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Candidates for the 52nd Congressional District

May 29, 2012 1:10 p.m.

Guests: Brian Bilbray, Republican Congressman

Scott Peters, Democratic challenger

Lori Saldana, Democratic challenger

Related Story: 52nd Congressional Race: Bilbray, Peters, Saldaña On The Issues

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Our top story on Midday Edition is we are voting to fill the newly created 52nd Congressional District here in San Diego. Redistricting has changed the boundaries of our congressional districts and the 52nd district now strikes north through (inaudible) along through Pacific region extends east through the Marine Corps air Station Miramar and into parts of North County including Poway and Rancho Bernardo. The three top candidates are Republican incumbent Congressman Brian Bilbray, Port Commissioner Scott Peters and former state assemblywoman Lori Saldana. They will join us today to talk about their goals for the district and we begin with Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray. And welcome to the show, thank you for coming in.

BRIAN BILBRAY: Great to be with you, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: As I said the new 52nd district has new boundaries. It has more Democrats, it's been described as a bit more liberal than the 50th district that you represent now and if anything your voting record has become more conservative, so is the 52nd District really a good fit for you?

BRIAN BILBRAY: Well my first of all my voting record is identified by the national jury has been a 53 or 54. That is pretty well right to the center. Bob Filner is about a seven and Duncan Hunter is about a 94. And historically you know I've been able to represent the area. But because this is a different type of district, this is the economic powerhouse of San Diego County. Not only is this where the jobs are created, the great majority of the package, but the miracles that we take for granted, the medical research facilities here, the life sciences. We have Sapphire, the algae producers the genetically altered algae that will produce true gasoline, not stuff like ethanol. This is a district where you do cross lines, you work with people. I meet with the poor district needed somebody to work on America's Cup issues. I went to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and we worked hard on that issue and it was nice the jury was willing to think before working on that. But that's where this district goes back and forth you need to have the ability to work with somebody like Bob filter and get a two-year budget cycle for the veterans and so I think that the voting record of 53, which some people attack me up right. But candidates who are saying I am too moderate. I've got those sourcing too far to the right, too far to the left and the fact is I think you look up the field but is opposing right now you have nine candidates opposing and they stuck about the right at the left of this one.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay for one instance on (inaudible) talk about the Paul Ryan budget. You voted for that and that would have eliminated Medicare as we know it. If that came up again for a vote and had a chance of being signed by a president, would you again support changing Medicare in such a fundamental way?

BRIAN BILBRAY: First of all, Maureen, it doesn't change, it saves Medicare as we know it because it allows seniors who are seniors to maintain their contract. Very much like what is being proposed to save the city's pension program that is in such a big crisis. You allow those seniors just like you allow those employees to keep the contract they have and then you talk about future seniors which are called young people to work something I remember Paul Ryan's budget there were like nine or 10 budgets voted on. His was the most moderate of all the proposals out there. It was dead in the center if you look at the major work. There were people on the right who said it wasn't harsh enough it wasn't hard enough and there were people on the left who said it took too much. But actually if you look at the numbers of what was proposed that they were everybody got to put their budgets out there, Paul Ryan's actually happened to be statistically pretty close to the center at that time.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So I guess my question is if this came up again would you again support changing Medicare for the younger people so it's not the same as the Medicare older people are getting today?

BRIAN BILBRAY: Absolutely. I think what we need to talk about is the contract with young people that they can't believe it. Right now the greatest threat for those of us who are seniors who have a contract with the federal government or looking for to our Social Security and Medicare benefits we need to make sure that we can maintain our commitment and we can do that and the one way to do it is make sure that young people believe there's going to be a system there for them. This is were doing something earlier instead of later, we want to be like recent put it off until it becomes an absolute disaster and you really have to go put draconian. We can avoid that by working together and it's must like to challenge we have with the postal system right now my cousin a series appointment on the postal system a former Democratic congressperson in Las Vegas he really believes the Congress needs to address the postal system sooner instead of later but we can do this by working together we can guarantee the benefits that are seniors have always agreed on and we can guarantee at work with the people to make sure that they know something will be there, the contract will be there. We will be able to fulfill that. Right now we don't have any proposals that have been approved that do both. That's one place Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree on much like you are saying the voters really taking into their hands right now with the new pension program to save the city, was that some tough decisions need to be made but they needed to be fair and make sure that those who have a contract and are committed to the traditional services still are there while you are proposing a new proposal to the young employees come, line.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: and speaking with with Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray is of course running for the 52nd district here in San Diego going to ask you another question of whether you would do this again. Okay back in 2006 you assigned the Grover Norquist no tax pledge against raising taxes on individuals or businesses and recently a number of younger Republican candidates say that that limits the parties options and they are not going to sign a pledge. Would you sign a no tax pledge again today.

