OC Voters are Picking New State Representatives. What Do the Candidates Say?

Gun Rights

How should Orange County’s representatives in Sacramento handle issues like homelessness, public safety, crime and human rights?

Over the next few weeks, voters will be choosing new state representatives who will have a role in shaping that future.

For years, Orange County has been a central battleground for just how much power Democrats have in state government – determining whether the party has a supermajority that can raise taxes on its own.

Two OC districts that are drawing statewide attention for being competitive are south county’s 74th District (between Republican Laurie Davies and Democrat Chris Duncan) and the 70th District that includes Little Saigon (between Democrat Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen and Republican Tri Ta).

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Voice of OC reporters reached out to all 28 state Assembly and Senate candidates for Orange County and sent them a list of questions, several of which were submitted by readers in response to a public invitation for questions.

Eight candidates responded: six Democrats, one Republican and one Independent.

Each was allowed up to 350 characters per answer, to keep the total length reasonable. 

Below are the answers of all candidates who responded.

To jump directly to candidate responses from a particular race, click one of the following: 

What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Leon Sit (Independent): I think the California Legislative Information website is working well. It helps Californians read what bills do, and what position their representatives take. The website could use some modernization updates, but generally with the livestreams you can’t really ask for more business-related transparency.

What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Sit: The improvements we can make to the legislature involve the members of the Assembly themselves. I’ve heard from constituents that some Assemblymembers are slow to respond or outright ignore requests. I think at the very least the legislative salary demands attention to those who pay it. 

Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

Sit: Ideally, meetings would be made available a day before the meeting itself at the latest, to help the media and the public know what is to be discussed

What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Sit: I think climate change is real, but also that we are on the right course. To address further challenges, the state will have to continue to invest in climate-related expenses, especially fire-fighting efforts. Ideally we would clear dry brush, preventing it from posing a fire threat.

Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Sit: No.

Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Sit: I will accept the certified election results, because I know the election process is free and fair.

Do you support doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records, such as Cuba, Iran and Russia?

Sit: Doing business with authoritarian countries legitimizes their political system and normalizes interaction with them. This is to be avoided because it allows them to enforce their social, cultural, and political stances on the United States through economic influence.

Do you agree with the standing ovation given to the Cuban government by the California State Senate earlier this year? During such official recognitions, do you believe it’s important to hear from opposing views when there are human rights concerns about those regimes?

Sit: I think celebrating foreign dignitaries is uncalled for when they are associated with and defend political practices that we consider unthinkable in the United States. We can certainly hear opposing viewpoints, but it’s critical that we do not celebrate or legitimize dictators or their associates, especially in official capacities.

Should visits by international delegations to government offices in the U.S. – such as the county or state or Congress – be tied to human rights and be fully disclosed before the visits?

Sit: Visits from international delegations must be disclosed because it’s important for the people to be aware of contacts with foreign groups, which could amount to outright foreign influence. It’s also a matter of keeping the government accountable.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to homelessness? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Sit: California continues to invest in reducing homelessness with questionable efficacy. I support a rehabilitative stance on the issue, where we direct the homeless to programs that prepare them for re-entry into society, which includes ending the drug abuse that is common among the homeless. I also believe this is an issue best addressed locally.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to housing? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Sit: To continue to grow, and to support those who already live here, California needs to expand its housing supply which often includes building up and out — forms of development which are generally broadly unpopular, but an immediate and effective solution to the daunting housing costs.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to public safety? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Sit: California is experiencing a local effect of the national increase in crime, which I think is the result of a decline in the social fabric and sometimes in the questionable attitude towards enforcement of laws. Our justice system should prioritize complete rehabilitation, and not quantitative metrics such as overcrowding or minimum sentencing.

What do you feel is the responsibility of the state Legislature in addressing California’s rising heat?

Sit: One priority the legislature should focus on is supporting sensible emissions-reducing legislation. Instead of restricting the sale of gas-only cars or proposing a windfall tax, the state should consider investing its surplus into solar, nuclear, or hydroelectric power, which are more sensible approaches to green energy.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws on guns, including semi-automatic and automatic rifles? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Sit: I think gun violence is an expedited version of other violent crimes. The best way to tackle the issue is probably to keep firearms out of the hands of young men, but like all forms of prohibition, criminals are likely to ignore any restrictions we place.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding LGBTQ people? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Sit: To my knowledge, California’s current laws regarding LGBTQ people make sense, and I can’t really think of any changes I would make.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding abortion? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Sit: I think the law is fine as it stands. I don’t have input here.

