Assembly: 42nd District

Questionnaires were distributed to candidates in March. Answers have been edited to fit the available space. Republican candidate Chauncey Medberry, a Los Angeles businessman, did not respond to The Times' questionnaire.

Business Environment

Q: Do you believe businesses are leaving California due to a hostile business environment? If yes, how would you make California more attractive to business?

Davis: Yes. At least in part. I would reduce taxes on business and spur growth and target tax cuts that stimulate the sort of business we need. I would rationalize and consolidate the many regulations we have. I would stop making it business' responsibility to fund social policy.

Duran: Yes. Eliminate duplicative procedures by state and local government. Tax incentives for businesses engaged in research, development and new technologies. Minimum requirements for worker safety, consumer protection and equal opportunity.

Margolin: The business climate in California is deteriorating for a wide range of reasons, including the national recession and cutbacks in defense spending. On the issues over which state government has some control, such as reform of workers' compensation, we need to take immediate and aggressive action. I've authored this year, AB 2570, a comprehensive workers' compensation reform, which directly attacks the widespread fraud and abuse in the system.

Government Contracts

Q: Do you think state government contracts should be awarded on a "Buy American" basis, with winning bidders being those who promise to use specific percentages of American workers to produce goods and services?

Davis: No. The best buy for Americans and Californians is a free market where consumers follow their own wishes as to their best interests. California will fare better under such a program than under any form of protectionism. This protectionism of "Buy America" is a subterfuge for shoddy, bad management and selfish unions to pursue their goals at the expense of the consumer.

Duran: Yes. We should learn from the Japanese culture. What is good for American business supports our national stability and prosperity.

Margolin: Yes. Government spending should be targeted at helping to revive our troubled economy. State contracts should not only be aimed at American workers, but should focus specifically on job creation here in California.

Employee Insurance

Q: Do you support requiring California businesses to provide health insurance to employees or contribute to a fund to provide health care for the uninsured? Davis: No. People should pay for it themselves or through general taxation and not burden business. We do need programs that will bring down costs, which will make insurance easier and spread medical care.

Duran: As a gay rights attorney, I have seen the devastating impact of HIV disease. Health care is a right, not a privilege. Healthy workers lead to increased productivity. Uninsured workers lead to personnel turnover, absenteeism and decreased efficiency.

Margolin: Yes. This approach makes sense, but only if it is absolutely tied to a major health cost-containment package that gives employers guaranteed controls on their health spending. AB 14, which I've authored, creates a universal health system based on employer choice financing, but also gives employers a cap on increases in their health premiums.

Health Care

Q: Do you support state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi's proposed $34-billion plan, financed by a state payroll tax, for health care for California workers, people with pre-existing medical conditions and the unemployed? Davis: No. As explained, this government approach is not mine. Therefore, I am not real familiar with his plan. I would like to ask all these people how they think the state economy will bear this staggering new tax burden. Why not pay at least part of it from taxes on lifestyle items that drive up medical costs--alcohol, tobacco, motorcycles, red meat?

Duran: Yes. Health care is already funded by taxpayers through Medi-Cal. Universal health care ensures that everyone is covered and prevents economic distress based on pre-existing conditions.

Margolin: Yes. The Garamendi plan is an innovative approach to universal coverage with meaningful cost containment. It eliminates enormous administrative waste by merging health coverage under employer plans, auto insurance and workers' compensation into a single product. Its cost containment combines tough regulatory controls with strong financial incentives on everyone in the system, from doctors to consumers, to hold costs down.

National Health System

Q: Do you support a national health-care system in which the federal government would establish fees, pay all the bills and collect taxes to cover the cost? Davis: No. I do not believe in socialized medicine, which is what all these proposals are, even if they deny the word. It doesn't work and everybody knows it.

Duran: No. Each of the 50 states should have the flexibility to address their own citizenry. Each of the states could act as a social science lab for experimentation to determine what system will work the best.

