San Diego State held a public forum yesterday featuring three prominent community leaders running for office in the state legislature, followed by a question-and-answer period where students had the opportunity to question the potential legislators on the issues. We at The Daily Aztec are proud to present a recap of the event for those who missed the public forum because of classes, homework or working your tail off trying to pay for school. Here’s how the candidates performed:
Dr. Shirley Weber:
Weber performed very well in the public forum, but was often overshadowed by the dialogue between state senate candidates Marty Block and George Plescia. Weber cited her 40 years of higher education experience and rallied the assembled students, saying, “I believe in you,” as she promised to perform as an “advocate on behalf of (our) generation.” On the subject of education, Weber was indisputably the most confident and qualified candidate. She even reminded the audience of the location of her office in SDSU’s College of Arts and Letters. When questioned on what she would do if elected, Weber pledged to promote equal opportunity programs and to make every effort possible to repair the struggling K-12 education system in order to adequately prepare students for the rigors of higher education.
The former SDSU faculty member (1979-2005) directly engaged Plescia on several points (some of which weren’t even being discussed in the public forum), and campaigned on the promise of lowering the financial burden currently supported by California State University students. On issues unrelated to education, including Obamacare and a proposed California high-speed rail system, Block asserted progressive liberal stances. In response to allegations from Plescia labeling Block as “anti-Catholic,” Block replied, “I have respect for my opponent’s personal beliefs. We differ on women’s rights issues, though. When it comes to a woman’s right to choose, I agree with Bill Clinton when he said abortion should be safe, legal and rare. George Plescia doesn’t agree with this. He wants American women to have to go across the border to Tijuana for medical services.” Block argued in favor of Proposition 30, saying it’s an opportunity for California citizens to invest in the future of thestate.
In a post-forum interview, Plescia said the largest obstacles California faces currently stem from an “unsteady” tax environment and regulations inhibiting businesses and business owners. Plescia joined the other candidates in pledging to create jobs, but was the only candidate who repeatedly decried tax increases on “job creators,” though he never identified who the job creators are. Plescia also condemned Proposition 30, claiming the “survivors” of the tax increase, including students, would have to pay a heavy price. Instead of raising taxes, Plescia favors a combination of solutions, including a two-year moratorium on new regulations and the analysis of detailed-cost/benefit analyses of current state-funded programs. Toward the end of the public forum, Plescia defended his Catholic faith, prompting this columnist to ask him about the relationship between his faith and his status as a politician. Plescia responded, “My personal religious views are just that: personal. My faith rarely gets brought up except on certain policy questions and I want to be very clear that I am in favor of respectful dialogue between people of all faiths.”
The real winner at the public forum was the student body here at SDSU. It is often difficult for many students to devote much time to studying politics, but this public forum placed a highly relevant discussion among serious political contenders literally in the heart of our campus. Students are notorious for failing to show up on Election Day, and Block says this has led to a misconception: “Students are often viewed as subpar citizens, and this just isn’t fair. Students are the only group forced to re-register to vote over and over again because they’re constantly moving. Young people shouldn’t be penalized for their housing situation. They should be empowered.”
Plescia reached out to students by promising to work to create jobs for them to step into after graduation and to ease their tax burdens.
Weber referred to our student body as the “richness of San Diego” as she stood before Hepner Hall. All candidates agreed on the paramount importance of academia in the future of the Golden State. Unfortunately, as candidates played their verbal cards along typical partisan boundaries, it seems the polarity of modern American political discourse isn’t going away anytime soon.