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Says Positions ‘Well-Known’ : Gallegly Rejects Call for Debate

Times Staff Writer

Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) announced Friday that he had rejected Democratic opponent Don Stevens’ challenge to debate in the 21st District this fall.

“The congressman’s positions on the issues are well-known and are a matter of public record,” said John Frith, Gallegly’s spokesman. “The congressman has been accessible and responsive to his constituents.”

Frith also said Gallegly will be preoccupied with legislative matters until Congress adjourns, probably in mid-October.

Stevens, a Westlake Village attorney and Democratic activist, called Gallegly’s refusal to debate high-handed and tantamount to “taxation without representation.”

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“He has not been accessible,” Stevens said. “I know of no public meetings he’s ever held.”

Gallegly, a former Simi Valley mayor first elected to Congress in 1986, has emphasized his frequent weekend visits to the district in newsletters and campaign mailings. Unlike his predecessor, Northridge Republican Bobbi Fiedler, he has not held town meetings, preferring to deal with smaller civic groups and individual constituents.

Frith said Gallegly was available to taxpayers, including Stevens, during a six-hour span at open houses at his district headquarters in Chatsworth and Thousand Oaks on Aug. 6. Gallegly saw more than 400 people at these sessions, the first he has held.

“One open office hours in a two-year period, a total of six hours between two offices, is a joke,” Stevens responded.

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In a Sept. 13 letter, Stevens invited Gallegly to join him at a forum, yet to be scheduled, sponsored by the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce. The challenger said he would also be willing to debate at any other responsible event.

Stevens said he wanted to discuss “Gallegly’s questionable policies regarding political contributions, government spending, foreign takeovers, drug abuse and senior citizens.”

As an underdog in the 1986 Republican primary, Gallegly made 18 or 19 joint appearances with favorite Tony Hope, entertainer Bob Hope’s son, and a third GOP candidate, Tom La Porte. Frith said Gallegly missed only one of those scheduled events.

The heavily Republican district includes southern Ventura County, parts of the western and northern San Fernando Valley and Santa Catalina Island.

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