Audrey Denney, Doug LaMalfa face off in Graeagle forum for U.S. House seat (VIDEO)
GRAEAGLE — Audrey Denney and U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa agree on little.
Denney, the Democrat seeking to unseat the three-term Republican from his 1st Congressional District seat, owns a gun. LaMalfa unequivocally supports the Second Amendment.
Denney and LaMalfa, both with backgrounds in agriculture, support crop subsidies for farmers.
Dig deeper and the differences quickly appear. LaMalfa at a Monday forum touted his high rating from the National Rifle Association. He called gun ownership a guaranteed constitutional right.
Denney said the federal government must take action against gun violence. She pointed to increased background checks and a bump stock ban as options.
“These are all reasonable things that will keep our kids safer at school,” Denney said.
Ask the candidates about issues like Planned Parenthood and health care, and the gulf between the pair is evident.
“I oppose government-run, universal, single-payer health care,” LaMalfa told a crowded room at Monday’s forum held at the Graeagle Fire Protection District offices.
LaMalfa, whose district encompasses a large swath of northeast California and includes a majority of Nevada County, said Obamacare increased insurance payments for individuals and forced those who have no insurance to pay a penalty. He said the country must address the cost of delivering health care and the cost doctors face running their offices.
Addressing the question about health care, Denney cited her own recent cancer scare. Three weeks ago she had a tumor removed from one of her ovaries. According to Denney, two-thirds of bankruptcies are linked to medical issues.
“We have to be working toward a system where everyone is covered,” she said.
Related to the national health care discussion is Planned Parenthood, which was included in a question the candidates fielded. Some conservatives have attacked the organization for providing abortions.
Discussing Planned Parenthood, Denney said she supports government funding for the organization. She said its facilities in Redding and Chico play significant roles as women’s health centers.
“I could have died if I hadn’t of had gotten a preventative health check-up,” she said.
LaMalfa said he has no support for funneling government dollars to Planned Parenthood. Instead he wants those funds sent to rural health clinics.
“You don’t even have one of those facilities near you,” LaMalfa said of a Planned Parenthood office.
Over 100 people crowded into the fire protection district’s office for the Monday forum, the second in as many days between the two candidates.
The audience submitted written questions, which were then vetted by the League of Women Voters of Plumas County, which hosted the event.
Denney and LaMalfa gave opening statements before fielding audience questions.
“I have a record,” LaMalfa said. “I’ve been around. You pretty much know what I’m about.”
LaMalfa said he wants his district to prosper. That prosperity is gained through the innovation of individuals, not a federal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.
“I’m about serving people directly,” he said.
Denney claimed that her opponent can’t hold telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries accountable if he receives contributions from them.
LaMalfa later said he accepts no corporate dollars because it’s been illegal for over a decade.
“I want to make a promise to you tonight,” Denney said. “As your representative, I will only be accountable to you.”
Answering a question about Social Security, Denney said no one should be surprised that the recent tax cut will affect the social safety net. She later said the middle class hasn’t improved, but instead the top 1 percent received a vast majority of the tax cut’s benefits.
“They threw us a bone while they kept the cow,” Denney said.
LaMalfa supported the tax cut, officially called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which passed late last year. He touted low unemployment and said people are faring better.
“It keeps the dollars in your pockets that you earned,” he said. “Middle-income America is doing better.”
Shifting to climate change, LaMalfa said every solution he’s heard involves increased taxation. He said that newly built vehicles are some of the cleanest ever made — an example of innovation working to solve a problem.
LaMalfa also questioned whether mankind is solely responsible for climate change.
“These things tend to be cyclical,” he added.
Denney said the recent hurricane on the east coast and the Carr Fire prove that climate change has arrived. She pointed to the state’s cap-and-trade program — a method of reducing emissions through incentives — as a success. California has shown it can reduce emissions and have a robust economy.
The candidates also fielded a question about immigration, an issue that’s taken center stage under President Donald Trump.
Denney said the country needs a secure border, but a massive wall along its southern boundary is no answer. Some people from other countries seeking entry here are fleeing crime. Refugee status should be granted to those who need it, and others who have lived here for years should have protection.
“He’s been part of the problem, not the solution,” Denney said of her opponent.
LaMalfa said the nation must have a secure border, adding that people make a choice when they come here illegally. This country is welcoming to immigrants, though they must be legal.
“There’s a distinction between people who want to play by the rules and stand in line,” he said. “We want to have gates with well-oiled hinges.”
Voters in the 1st Congressional District will decide Nov. 6 who they want to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“It takes guts to run for office,” said Lori Simpson, president of the League of Women Voters of Plumas County. “You’re going to hear the issues and then you’re going to go vote.”
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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