Margolin: While I strongly support universal health insurance, I do not believe a single government payer system is the best way to control costs or assure quality coverage.

Air Quality

Q: Should state and federal air quality rules be eased to reduce the financial burdens on California industry?

Davis: I think a great deal of good can be achieved by consolidating regulations.

Duran: No.

Margolin: No.

Oil Exploration

Q: Barring a national emergency, would you ever support opening up more of the California coastline to oil exploration? If so, under what circumstances? Davis: I would look at local attitudes. If some areas want it (very unlikely), then OK. I oppose it in the Santa Monica Bay.

Duran: No. The environment is not a depreciable asset of our economy. It is God-given and must be preserved for the next generation.

Margolin: No.

Education Support

Q: Do you support giving state money to parents to allow them to enroll their children in schools of their choice, public or private? Davis: Yes. It's about the best idea for education reform that has come about. And remember it is taxpayers' money before it is state money.

Duran: No. I fear this option would result in the segregation of minority students. Increased funding for education, smaller classroom size and teacher training are the better routes.

Margolin: No.

College Tuition

Q: Should tuition at state universities and colleges be increased to help offset state budget deficits? Davis: Probably for the moment. Basically, these institutions need reform also, so that we get our money's worth. These are top heavy bureaucratic institutions. Also, we need higher admissions standards and retention standards. These reforms would keep costs down and prevent the need for future fee increases.

Duran: No. We have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable in our society (the elderly, the sick, the very young.) Students are just beginning their careers. We want to compete with the Japanese and German industries. We should be promoting higher education for everyone, not setting up obstacles.

Margolin: Some increase may be required given the disastrous size of the current budget shortfall. I am adamantly opposed to increases that are excessive and discriminate unfairly against students, such as the CSU proposal to raise fees by 40%. The pain of balancing the budget must be spread, and should not fall disproportionately on students.

L. A. School District

Q: Do you support the breakup of the Los Angeles school district into smaller districts? Davis: Yes. L.A. Unified is probably the biggest joke in the state and a tragic waste of money and student talent. Breaking it up and returning control to the local units, along with the voucher system, would probably spark a renaissance in education in Los Angeles.

Duran: Yes. The system has become unmanageable. Smaller districts would allow more "hands-on management" by administrators, teachers, students and parents. Would also allow for increased cultural sensitivity based on demographics.

Margolin: No. Instead of fighting over organizational structure that may or may not achieve a benefit for students, I believe we should focus our energy on achieving reforms that clearly make a difference, such as reducing class size.

School Bonds

Q: Do you support reducing the votes needed to pass a school construction bond issue from two-thirds to a simple majority? Davis: No. This is a vital protection of the taxpayer minority and should not be abandoned. It also confuses the question that the problem is on the spending side, not the revenue side.

Duran: Yes. The super majority requirements thwart the will of the people. If the majority of the people wish to invest in education, we should be allowed to.

Margolin: Yes.

Death Penalty

Q: Do you support capital punishment for any crimes? If so, which ones?

Davis: Yes. First-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault resulting in permanent physical damage, major drug-dealing.

Duran: Yes. Crimes that are heinous with aggravated circumstances. While care should be taken to ensure that capital punishment is not handed out arbitrarily or in a discriminating fashion, certain crimes require the death penalty.

Margolin: Yes. Premeditated murder motivated by profit or political terrorism would be some examples.

Gun Control

Q: Do you support any form of limit on the sales of guns to individuals? Davis: Yes. Criminals and loonies should not be able to purchase guns and automatic assault weapons should not be available to anyone.

Duran: Yes. Current law is adequate--assault-weapons ban, "cooling off" periods and law enforcement checks. Although I do not own a gun and I find hunting to be unconscionable, we should not infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens who choose to engage in lawful sports hunting or handgun ownership.

