Candidates vying for 76 District share views at forum

OCEANSIDE — Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, 76 District, R., and challenger Thomas Krouse, R., faced off for the first time at an early morning forum hosted by the Oceanside Pacific Kiwanis Club Oct. 29

Chavez has held the title of assemblyman since the 76 District was formed two years ago.

Chavez said in those two years he has helped pass 10 bills and resolutions, which benefited veterans, airports, education, and other local interests.

Chavez previously served as Undersecretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, Oceanside Councilman, charter school founder, and Marine colonel.

Krouse, an investment manager, entrepreneur, and member of California for Electoral Reform, said he decided to run for state assembly when he found Chavez had filed for reelection without opposition.

“I knew I had to do something,” Krouse said.

Krouse said his platform focuses on getting special interests out of Sacramento, and providing reliable representation, common sense, and fiscal discipline.

He added two forum questions that illustrated his differences with Chavez were how to address local water needs, and how to make higher education more affordable.

Chavez is a spokesperson for Prop. 1, a $7.54 billion bond for water infrastructure projects, which will increase state bond costs by $360 million a year for 40 years, and save local governments hundreds of millions annually.

Chavez said the bill addresses water needs statewide, and is highly beneficial to Southern California. He added republicans, democrats, businesses, unions, and farmers support Prop. 1.

“It’s a good thing,” Chavez said.

Krouse said he does not support Prop. 1 as a whole. He said he agrees with funding more water storage, but the proposition throws numerous projects together, and that drives up the total cost and “hogties” taxpayers to fund more than what is needed.

“There’s no blank checkbook in the sky,” Krouse said. “Every dollar we spend on one thing, we can’t spend on something else.”

As far as reducing higher education costs and student debt, Krouse gave a direct answer and said higher education is an investment in the future, and college loans should be able to be refinanced.

Chavez gave a broader answer. He said he believes state education should be affordable to everyone, and pointed out the state only has control of community college and state university rates.

He focused the rest of his reply on legislative changes underway to improve community colleges and state universities.

He said he helped push for a two-year window to allow cities to independently decide if high schools or community colleges should provide local higher education courses, and receive attached state funding.

Other pending action he is a proponent of is the accreditation of community colleges to grant four-year degrees.

Both candidates said the forum was well run, and they appreciated the opportunity to speak prior to the Nov. 4 election.

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