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What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Sharon Quirk-Silva (Democrat): A major frustration when arriving in Sacramento in 2012 was the glut of last minute “gut-and-amends” with bills voted on minutes after being released.  I’m proud voters addressed this issue passing Prop 54 in 2016 which requires legislation be in print for 72 hours.  Budget trailer bills are an area where increased transparency would be welcome.”

What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Quirk-Silva: I always ask myself some simple questions. Am I using constituent feedback to prioritize the issues? Am I focusing on finding solutions, not scoring political points?  Am I demanding our communities be treated fairly? Transparency and public engagement does not start with passing laws.  It starts with demanding officials treat these as core values.

Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

Quirk-Silva: I believe the state would benefit from more transparency around the budget process, which increasingly comes down to a handful of leaders sitting in a closed room, rather than including the entire Legislature in a process that provides more opportunities for meaningful engagement by the public.

What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Quirk-Silva: We need more incentives to reduce our impact on climate change and to speed our response. I proudly supported this year’s state budget and its $50 billion investment in protecting against extreme weather, investing in those whose livelihoods are being damaged, and increasing access to zero-emission vehicles across the economic spectrum.

Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Quirk-Silva: No.

Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Quirk-Silva: Yes. Los Angeles and Orange Counties are particularly blessed to have Registrars of Voters who are committed to running free, fair, professional, and transparent elections.  As someone who has both won and lost elections, I know the importance of respecting the results, whatever they might be and will do so again this year.

Do you support doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records, such as Cuba, Iran and Russia?

Quirk-Silva: As the fifth largest economy in the world, California must be ready to use that strength to further our shared values. For example, I was proud to co-author SB 1328, bipartisan legislation to require California’s retirement systems divest from Russia and Belarus.  

Do you agree with the standing ovation given to the Cuban government by the California State Senate earlier this year? During such official recognitions, do you believe it’s important to hear from opposing views when there are human rights concerns about those regimes?

Quirk-Silva: Transparency once again is key.  A major shortfall of the June address by the Cuban government official was that most Senators apparently had no idea the event was even happening.  This meant there was no opportunity for discussions about the appropriateness of the visit or how to ensure human rights concerns would remain at the forefront. 

Should visits by international delegations to government offices in the U.S. – such as the county or state or Congress – be tied to human rights and be fully disclosed before the visits?

Quirk-Silva: The U.S. cannot ignore the world but must be cautious of how such visits can give legitimacy to governments with abhorrent records. Not ignoring a country cannot be an excuse to ignore when a regime is simply in the wrong. Transparency around international delegations is particularly critical when visits are supported using U.S. taxpayer dollars.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to homelessness? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Quirk-Silva: I’ve worked to unwind the many factors that have created our homeless crises and make real progress. I’ve written new laws to speed early intervention, improve state planning for homeless services, and mandate better care for the most severe mentally ill people on our streets with stronger drug treatment requirements.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to housing? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Quirk-Silva: We need more than one solution.  This year I helped pass bills to make it easier to build Accessory Dwelling Units (AB 2221) and prioritize repurposing state surplus property to build more housing (AB 2233).

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to public safety? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Quirk-Silva: I believe in balanced solutions.  I have opposed relaxing penalties for serious crimes, while supporting investments in early intervention/prevention programs.  We can both give law enforcement the tools they need, while also addressing root-causes.

What do you feel is the responsibility of the state Legislature in addressing California’s rising heat?

Quirk-Silva: We need to reduce our impact on climate change and speed our response.  We also need to do more to address the realities of already rising temperatures.  For example, water policies should be based on the current needs of real people and businesses, not century-old water-rights that often have little to do with the demand of our changing world.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws on guns, including semi-automatic and automatic rifles? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Quirk-Silva: As a 30-year school teacher who was responsible for the safety and well-being of children, I’m sick of begin asked about guns after the next mass shooting. We have to stop the easy flow of weapons into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Nothing will change until politicians see protecting children as more important than the gun lobby.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding LGBTQ people? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Quirk-Silva: I support gay marriage and strengthening laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding abortion? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Quirk-Silva: I am pro-choice and was proud to vote to place Proposition 1 on the ballot to create a Constitutional protect in California women will continue to have the freedom to choose what is best for them.