Margolin: Yes. The easy availability of guns is a serious threat to the safety of our community. I voted to ban the sale of assault weapons and strongly favor additional restrictions on the purchase of other types of automatic weapons and Saturday night specials. Gun control must be pursued if we are ever going to reduce the level of violence in our society.

Police Intervention

Q: Do you support making it a crime for a police officer to fail to intervene if he or she witnesses a fellow officer using excessive force against someone? Davis: Yes. As you would describe it, the act is a crime--a form of assault and should be punished. I have long thought that government employees should be held to the same standards on crime as the rest of us.

Duran: Yes. Use of excessive force is a crime. A peace officer has a moral and legal obligation to intervene. Criminal defendants have the right to due process of law, which means punishment is not inflicted until a verdict is reached.

Margolin: The bill by Sen. Ed Davis (R-Santa Clarita) that makes it a crime for a police officer to fail to report the improper use of force by another has my full support.

Campaign Funding

Q: Should political campaigns be taxpayer-funded to reduce the importance of special-interest money? Davis: No. This would be another gigantic rip-off of the taxpayer by the political machine. There is no feasible way to police this. I would support free media for the discussion of issues and campaigns.

Duran: Yes, but not during a recession. Contribution limitations are still necessary to guard against elected officials feeding at public interest troughs.

Margolin: Taxpayer funding, if properly implemented, can be helpful, but most proposals in this area would have the effect of protecting incumbents, and would make our political system less competitive. Tougher disclosure laws, stricter ethics standards and more aggressive enforcement of laws in this area can make a difference.

Affirmative Action

Q: In general, do you think affirmative action in employment of women and members of minority groups has not gone far enough, or has gone too far, or is about right? Davis: I do not support affirmative action in any form. I would make discrimination in these employments a misdemeanor crime under certain circumstances and subject to the regular rules of the court and of evidence.

Duran: About right. Women and minorities reach glass ceilings in the corporate environment. They should be promoted affirmatively. But not to the extent where reverse discrimination occurs.

Margolin: It's a mixed verdict. In some areas it has not gone far enough, and in others, more work needs to be done. When affirmative action becomes a quota, then I'm opposed to it. If it means that aggressive efforts at recruitment and training of women and minority candidates are being pursued in a field where those groups have been historically denied access, then I'm for it.

Abortion Rights

Q: Do you support a woman's unrestricted right to an abortion within the first three months of pregnancy? Davis: Yes.

Duran: Yes.

Margolin: Yes.

Abortion Funding

Q: Do you support state funding of abortions for women who cannot afford them? Davis: Yes.

Duran: Yes.

Margolin: Yes.

Parental Consent

Q: Do you support requiring minors to notify their parents or a judge before having an abortion? Davis: Yes. Parents have a right and a responsibility to know and raise their children.

Duran: No. Would lead to back-alley abortions again.

Margolin: No.

Illegal Immigration

Q: Do you support the adoption of new measures such as increased border patrols and physical barriers to try to stem the flow of illegal immigration from the south? Davis: No. I think the free-trade agreement will curtail immigration very shortly, not to mention the recession.

Duran: No. Undocumented workers do jobs that Americans won't. They are vital to our economy.

Margolin: Yes.

Terminal Illness

Q: Do you support the so-called "right-to-die" initiative on the November ballot that would allow doctors to end the lives of people who are terminally ill in a "painless, humane and dignified" manner? Davis: Yes, subject to the patient and his or her family. It is a privacy right.

Duran: Yes. Freedom of choice extends to the right to die.

Margolin: No answer.

Welfare Benefits

Q: Do you support Gov. Pete Wilson's proposal to reduce welfare benefits for a family of three by 10% immediately, to $597 a month, and by another 15% for families with able-bodied adults who were not working?

Davis: Yes. We have no choice but to alter the incentive system.

Duran: No. The governor has vilified welfare mothers with children as a threat to our society. If the governor wants welfare reform, he should link it to child care. Mothers won't abandon their children to latchkey status. Providing for child care will free mothers to re-enter the work force.

