In a polite exchange that highlighted their conservative similarities, five Republican candidates for a new congressional seat in northern Los Angeles County said Thursday that they oppose legalized abortion or any increase in state sales taxes to repair Los Angeles riot damage.
The candidates for the GOP nomination in the 25th Congressional District also agreed that American-born children of illegal immigrants should not automatically receive U. S. citizenship.
The candidates spoke at a 90-minute forum sponsored by the Young Republicans of Santa Clarita, which attracted about three dozen people to the Valencia Library.
Republicans outnumber Democrats 53% to 37% in the district, and the winner of the June 2 GOP primary will be heavily favored to beat Democrat James Gilmartin, a Saugus attorney, in the fall.
The 25th District is one of seven California congressional seats formed this year as a result of reapportionment.
The district covers all of the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys and portions of the northern San Fernando Valley, including Chatsworth, Northridge and Granada Hills.
The two candidates generally considered front-runners in the race--former Santa Clarita Mayor Howard (Buck) McKeon and Assemblyman Phillip Wyman--both attended.
Also speaking were former Los Angeles County Assessor John Lynch, former Rep. John H. Rousselot and history teacher Larry Logsdon of Palmdale. The sixth GOP candidate, Tom McVarish of Granada Hills, a cost estimator for the state Department of Transportation, was not present.
The candidates present said they oppose a proposal by state Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles) to raise the state sales tax by a quarter of a cent per dollar to pay for reconstruction of neighborhoods devastated by last week's rioting.
"The problem is not a lack of revenue; it's that businesses weren't there in the first place," said Wyman, referring to economically depressed South Los Angeles.
Wyman said businesses have shied away from those areas because of what he described as California's poor business climate. He urged that the state "peel off umpteen layers" of government regulations to give entrepreneurs an incentive to start businesses in the damaged areas.
Lynch said tax credits should be given to businesses that locate in "enterprise zones" in South Los Angeles.
"Nobody's going to tolerate a tax increase for anything, let alone damage caused by rioting," he said.
McKeon, a clothing retailer and chairman of a Santa Clarita Valley bank, said he also opposes raising the sales tax.
"If we teach people that if you don't like your surroundings, burn them down and government's going to come in and rebuild them--I don't think that's a good thing to teach people," he said.
Logsdon said that while he does not support a sales tax increase, he believes that government should compensate property owners who suffered losses in the rioting because Los Angeles police "didn't protect them."
The five candidates also agreed on their opposition to abortion rights, although McKeon and Logsdon said abortion should be allowed in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the mother's life.
Wyman said his years of opposing abortion-related measures in the Legislature have won him the endorsement of the California Pro-Life Council.
He said that as an assemblyman, he has introduced legislation requiring parental consent for minors to have abortions and outlawing "gender selection" abortions--those performed because the mother does not want a child of the fetus's sex.
Wyman also compared the use of fetal tissue in medical research to "some of the outrageous practices we saw in Europe in the '30s and '40s."
The candidates also all favored a proposal by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) that would deny U. S. citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants.
Wyman said he favors the plan because it is unfair to make some immigrants wait long periods to obtain citizenship while others simply slip over the border. "When we have floods of people coming across the border that are undocumented, when they are getting many health and welfare benefits, I think we have to look anew at where we stop," he said.