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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 1:35 am | Fair 53º


Carbajal, Fareed and Woody Battling for 24th Congressional District Seat

The incumbent and his challengers outline their views and political priorities heading into next month's primary

Rep. Salud Carbajal (center) is running for a second term to represent the 24th Congressional District and faces challengers Justin Fareed (left) and Michael Erin Woody. Click to view larger
Rep. Salud Carbajal (center) is running for a second term to represent the 24th Congressional District and faces challengers Justin Fareed (left) and Michael Erin Woody. (Contributed photos)

Voters have been here before. Sort of.

Three candidates for the 24th Congressional District are competing in the June primary. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, is running for a second term and faces repeat challenger Justin Fareed, who ran unsuccessfully against Carbajal in 2016.

Fareed, a Republican, put up a valiant battle against Carbajal, but in the end lost by seven percentage points. It was Fareed’s second time running; he previously challenged and lost to then-Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara. Fareed, the president of his parents’ company, ProBand Industries, is hoping the third time is the charm.

Complicating the race — to what degree is unclear — is the participation of Michael Erin Woody, a Republican from Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County. Woody is likely to take some votes away from Fareed, but most political insiders believe that the top two vote-getters will be Carbajal and Fareed, who then will go on to face each other in November. Woody, however, believes that he is a true Republican and a stronger choice than Fareed.

The district, which stretches across San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, has 373,821 registered voters; of those, 147,806 are Democrats, 117,878 are Republicans and 88,128 are not affiliated with a party. 

Noozhawk spoke with the candidates to get an overview of their candidacies and their views heading into next month's primary.

“I strongly believe that the Central Coast deserves better and more qualified representation,” Woody said. “With my professional background as a licensed civil engineer for over 20 years along with my education and background in public service, I can bring a unique level of qualified representation that the Central Coast finally deserves.”

Woody said he is not impressed with Carbajal’s first two years in office.

“It has been a bit of a disappointment,” Woody said. “He promised all of us something better.”

Woody said Carbajal continued his support of a “clear partisan agenda” over the unique bipartisan needs of the district, which has “put him out of touch with what true representation is supposed to be about.”

Woody said Carbajal  continues to support sanctuary city policies, single-payer health care, wants to spend federal dollars on a failing high-speed rail system, does not support more infrastructure for adequate water storage, voted against Kate’s Law, and supports the new gas tax along with cap-and-trade.

“This is not the representation people voted for,” Woody said.

He said Carbajal’s only claim of bipartisanship was to support bills that largely were unanimous in the first place.

“Most people know that co-sponsoring a bill is the equivalent to signing the office birthday card that someone else bought,” Woody said. “After 25 years in politics, we really deserve something better.”

Woody said he is running a campaign that he always wanted to see. 

"We have a phrase in our campaign: 'Be the change that you want to see.' This idea really governs what we do every day," he said. 

He said he is handing a 40-page booklet to voters titled "Priorities We Deserve."

"We decided a long time ago that we had no interest in handing out one-page fliers and running on slogans that say nothing," Woody said. "The issues we are facing are very complex and deserve a serious discussion."

Woody said the unique needs of the district should always "supersede the partisan platform."

"No longer can we afford sanctuary city policies that prevent federal law enforcement from doing their job," Woody said. "No longer can we afford to use federal dollars on a failing high-speed rail system. Likewise, we also need to find a solution for the DACA kids. I believe in conservation in step with Teddy Roosevelt and the rights of the individual in step with Abraham Lincoln."

Carbajal said “it’s been a privilege to represent the Central Coast in Congress.”

He said it’s been a tough few months between California’s most destructive fire season on record and the debris flow in Montecito.

“I worked to ensure that our first responders had the resources needed for disaster response, and will continue working to make federal aid available to the many residents and small businesses that were impacted,” Carbajal said.

He said that despite the current polarized political climate, there are many opportunities to find common ground in Congress.

“During my first term, I helped to secure a long overdue budgeting fix to end 'fire-borrowing,' " Carbajal said. “The rising costs of fighting wildfires forced the U.S. Forest Service to use funds from their forest management and mitigation budget to fund suppression. Congress recently passed a spending bill that now treats wildfires like we do other natural disasters.”

Carbajal said it was past time that the government allocate funding for wildfires like it does for other natural disasters, by creating a new contingency fund to allow for more spending on responsible forest management to mitigate the effects of future fires.

Carbajal said he is working with his colleagues from both parties to increase access to affordable health care, to advance policies that create well-paying jobs, to ease the burden of “crushing higher-education costs for our students and families,” and to successfully pass new oil and gas pipeline safety measures to protect the coastline.

Health care also is a priority.

“This Republican leadership in Congress has shamefully ignored the rising costs of health care,” Carbajal said. “Instead of taking steps to find solutions to make health insurance more affordable and to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, they instead voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and have taken drastic measures to increase health care costs. I’m hopeful that next term we can take bipartisan steps to address these high costs, instead of more partisan gridlock.”

Fareed said he is running for Congress because “Washington is broken.”

“We need a new generation of leadership to fix it,” he said. “While families worry about jobs, taxes and paying increased health insurance premiums, and our water and transportation infrastructure, our representatives in Washington drag their feet and play political games. It's time to put people over politics, and our current representative is not doing that.”

Fareed said this is a different race than before.

“In the last two years, one thing that's changed is that Washington has become even more partisan, divided and disconnected from the rest of America,” Fareed said. “Critical issues, like jobs, taxes, immigration, education and infrastructure, which affect Central Coast residents daily, are being ignored. I have experience building bipartisan coalitions in Washington and will deliver results, not rhetoric.”

Fareed said no one will work harder than him.

“I will bring forward solutions to the critical issues facing people in our district,” Fareed said. “We've seen what my opponent has done in Congress, and that's put politics over people and our Central Coast families. He promised he would 'reach across the aisle to Republican members of Congress,' but has voted with Nancy Pelosi more than nine out of 10 times.”

Fareed said that because of California’s burdensome taxes and regulations, a host of local businesses have picked up and left the state, leaving empty storefronts, fewer job opportunities and increased financial burdens for remaining middle-class families.

“I've met with some of these families, some of whom are considering moving out of California because they just can't afford it anymore,” Fareed said. “This breaks my heart.”

Fareed said the "traditional" educational model won't work for every student. Obtaining a four-year university degree is an important goal for many students, but it isn't the right path for everyone, he said.

“There are innovative vocational and technical schools in our area that are preparing students for 21st-century jobs, and some students are even being recruited into well-paying jobs right out of high school,” Fareed said. “We need to give local school districts, teachers and parents a bigger voice in the decisions related to their own students and encourage the creation of more vocational and technical schools.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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.

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