Energized by Donald Trump’s election to the presidency in November 2016, three potential Democrat candidates who plan to run against incumbent Republican District 1 Congressman Doug LaMalfa visited the Veterans Memorial Hall in Susanville Sunday, Dec. 17.
The candidate’s forum, hosted by the Lassen County Democratic Central Committee, gave those attending an opportunity to meet the candidates — Larry Jordan, Marty Walters and Jessica Holcombe.
Bill Martens, the chairman of the LCDCC said it’s time to a make a good decision about who will represent us in Congress. He said he’s proud to be a Democrat, and it’s time for local residents to say, “I’m a Democrat. What about it?”
Jacob Hibbitts, the LCDCC vice chairman, served as the moderator at the event.
As might be expected, the candidates and some in the audience took shots at LaMalfa, a two-term Republican rice farmer from the Central Valley.
Walters, from Quincy, said she was running for Congress to give voice to rural people, especially after the last election. She said she has 30 years experience in the environmental field, including 15 years in waste management, “so I’m really good at taking out the trash.”
Walters said she understands how to deal with a crisis, and our congressman needs to take that approach on many issues such as health care.
As a single mother who raised three children, she understands what a difference safety net programs can make to help people succeed in life.
She also said he has a good moral compass, and in her job as an environmental scientist who worked for a bank, she was tested to do the right thing even though it wasn’t popular. For example, she said she insisted a well-known company borrowing money from the bank provide fire escapes for employees in a new building being built in India.
Walters also stood up for public education and said the achievement gap isn’t about dumb or smart schools, it’s about resources.
Holcombe is a business attorney from Auburn, California. She said she’s a fourth-generation resident of District 1, and it’s time to “send Mr. LaMalfa back to his rice farm for good.”
She said her family was poor, and she once studied biology by talking with another student on a pay phone under a neon light.
She said, “Doug LaMalfa does not care about the interests of his constituents,” and his support of the president’s tax bill was just a back door way to get rid of the Affordable Care Act before the Republicans come after other public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. She said the only solution for health care in America is to create a single payer Medicare for all system.
And while LaMalfa claims to be one of us, Holcombe said he’s really, “One of them.”
She said LaMalfa and the Republicans are acting out of fear.
When one participant asked about how LaMalfa is a “ghost candidate,” Holcombe said he spends little time in Lassen County because he focuses his efforts on those in the Central Valley who will donate to his campaign. She also said LaMalfa is not an authority, he doesn’t make strong arguments and he’s not very well educated on the issues.
She also said she would make public school education a top priority, noting tax deductions for those who send their children to private school are really a “tax benefit” for those who can afford to send their children there.
“The wealthy are being successful in dividing this country,” she said, and added that public schools are one of the most important things in our nation.
She said many other countries provide free education to citizens and when Americans can’t afford to go to school “it not only hurts them, it hurts the country.”
Jordan predicted one of the candidates on this stage would “make this district blue” with a Democrat victory in the next election.
He said he’s an award-winning film director who’s dealt with million-dollar budgets.
He said the secret to the closing the divide between Democrats and Republicans is listening to what others have to say.
“Once you get that conversation going, anything is possible,” he said.
According to Jordan, everybody has a different reason for disliking LaMalfa, but it’s time to think about moving forward to “bring about a change if we’re going to survive.”
Hibbitts said the LCDCC meets at 5:30 p.m. the third Thursday of the month at the Susanville Pizza Factory. The public is welcome to attend.