The Journal asked me to write an opinion on the debate because I was a former congressional candidate in this race; but, I hope they also asked me because I am a lifelong resident of the district, small business owner, former elected official and someone who continues to have an active presence in the local community.
As someone who has been very active in this race this election cycle, the debate did not yield a lot of new information. I’ve heard both Denham and Harder issue the same statements on immigration, health care, jobs and water with little to no new insights presented at this debate.
I went into this debate hoping for the candidates to address the critical issues and let the voters know how they would improve the life of the average citizen. Instead, it turned into a spectacle with the name calling and attacks that resulted in little to the undecided voter. I suppose it had a lot to do with the structure of the debate and those in attendance as each candidate was given 80 tickets to hand out to their supporters with only 40 tickets left for the general public — chosen in a drawing process. It was evident that very few in attendance were undecided voters based on the ticket allocation process.
These are the issues I would have liked addressed at the debate.
Instead of all the name calling we should be hearing how our member of Congress will rebuild and strengthen Social Security, increase vocational jobs skills training, help small businesses like mine and my husband’s that see the effects of over regulation, taxation and cumbersome lawsuits, which continue to squeeze small businesses out of business. Would like to hear how we will ensure quality and affordable healthcare for all that does not bankrupt a person and safeguards those of us with preexisting conditions from future discrimination.
Would like to hear a clear plan on an infrastructure initiative including real investments in our local airports, rail system and ports to attract employers and create the kinds of jobs that will be permanent full-time positions instead of seasonal agriculture jobs that only create cyclical unemployment in our district.
Would like to hear a clear definition on a border protection plan to ensure the safety of our country and yet allows for the protection of our immigrants especially our farm workers in a district that our agriculture sector depends on.
Would like to hear how our war veterans will be better cared for as many suffer from PTSD, mental and substance abuse and many feel abandoned by their country with limited resources available to them in the immediate area.
While both Denham and Harder supporters in the room would say their candidate was victorious, I would say no one won based on the attacks. We don’t need more hateful rhetoric and mudslinging. What we need is unity and policies to take our community forward. By recognizing the issues and challenges that we ALL face in our district we can find common ground. Bottom line — we need a representative who is going to focus on the majority and not simply focus on those who donate large dollars to their campaign. Party lines are more evident than ever before, but we in District 10, who live here, were raised here, contribute here, work here, volunteer here, have business here, etc., want to see real dedication to our district’s challenges and needs.
In conclusion, I simply expected more from our current Congressman.
He could have shown more authority, restraint and professionalism but rather came in as a high school bully wanting to fight. If Congressman Denham feels he has done a good job in representing our district than the voters will stand up for him in November.
As for Candidate Harder, what we need to hear more from him is his vision and a concrete plan for making our community better, stronger and more solvent and less attacks. He needs to give voters a reason to believe in his new leadership and his plans for how he will deliver on his promises. It is evident that Harder is new to politics and that is a good thing for many, but he still needs to convince the voters in November that he will deliver on the deficiencies that Congressman Denham and Washington have not been able to address for us in District 10 and for the American people.
The debate was a clear indication that the status quo will not take the Valley into a new direction where we all prosper. It is time for change.
— Virginia Madueno was a Democratic candidate for the California District 10 Congressional seat during the 2018 Primary Election in June.