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What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Mike Tardif (Republican): The entire State of California government apparatus lacks transparency and accountability.

What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Tardif: I would start by demanding a full accounting of how the State of California Employment Development Department (EDD) lost upwards of $30 billion taxpayer dollars to criminal fraud. We need to prevent such malfeasance in the future.

Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

Tardif: I believe that the Brown Act requires municipalities to publicly post meetings 3 days in advance. I think that it would be feasible and beneficial to the public interest to post regular meetings 5 days in advance.

What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Tardif: I am more concerned about climate fear mongering than theoretical “climate change.” Banning gas autos and banning gas home furnaces is an example of “climate overreach.

Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Tardif: The 2020 Presidential election was not conducted in a free and fair manner. Polls indicate that a significant portion of the electorate believes cheating affected the outcome of the election.  A free country cannot exist without fair elections. We need significant election reform before the next presidential election.

Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Tardif: I believe that the Orange County Registrar of Voters conducts as free an fair elections as anywhere in the US. However, having participated in vote count observation in OC, I believe that the signature verification process, which I have witnessed, is very weak and is in need of significant improvement.

Do you support doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records, such as Cuba, Iran and Russia?

Tardif: I absolutely do not support doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records – and you can throw the communist Chinese government in that group as well. It is unconscionable that we trade with any country who uses slave labor to manufacture the goods we purchase.

Do you agree with the standing ovation given to the Cuban government by the California State Senate earlier this year? During such official recognitions, do you believe it’s important to hear from opposing views when there are human rights concerns about those regimes?

Tardif: I was appalled by the standing ovation given to a member of the communist dictatorial Cuban government by the California State Senate. The socialist policies, laws and regulations coming out of Sacramento should greatly alarm all Californians. Democrat policies have led to skyrocketing costs of gas, energy, groceries, medical care and housing.

Should visits by international delegations to government offices in the U.S. – such as the county or state or Congress – be tied to human rights and be fully disclosed before the visits?

Tardif: Yes. A formal transparent process should be instituted to make advance public notice of visits by international delegations to government offices in the U.S. and should be tied to human rights.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to homelessness? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Tardif: California’s approach to homelessness is an obvious abysmal failure. The homeless are human beings and should be treated with dignity. To allow them to live in squalor is not humane. We must deal firmly with the homeless on a mental health and drug addiction basis. I am not opposed to some form of involuntary commitment.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to housing? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Tardif: There are too many laws and regulations coming out of the Democrat legislature in Sacramento that contribute to the high cost of housing. The Democrat legislature has made laws which remove the ability of local jurisdictions to govern their own housing requirements.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to public safety? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Tardif: Public safety is largely a local community issue. However, laws and regulations issued by the Sacramento Democrat super majority have released criminals onto our streets and neighborhoods which make the job of our local police forces much more difficult. I support fully funding law enforcement and working with them for community accountability.

What do you feel is the responsibility of the state Legislature in addressing California’s rising heat?

Tardif: California can do nothing by itself on “rising heat.” California government has mismanaged our water resources. The voters of California passed a bond measure over 10 years ago to increase our water storage capacity. Not one water reservoir has been built with that money. We may be in a “drought” – but that’s not why we lack sufficient water.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws on guns, including semi-automatic and automatic rifles? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Tardif: California has enough gun laws. We need to enforce the laws already on the books.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding LGBTQ people? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Tardif: LGBTQ people should be treated like everyone else, according to their constitutional rights.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding abortion? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Tardif: I am a Pro Life candidate and I oppose Proposition 1.

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What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen (Democrat): Transparent governance laws such as Prop 54 do not go far enough because of the potential of last minute “gut and amend” tactics. I will champion bipartisan legislation which addresses loopholes that conflict with what’s best for the people.

What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Nguyen: We must elect the right leaders with a proven track record the first time and every time. We must put “People Over Party

Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

Nguyen: I support the current policy of posting the legislative agenda 72 hours prior. This is a time for public input and public debate. This is not the time for lobbying parties to assert influence or a window for opposing parties to initiate lawsuits.

