Public forum prioritizes education

Antonio Zaragoza, Editor in Chief

Antonio Zaragoza, Editor in Chief

by Amanda Guerrero

Antonio Zaragoza, Editor in Chief

San Diego State students, staff and community members gathered at noon yesterday in front of Hepner Hall to watch a public forum hosting local candidates running for the California State Legislature.

State Senate 39th District candidates Marty Block (D) and George Plescia (R), as well as 79th District State Assembly candidate Shirley Weber (D) addressed current issues, such as higher education, Proposition 30 and the high-speed rail. Weber’s opponent Mary England (R) was not present.

Throughout the forum, which was part of Associated Students Rock the Vote campaign, each of the candidates answered questions from the event’s moderators, as well as inquiring audience members, who were encouraged to submit questions.

Despite disagreements on issues such as Proposition 30, all three candidates stressed the importance of job creation.

Plescia opened the forum, calling for an end to what he called the “war on jobs.” He said doing so means stimulating job growth specifically in the private sector and preventing tax increases.

“We can’t afford to chase any more jobs,” Plescia said in his opening statement.

Block said promoting higher education is the key to sustaining and increasing the job market in California because it will create more educational opportunities for students.

Weber voiced a similar opinion to Block’s, saying college creates a pathway to successful careers. She said job creation not only depends on the ability to bring or keep businesses in the area, but also having enough qualified people to fill openings.

“We all feel the pain and pinch of the economy,” Weber said.

The topic moved past job creation and involvement in higher education to each candidate’s position on Proposition 30, which would increase income taxes by 1- 3 percent for seven years on those earning more than $250,000 in order to fund schools, as well as a 1/4 cent sales tax increase throughout the state.

Citing his previously stated opposition to tax increases, Plescia said he would support Proposition 30 if it included pension reform and a spending cap.

“What we need is a steady tax system,” Plescia said.

Weber voiced support for the measure, saying although “no one likes taxes,” the revenue generated from Proposition 30 would benefit schools. Block agreed with Weber, saying tax increases could be appropriate if “people could afford taxes.”

Approximately 50 people watched the event, including students hoping to get more information about the candidates. Africana studies senior Tyler Ware watched the forum with her college career in mind.

“My education is on the line,” Ware said. “I want candidates who offer solutions.”

However, not all students were pleased with the event. Business management sophomore Jacob Williams said the forum was “more mudslinging than planning.”

Anthropology junior Allie Hillis agreed, saying rather than finding an ideal candidate, attending only helped to choose “the lesser of two evils.”