Congressional candidates for the upcoming 2014 election occurring in November participated in a debate sponsored by Valley College’s Socialist Club on Thursday. The event was open to Valley students and the general public.
Mark Reed of the Republican Party and Michael Powelson of the Green Party are both running for the 30 Congressional District of California seat to represent the San Fernando Valley. Democrat Brad Sherman, who is also running to retain his seat, currently holds the seat.
Small businessman Reed and former California State University Northridge (CSUN) professor Powelson are both San Fernando natives. Unlike Reed, if Powelson wins, it will mark the first time a member of the Green Party will hold a seat in Congress.
Philosophy professor Zachary Knorr acted as a moderator while questions were provided by the Socialist Club and the audience.
“We wanted to inform students and to help them make better choices when they went to vote,” said Vice President of the Socialist Club Dally Melendez. “We took it upon ourselves to put it [the congressional debate] together in order to do that.”
The debate began with each candidate providing a bit of backstory and key points in their platforms in their opening statement. Professor Knorr presented the questions, and one by one, each candidate gave their answer.
The most prominent issues which arose throughout the debate centered on the increasing student loan debt due to the increase in cost of tuition for higher education, healthcare and minimum wage were also hot topics.
Both Reed and Powelson agreed that the $1 trillion amount of student loan debt, which has surpassed the national credit card debt this year, must be eliminated.
Reed advocated for the revamp of the entire educational system, while Powelson urged for the money currently utilized for defense and the prison system to be used for educational purposes instead.
Though both candidates agreed on flaws of the Affordable Care Act, there was a difference in opinion regarding Powelson’s platform for a single tier nationalized health care system and Reed’s notion for regulated private insurance companies.
While Powelson promised to raise the minimum wage to $20 in order to place it above the poverty line if elected, Reed disagreed according to his experience as a business owner Powelson’s argument consisted of imitating countries such as Denmark and Sweden who have already adopted a higher minimum wage, but Reed argued the possible risk of increasing the cost of goods in order to keep up.
As the debate reached an end, both candidates provided their final remarks and the floor was open for individual conversations for the audience to ask questions and express concerns.
“You always want to be aware of what the candidates are planning to do when they take office,” said political science major Joseph Roman.
The congressional elections will be held on November 4.