What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Nguyen: As a scientist, I base my decisions on data. Climate change has negatively impacted our lives in more ways than most of us realize. All political sides must find common-ground solutions that move our energy dependence away from fossil fuels but do not negatively impact jobs and businesses that currently rely on the fossil fuel industry.

Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Nguyen: No, I do not believe the last presidential election was stolen.

Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Nguyen: I believe I am participating in a free and fair election process. The last election cycle has taught us the vulnerabilities in our election laws. I will accept the results win or lose, as certified.

Do you support doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records, such as Cuba, Iran and Russia?

Nguyen: I am a strong advocate for diplomacy. Economic sanctions are a vehicle to deliver a measured response for countries with questionable human rights records and with which we have business ties, are a tool, not the solution. As much as I’m disgusted with brutal regimes, those regimes don’t represent many good people in those countries.

Do you agree with the standing ovation given to the Cuban government by the California State Senate earlier this year? During such official recognitions, do you believe it’s important to hear from opposing views when there are human rights concerns about those regimes?

Nguyen: I’ve been an activist all my life against the communist regime in Vietnam. It was profoundly unacceptable for the California State Legislature to display such a gesture towards a repressive regime. No matter which party we side on, we must stand firm on our principles of freedom for all and not be misled by opposing viewpoints.

Should visits by international delegations to government offices in the U.S. – such as the county or state or Congress – be tied to human rights and be fully disclosed before the visits?

Nguyen: Successful diplomacy cannot always be accomplished in the public eye. Congressional delegates have a duty to the people they represent. Their goals and objectives for these visits must be clear and transparent.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to homelessness? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nguyen: As a council member and Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Garden Grove over the past six years, we’ve addressed homelessness head-on. We’ve successfully led the way in building Navigation Centers in collaboration with Be Well OC and providing mental support and transitioning tools for homelessness. I will champion this effort at the state level.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to housing? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nguyen: I support cutting the red tape and reexamining existing SB regulations, such as SB9 and SB10, to maximize increasing our affordable housing supply in California. This is a very complex problem, and the solution must include building more housing. We need to think for our future generations.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to public safety? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nguyen: I strongly believe in further funding to strengthen public safety. I support additional legislation that holds public safety leadership accountable for excessive use of force.

What do you feel is the responsibility of the state Legislature in addressing California’s rising heat?

Nguyen: I continue to be an optimist. However, we cannot solve this problem alone. California does not exist in a vacuum. We must exercise bipartisanship and continue setting a high bar. I am concerned about the lack of public transparency from environmental agencies in conjunction with state legislators throughout this process.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws on guns, including semi-automatic and automatic rifles? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nguyen: I believe in common-sense gun legislation. I fully support our 2nd Amendment rights. However, it is a fact that shooters are disproportionately in their teens and 20s, so I firmly believe our best investment would be to invest more in student mental health care to help kids before circumstances deteriorate for those who sadly turn into killers.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding LGBTQ people? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nguyen: California is one of the most progressive states in the US, offering protections for LGBTQ rights. LGBTQ protection laws and equal rights must be further strengthened and immune from politics. Happiness is something we all strive for. Acceptance and kindness beget happiness.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding abortion? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nguyen: I am pro-choice. I firmly believe in a woman’s right to choose. There is no room for judges, politicians, or government bureaucrats in the conversation. The doctor-patient relationship is sacred. 

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What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Judie Mancuso (Democrat): The Assembly has done a good job facilitating public transparency in its legislative process by allowing remote testimony and continued hearings and floor sessions via video. I support mandating that all hearings be available remotely. My critique is that some legislative offices still have not allowed the public to start advocating in-person yet.

What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Mancuso: I will advocate that all legislative offices be open to the public while of course following CDC recommendations.

Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

Mancuso: I support posting meeting agendas as early as possible. Assembly Committees have a patchwork of rules which are often enforced without uniformity. I would urge the Assembly to have one set of rules for all Committees. I will include the budget hearings in my constituent outreach to alert the community of these hearings and how to give their input.

What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Mancuso: I believe that climate change is the biggest issue facing humanity. I will champion laws that facilitate phasing out fossil fuels while expanding renewables and produce community energy that can be allocated to low-income households and seniors. I’ll fight price gouging at the pump while incentivizing reducing emissions from the top GHG producers.

Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Mancuso: Absolutely not. And I am grateful for the January 6th Committee investigating the attack on our Capitol so that we can make any changes necessary to ensure our democracy is safe for generations to come.

Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Mancuso: Yes, I do believe I am participating in a free and fair election process, and I will accept the results of the election. 

Do you support doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records, such as Cuba, Iran and Russia?

Mancuso: I do not support doing business with these regimes, but each must be approached individually.  I understand that sanctions must be specific and targeted, as general sanctions often hurt the people of these countries rather than the terrible regimes in control.

Do you agree with the standing ovation given to the Cuban government by the California State Senate earlier this year? During such official recognitions, do you believe it’s important to hear from opposing views when there are human rights concerns about those regimes?

Mancuso: The Cuban government continues human rights violations by repressing and deterring public criticism. I do not believe it serves our state nor those who are suffering these violations for our Senate to applaud a Cuban delegation. We must listen to opposing views so as to have a full understanding of context even though we may still condemn actions.

Should visits by international delegations to government offices in the U.S. – such as the county or state or Congress – be tied to human rights and be fully disclosed before the visits?

Mancuso: I do believe that human rights violations should be disclosed before international delegations are accepted. 

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to homelessness? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Mancuso: The OC is making positive strides with its “Be Well” Program, Friendship Shelter, and other public-private programs in its fight against homelessness. We must build more shelters with wraparound services, such as drug counseling, and offer permanent supportive housing to help get people off the streets for good and enforce anti-camping laws.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to housing? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Mancuso: “California must build affordable housing in partnership with local jurisdictions. RHNA allocations do not work for every jurisdiction and must be revisited, especially for communities that are built out and have little open space. Partnering with nonprofits like Jamboree Housing Corp is key. We must also repurpose existing commercial properties.”

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to public safety? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Mancuso: California must do better to bolster law enforcement, fund prosecutors, and get guns and drugs off our streets. I support the creation of a “smash-and-grab” enforcement unit, deploying more CHP, using upgraded technology to deter and solve crimes, and expand anti-recidivism programs. We must also teach tolerance and fully prosecute hate crimes.

What do you feel is the responsibility of the state Legislature in addressing California’s rising heat?

Mancuso: We must continue investments made by our state to fight wildfires, support firefighters, and drought response. We must implement scientifically backed cooling methods for our cities. Also, local jurisdictions deserve the state’s support in ensuring senior citizens have access to air conditioning or cooling centers during extreme heat waves. “

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws on guns, including semi-automatic and automatic rifles? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Mancuso: I support California’s gun control laws, including those pertaining to semi-automatic and automatic rifles. We must continue to pressure the gun industry to reduce the harm its products cause, as the state did by passing AB1594. We also must continue leading the nation’s gun violence research in order to implement the most effective public policy.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding LGBTQ people? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Mancuso: I am proud to be endorsed by the Lavender Democrats OC and am fully supportive of California’s progressive policies protecting the LGBTQ community. Our state leads the nation in respect and dignity of the LGBTQ community.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding abortion? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Mancuso: I support California’s current laws regarding abortion and ensuring these laws are protected by passing Proposition 1, which will enshrine the fundamental right to an abortion and access to contraception into the state constitution. I also support protecting those individuals who must travel to California to access reproductive healthcare.

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What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Chris Duncan (Democrat): In San Clemente – where I serve as Mayor Pro Tem on the City Council – local city government is open to the people. Public noticing and transparency is what allowed our community to expose and then beat back a radical anti-abortion resolution. I’ll fight for that same level of transparency in Sacramento.

What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Duncan: The State Legislature has exempted itself from the transparency laws like the Public Records Act it requires local cities follow. As a result of this secrecy, district residents may not know that my opponent spent more than $250,000 of their taxpayer dollars on campaign-style mailers this election cycle. I will make the Legislature transparent.

Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

Duncan: Yes, we have already done this in San Clemente by publishing our city council agenda nearly one-week before scheduled meetings to keep the public informed and engaged. Government needs to be accountable to the people – and I’ll fight to make sure that our State Assembly gets back on track when it comes to accountability and public input.

