By Natasha Ferguson
Photos by Rory O' Sullivan
Moreno Valley residents filled the sanctuary at Cross Word Christian Church recently where a Candidate Forum was held. Senior Pastor Bishop Lacy Sykes Jr. opened the forum with prayer and introduced the moderator Kristina Dixon. The format of the forum was to create a dialog between voters and candidates in a civil manner. Dixon was responsible with keeping that spirit alive and the conversation engaging. The Candidate Forum consisted of three panels. The first was for the 41st Congressional District and included: Anna Nevenic, George Pearne, Vince Sawyer, Mark Takano and John Tavaglione. After a brief introduction, the candidates were asked why they were running.
Nevenic, a registered nurse from Yugoslavia and the only female candidate expressed her desire to see more women in congress. Pearne and Sawyer both sited reasons for running to see change. Takano passionately expressed the need to bring jobs and create a sense of renewal to bring about change to the city. When the candidates were asked what they would do to improve the area, all emphatically expressed the importance of bringing jobs to the area. Sawyer said he wanted to eliminate regulations and stop foreign trades, which is currently over 1.3 trillion dollars.
Audience member Linnie Frank Bailey asked the candidates their view on President Obama’s Healthcare Reform bill and its mandate. The candidates all agreed it needs some amendment. “Part of the bill is not structured well. Pre-existing conditions are critical and I strongly feel that the current bill needs to be modified,” stated Tavaglione.
Candidate Sawyer said that everyone has a right to affordable healthcare, therefore he would repeal the current bill as it is. In addition to the reform of the healthcare bill, Candidate Nevenic also expressed a desire to see the elimination of price gouging particularly with seniors medicine. In their closing statements, Candidate Tavaglione said that he brings strong leadership to the seat with 25 years in business and two decades in public office. Candidate Takano promised to stand up for seniors and also use his 23 years experience as a teacher to help raise the level of education. He also wants to work with President Obama to help bring jobs to the area. Candidate Sawyer said he wants to represent the people and help to rebuild our current infrastructure. Candidate Nevenic said she wants to help with health care, education, and feels the necessity of investing in prevention, all of which require new leadership. The second panel for the 31st Senatorial District consisted of candidates Steve Clute and Richard Roth.
Roth’s background is 34 years serving in the Air Force including at March Field Air Base. He is a community activist who wants to help break the partisan gridlock. Clute, who made reference to a message he heard last year from Bishop Sykes that inspired him titled, ‘It’s All About Commitment,’ said he is proud of Moreno Valley being his home turf and has many concerns including education, jobs and economy. Roth said these are critical times with the rise of home foreclosures and job losses. “Teamwork is what the army is about,” said Roth. He also believes that his training in the army will help him with his work in the community. Clute said that he wants to change the current funding formula. “I know how to make Sacramento work for us,” stated 31st Senatorial Candidate Clute. He also expressed the desire to see more services for veterans, as well as the UCR School of Medicine built. A comment was made from a disabled audience member in reference to Roth’s previous support of a bill introduced by Senator Bob Dutton that did not support veterans. He clarified that he is firmly committed to equal rights for all citizens including the disabled and he gave an example of the struggle his brother-in-law went through. When asked by an audience member how persuasive would you be in the accessing of government war economy, candidate Roth noted that approximately 30,000 veterans pass through each year and a large percentage of these reside in Moreno Valley. He feels that there needs be job training and re-training programs for these vets and monies to do this. In closing, Roth reinforced his commitment on improving the quality of life for all. Clute gave a brief list of some of his endorsements including Black Voice News, the California Democratic Party, and CORE. He also stated that he wants to fight the status quo.
The third and final panel consisted of candidates running for the 61st State Assembly District, Bill Batey and Jose Medina. Medina has been a resident for 40 years and is a UCR graduate. His focus is on education, bringing jobs to the area, and he wants to make a difference overall. He also wants to see the UCR School of Medicine come to the area. He has served 13 years on the Board of Trustees.
Batey has sat on the Moreno Valley City Council for 16 years, and is a veteran and former City Fire Captain. He is passionate about education and also wants to help bring jobs to improve the quality of life in the region. One of his top priorities will be education. He also expressed his desire to improve the quality of life as well as help bring jobs to the area. When asked why they want to represent the district, Medina said he learned at an early age the importance of improving people’s lives through his strong upbringing and values instilled in him by his parents. He wants to use these principles to help better his community. When asked about the current warehouse project, candidate Medina responded, “Aside from the warehouse jobs, improvements are needed in the education system to equip people with the necessary tools to prepare them for higher paying jobs,” stated Medina. Medina, who has 35 years as a teacher, created the ‘Passport to College’ program and though it only lasted a brief time, feels programs such as this are necessary. He also wants to see improvement in tuition increases and is in support of middle class reform. He shares the same sentiments of the other candidates of a shared value for the interest and betterment of the community. Candidate Batey mentioned that instead of spending 68 billion dollars on the proposed high rail system project, he feels this money would be better spent on education instead. He also expressed the need for better accessibility to higher education, also emphasizing the importance of engaging the youth and involving them at an early age. “We need mentoring programs on local, state and federal levels,” said Batey. In closing, Batey has a background in military and as a fire captain and understands the quality of life issues that affect our community. He will use his expertise and knowledge to bring necessary resources and programs to help make citizens more productive in society. Bishop Sykes expressed the necessity to engage the community in dialogues such as this. “Christians need to be involved in the political system to see some change,” said Bishop Sykes. The Candidate Forum provided an excellent arena for the community to hear first hand these public servants’ plans for the community. It is important that everyone exercise the right to vote on June 5th.