BRIAN BILBRAY: I'm not a second but I clarified my position was. The pics is just about money. Is that the issue really is the fact that the footprint of the federal government is so big it goes far beyond what our founding fathers that we've got to learn to make some priority decisions. I totally disagree With the Way, Mr. Norquist has interpreted certain issues and I have stood up to him on the issue with a guy named Tom Coburn about now, I oppose the subsidy for ethanol. I have always opposed ethanol for environmental reasons as a former member of the air resources Board I do that ethanol is not only economically bad it was environmentally polluting and terribly and then you have all the related. And I've told Norquist, no, eliminating the tax benefits for people that should be getting is not a tax increase. That's where we go and that's where we should be concentrating on, wise ethanol continuing to do that? I thought hard and we've actually seen is limited to a large degree. There so many of these other issues where there's tax write-offs whatever in my attitude about that is an issue of government, federal government subsidizing people for doing things necessarily good for the environment or good for the economy and that's where I separate with him and I clarified with him that this is more about the size of the federal government rather than just checkbook issues.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So let me ask you again which we can sign a no tax pledge or would you feel that that ties your hands

BRIAN BILBRAY: I believe that right now it is crazy to talk about not addressing the loopholes in the tax issue rather than talking about raising tax rates. Even the president of the United States knows raising the tax rates is a very very scary thing at this time. And the scary thing about this is thinking that we can tax our way out of the crisis where we go right now. But there is still again, coming back to the existing tax code as we know it as the many special-interest pieces of legislation. Items that force businesses overseas, like Callaway golf, I worked for years I'm trying to get where they could import the club head to make the golf clubs here in San Diego and not pay a higher tax that the golf club assembled will be coming by the federal government tax that overseas and you've got the kind of struggle where you get in there. And this is one item. I go down the list

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: okay but I'm taking that as a yes so you would sign it again.

BRIAN BILBRAY: Yes, absolutely.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So let me move on as I if I may to the California medical marijuana law because California's medical marijuana law has been threatened by recent crackdown by the federal government because of her health issues your daughter Breanna is a advocate for the use of medical marijuana. Would you support a national law legalizing medical marijuana?

BRIAN BILBRAY: No but we are actually going to be announcing a new bill that does what you need to do. Breanna, even though she was ill and fighting for her life, she came out and met with members of Congress Democrats and Republicans, work with the chairman of the health committee, Joe Pitts who is ultraconservative and what we are going to do is allow the cannabis extracts, the medicine part of marijuana to be available to the American people and force the FDA to allow that medicine to be available to Americans the way it is available in Canada and the European Union. Then we've got the ability to have a true medicine that is monitored through drugstores. That script is over there, you get a prescription. And you know this is the way we should be applying and the medical marijuana issue is more of an example of how the federal government's over control has created a crisis and really created to kind of situations, sick people don't get the medicine that may help them like my daughter desperately needs and also you have those who are using sick people to try to support recreational drugs. My attitude is we need a dosable medicine that works, that takes the active ingredients and that should be legal in the United States but it's legal through the FDA system and getting (inaudible) working on this in improving it should not only help us with medical marijuana but also many other drugs that are not being allowed through the FDA. So hopefully the issue of medical marijuana can be used in Congress to finally do the right thing and for a lot of patients, not just those like my daughter need to use the THC derivatives in an appropriate way.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And over the last couple of years you spent known nationally as taking a hard line against illegal immigration and we just saw national surveys that said basically showed that illegal immigration seems to have slowed to a halt for a number of different factors. With that new reality that we are looking at, I'm wondering if perhaps you might've changed your stance in any way about making a path to citizenship for the people who are already living and working here?

