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Congressional hopefuls get down to the issues

May 29, 2012

Thirteen men and women are vying for the chance to represent California’s Eighth District in the U.S. House of Representatives – far and away the largest field of candidates Inyo County voters will have to choose from on June 5.
The top two vote-getters in the June 5 Primary will advance to the Nov. 6 General Election for the chance to represent District 8 as a U.S. Congressman.
District 8 covers the Eastern Sierra and most of San Bernardino County – including Victorville and Apple Valley –  as well as Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve.
As part of The Inyo Register’s ongoing efforts to help voters with their decision-making this Primary Election season, each of these hopefuls was invited to respond to a set of questions dealing with matters on a state, national and district level.
Each candidate was provided the same set of questions as his or her political challengers, and asked to keep the responses as concise as possible.
Given the high volume of candidates in this particular race, the District 8 hopefuls’ responses will be published in three parts. The first four candidates’ answers follow.
As before, their responses are printed verbatim with the order chosen by drawing.

1.) What are the biggest issues/challenges facing the 8th Congressional District right now?

Brad Mitzelfelt: One of the biggest problems facing all Americans is the excessive spending in Washington that’s created $15.6 trillion in debt, weakened our nation by forcing us to borrow from China, and discouraged investment in the private sector.  More locally, the federal government’s push for solar energy on public lands could threaten future economic opportunity in Inyo County.
Paul Cook: We need more jobs. The key is good land use, attacking problems like useless regulations and air quality, and sane leadership from proven leaders. If we elect someone unwilling to work, we will solve nothing. We also need spending discipline, so we can focus on producers in our economy rather than on people who have never worked a day.
Anthony Adams: A sagging economy and unemployment.
Angela Valles: The same problems facing the nation are usually accentuated here in the 8th District. We have higher unemployment rates, poverty rates, and foreclosures than the national average. We need to do whatever it takes to unburden business to let them grow, create jobs and stimulate our economy. The people in our district want to work. We have to help create the opportunities for them to.

2.) What are some possible solutions you’d like to have a hand in bringing to the table?
Mitzelfelt:
To stop unsustainable spending, I support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and enforceable caps on spending. I’ll attack waste and corruption, like I’ve done as County Supervisor – cutting my own compensation by 25 percent, balancing every budget, and making tough decisions to ensure a sound financial future.  I will do the same kinds of things in Washington.
Cook: I want to create a fair process on federal land use decisions that gives locals a bigger role, one that will lead to much-needed jobs and yet still protect the environment. I want to reduce spending on frivolous items and focus on roads, infrastructure, workers, and retirees. I propose auditing all federal agencies to find savings.
Adams: Working with job creators to reduce barriers to new job growth, helping to promote new and emerging industries here at home, and working with our schools to ensure our students are prepared to enter the workforce making a living wage.
Valles: Someone needs to tell congress they’re not there for themselves, they’re there to act in the best interest of the people. Gridlock has halted all forms of progress, and until Congress learns to work together it won’t matter what solutions are brought to the table. It’s time to stop thinking in terms of Democrats and Republicans and start doing what’s best for Americans.

3.) How can Inyo County residents be assured their concerns, needs and voices are not only being heard but represented in Washington, D.C.?
Mitzelfelt:
I am chairman of a nine-county, four-state organization where I work closely with Inyo County to fight for access to our federal lands.
Cook: Like people in Inyo, I live a rural lifestyle personally, and I’m the only candidate who can claim to have held office in a rural town. Inyo and my hometown have many similarities in the challenges we face, and I know these issues firsthand. I vow to keep the lines of communications open and the door ajar for all of Inyo’s residents.
Adams: I will be very accessable via phone, email, or personal visits with the residents of Inyo County and working closely with locally elected officials to ensure that the Federal governmnent is a partner in their work and not a hindrance to their efforts to help all of the residents of the district.
Valles: I’ve only gotten this far because I’ve held accountability as one of my top priorities. There is no one county, city or district that is better or more important than the next. I will have a hard-working, reliable field representative there who reports directly to me. Other than making regular visits to meet with residents, if something requires my attention, I WILL be there.

4.) How often would you personally visit Inyo County as the District 8 Congressman?
Mitzelfelt:
I currently represent the largest county supervisor district in the United States. I visit every part of my district on a regular basis. I would do no less for Inyo County and would visit several times a year.
Cook: While Congress is in session, I will take my job extremely seriously and focus my time on working in Washington for my constituents. During this time, I might visit at least once a month. During off periods, I expect to visit more often. I will also visit whenever necessary for emergencies and crises.
Adams: As often as necessary to ensure that Inyo County residents are confident that their voices, concerns and needs are being met by their representative at the federal level.
Valles: As often as possible. The people I’ve met in Inyo County are passionate and want to be involved, not to mention there are few things more beautiful than the snow-capped escarpment of the Eastern Sierras. I believe it’s very important to treat all counties, and cities equally. I will visit community events on a regular basis, and be there when any other need arises that requires my personal attention.
 
5.) Given the sometimes rancorous nature of partisan politics, do you see an opportunity to work more “across the aisle” to help foster progress and greater cooperation on controversial issues?
Mitzelfelt:
I won’t back down from my conservative principles, but I always treat everyone with respect. I have worked across party lines.
My current office of county supervisor is nonpartisan, so I’m well accustomed to leading without regard to party politics. Ensuring my constituents receive vital services and that the county helps create jobs and economic opportunities – these aren’t partisan matters.
Cook: While I am a staunch opponent of higher taxes, my record as a state lawmaker and as Chair of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee proves that I can remain true to my values and still work in a bipartisan manner. Too many politicians would have you believe America is entirely divided. That simply isn’t the case on all issues.
Adams: Yes. I believe voters deserve to have a representative that puts people before politics. Democratic and Republican extremists have gridlocked our country and make scoring political points more important than solving our biggest problems. I am running to give voters a better choice.
Valles: The amount of opportunities to foster progress that have been wasted by our divisive Congress is shameful. They’re all focused on the next election and afraid to upset the status quo, and voters are paying the price. Millions are still out of work, facing foreclosures, or worse, and our so-called leaders are playing political games. I don’t care if I serve just one term, I’m only there to create positive change.

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