Wednesday, February 10 , 2016, 8:40 pm | Fair 57º

19th District Senate Candidates Face Off in Santa Barbara Forum

Hannah-Beth Jackson, Mike Stoker and Jason Hodge field questions about jobs and the economy, oil regulation and pension reform

Jerry Roberts, left, moderates a forum Thursday night with 19th District Senate candidates Hannah-Beth Jackson, Mike Stoker and Jason Hodges.
Jerry Roberts, left, moderates a forum Thursday night with 19th District Senate candidates Hannah-Beth Jackson, Mike Stoker and Jason Hodges.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

Just days away from Tuesday’s election primary, 19th District Senate candidates Hannah-Beth Jackson, Mike Stoker and Jason Hodge faced off Thursday night, each giving reasons why they deserve to be on November’s ballot.

The forum was hosted by the Milpas Community Association, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Women Business Owners and the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors.

The invitation-only event at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort focused on jobs and the economy. Jerry Roberts moderated the event, asking a slew of questions, and touching on everything from green jobs and oil production to regulation and the California Environmental Quality Act.

One question, posed by the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, asked the candidates about restoring the California Environmental Quality Act and moving it away from being a tool to obstruct business.

Hodge answered first, saying that at the time CEQA was put in place, California had “some out-of-control development going on.” He added that he supports the principles of the CEQA, “but it has been abused.”

Stoker said he supported CEQA, but not just as a tool to hold up a project. He said people should be free to file CEQA challenges, but have the loser pay the attorney’s fees.

Jackson conjured up a time in California when the air quality was poor, and that businesses must be held accountable to public health without over-regulation.

“We need to find that balance,” she said. “We need to look at various laws of all kinds and see if they are doing the job they were supposed to do.”

The candidates were also asked about offshore oil, and whether the oil industry can drill in an environmentally sensitive manner.

Stoker spent his time touting the benefits of slant drilling: “Onshore you significantly reduce the risk. We don’t need new platforms.”

Hodge said the industry has become cleaner, but that he was a “stalwart opponent” of offshore drilling.

“Every time you came home (from the beach), you were scraping tar off your legs and your back,” he said. “You were bathed in turpentine. Kids aren’t doing that now.”

Jackson replied that her opponents were missing the point.

“We are dependent on fossil fuels,” she said, adding that people must make the transition off of oil.

The Milpas Community Association asked about the prison system and what each candidate would do to fix it.

Jackson agreed that it was a mess, saying, “We’ve just warehoused and warehoused.”

She called on early intervention as a solution.

“Teachers know by the time a child is in first grade which ones are going to get in trouble,” she said. “Let’s start right there and turn off the tap.”

Stoker was dubious.

“I’m not sold on the first-grade intervention being the first line of defense on this,” he said, to laughs.

Stoker stuck with a persistent message of jobs as the answer, as did Hodge.

“You’re not going to have pride in yourself and your family to succeed; you’re going to end up in jail,” Hodge said.

Pensions were another hot-button issue, and the candidates were asked about Gov. Jerry Brown’s pension plan.

Hodge began, saying the plan “does zero to save money in California.”

He said a new port director was hired at the Port of Hueneme and built into her contract was a $500-a-month car allowance, which counted toward her pension amount.

“I took it away,” he said. “We have to get to where we’re honestly funding our pension system.”

Jackson said she doesn’t want to see 401(k)s, but that CalPERS has done a fine job investing for its people. With 401(k)s, she said, “you have the same people that brought down Wall Street being able to use your money in any way they want.”

She also said she couldn’t support a two-tiered system, putting younger workers joining the workforce at a lower contribution rate than existing workers.

“Why should our next generation suffer?” she asked.

Stoker commended Brown for his effort. He said the next generation of workers will have a defined contribution, “just like the rest of us have in the private sector.”

Because none of the Democrats would support the plan, Stoker said, “that’s pretty telling on how dysfunctional California has become.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.a href= title=

» on 06.01.12 @ 08:21 AM

Honestly, do you think that the election of any of these candidates will make a difference as their answers suggest that they will work on the edges and not offend their supporters. Both Stoker and Jackson have been around for so long everyone knows how they would vote. And on top this is the reality that the Dems and Reps are in a political dance that resulted in California as a case study in Mike Lewis’ book, Boomerang, which puts the state in the company of Greece and Iceland.

