Audrey Denney, Doug LaMalfa battle for 1st Congressional District seat
A race for a seat on the U.S. House of Representatives is different from other elections, especially for those running for the 1st Congressional District.
Democrat Audrey Denney and Republican U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa are running to represent an area that comprises the northeastern part of the state. The district includes 11 counties, or portions of them, and includes a large part of Nevada County.
Compare that to most local races on the Nov. 6 ballot, which are county — or only special district — wide.
Democrats hope to unseat LaMalfa, a three-term congressman, in a “blue wave” on Nov. 6.
On the campaign trial Denney, 34, has discussed her past of working two jobs to make ends meet. She was raised on a farm and has worked for nonprofits overseas.
LaMalfa, 58, served in the state Legislature before becoming a congressman in 2013. LaMalfa has won every county in his district in his three elections to Congress.
An educator and farmer, Denney said she feels like her life has prepared her for this moment.
She’s taught agriculture at Chico State University and bartended at a downtown bar. She grew up on her family farm and watched it disappear during the Great Recession.
Denney said she understands the constant, ever-present fear that looms over people who worry they could lose everything.
“I’m a real person from our district who has a heart for service,” she said.
Denney said the election of Donald Trump to the presidency led to her political run and a fight for the country she believes in. She said House Republicans have abdicated their constitutional role and no longer serve as a check on the White House.
However, Denney emphasized that she’s not running against Trump. Her opponent is LaMalfa.
“That’s what this race is about,” she said. “It’s not about who’s sitting in the White House.”
Denney said her main issues include getting money out of politics, protecting Social Security, health care, eduction and making forests healthy.
Denney said people must recognize they have a duty to seniors who have paid into Social Security. If the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share, the program will remain solvent for decades.
The government should remove caps on the taxable income that funds Social Security. Additionally, it must find ways to fully staff Social Security offices, Denney said.
Concerning the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Denney said the partisan attacks against it must stop. People also should recognize the program has helped people obtain health insurance.
Denney referenced her own recent cancer scare, adding that two-thirds of bankruptcies are caused by medical crises.
Denney supports a single-payer system — a goal that requires political will to achieve, she said.
Asked about the Centennial Dam project, Denney said she’s concerned about a possible lack of public benefit.
The California Water Commission ruled the project was ineligible for Water Storage Investment Program Proposition 1 funding. The commission found the project had a public benefit ratio of zero.
“It doesn’t look to have a lot of public benefit,” she said.
Concerning the legalization of recreational marijuana, Denney said it should be removed as a Schedule I drug. She added that public safety must remain a priority, as does keeping cannabis away from children.
“Treat it as the agricultural product that it is,” she added.
Pivoting to foreign policy, Denney said she sees the rise of authoritarianism around the world. Democracies are backsliding and the strength of democratic norms are threatened.
Determining America’s role in the world will become her generation’s fight, she said.
“When everyone has had enough, that’s where freedom and peace and justice come from,” Denney said, adding moments later: “We’re going to win this thing.”
LaMalfa has said people can look to his record and know what actions he’ll take.
“I’ve always done or tried to do what I said I’d do,” LaMalfa said. “There really shouldn’t be a whole lot of surprises.”
LaMalfa said his record includes improving forestry management and building more water supply. He pointed to the passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, which targets safe drinking water, water development projects and water storage in the West.
“It’s important to a big part of the district,” he said.
LaMalfa also touted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, legislation he supported. He said it’s boosted the economy and helped drop unemployment for many.
Concerning infrastructure, LaMalfa said there’s movement toward legislation but he doubts it’ll pass before the election.
“It’s resistance, resistance all the time,” he added.
It’s a similar situation with the Affordable Care Act. LaMalfa said there’s a better plan in the U.S. Senate that uses high-risk pools to address pre-existing conditions that’s in a legislative mire because of Senate Democrats.
LaMalfa wants people to have more choices in their health care providers, which aren’t available now because less vendors exist. Doctors are leaving the profession, which damages patient choice, competition and the doctor/patient relationship.
Obamacare has increased prices and reduced choice. A central government running health care isn’t the answer, LaMalfa argued.
“We tried the ACA,” he said. “We tried it for several years.”
Pivoting to the Centennial Dam, LaMalfa said he knows local concern exists. He said he’d help with the project if the Nevada Irrigation District opts to move forward with it.
Switching to the subject of cannabis, LaMalfa said he’ll participate in no effort to remove marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
“I still oppose recreational marijuana 100 percent,” LaMalfa said.
The congressman said he wants a formal process in place for those who need medicinal marijuana. It should be controlled and prescribed.
Asked about the president, LaMalfa called him upfront. However, LaMalfa said his own focus is on policy. Trump will sign bills Congress sends him, as opposed to former President Barack Obama, who wouldn’t.
Discussing foreign policy, LaMalfa said he believes the administration has made good progress with North Korea. He said leaders of North and South Korea are talking for the first time in years.
LaMalfa added that Russia has always been an adversary. Discussion between America and Russia is good, though LaMalfa emphasized that Russia isn’t on our side.
“I think we’re moving things in a pretty good direction,” he said.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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Richard Anderson, who has represented Truckee and eastern Nevada County’s District 5 since first being elected in 2012, has announced he will not seek re-election in 2020.