Both Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, and his Democratic challenger Christy Smith stood before separate groups of local voters on Thursday to discuss the issues pertinent to their campaigns.
While Garcia was invited by Senior Pastor David Hegg to speak before a slew of local religious leaders at Grace Baptist Church as part of a pastors/leadership breakfast Thursday morning, Smith sat in front of an audience of students, faculty and community members at College of the Canyons.
Garcia, the incumbent who has beaten Smith twice in previous elections, said during his early-morning question-and-answer session that — should the voters choose him once again come this Nov. 8 general election — he planned to continue to advocate for his constituents in terms of enhancing national security and battling rising inflation and the cost of living in the district.
“I look at this as a service role; I do work for you, I work for the three-quarters of a million folks that I represent,” said Garcia. “And I work for this country. I would literally give my life for this beautiful country, this Constitution.”
Garcia then went on to discuss what he sees as moves away from the country’s “Judeo-Christian foundation.”
“My opponent has made this about abortion this year, and I won’t go into the details about it, because it’s not necessary, but she’s basically hitting me because I’m pro-life,” said Garcia. “The reality is that when you ask the average American voter in our district right now, especially what’s on their mind, they’re worried about inflation, they’re worried about the economy, they’re worried about the fact that the stock market is at a three-year low, that mortgage rates are at a 10-year high, that our debt is at a record-high $41 trillion.”
Garcia went on to champion his work he says he and his team had done to help local veterans with their issues regarding the Veterans Administration, how he helped more than 100 people leave Afghanistan, and helped with busting illegal cannabis grows in the Antelope Valley.
The congressman also defended his position, in which he joined with House Democrats, on House Resolution 8404 — a bill that would codify same-sex marriage into law, if passed by the Senate, in light of the recent Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade.
“The Supreme Court in 2015 made the decision that same-sex marriage is constitutional…both sides of the aisle — the conservative judges reaffirmed it as well in some cases,” Garcia said in defense of his vote. “They cite the 14th Amendment that basically says we all have equal access to the same liberties and pursuit of happiness and access to the same rights when it comes to legal rights (such as marriage).”
At the end of breakfast, Hegg asked the other pastors in the room to come forward and pray for the congressman.
During her conversation at COC, Smith touched on a number of issues pertinent to her campaign such as gun control, climate change and revitalizing an economy she says has prevented young people from buying homes and gaining jobs that were available to those in preceding generations.
“First of all, many of them can’t afford to be married and purchase houses earlier like my generation,” said Smith. “But beyond that, they worry about what the long-term prospects are of living in a global community where there is (a high likeliness of) significant water shortages and climate-induced trauma that happens communities time and time again.”
Smith went on to say that it is up to the current generation of leaders to ensure that the next generation is left with a livable planet, a functional democracy with everyone having the right to vote and where there are solutions to homelessness.
Smith also stated that improving upon traffic issues in the local community means ensuring that there are high-paying jobs locally for residents — meaning they won’t have to travel to metropolitan areas for work — and that public transportation is more readily available, efficient and reliable.
However, Smith said that while she will be working to ensure that local constituents see funding come into the district, she also emphasized a need for the 27th Congressional District representative to be playing a role in national politics as well.
“We have to protect our democratic institutions, they are at risk right now and they will be at risk in the next presidential election cycle,” said Smith, adding that more voting rights protections need to be passed for the country. “In some states in this country, vital protections for minority and marginalized communities have been stripped away, and they were fought too hard for by many, many generations of people for us to let that go.”
Smith also said that another priority for her would be to look at how voices are being shouted down due to one side having unlimited resources, and restoring a sense of truth and “honor to our government.”
“I have heard from so many people in this community whose primary concern is ‘how do we knit our communities back together after the division that has been present for the last several years?’” Smith said. “And that is the work that I am really excited to do and I’m fortunate to say can start in this election cycle when we’re out knocking on doors, having these conversations and encouraging people to use their votes.”
Garcia is slated to have a conversation at College of the Canyons at 3 p.m. Tuesday. The conversation is open to the public and will be held in the Valencia Campus’ University Center, Room 258.