Sunday, July 15 , 2018, 10:14 pm | Fair 68º


Trent Benedetti: Who Is Really Going to Represent Santa Barbara County in Washington?

Before beginning this column, I wish to disclose I am a registered Republican.  

The fact that I am a Republican does not mean I dislike all Democrats or that I think Republicans have all the answers. Neither is true.

I do believe all of us are best served by healthy two-party competition. In any truly healthy competition, both sides win sometimes.

We have several candidates vying to succeed Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, in Congress.

As an aside, we could debate whether Capps has served too long or, for that matter, whether she has served effectively. But what would be the point? We should all acknowledge she has served honorably, and thank her for doing so.

And all of us should participate in the process of selecting her successor.

In recent weeks, there was a candidate forum in Santa Maria. During the discussion, Republican candidate Justin Fareed stated his belief that our current water problems have exposed a lack of foresight by current and past political leaders. He also commented about our deteriorating public infrastructure, something that is made worse daily by inadequate maintenance.

We might disagree how to solve these problems but we cannot deny the problems exist.     

In responding to comments about infrastructure, Democratic candidate Salud Carbajal demonstrated almost unbelievable chutzpah by claiming he, as Santa Barbara County’s First District supervisor, has done something about deteriorating infrastructure. This is the same man who publicly opposed the concept of maintaining (not improving, but simply maintaining) county parks, roads and bridges.

It calls to mind other times when one politician or another has told us they were for something before they were against it. It would be comical if it were not so sad. Also sad are attempts to play one group against another.

Again, comments at the recent forum by Carbajal provide illustration.

Carbajal called it absurd that “billionaires and multinational corporations” pay less taxes than some middle-class families. Put aside all questions about the accuracy of the assertion contained within the statement.

Instead, ask what Carbajal would say privately to billionaire Tom Steyer, someone who lavishly funds the radical environmental activities with which Carbajal identifies so closely?

What do you think he would say to the head of California-based multinational Alphabet (formerly Google), Apple, Cisco, Clorox, Disney, Facebook, Intel, Netflix, Tesla, Universal or Visa?

These multinational companies employ a lot of middle-class Californians. Still more middle-class Californians own shares in these companies, as do a lot of pension funds. These companies are important to the California economy in many ways and a robust economy makes life better for everyone.

It makes one wonder if Carbajal shares Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ Socialist beliefs because Sanders also targets billionaires and multinational companies. Of course, Carbajal and Sanders are both targeting women, too — not all women, but two in particular.

Sanders is targeting Hillary Clinton, and Carbajal, fellow candidate Helene Schneider, Santa Barbara’s mayor and a fellow Democrat.

Schneider has taken some positions with which many disagree. She opposed the widening of Highway 101, for example. But disagreement on particular issues notwithstanding, she is considered a straight-shooter by friend and foe alike.

There are other candidates in the race, including Democrat William Ostrander, a supporter of the $15 per hour minimum wage, and Republican Katcho Achadjian, the current 35th District assemblyman.

Whether you support one of the candidates mentioned in this column or someone else, get involved. If you believe in healthy two-party competition, ask yourself if the Democrats have been winning too often for too long.

— Trent Benedetti is a member of the board of directors of the Committee to Improve North County and a longtime local business owner. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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