blasts redevelopment.
Deligianni-Brydges blasts eminent domain for private use as unconscionable.
Sidhu speaks of Anaheim’s Charter Amendment to block eminent domain for private uses in his city. He blasts Villa Park and Irvine for not doing so.
Pauly speaks of the American Dream of home ownership. She points to eminent domain for private use as the height of government abuse of power. She says they didn’t need to pass such a thing in Villa Park because no Councilmember in her city would ever consider eminent domain for private use.
Choi says Irvine actually did adopt an ordinance 5-7 years ago to prevent eminent domain for private use.
Alexander asks about union contributions.
Deligianni-Brydges says she has never and will not do so.
Sidhu says he has “no intention” of accepting any union money for the 60th Assembly District.
Pauly points out that they’re running for the 68th Assembly District. She says she has never taken union money and primarily has small individual contributors.
Choi says Sidhu is the only one on the dais who benefitted nearly $2 million in union funds in bids for various offices including for Supervisor against Shawn Nelson. Choi says he refused to take police union money when running for Mayor. He says he refused the easy union money, and he says he will not accept any union money.
Sidhu says Choi is going back to the past. He says he is looking to the future.
Alexander asks if anyone will seek the endorsement of any government employee union.
Sidhu says he will not accept their endorsements and will not interview with them.
Pauly says she will not accept their endorsements, but she will keep the door open to talking to them to hear their issues.
Choi points to the California Teachers Association endorsement being followed by contributions. He says it is best to refuse their endorsement. He says he knows where they come from, and he will refuse their endorsements.
Deligianni-Brydges says she will not accept any union endorsements.
Alexander asks about civil asset forfeiture.
Pauly says she believes assets should not be seized until someone has been convicted. She says she would seek the advice of subject matter experts like attorneys. She says she asks auditors about audits and realtors about real estate, etc.
Choi says he believes police should not be able to seize assets without due process of a court judgment proving that someone is dangerous in society. He calls it an invasion of property rights.
Deligianni-Brydges says she believes government has no right to seize property before conviction.
Sidhu supports asset forfeiture for the convicted. He wants strong laws restricting how law enforcement can seize assets.
Alexander asks about unfunded pension liabilities.
Choi calls this his favorite topic. He says in Irvine under Christina Shea and himself, had city staff develop a plan to pay down the City’s pension liability three years ago. He points to paying down the City’s entire $120 million unfunded pension liability in 7 years.
Deligianni-Brydges blasts legislators for making benefit increases, lower retirement ages, retroactive pensions, and risky investments. She says Governor Brown has made a step forward. She urges increasing employee contributions significantly to pensions.
Sidhu says Anaheim put new employees into lower pension plans. He says it is necessary to elect a lot more Republicans to the State Legislature. He warns of San Bernardino and Detroit who went bankrupt due to unfunded pension liabilities.
Pauly says Villa Park requires its employees to pay their entire employee contribution. She says Villa Park has paid off its pension liability. She says California’s pension liability will bankrupt California. She says she would work with John Moorlach to make the state solvent.
Alexander asks about tax credits for specific industries.
Deligianni-Brydges says she would not do so for any single industry, instead giving tax credits to all.
Sidhu says tax credits should be given to all, not specific industries. He says lower taxes will grow jobs.
Pauly says tax breaks should be given to everyone. She wants to focus on transparency and modernizing public records laws to reflect 21st Century technology. She wants to impose the Brown Act upon the Legislature. She says an informed electorate is the best electorate.
Choi says tax credits for certain industries is interesting, but notes all industries are special in their own way. He has a dream of convincing Democrats to form a special economic zone encompassing all of California so everyone can benefit.
Sidhu gives his closing statement. He speaks of his business experience. He rattles off his Congressional endorsements, legislative endorsements, County endorsements, and City endorsements.
Pauly says the political establishment has caused the problems California and the nation encountered. She says she previously supported Deligianni-Brydges for OUSD and wants her to stay there at OUSD. She says Choi was the wrong man for the Assembly in 2010 and now in 2016.
Choi says past service record shows which candidate would best represent conservative values in Sacramento. He points to his audits of the Great Park, his paying off pension liabilities, and adding In God We Trust to City Council chambers. He will fight for the unborn and lower taxes.
Deligianni-Brydges quotes the Bible on leadership bringing stability. She points to her research skills and backgrounds in both education and business.
Alexander tries to end the debate.
Sidhu says no one likes Pauly and attacks Pauly’s DUI. He accuses her of not filing her campaign finance reports.
Pauly says people do like her, and she has filed her reports.
Alexander is finally able to end the forum at 8:43 PM.