BRIAN BILBRAY: First of all Maureen, I'm the only member of Congress who've rescued illegals when they are drowning. I've recovered their body sexy been slaughtered on highways on me at the banzai charges pretty feel very strongly that sending mixed Mac surges has created the problem in so many ways and watching it has to stop doing that but we can do that working together we need to find those things that Democrats and Republicans can agree on as Americans and the one place I think we can agree on is as president Obama did. He said e-verify gets to the source of the problem. You don't need to search people's cars and you don't need big Wall Street you can reduce border patrol by 50% or huge amounts if you just require that everybody that hire somebody uses a computer to check that they are not breaking the law by doing that. And that is where Pres. Obama has expanded the verify, and this is the one place we should all agree. I thinks once we have shown the world that there is no way to come here and break the law and get a job and stay here long enough and get rewarded, then we can talk about some great things we can do about that but until we do the right thing and make sure that every employer is not only not hiring illegals but not getting a tax deduction which is legal right now once we do that I think we can do a lot of other things.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I am out of time. Thank you so much Congressman Brian Bilbray.

BRIAN BILBRAY: Thank you very much, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: When we return we will hear from two more candidates running for the 52nd Congressional District, Scott Peters and Lori Saldana. It's 12:17 and you are listening to KPBS Midday Edition. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. We continue with our interviews of the candidates for the 52nd Congressional District. Veteran political analysts say that this district with its new boundary stretching from Coronado through a Marine Corps Station Miramar through areas of spelling is in play politically this year. One of the two Democrats vying for the seat is my next guest former San Diego city Council president and now San Diego Port Commissioner Scott Pierce. And welcome to the program. Thanks for having me, boring. Now tell us if you would how do you describe your politics?

SCOTT PETERS: Well I like the idea of getting things done. That's always been my objective whether I was a city councilmember or city Council President or Port Commissioner to me the thrill is in making a positive change for people in San Diego by using my office. And I think we've done a pretty good job of that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Where would you put yourself on the political spectrum of right and left and so forth?

SCOTT PETERS: I think the labels are a little bit restrictive. I think they are convenient for people but I think they can be a little dismissive. On some issues probably say I'm a real left-winger. I've got a 100 percent pro-choice rating from the Planned Parenthood action fund. I've been a big supporter of marriage equality for a long time. I don't think there's a lot of room in my left on those issues. Under their issues when you think about creating a tax code or building a ballpark I try to work out a plan to get things done and I think I always look to solve problems.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And what is your political philosophy fitting into this newly, 52nd District?

SCOTT PETERS: I think it matches me pretty well. You know the new district includes my own counsel district, almost all of it. The first Democrat to have represented lawyer, the first counsel district which is lonelier University City Carmel Valley Rancho Penasquitos. The port district tidelands are almost all within the part of the city of San Diego's tidelands, and Coronado are all in the district. In my experience those people welcome someone like me who wants to get things done make government work for people and that's not what we are seeing from Congress right now which is one of the reasons I'm running.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now speaking of the Port of San Diego how well or how badly it's been used to generate jobs and industry for San Diego has become an issue in the city of San Diego's mayoral election especially by Democrat Bob Filner. Has a port commissioner and a fellow Democrat do you agree that the board should be a much bigger job generator than it is?

SCOTT PETERS: I think it can be and I agree with councilmember Filner in the idea that we ought to promote it. And I'm proud of some of the stuff we've done already along those lines and I think if you hear him speak you will see that it's been better in the last few years. We are working to expand our exports with folks like solar turbines right here in San Diego. We are reaching farther to do imports. We renewed our contract with Dole bananas, fresh fruits. We import the Fred fresh fruit for the Western United States. And we've done a couple other projects like when I was chair we got unanimous vote to contribute to expanding the convention center. That will create about 7000 permanent jobs. We fought to keep the solar turbines here again some people that were going to try to create some conflicting land uses with some residences. That's about 3800 good high-paying jobs. And when I was chair we also got a funding plan for the first phase of the North Embarcadero visioning plan which is now under construction and will create a really wonderful world-class waterfront down by the cruise ship terminals that will help our tourism industry and also help San Diego I think we've got a lot of progress out of it lately and I'm really proud of the reorganization we did to deal with. Financial bailout these as well.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you think there could've been more done under your watch as a port commissioner?

