The forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of San Joaquin County, attracted a capacity crowd of 350 in the University of the Pacific’s Long Theater, with up to 150 more watching from an overflow room in a nearby building.
McNerney, D-Stockton, opened by noting his six years in Congress were preceded by 20 years in industry, including some time running his own business, but his public service was inspired by his son’s decision to join the Air Force soon after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He said his priorities for the next term would be creating jobs and improving the local economy; protecing the Delta; and serving veterans.
“We face a crippling level of underrepresentation in this district,” Gill countered in his opening statement, which has led to a stagnant economy, a rampant foreclosure crisis, failing schools and other ills. He said he would spend his first term striving to put local residents back to work, fixing schools and cleaning up government.
Asked about veterans’ services, McNerney noted he helped bring a veterans’ hospital to the county, for which ground is to be broken next year; he said it’s part of what he feels is “a sacred responsibility” to care for those who took up arms to serve the nation. Gill said he agrees budgets can’t be balanced on veterans’ backs, and he would work to expedite funding for the veterans hospital as well as to speed up the processing of veterans’ benefit claims.
Asked about the foreclosure crisis, Gill noted he has vowed not to accept any money from Wall Street banks, while McNerney has accepted such funds. McNerney said he has been aggressive in holding local workshops for those stricken by the crisis and in holding banks accountable on Capitol Hill.
Asked about the negative campaign mailers both candidates have sent out, McNerney decline to apologize for anything that’s been said but noted the corrosive influence of money from special interests outside the district is “taking away the people’s voice.” He said he has supported the Disclose Act to shine a light on that money, and supports President Obama’s re-election so Obama can appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn the Citizens United ruling that opened the money floodgates; he said he also supports amending the Constitution to void that ruling. Gill said people are worried not only about money in politics but where that money comes from, noting much of McNerney’s campaign funding comes from outside the district; he also noted a few falsehoods contained in McNerney’s mailers, such as a claim that he still lives with his parents – in reality, he moved out last year, into a home across the road from his parents’ home on the family’s property.
A whole heck of a lot more, after the jump…
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