Five candidates, 90 minutes: District 1 Assembly candidates talk policy in the Rood Center | TheUnion.com

Five candidates, 90 minutes: District 1 Assembly candidates talk policy in the Rood Center

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

MEET THE CANDIDATES

Elizabeth Betancourt

Age: 39

City of residence: Anderson

Current occupation: Chief, Cannabis Permitting and Compliance Unit, Central Valley Water Board

Relevant experience: Founder and lead, Redding Women’s March

Megan Dahle

Age: 43

City of residence: Bieber

Job: Dry wheat farmer

Experience: Owned Big Valley Nursery, served as president of Big Valley Joint Unified School Board

Patrick Henry Jones

Age: 51

City Residence: Redding

Job: Worked at Jones’ Fort gun shop

Experience: Former mayor, Redding City Council member

Lane Rickard

Age: 24

City Residence: Redding

Job: Lane Rickard Consulting Services

Experience: Intern for Redding mayor; representative for state Senator Ted Gaines’ Office

Joseph Turner

Age: 36

City Residence: Milford

Job: Retired (medical reasons)

Experience: Lassen County Republican Central Committee chairman

The date to remember is Aug. 27.

That is Election Day, the last day county residents have to cast their vote for the State Assembly District 1 special election.

Five candidates running for the open seat gathered Thursday at Nevada County’s Eric Rood Administrative Center to discuss their positions on policy questions. The candidates included Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt and Republicans Megan Dahle, Patrick Henry Jones, Lane Rickard and Joseph Turner.

The event lasted 90 minutes and included topics related to political bipartisanship, wildfire safety, fire insurance, affordable housing, pensions, climate change, gun control, offshore oil drilling, the opioid epidemic and vaccine safety.

BIPARTISANSHIP

There are issues “everyone can get behind” in the assembly, said Rickard, including public safety, disaster relief and economic development.

Jones said forest management will be a space for bipartisanship, but that there will also be opportunities for disagreement.

“There’s also a time where, as a conservative that we’re not going to be able to reach that gap,” he said, later adding, “So I will have victories and I will have failures.”

Dahle said she is most excited about working with legislators as she has developed relationships with them over the years. Mostly, she will be voting along party lines, she said, “but there’s 10 percent of things we can work on together.”

FIRE INSURANCE

To reduce fire insurance costs, and prevent residents from being dropped from their policies, Dahle said she would support fire safe councils, and also establish an inspection process for Cal Fire to check residents’ homes to ensure they are fire safe and to then send that information to insurance companies to consider a discounted rate.

The government should provide risk management by clearing biomass from forestry, said Turner.

Insurance “is not a right,” he said. “It’s a gamble is what it is.” He added that people should not be swiftly dropped from their plans and that a contract should protect individuals from such actions.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

“The cost of living in California is terribly high – too high,” said Dahle. There are too many regulations, she said, preventing the development of cheaper homes. Solar energy, for example, should not be mandated at peoples’ homes, she said.

“Overregulation from Sacramento,” Jones said, is creating issues around home buying. While reducing impact fees in Redding as a city council member, Jones said the city was able to increase its budget.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Turner said the climate “has always been dynamic,” and that we should be reducing pollution when we can by better managing our forests.

In response to a question, Rickard said climate change is influenced by humans and that state and local residents should be working to combat it.

Betancourt said that yes, climate change is a problem but that it doesn’t matter if people believe in the larger issue or not. They should still work to maintain the environment.

“The right thing to do is taking care of our forests,” she said.

GUN CONTROL

“I think we need to start holding individuals more accountable” when guns are used for mass shootings, said Rickard. He said he is OK with people not owning fully automatic firearms.

Jones does not believe we have a gun issue in the U.S. “We have a people problem and we’re not talking about it,” he said.

Betancourt said she supports the right to bear arms, but the state must take into account how gun control is legislated elsewhere in the country and the ripple effects that has in California.

“We can’t just think that California is an island,” said Betancourt.

OFFSHORE DRILLING

Trump has proposed offshore drilling along California’s shoreline, and candidates were asked whether they supported such actions.

“The thought of drilling on California’s beautiful shoreline is abhorrent,” said Betancourt. She added that industries burning fossil fuels need to pay royalties for education and environmental protection.

Dahle said she “would not support offshore drilling at this point,” and that there are many unknowns related to the action.

Although Turner doesn’t like offshore drilling, calling it an “eyesore,” he would support it.

“We don’t have hurricanes,” he said. “It’s a lot safer to do it here.”

OPIOID CRISIS

Rickard said if people need medical pain relief, they should be able to access it, and that society needs to be educated on opiate addiction.

“We force this fear on doctors,” said Rickard, which he said could prevent them from prescribing opioids.

Turner echoed a similar point, suggesting the public gain a better understanding of opioids and their prescription. He said people should be able to get the drugs if they feel they need them, and that he stands against prohibiting the distribution of opioids.

“Addiction is an illness of choice,” Turner said. “The only really cure is a choice to get better.”

Betancourt said Californians should hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for part of the crises, as has been done in other states.

“I think where we need to look to fund this crises is the pharmaceutical industry,” she said, also suggesting pharmaceutical companies should be partners, and should be doing research to help the addicted population.

VACCINATIONS

In terms of vaccinations, Turner said, “I don’t know why this is a question to be had.” He later added, “The government has no authority over your body. They can’t tell you what to do with it.”

Jones said vaccinations should not be mandatory, and that government, in general, is overreaching into peoples’ lives.

“Sacramento is passing 1,000 laws a year on average,” Jones said. “Sometimes it’s only 900, but it’s clearly out of touch.”

Rickard said for public education students, vaccinations should be mandatory.

“If one individual doesn’t get vaccinated, there’s a risk for all students getting sick,” he said. But, he added, home-schooled students should have the option.

Betancourt said “people should be able to control their children’s own health.”

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


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