SCOTT PETERS: Well I haven't heard anyone say that. I think people are looking at the port as a new kind of entity. You know when I came into the port it was about the beginning of 2009. For the first time the port had experienced revenues that were less than expenditures and we totally turn that around. We cut the workforce by about 15% without any layoffs or litigation. We got rid of that, largely we do that by getting rid of the top management and excess management. We cut the number of departments, number of vice presidents and today we have a really high morale workforce and I think we are getting a lot done.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Scott peters you mentioned you one of your strengths is your ability to work with people of different parties to end the gridlock between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. How exactly would you go about doing that, though? I mean you're going to be on one side of the aisle. You're probably going to be voting with the Democrats most of the time so how do you make that kind of hands across the aisle kind of gesture?

SCOTT PETERS: Well first of all it's not just me. I like to think that in every congressional district across the country people are looking at each other and saying look, this Congress is broken. We really want to send the same people back? I'd like to the people some people with the idea that we do want to get things done we don't like the gridlock. I mean they're going to fight over the debt ceiling again for Pete sake which is a debate over whether we pay our bills and we are not talking about America's future which is whether Congress should be talking about things like infrastructure, the cost of education. A product of the middle class. I got financial aid I have a lot to America for that but kids like me when I grab her not having the opportunity today. We are not talking about funding scientific research which has been so important in transforming San Diego's economy and the quality of life worldwide so I like to think that people all over the country are going to have this conversation and demand more from their Congress but when you get there you take the attitude that going to work with anybody so we had a Senate Majority Leader say in discussing healthcare that his goal was to fix the health care system must make sure that president Obama was the one term president L supporter of Pres. Obama but you will never hear me say about anyone that my goal is is to get that person unelected. I take the attitude I want to solve America's problems and get our priorities right. Finally we have to keep people engaged after we are electing one of the things we've seen is the values social media in creating change printer was an Internet content builder was just about to go through, the lobbyists were already two adopted and people were heard about it and concerned about it and work incentive to really weigh in on Facebook and twitter and a change Congress is mine in a month. As Barney Frank said sure money is important in lobbyists are important but when a politician is faced with lobbyists and money on one hand and voters on the other hand he's always going to go with voter so we have to keep people engaged that way.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What if Republicans don't go along, when does Scott Peters stop compromising?

SCOTT PETERS: I know how to fight, look I was a trial lawyer. I know how to pick a fight and sometimes you have to fight and I think that's definitely part of the arsenal.and I can cite you a number of situations where I've stood up for people. For instance that the city when people were trying to take away their hard-earned benefits I was the person who had to stood up for them and say it's not legal it's not fair it's not right able to disabled Social Security and Medicare. Some things you can compromise you can't compromise on civil rights things like choice for marriage equality. But if you want to build a tax code that makes us more competitive worldwide and its progressive there's lots of ways to figure out how to do that it's a matter of sitting down and making an agreement that solves everyone's problems.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Have you released your tax returns as many have asked you to do during this campaign?

SCOTT PETERS: For 10 or 12 years I've been filing complete disclosure of all the financial assets that I have. That's totally open to the public and available for anyone to see and it's on the Internet so I would certainly invite anyone to see it. If there's anything that I hope people are concerned about is totally public.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The tax returns, are those the tax returns

SCOTT PETERS: It's the financial disclosure statements

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Why not release your tax returns?

SCOTT PETERS: I don't think it's necessary for the public to know but my wife's businesses or my, if you've read academics most important thing is a you know what we are and what could create potential conflicts. I've made that available for 10 years and I've done really, I've made a concerted effort to make sure we are not involved in any conflicts of interest in that's available for the public to see.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Doesn't that give the impression that you have something to hide since you haven't released the tax returns and your fellow candidates have been asking you to for months now?

SCOTT PETERS: You know, everything I own is totally public and if anyone took the time to look at 16 page filing that we did I don't think they would be able to say that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: okay this has become sort of a contentious rates between you and Lori Saldana. You think the nature of the attacks will hurt Democratic chances perhaps in November?

SCOTT PETERS: Well, campaigns are tough. All I ask is that, you know, I will not tell you what Lori thinks or what her positions are but she's been trying to tell people what my positions are particularly on Medicare and Social Security. I have asked to be able to speak for myself on that. In particular I oppose voucherizing Medicare. I oppose the privatization of Social Security. If we had done that in 2008 we would have lost 40% of our money in the Social Security system. We have to protect those benefits for seniors who have earned them over a lifetime of hard work. That is my position and I don't appreciate that being mischaracterized. I think voters will see through that because we certainly let them know what my real position is.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I have to end it there. I'm speaking with Scott peters candidate for the 52nd US Congressional District thank you very much

SCOTT PETERS: Thank you, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Coming up the 52nd Congressional District Lori Saldana, and that is as KPBS Midday Edition continues. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. The 52nd congressional district in San Diego is one of those races that has garnered some national attention and fundraising. Both parties believe that this district with its newly drawn boundary lines could be in play and influence the political makeup of Congress. We wrap up our conversations with the top candidates for the 52nd congressional district with former California assemblywoman Democrat Lori Saldana. And Lori, welcome to the program. Thank you for being here.