Margolin: I support the part of Wilson's proposal that limits welfare for new arrivals in the state, and have voted for a bill to implement that provision. The reduction in grants for families already on welfare won't solve the problem. Poor children will suffer. An expanded workfare program would make more sense.

Child Care

Q: Should businesses be required to subsidize child care for employees? Davis: No. If it is mandatory, then it ought to be by the state like the schools (with local control and vouchers.)

Duran: Yes. By reaffirming the family unit through child care, we stabilize the work force, which will lead to long-term productivity.

Margolin: Yes.

Proposition 13

Q: Do you support any change in the laws enacted by voters in 1978 as Proposition 13? Davis: No. I probably would have written it differently, like making it 3/4 of 1% of market value with a conservative adjustment procedure, but I do not support changing it now.

Duran: No.

Margolin: Yes. While homeowner protections must be preserved, a split-roll that would require large commercial property owners to pay a more equitable tax makes sense.

B-2 Bomber

Q: President Bush has urged that production of the B-2 bomber--which is assembled at a Palmdale plant--be cut from 75 to 25. Do you support this reduction? Davis: Yes. It seems to be a necessary item in reducing the defense budget, and I rely on the administration to make this determination.

Duran: Yes. Simple economies--guns vs. butter. We have spent so much money building up the military that our infrastructure is crumbling. Our economy is too dependent on weapons and the destruction of humanity. We must retool our workers to build bridges instead of bombs.

Margolin: Defense cuts are an inevitable consequence of the end of the Cold War, but they must be accompanied by new job retraining programs, and serious efforts to redirect the talents of this highly skilled industry to domestic projects badly needed by this nation. The Palmdale cuts are not part of a sensible job conversion strategy, and should only be made once they are.

Thomas or Hill?

Q: Who do you think more likely told the truth, Anita Hill or Clarence Thomas? Davis: Thomas. Hill was undoubtedly lying.

Duran: Anita Hill. It took incredible courage for her to step forward from her pain and highlight sexual harassment in the national conscience. The U.S. Senate's handling of the incident was a disgrace.

Margolin: No answer.

California Life

Q: What single change would most improve life in Southern California? Davis: A halving of the total level of taxation. The single largest item of expenditure for almost all people is the total level of taxes collected by all levels of government.

Duran: Mass transit. Los Angeles will finally achieve "model city" status when we employ rapid transit. This will mean fewer cars, which leads to reduced pollution, fewer accidents, lower insurance rates and increased tourism.

Margolin: Too difficult to single out one change. Reducing air pollution and curbing out-of-control growth are some examples of major consequential changes.

Public Figure

Q: What public figure do you most admire? Davis: Margaret Thatcher and Eugene McCarthy.

Duran: Norman Lear. He is a guardian of the First Amendment. He confronts controversial issues through the media as seen on "All in the Family." He founded People for the American Way to fight back against fundamentalist attacks on freedom of expression.

Margolin: No answer.

Literary Influence

Q: What, if any, book have you recently read that influenced your view of public policy? Davis: A recent rereading of J.S. Mill's "On Liberty."

Duran: "The Politics of Rich and Poor," which describes the redistribution of wealth under Reagan and Bush. The top 1% of wealthy families amassed 80% of the wealth.

Margolin: "The Reckoning" by David Halberstam.

CONTENDERS Robert K. (Bob) Davis, 46, of West Hollywood, is a self-employed contractor. A Republican, he is a member of the West Hollywood Human Services Commission and belongs to the West Hollywood Republican Club.

John J. Duran, 32, of West Hollywood, is a civil and gay rights attorney. A Democrat, he ran unsuccessfully for state office in 1990 in Orange County. Duran is a member of the California Commission on Hate Crimes.

Burt Margolin, 41, of Los Angeles, currently represents most of the new 42nd Assembly District in Sacramento. A Democrat, he was elected to the Assembly in 1980 and is chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee.

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