SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (CN) — Republican and Democratic candidates vying to fill California’s 25th Congressional District seat said at a forum Thursday they support rent caps and construction of more affordable housing but disagreed on issues like climate change and immigration.
The seat has been vacant since November after former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill resigned amid a probe into ethics violations stemming from leaked photos of her relationship with a campaign aide.
Hill won the seat as part of the blue wave that handed Democrats control of the House in November 2018.
Forum moderator David Maron of the League of Women Voters of Ventura County asked candidates about their proposals to address a host of issues including homelessness, gun control and health care.
Getro Elize, a veteran running as a Democrat, said he would back a cap on rent increases in order to curb the flow of people becoming homeless while also boosting services that connect people to housing.
Democrat Anibal Valdez-Ortega, an attorney with a background in tenants’ rights activism, said he would push to expand both tenants rights and affordable housing.
Republican businessman Daniel Mercuri also agreed with capping rents but said local government should do more to purchase land for affordable housing development.
California’s 25th District covers portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, a region filled with arid, mountainous landscapes and one that is projected to get increasingly hotter as climate change worsens.
Republican Kenneth Jenks said climate change is real, not a partisan issue and it is a challenge the entire district should take seriously.
“Really what’s lacking is the leadership to make [sustainable energy sector] projects real,” Jenks said.
Valdez-Ortega said he wants to bring jobs to the region — in part through the sustainable energy sector — in order to curb rising climates while keeping local talent from leaving to jobs in LA.
Cenk Uygur, a Democrat and host for the news program The Young Turks, said climate change solutions — including green energy job projects — are stalled in Congress because of political donations from lobbyists and corporations.
“We can go from the worst case example to the best case example if we solve the problem right,” Uygur said, adding that he would also support the Medicare for All plan, another proposal he said is stalled by political corruption.
“If you don’t have enough money, it’s unbelievable but it’s true, we let you die,” Uygur said. “Can you imagine if we let people burn because they didn’t have private fire insurance?”
Uygur was endorsed by 2020 hopeful and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders but quickly retracted the endorsement after a backlash from Democrats who said Uygur has made sexist comments in the past.
Uygur said in an interview that the attacks are meant to smear him and his record as a progressive.
A majority of candidates on stage blasted political action committees as a root cause of political corruption and said they would support infrastructure for publicly financed elections.
“I don’t believe in money mixing with politics,” Jenks said.
Elize also pledged to support a Medicare for All plan and told the audience that the election was a “fight for the soul of this country.”