LORI SALDANA: Thank you very much for the opportunity.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tell us how would you describe your politics?

LORI SALDANA: I'm a very progressive Democrat. I invested the things that return on investment and that is primarily people. I, as another of legislation to invest in infrastructure, schools, clean water. I believe that educated, healthy people are the best investment we can make over time. And so I have been very proud to author and co-author legislation to make sure that people are educated in our schools and universities and they have safe clean drinking water all along the US-Mexico border has a Clinton appointee and here in California of course we look at transportation, affordable housing, greenhouse grass reduction to make sure climate change doesn't continue to escalate. Of several basic things that I've offered authored and co-authored bills to fund investigation people environment healthcare.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: now the newly drawn 57 district is just about evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats how do you as a progressive Democrat appeal to the majority of somewhat moderate voters in his district?

LORI SALDANA: The district I represent for six years was very similar. It was 25% decline to state, 35% Republican, 40% Democrat. I was reelected with higher and higher vote margins each time because people thought that I was I think a thoughtful considerate person a lot of different issues. I supported our military families and veterans printer was veteran legislator of the year because of the work I did on behalf of people and I grew up in a military family and understand the challenges they face in 10 years of combat. Those are nonpartisan issues. I think I went my own way. I said no to bills that I thought were now well conceive such as the disastrous bill that ended redevelopment in California. I was the only San Diego legislator who said no to that bill and refused to support it. So I've been independent in my ugly. That hazard at times criticism from some but I think respect from others. I've been a principal author of bills and supporter of good bills when the time is there.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now Congress is getting at this point about a 13% approval rating from the people who fill out polls, and a lot of that can be attributed to what is perceived as gridlock between the parties. I wonder what you think you can do to ease that gridlock in Washington?

LORI SALDANA: Since you bring up 13% approval often it's looking at it as a whole. A look at individual representatives and their opinion of people are different. Ultimately it is the people's house and another number that disturbs me even more than 13% approval is 40% of the people in House of Representatives are millionaires right now. That's not very representative of people and I think that's one of the frustrations they are out of touch with the daily lives of most working Americans. 17% are women that's completely disproportionate to where we are as a country where women are actually a slight majority of people. So when we look at the numbers, which as an educator I like to look at where we are numerically, and we have a lot of improvement to do at the congressional level. I think we need better representation and socioeconomic groups. I think we certainly need more women. This will look at that attacks on healthcare and women to productive choices as many people have said we are like that country years ago so I think the approval rating maybe reflects the district personnel he our representation in the people's houses not. Needs to be.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But getting back to the issue of gridlock I wonder with your political convictions, do you find yourself, do you think you might have a hard time making compromises with politicians that you deeply disagree with?

LORI SALDANA: I served with Republican governor who signed some bills along with Republicans who co-authored legislation on my behalf on things like energy possible policy A.B. 1103 it is a landmark bill it is being modeled around the country on energy efficiency. Governor short snigger cited. I had five Republicans co-author a bill, or support the bill rather with those. So I know how to get things done with the bipartisan support. I know what issues will get that support and that's the thing. You do have to know strategically where to go as you bring forward legislation.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now our listeners will be reading articles written by entities and news organizations that might be thought of as natural supporters of yours who are not going to be supporting you in this election because they cite your contentiousness, your inability to get along with others. And therefore, they have doubts that you'll be able to get anything done in Congress. Wondering how do you respond to that criticism?