What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Duncan: Climate change is real, and is a threat to our coastline, economy, and way of life. In our community, we’re seeing the danger first hand with coastal erosion that has caused a slope failure, damaged homes, and stopped rail traffic. I’ll fight to deliver the coastal resiliency funding my opponent has failed to secure so we can rebuild our beaches.”

Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Duncan: No. MAGA extremists and election deniers who advance the Big Lie and worked to subvert our democracy need to be held accountable. My opponent rallied in San Clemente with now criminally indicted January 6th insurrectionists associated with the Three Percenters militia group who sought to overturn the election. In contrast, I condemn these groups.

Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Duncan: Yes. We cannot ignore the threats to our election integrity from outside actors like Russia and our government must stay ahead of the curve in protecting our elections and voting systems from cyber attacks. But we must call out elected officials who refuse to accept election results and perpetuate lies that undermine trust in our elections.

Do you support doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records, such as Cuba, Iran and Russia?

Duncan: No. We shouldn’t invest the public’s hard-earned tax dollars in anti-Democratic regimes.

Do you agree with the standing ovation given to the Cuban government by the California State Senate earlier this year? During such official recognitions, do you believe it’s important to hear from opposing views when there are human rights concerns about those regimes?

Duncan: No, the Cuban government doesn’t deserve applause. America can advance its interests abroad, while speaking out loudly and clearly about human rights violations that go against our values.

Should visits by international delegations to government offices in the U.S. – such as the county or state or Congress – be tied to human rights and be fully disclosed before the visits?

Duncan: Yes, there must be full public disclosure and it should go both ways. My opponent took an all expenses paid trip to China paid for by the Chinese Government that the public knows little about. Our residents deserve to know when their elected officials like my opponent receive benefits from adversaries of the United States and other interest groups.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to homelessness? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Duncan: Just throwing money at a problem like California has done does not work. Housing without services, or street services without connections to housing, do not address the root causes homelessness. We need more supportive housing with economic, mental health, and substance abuse services to ensure people can overcome the reasons they became homeless.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to housing? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Duncan: We are building a fraction of the housing units we need in California to overcome our 3.5 million unit housing deficit, but state housing mandates have not resulted in enough construction of this housing. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, the state should empower local cities to develop affordable housing that fits each community.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to public safety? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Duncan: As a former Federal Prosecutor for 16 years, I believe in law and order, know how to keep our communities safe, and reject the extremist political agendas on both sides. I’ll fight to fully fund our police, work to reform Propositions 47 and 57, and address the threat of domestic terrorism. My opponent rallied with extremists who attacked police.

What do you feel is the responsibility of the state Legislature in addressing California’s rising heat?

Duncan: The State Legislature is responsible for enacting proactive strategies to address the threat of wildfires brought on by hotter, drier conditions. And we must protect our most vulnerable first, like our seniors, who might live in older homes, by promoting new technologies like heat pumps to keep people cool without harming the environment”

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws on guns, including semi-automatic and automatic rifles? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Duncan: As a federal prosecutor, I went after the gun smugglers who fuel violence in our communities. We must get weapons of war off our streets. And we need common sense gun safety reforms like background checks to protect our kids from dangerous people. My opponent, who has an A rating from the NRA, opposed these policies, putting our families in danger.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding LGBTQ people? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Duncan: The California that I know and believe in is welcoming and accepting of all. We must speak out forcefully against coded efforts to erode tolerance and inclusion for LGBTQ youth in our schools and communities. My opponent  has demonstrated she will not support such inclusive policies: she refused to answer whether she supports marriage equality.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding abortion? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Duncan: I am 100 percent pro-choice and believe we need stronger protections for women’s reproductive freedom in California after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. My opponent is anti-choice and has pledged to ban abortion from conception, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The difference between us on women’s rights couldn’t be starker.

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What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Brian Nash (Democrat): My belief is that the agencies themselves are reasonably transparent.  My concern lies with the individuals.  Too often, politicians take advantage of their position of trust.  Either they are bought off by lobbies, use insider knowledge for self enrichment, or find other creative ways to pad their pocketbook.

What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Nash: I plan to introduce legislation that bans anyone that represents Californians, and may have access to insider information, from buying or selling individual stocks, or other financial instruments that represent an individual stock.  By removing the temptation of profit, our leaders can focus on what they were elected to do… serve the public.

Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

Nash: I’m all for transparency, but I have concerns that this can create more confusion than what it is intended to solve.  Agendas change and evolve, and unless the public is aware of the changes, this can create a ton of frustration.  I believe the best way of increasing public input is by simply being available to those you serve.

What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Nash: While we should have taken it seriously decades ago, the next best time to start is now.  I believe that we must move ourselves away from our fossil fuel present through a variety of programs.  Solar must be made affordable for the average family, and we must take advantage of the wind and water based power sources that can be implemented locally.

Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Nash: No.  I believe those that think the 2020 election was stolen have been misled by a lifelong con man.  While I believe it is important to have secure elections, the current efforts to “improve election security” are nothing more than foul attempts to subvert the democratic process by undermining the faith in our already very secure elections.

Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Nash: I think that there is plenty that can be done to make our elections more fair.  Getting money out of politics, especially from

Do you support doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records, such as Cuba, Iran and Russia?

Nash: No.  I have all the empathy in the world for the citizens that get harmed by this type of decision, but they must rise (with support) and demand their leaders act as a positive force in the international community.

Do you agree with the standing ovation given to the Cuban government by the California State Senate earlier this year? During such official recognitions, do you believe it’s important to hear from opposing views when there are human rights concerns about those regimes?

Nash: The optics of a standing ovation for ANY oppressive government aren’t good.  However, I don’t believe this is a black or white issue.  Why is the foreign government here?  If they are looking to genuinely amend their abusive past, with agreement from their oppressed, I am happy to be supportive. Otherwise, they will receive no such gesture from me.

Should visits by international delegations to government offices in the U.S. – such as the county or state or Congress – be tied to human rights and be fully disclosed before the visits?

Nash: I think we should be extremely transparent about the meetings that our leaders have with foreign countries, their human rights records, and the outcomes of such meetings.  Cockroaches scatter in light, and by making our governmental workings as transparent as possible can only help restore some faith in our government.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to homelessness? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nash: We aren’t doing nearly enough to combat homelessness.  We must do more to combat the symptoms that lead to homelessness, through tools such as Safe Use Sites, mental health clinics, and street to school programs that help people get clean, get healthy, and get to work.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to housing? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nash: There simply aren’t enough houses to go around, especially at the starter home level.  We MUST work with our thought leaders in the housing community to create innovative solutions, partner with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, and build creative solutions that allow people to own a home, build equity, and achieve the American dream.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to public safety? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nash: We must assure that criminals, especially violent ones, are prosecuted, and receive appropriate sentences for their misdeeds.  However, prisoners are humans too.  Over a dozen prisoners have died in Riverside County jails in 2022 and I believe that Sheriff Bianco owes those families detailed answers on why their family members died on his watch. 

What do you feel is the responsibility of the state Legislature in addressing California’s rising heat?

Nash: Let’s call this what this is… climate change.  State legislature must enact laws that aggressively, but equitably move us toward a low-carbon future.  This includes crafting legislation that helps support the Governor’s recent push for an electric vehicle future by 2035 that will allow all to reasonably participate.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws on guns, including semi-automatic and automatic rifles? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nash: Data has shown that violent crime in California has decreased significantly since the 90s.  However, gun violence still affects far too many of us.  Legislature must to remain respectful of the 2nd Amendment for responsible gunowners.  However, we must work to protect our communities through thorough vetting, training, and closing loopholes.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding LGBTQ people? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nash: California does a decent job protecting the LGBTQ community.  While I see plenty of work to be done within our communities, much of this work can be done through outreach events, education, and exposure to people from all backgrounds.  So often we get stuck in our bubbles, when simply meeting and talking to one another can solve so much.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding abortion? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Nash: I believe Proposition 1 will pass by a fairly wide margin.  This will create significant protection for abortion rights within the state.  HOWEVER, we must all realize that the federal government can supersede our state Constitution.  We must elect pro-choice candidates up and down the ballot to preserve the right to choose.

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What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Catherine Blakespear (Democrat): The voters in California recently enacted the “72 hour in print rule,” which requires a bill to be in print for three days prior to having any floor vote taken on it. I support the 72 hour rule, and furthermore, I think it’s important to proactively engage the community to demystify the legislative process.

