“The people are desperate for solutions to issues, not political theater,” said Eric Goldman, spokesman for Turlock’s Michael Eggman, a Democrat running against two-time Congressman Jeff Denham, also of Turlock. “We’ll see if people want more of the same.”
Goldman accused Denham of saying one thing in the district, while voting another way in Washington D.C. He criticized Denham’s vote that resulted in a federal government shutdown last October.
“He was the only Congressman in a district that voted for Obama to vote for a government shutdown,” Goldman said of last October’s vote by Denham to support a government shutdown rather than accepting more government spending from the President. “He talks moderate in the Valley, but when no one is looking he votes the opposite.”
Denham countered Tuesday, March 25, that the debt accrued under President Obama was not political theater and that the amount of debt he has piled on with the aid of some Congressional Democrats has doubled to $17 trillion since 2009 when the President first took office.
“We need these reforms,” Denham said about the shutdown brought in spending cuts. “I can vote for raising the debt ceiling, but we’ve got to deal with the spending, too.”
Denham pointed out that $17 trillion in debt represented $56,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
Denham said he is working on several things like water storage and infrastructure projects for Valley roads. He said he is also working to get a provision in the annual Transportation bill to make sure gas tax money accrued in the area stays in the area for transportation projects. Denham sits on the Transportation Committee and chairs a transportation subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management.
Another Democrat running out of Manteca, Mike Barkley listed four priorities in his candidacy for Congress. He ran for the same seat in 2012 and finished fourth in a five man June Primary race.
He listed in an email in order of his priority, backing legislation to strengthen unions, the need to create 32 million acre-feet of water storage by strengthening and increasing water storage facilities, working towards a balanced budget to strengthen and increase Medi-care to everyone, and repealing the right to bear arms.
Comparing the Central Valley to regions of the Appalachian Mountains in terms of poverty, Goldman said Eggman lists getting more federal tax dollars back to California as a top priority.
Currently California only receives 76 cents in projects and programs on every federal tax dollar levied in the state, he said. More infrastructure projects were needed in the district, also, Goldman noted.
Senator criticized for lack of minimum wage vote
At the state level Shawn Bagley, a Democrat from Monterey County challenging State Senator Anthony Cannella, was most vocal about the incumbents failure to vote for a raise in the state minimum wage.
State Senate District 12 was a seven point Democrat voting advantage in 2010 when Cannella was elected. A newly tweaked District 12 now has a 14 point Democrat advantage.
Bagley, who co-owns a produce distribution company, said he was disappointed in the lack of support for the Valley’s working poor.
Cannella, who abstained from voting for or against the measure last year, said not right now.
Another mandate on small businesses increasing their costs could lead to lay-offs, he said.
“I couldn’t support it after the affordable care act and problems with the state’s unemployment insurance,” he said, noting the state’s unemployment fund that is owed to the federal government is $12 billion in the red and will force increases in unemployment insurance premiums paid by businesses to cover the shortfall.
A trifecta of requirements by the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, unemployment insurance increases (which are still unknown) and a minimum wage increase could equal layoffs for workers, he said.
Cannella pointed to other long-term efforts to help the Valley like getting a new medical school for the University of California, Merced and working on a program to help doctors that currently graduate from UC-Davis intern in the Central Valley.
Doctors typically stay where they intern, he said, noting more doctors are badly needed in the Central Valley.
He said he is also working on legislation that would double fines in school zones for traffic violations, much like they are doubled now in road construction zones.
The extra fine money would go to the Safe Routes to Schools state grant project to help ensure student safety to school from home.
n Nick Rappley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-568-9975.