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Election season heats up with town hall forum

Election season heats up with town hall forum

Democratic Congressional Contender Mike Barkley details his proposals.

POSTED May 11, 2012 9:29 p.m.

Three of five candidates for California’s 10th Congressional District seat spoke at a town hall forum at California State University, Stanislaus on Wednesday, but neither presumed front runner attended.

Incumbent Jeff Denham (R – Atwater) and Jose Hernandez, a former NASA Astronaut running as a Democrat, both skipped the only scheduled event in Turlock. Denham was in Washington, D.C. at the time taking part in a legislative session, while Hernandez’s representative said he had a prior commitment.

Their absence drew the ire of Chad Condit, an independent who derided Hernandez and Denham’s absence as a lack of respect shown to CSU Stanislaus students, faculty, and the Turlock community.

“Half the fight is who shows up,” Condit said. “Half the fight is who is going to show up for you, who is going to answer that bell.

“Who knows where Hernandez is tonight, but he should be here. If there was something more important, he should have said what it is.”

Hernandez’s representative said the candidate had decided to attend a letter carriers union meeting instead.

Condit, the son of former U.S. Rep. Gary Condit and a senior legislative assistant for the California State Assembly, said his candidacy is intended to challenge the partisanship which gridlocks Washington, D.C. As a true independent, Condit said he can work with all of Capitol Hill to fight for the 10th District.

“You think Mr. Hernandez can work with President Romney?” Condit asked. “You think Mr. Denham can work with President Obama?”

Condit said a vote for him would send a message to Washington that people are frustrated with what Democrats and Republicans alike are doing.

Thanks to California’s new primary system, where only the top two vote getters will reach the November ballot, regardless of party designation, Condit said he has an opportunity to win. Should he earn a primary nod, Condit would face off head-to-head with only a Democrat or Republican competitor.

Alternatively, two Democrats could make November’s ballot, should Hernandez and candidate Mike Barkley, a Manteca lawyer, win nominations. Barkley painted himself as the only “true progressive” in the campaign, with “real answers to real questions.” Barkley directed voters to his campaign website, which lays out multi-point plans addressing all of the major issues facing America.

“There’s no pretty pictures, just specifics to fix the problems we face,” Barkley said.

Barkley hopes to cut down on the availability of firearms, bring jobs to California, balance the federal budget, and adopt a single-payer healthcare system. Barkley also said he can solve all of California’s water problems with one bill.

“This plan will probably get me kicked out of the Sierra Club, but it is feasible,” he said.

Also in attendance was independent Congressional candidate Troy McComak, a CSU Stanislaus graduate and a former environmental scientist who is now attempting to construct a paintball field in Patterson.

McComak spent his allotted time mainly discussing three major infrastructure proposals. McComak hopes to build a dam at the Straits of Carquinez, near the San Francisco Bay, to protect the Sac-Joaquin Delta’s fresh water – a plan derided by an environmental scientist in attendance as unfeasible. McComak also hopes to build a reinforced truck lane on every U.S. Interstate, allowing trucks to carry more and drive faster.

McComak’s third proposal, self-described as “whimsical,” would involve giving the U.S. Marine Corps control of NASA, so the Marines could build a moon base. He would hope to produce a television series about the effort, to inspire Americans.

“All I see on TV now is ‘Jersey Shore,’ and that is not cool,” McComak said. “’Jersey Shore’ is not cool.”

McComak also said he hopes to create a new political party with a liger as its mascot, inspired by the film “Napoleon Dynamite,” in his effort to make government more interesting to young people.

“We’re going to change it, we’re going to make it cool,” McComak said. “Our government needs to be really cool.”

Voters will decide which two candidates will make the November ballot in the June 5 Presidential Primary election.

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