» on 06.01.12 @ 11:24 AM

I couldn’t make it last night, alas!

Two-tiered pension systems are **NOT** causing younger workers to “suffer”.  The reality is - as we’ve known for decades - that existing pension plans were an avoidable mistake, which no society on earth could actuarially have fulfilled.  There was never going to be a chance such plans could continue - they couldn’t.  Two tiered systems are simply a recognition of reality.

» on 06.01.12 @ 11:54 AM

Please no more Jackson.  We will never get out of financial straits with her.

» on 06.01.12 @ 01:28 PM

The Democrats are bought and paid for by our corrupt unions, and they have failed our city, county and state for 20 years.

Tax and waste our hard earned money needs to end, 50% of your income in a year goes to government, The state has 11% of the population, yet Calif has 36% of Welfare cases in the nation.

Why work when others will work for you? Welfare food stamps the 99ers milking the system and section 8.
Too many lazy people in calif working the liberal system doing nothing for free money.
Change is needed.

Mike Soker is change, give him a chance.

» on 06.01.12 @ 02:05 PM

>>> Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, asked the candidates about restoring the California Environmental Quality Act and moving it away from being a tool to obstruct business.

Why does this organization have to be so anti-environmental? They seem to care nothing for our future.

And, Hannah-Beth should have stood up more firmly for environmental regulations.

» on 06.01.12 @ 02:28 PM

Taxin Jackson cuased the problem during her first two terms, and now she will fix the tax and waste anti business policies?

Sounds like Liberals Barney frank and Chris Dodd, they allowed or push welfare liar loans destroying our economy, and now they have came back to fix the problen they caused making it much worse?

Vote the liberals out!! Calif is bankrupt..

» on 06.01.12 @ 07:07 PM

The people that I sat with were so embarrassed for Hannah Beth as she just looked so out of touch with reality.  People earlier remarked that she might show up in her jogging suit and run around the stage claiming that here opponents were special interest.  She continues with the same talking points all the time, that of “Special Interest, I am for Green Jobs, The Environment, and her new one is Tax the Successful and have them pay their fair share”.  However, the worst was for her to say that she can figure out which children were going to turn out to be criminals at the 1st grade level was unbelievable.  If she was not an established Democrat, she would have been rebuked by all of the media as well as all Hispanic Groups, and ethnic groups.  There was one good point at the start when she said that she had a scheduling conflict and had to leave the debate early.  Come on, you have 6 to 8 groups sponsoring this and she has a scheduling conflict?  My sources told me that she never wanted to be in front of any business chambers since she has a 100% voting record against business chambers.

Jason Hodge looked more like a Republican and Mike Stoker hit it out of the park on every subject.  For anyone who has a job or wants a job, Mike Stoker is by far the only candidate that our community needs to send to Sacramento.  The Democrats have ruined California and unless we want to go totally bankrupt, now is the time to try something new.  Vote Pro Business with Mike Stoker and let the Sierra Club, Tax and Spend Liberals, and Labor Unions cling to their only hope of Hanna Beth.

» on 06.04.12 @ 01:14 AM

I found Jackson embarrassing (and I am a Democrat who had voted for her before): her comments sounded canned, sound bites that have been used over and over again — perhaps she believed in them the first time around but I wondered if she still does - certainly, I didn’t: surface words without depth; Stoker was surprisingly balanced; but it was the newcomer, Hodge, who was the most interesting. He got off to a slow start, but seemed to be the real thing, a genuine-sounding, non-politician who wants to work for and with the people.

It may be impossibly naive, but I hope there is still some room in Sacramento for those who want to serve and work together with others of both parties for the best of all. Listening to Jackson, watching her, it was hard to imagine her working with others, of listening to others, and her comment that one can tell in the first grade who is going to end up in trouble was beyond appalling. From what I’ve heard from elementary school teachers, problems often develop because of lack of family support, lack of reading at home, lack of books; exactly how is fixing uneducated, broken, and too often undocumented families in the jurisdiction of a State Senator? Given her large warchest of $, she’ll probably win the first round; judging by the other evening, either of the other two would be preferable in November.

» on 06.04.12 @ 01:18 AM

A. Guynsb, I agree with everything you said. Bob Pohl, you can’t be serious saying there is no difference between Jackson and the other candidates. You can’t believe that. She represents the radical liberal establishment which is singularly responsible for the mess we are in.

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