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Candidates Stake Out Opposing Positions In 49th Congressional Debate

MiraCosta College students and staff participate in a live televised forum wi...

Photo by Alison St John

Above: MiraCosta College students and staff participate in a live televised forum with Republican Diane Harkey and Democrat Mike Levin, candidates for the 49th Congressional district, Oct 2nd, 2018.

The candidates for the 49th congressional district, Republican Diane Harkey and Democrat Mike Levin, squared off in their first televised debate this week on NBC.

They are vying to replace longtime Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, in one of the most-watched congressional races in the country, as Democrats hope to flip it from red to blue.

MiraCosta College was informed late last week that students could participate in the forum and ask questions from their location on the Oceanside campus.

Students were glad to get the opportunity during the only televised debate so far to feature both candidates together.

Harkey and Levin took opposing positions on most issues, and sparks flew when they sparred over a question about impeaching the president.

“It’s a waste of time, no matter how you feel about it,” said Harkey. “It throws our country in chaos.”

“I do not seek impeachment,” said Levin.

“Yes you do,” interrupted Harkey. “Excuse me, yes you do!”

“No I do not Ms. Harkey,” Levin said. “I only seek justice and the truth.”

Harkey said she does not like President Trump’s tweeting, but that he has a strong following and the economy is humming along. Levin said he is tired of the deadlock in Washington.

Harkey touted her years as a state assemblywoman and accused Levin of being a lobbyist. Levin responded that he has been an advocate for environmental issues, not a lobbyist.

Levin, an environmental attorney, differed radically from Harkey on climate change. When asked whether the U.S. should rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, Harkey said, “No.”

Levin disagreed.

”Absolutely," he said. "We went from being a leader on climate change to being a laughing stock and we should be ashamed of this administration.”

Students Concerns

Mira Costa Student President Marc Mendoza said the current political turmoil is helping to engage more students in the election. But he said only about one in 10 students he talks to plans to vote. He said most students’ concerns are closer to home.

“Making sure that students are able to get good jobs with their degrees, so they can pay their loans off,” Mendoza said. "Also affordable housing in the area. And DACA — what kind of changes would the candidates be making to make sure that our student population feels safe on campus?”

Mendoza said he was disappointed the candidates did not address the impasse over DACA more directly. Harkey said she supports expanding the border wall and immigration reform.

Levin said his grandparents on his mother’s side came from Mexico and worked to get all five of their daughters into college. Levin said he favors a path to citizenship for those who contribute.

Business management student Gerardo Avallos said he’ll vote for the candidate who shows most understanding of other cultures.

“I’m looking for a candidate that can help people as far as making education, more accessible, more accessible to other people that are not fortunate, that are not in the upper class, that are more lower class. Families are working full time or two jobs just to provide their kids actually get an education,” he said.

The 49th Congressional District includes parts of Orange County and San Diego’s coastal North County from Oceanside and Vista to Del Mar and includes parts of the UCSD campus in La Jolla.

While registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats in the district as a whole, Democrats have overtaken Republicans in San Diego County. Both campaigns say they are focusing on independent voters and new voters, including new citizens and students, who may not have participated in elections before, to turn the tide in their favor.

The candidates for the 49th congressional district, Republican Diane Harkey and Democrat Mike Levin, squared off in their first televised debate this week on NBC.

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