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INTERVIEWS

35th and 37th Assembly Districts

Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson and Republican Chris Mitchum expect to spend up to $1 million in race to capture critical seat.

October 25, 1998|BOB RECTOR | Bob Rector is an op-ed page editor of the Ventura County and San Fernando Valley editions

On the surface, it's campaigning as usual in the 35th Assembly District race.

Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson, a family-law attorney, is competing with Chris Mitchum, son of the late actor Robert Mitchum and former Screen Actors Guild official, for the right to represent the district, which covers Ventura, Santa Paula, Ojai and most of Santa Barbara County.

The dialogue runs the usual gamut from abortion to gun control. But what makes this race unusual is that each camp expects to spend up to $1 million to capture the seat, considered important to Democrats to hold or strengthen their majority in the Assembly. Republicans want to defend the seat previously occupied by Brooks Firestone, one of their own.

The amount of money being raised startles even Jackson. "It's ridiculous that a race for Assembly is going to cost a million dollars," she said. "I'd work for campaign reform."

Money aside, both candidates say their views mirror those of their constituents and characterize each other as too extreme to reflect the thinking in the district.

The Times recently questioned both candidates about their views on issues that concern their district and the state:

* * *

Question: Proposition 5 would sanction casino-style gambling on the state's Indian reservations. Do you favor or oppose it and why?

Jackson: Native American self-sufficiency is an important goal. Nevertheless, Proposition 5 is not the answer. This complex issue should not be determined solely by which side spends the most on 30-second television ads.

Mitchum: I support Proposition 5. In the Santa Ynez Valley, the Chumash Casino employs approximately 460 people, only 40 of which are members of the Chumash [tribe]. Allowing businesses like the casino to continue providing jobs for local residents is important to our regional economy.

*

Q: Do you support Proposition 9, which would rewrite the state's electricity deregulation law to require a 20% rate cut and prevent utilities from charging customers $28 billion for the cost of nuclear plants and long-term purchase contracts?

Jackson: Proposition 9 is premature. Power industry competition is just beginning, and it's too early to tell how it will affect consumers. I join the leaders of the environmental community in opposing Proposition 9.

Mitchum: I oppose Proposition 9. This is an ill-conceived proposal that is also opposed by agriculture, small business and manufacturing, consumer organizations, economic development groups and labor organizations. If this proposition were to be approved, California taxpayers would be burdened with a $7-billion liability and deregulation would be jeopardized.

*

Q: Do you believe parents should be given vouchers to help them afford private schools for their children?

Jackson: I am opposed to school vouchers and, unlike my opponent, I have held this position prior to and throughout my campaign. Vouchers would drain money away from public education in order to fund private school education. We must reinvest in public education, not draw resources away from it.

Mitchum: I oppose vouchers. A voucher program would devastate our public school system. I do support school choice, which allows parents to send their children to any public school.

*

Q: Do you support more rigid gun control laws?

Jackson: The 2nd Amendment does not preclude sensible gun control. I support a ban on "Saturday night specials" and semiautomatic assault weapons as a means of stopping the wholesale dissemination of firearms. We must keep guns out the hands of criminals and children.

Mitchum: I support any law that prevents gun violence, but we cannot simply ban guns that are ugly, cheap or small and expect gun violence to disappear. We must educate our children regarding the potential dangers related to guns, ensure parents responsibly store their firearms, fight the trade of illegal guns on our streets and we must lock up criminals who commit gun-related crimes.

*

Q: Do you support a woman's right to an abortion in all cases?

Jackson: I am the only candidate in this race who is consistently pro-choice. Women have a Constitutionally protected right to choose. This personal decision is one that should be made between a woman, her doctor, her family and her God. Government does not have the right to intrude in this decision.

Mitchum: I am pro-choice. I do not support partial birth abortion unless it is necessary to save the life of the mother. I favor parental consent with the "judicial bypass" option for minor women who have abusive or incompetent parents. I oppose using taxpayer dollars to perform abortions except in cases where the woman is financially disadvantaged and the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or the woman's life is in danger.

*

Q: Do you support Measure B, the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) initiative that would prevent--through 2020--farmland and open space outside cities in Ventura County from being rezoned for development without voter approval?

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