Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, met with his 25th Congressional District constituents for a town hall session Tuesday to review his accomplishments while holding office in Congress and discussing ways to help those who he serves.
Garcia hosted the town hall meeting at the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center Tuesday night, and more than 200 people attended to engage with their representative.
“The most important thing is to make sure that we have quality time at the end for questions and answers,” Garcia said. “I’m happy to take any and all questions, recognizing that we don’t necessarily all fall in the same spot of the political spectrum.”
He also noted the district is changing, as the redistricting process restructured the 25th District and renumbered it to the 27th District starting with the November election.
The new district still includes the entire Santa Clarita Valley, Porter Ranch in the south along with gaining Granada Hills in the San Fernando Valley, and a larger portion of the Antelope Valley in the north, but removing its portion of Ventura County.
According to Garcia, the main purpose of the town hall was to engage with constituents because there are some cases where residents don’t even know who their representative is and what their staff does.
“It’s a huge honor for me to be able to serve in this capacity. It’s not a responsibility that I take lightly,” Garcia said. “I’m accountable to you all.”
Garcia highlighted that, since he took office in 2020, his staff closed 2,057 constituent cases, brought in approximately $22 million of earmark money with approximately $10 million of economic impact relative to casework for the 25th District, crossed party lines 28 times to vote on legislation, and responded to 11,086 correspondences from constituents.
He then moved on to discuss security — in neighborhoods, for schools, national security, border security, social security and economic security.
Garcia mentioned that he’s part of the China Task Force composed of 20 members of Congress, all for the purpose of finding the right tactics and legislation to defend Americans from China. According to Garcia, China remains one of the biggest treats to the nation.
He talked about how law enforcement is overworked and overstressed.
“They’re having a hard time hiring because the L.A. County Board of Supervisors put a hiring freeze on them,” Garcia said. “This is in the wake of all the financial challenges that have been posed… This is dangerous to our local communities. We need to get back to law and order.”
He said he worked alongside other politicians to get a $1 million federal grant to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and he is working alongside the Department of Justice to “eradicate all illegal marijuana farms” in his congressional district.
Fire emergencies and an influx of drugs, most notably fentanyl, are other ways communities and neighborhoods are endangered, he added.
Garcia reiterated in the town hall meeting that teenagers are getting access to fentanyl via social media, and encouraged parents to talk with their children about the dangers of fentanyl.
“This is a public safety awareness initiative,” Garcia said. “Also, at the federal level, this should be rebranded as a Schedule One narcotic and treated like cocaine, heroin or any other hard drug.”
“It’s killing our kids more than any of these other drugs combined.”
He touted his co-sponsorship of the Protect Act and Fire Act for environmental security, and partnering with Southern California Edison to minimize possible public safety power shutoffs during severe weather, like the extended heat wave residents are experiencing now.
As for school security, Garcia said he is working to pass legislation such as the Safe Schools Act, Active Shooter Alert School Act and Community Mental Services Block Grant Reauthorization Act. Each piece of legislation would provide layers of support and funds to help combat school shootings.
After a brief overview on border security, social security and economic security, attendees were then able to ask Garcia questions.
Garcia’s staff implemented a lottery-style question and answer. Attendees were given tickets and randomly selected to ask their questions of the congressman.
Janis Ashley, of Canyon Country, asked Garcia about his remarks comparing President Joe Biden’s administration to the “Third Reich” over the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home for classified documents.
“I said that in the heat of the moment. When you talk about Nazis, you should only be talking about Nazis,” Garcia said. “It was a mistake. I take full ownership of that comment. There’s no excuse for that comparison. It won’t happen again.”
As Ashley was leaving the town hall, she said her takeaway was that Garcia was “very good at non answers.”
“I’m glad that he had it. I’m happy that questions weren’t pick and choose and they gave everyone a chance in the lottery,” Ashley said. “I would say that the other 50% of Santa Clarita was not well represented here.”
Residents asked if Garcia would support legislation or funding for Santa Clarita Valley camping grounds, as well as for veteran services, which he responded that he would, and is working with partners at the federal and local levels to support those areas further.
Another resident, in his 60s, was concerned about the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed in early August. The act would reallocate approximately $288 billion from Medicare to Obama Care, or the Affordable Care Act, as a result of a Medicare negotiation provision.
“It’s going to put more steam into the Affordable Care Act, which already does not have enough competition,” Garcia replied. “We’ve got to do something about our health care system because it is terrible right now. It’s exorbitant costs, and they’re getting higher and higher.”
“To answer your question, it’s going to be bad for both Medicare recipients as well as for the Affordable Care Act because it’s an artificial stimulus.”
According to a statement from the White House, the Inflation Reduction Act will protect Medicare recipients from “catastrophic drug costs by phasing in a cap for out-of-pocket costs” to an estimated $4,000 or less in 2024 and settling at $2,000 in 2025.
There was a short discussion on gun violence, and an attendee asked whether Garcia would support restrictions on guns.
“If we all do our collective jobs correctly on that front, we will see this issue be mitigated and the numbers come down, but it’s heartbreaking,” Garcia said. “We’ve got to look at all solutions and we’ve got to be more than whatever is necessary, but without encroaching on the Constitution.”
Nick Robert Gallo, of Canyon Country, said he came out to support Garcia, as they have similar viewpoints on a variety of topics.
“It solidified a lot what I already thought, and it was really good that he cleared up a lot things, too,” Gallo said, referring to Garcia’s overview on economic security.
Andrew Taban, of Newhall, who’s running for a seat on the William S. Hart Union High School District governing board, asked Garcia why he signed an amicus brief alongside other House Republicans urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Garcia responded SCOTUS had overreached in its initial decision back in 1973, and he believed it should not have been federally imposed on the states. It should be a state’s right to decide, he added.
Taban then followed up and asked where Garcia stood on gay marriage, as many people are worried SCOTUS might overturn that decision in the future similar to what happened with Roe v. Wade.
“The difference between this abortion issue and the gay marriage issue was that the Supreme Court in 2015 was very adamant that this was constitutional,” Garcia said.
Garcia added that the Constitution is clearer in protecting equal marriage rights to all Americans versus the right to an abortion.
Taban said he felt it was important to show up and engage with his representative because “we have a responsibility as constituents to participate in what our government does,” he said.
According to Garcia, he is open to having further conversations on anything his constituents need.
“We’re not going to agree on everything,” Garcia said. “But we should remember that we all are all still Americans, this isn’t left versus right. This isn’t elephant versus donkeys. That’s the whole point of this discussion.”