What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Blakespear: One way that I intend to improve transparency in the Senate is to bring the legislative process down to voters. Sacramento is hundreds of miles away, and many constituents may never visit the Capitol in their lifetimes. If given the opportunity, I intend to bring special hearings to my district in order to engage the public on critical issues.

Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

Blakespear: I support posting meeting agendas as early as possible. As soon as I get the agenda is when the public should get it. In regards to the budget process, one major goal of mine is to spend the months prior to the budget being developed by touring the district, visiting every city, meeting stakeholders, and figuring out which items to prioritize.

What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Blakespear: I believe that human activity causes climate change, and I support strong action to preserve and protect our environment for future generations. That’s why I’m endorsed by the Sierra Club and CA Environmental Voters. As a Mayor, I am proud of our environmental achievements, which include switching to 100% renewable energy for consumers.

Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Blakespear: I do not believe the last presidential election was stolen, and I believe that these dangerous conspiracy theories are undermining our democracy. 

Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Blakespear: I believe I am participating in a free and fair election process, and I will accept the results of the election as certified. 

Do you support doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records, such as Cuba, Iran and Russia?

Blakespear: I believe in human rights, religious rights, individual freedom of expression, and I do not believe in doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records.

Do you agree with the standing ovation given to the Cuban government by the California State Senate earlier this year? During such official recognitions, do you believe it’s important to hear from opposing views when there are human rights concerns about those regimes?

Blakespear: I believe that our state government should welcome international delegations that uphold our values as a country and as a state. I also believe it is important for the State of California to speak up for opposing views, to make clear where we stand, and not to leave any ambiguity on human rights. 

Should visits by international delegations to government offices in the U.S. – such as the county or state or Congress – be tied to human rights and be fully disclosed before the visits?

Blakespear: I believe that full disclosure when any international delegation visits the Capitol is critical in order to give the space for legislators to assess the proper response and reception. If given the proper notice and information beforehand, I will do my best to make sure the voices of dissenting communities are not left to the sidelines.  

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to homelessness? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Blakespear: Our public spaces should not be filled with people sleeping in tents – period. We need a strategy to address each cause of homelessness, including the cost of housing, mental health, and addiction. I support CARE Court, the new bipartisan law which sets up a new branch of the judiciary to help severely mentally ill people enter a treatment program.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to housing? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Blakespear: As mayor, I’ve been working – and succeeding – at providing more housing options for people at all income levels. It’s worth noting that our Housing Element Update in Encinitas has resulted in 334 new affordable housing units that are already built or currently underway. I intend to bring this same experience and outlook to Sacramento.

What are your thoughts on California’s current approach to public safety? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Blakespear: I’m proud of the fact that crime is lower in Encinitas now than it was when I was sworn in as mayor in 2016, but there’s still work to be done. I support funding the police – period. That means ensuring law enforcement officers have the tools, training, and resources they need to enforce the law and keep us all safe. 

What do you feel is the responsibility of the state Legislature in addressing California’s rising heat?

Blakespear: The wildfires and drought we are experiencing means that we must harness the power of our state in order to address these frequent heat waves. I am proud to be endorsed by the California Professional Firefighters, Climate Defenders Fund, and the Sierra Club, whom I plan on working with in Sacramento to solve the climate crisis.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws on guns, including semi-automatic and automatic rifles? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Blakespear: As mayor, I have been one of California’s most effective leaders against gun violence. I banned ghost guns, passed safe gun storage requirements, and supported red flag laws to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. I will support common sense policies, which is why I’m endorsed by groups like Brady PAC and Safer California. 

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding LGBTQ people? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Blakespear: I believe that California is a leader when it comes to LGBTQ rights, and I’m proud of my record to advance LGBTQ equality. Encinitas was the first city in the 38th District to fly the LGBTQ Pride Flag at City Hall during Pride Month. I will be a strong ally in the State Senate to the LGBTQ community, just as I always have been.

What are your thoughts on California’s current laws regarding abortion? Do you support changes, and if so, what are they?

Blakespear: As the only candidate in this race who is 100% pro-choice, I am proudly endorsed by Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice California. I will always stand in support of a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion. I am also the only candidate who supports Prop 1, which will enshrine a woman’s right to choose into the state constitution.”

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