LORI SALDANA: I mentioned that I have a record that I'm proud to run on. My opponents are running from the records and the fact is I'm running on a legislative record that is cross as many different parts of the political spectrum. I think it's very strange that some very progressive organizations call me a progressive's progressive, but because of what they consider personality, and let me back up a step and say it's often, people don't argue my politics. They don't argue my positions I've taken. I was there on marriage equality. I was there early as a co-author of that bill. They don't argue with those things, but they make some of these personal remarks. It's something that I think discourages women from running for office because often we are attacks attacked on some of those personal levels as chair of the women's legislative caucus the only bipartisan caucus we mentored and encourage women to run for Congress and often allows us personal attacks are discouraged them from wanting to come in so I would say I push back against and sometimes and maybe breaks stereotypes about femininity but I really think it's important that we have strong representation and I am a strong person and I stood up for my values and my principles and I've achieved a lot legislatively. I'm very proud to run on a record that I've done in the legislature.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you a question I asked Congressman Bilbray. Illegal immigration seems to have slowed to a halt according to a national survey.

LORI SALDANA: The economy is definitely influencing that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you think now is the time to accomplish a path to citizenship for people who are already living and working in this country?

LORI SALDANA: It is an excellent opportunity to do so because the influx of immigration has slowed. We need to redefine our system make it more efficient. People are paying much much more to become legal citizens in the United States and they are not getting a return on the increased payments that went up and up and up over the last 10 years to just apply for citizenship. I think it's an excellent opportunity because the economy in the US has not improved as in other parts of the world so we actually are seeing and egress of immigrants returning back to their own country so we have time now to look at it thoughtfully and come up with some better policies.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Lori Saldana should there be a national bill on legalizing medical marijuana.

LORI SALDANA: I think the federal government should respect states decisions and that includes here in San Diego where millions have come in from department of justice to fund city's prosecution enclosure. I disagreed with that as a legislator. I introduced a bill that did not succeed but would prohibit the coordination of local and state law enforcement with the federal agencies. I think we should respect states rights and peoples preposition votes in the matter.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You mentioned your history, your personal family history and military. The US military involvement in Iraq has ended. The war in Afghanistan is winding down. But we are already hearing reports that there are long waits for evaluations and barriers to treatment said VA hospitals. Are you satisfied that veterans and active military are receiving good medical care and what would you want to do to improve that perhaps if you went to Congress?

LORI SALDANA: In my father's generation has actually said, reported to me that they feel they are getting a better quality of care. These are the World War II and Korea veterans, my father was a Korean veteran and I'm very happy is getting improved care. Younger veterans men and especially women they still need to improve that care tremendously. I authored bills to help with that as well as mental health to help people fill out the paperwork to apply for benefits that they have earned and so richly deserve that's why I was legislator of the year for the California veterans Association. I put more money into their programs to help these women and men come back to their benefits and get on with their lives through education. San Diego State is an excellent model for that. It is absolutely essential and I will continue to work on that and I look forward to serving and Veterans Affairs as I did for six years in California.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to give you another chance to respond to I believe the major criticism leveled against your candidacy and that is the way that you've operated while you were in the assembly and what people have referred to as a contentiousness that you have. During the end of your career in California assembly there was a late-night session where you are pushing banning the open carry of firearms and that was widely criticized and you clashed with fellow Democrats over their refusal to employ parliamentary procedure tactics to allow you to debate that measure. I'm wondering if, not only how you respond, but if you can tell us that you've learned anything from that kind of response they've gotten from an incident like that?

LORI SALDANA: Well I would say a speaker pro tem I knew very well the force procedures that could have been employed. They were chosen not to be employed on a particular bill which then went on to another member the following year and was signed into law. I think what I would do is ensure at a time that those procedures are going to be in place. That those people at the power to block them from going forward that they would talk with me more directly, more clearly. I made an assumption that the floor leader at the time would take up the bill the way that I would have taken about bill on his behalf. And so as I said, there'll be 17, in California is a little better. We are closer to 27% women. It is still often men who are running the show and I think what people want our people to fight for them and people wanted that bill signed into law. I was pushing very hard to get that bill to the governor's desk and I missed it not on a vote to put on a procedural breakdown. So I think what I've learned from that again is my record on legislation is very solid. My ability to make sure that the procedures are followed as something I learned as speaker pro tem I think is important as a majority party back in Washington we use the power of the majority to run the floor cordially and efficiently and that is a big lesson that I learned.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I have to end again. I've been speaking with Lori Saldana, candidate for the 52nd Congressional District. Thank you very much.

LORI SALDANA: Thank you.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You can get a thorough rundown of the candidates and the issues in the June 5 primary on our website. It is the election page on KPBS.org.