Smith, Garcia discuss COVID-19 relief funds, business in SCV

25th District congressional candidates Christy Smith (D) and Mike Garcia (R) participate in a virtual candidate forum streamed online Friday afternoon by the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce. April 23, 2020. COURTESY SCV Chamber of Commerce.

Candidates vying to fill the vacant 25th Congressional District seat discussed Friday their positions on federal COVID-19 relief funds, transportation and other business-related issues affecting the local community during an online forum hosted by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.  

As developments in the novel coronavirus continue, Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, and Republican Mike Garcia participated in the virtual forum in which they also voiced what they would like to accomplish if elected. 

Smith, who led the polls during the March primary election with more than 30% of the vote in both Los Angeles and Ventura counties, said she would first focus on restoring the nation’s health and the economy tarnished by the pandemic, and ensuring the nation is prepared if faced with a similar outbreak in the future. 

Garcia, a former Navy fighter pilot and executive at Raytheon, said he would like to bring to Congress a level of bipartisan support and ensure that the United States remains a superpower as it continues its fight against the coronavirus. 

From a series of nearly 10 questions, here’s how each candidate responded to some of them: 

What should Congress do in addition to the approved $2.4 trillion in economic relief?

Smith, who responded first, said she would like to see full transparency of those funds to those in need. 

“I want to ensure that there remains full transparency in that process, that those dollars go to the grassroots level, to Main Street businesses as intended, as well as those other mid-sized businesses that are going to need protection,” she said, adding there needs to be a strong public health infrastructure for when it’s time to return to work. 

Garcia said the federal government must work with local governments in keeping the infection rate down, improving the economy and putting politics aside. 

“What we need to really start looking at is driving the unemployment line downward so that people are going back to work as soon as they can in a safe fashion but in a way that we’re still mitigating the risks. But we need to lower taxes, we need less red tape and we need to stop the partisan bickering, frankly,” he said. 

Ensuring the SCV remains a business-friendly community

One way Garcia would ensure that the local community keeps its “business-friendly” reputation is to cut taxes, specifically by making the cuts of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent, and promoting the local aerospace industry. 

“There’s some things that can be negotiated for a better deal here for us as Californians and that includes removing the $10,000 state-local tax deduction limit,” he said. 

Smith highlighted the Business Advisory Committee she launched while in the state Legislature, saying she would like to bring the rest of the district to the table to discuss capital investment and local infrastructure needs, as well as investing in college and high school education to continue to have an articulated jobs training system, she said. 

The candidates are facing off in the May 12 special election to fill the remaining term in office vacated by last fall’s resignation of former Rep. Katie Hill, followed by the general election in November for the new, two-year term. 

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