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Here’s what the candidates running for an L.A. congressional seat think about the top issues

During the primary campaign, we asked the two dozen candidates running for the 34th Congressional District seat to voice their opinions on six top policy questions. Here’s what the top two winners of the primary, Jimmy Gomez and Robert Lee Ahn, wrote. The Democrats will face each other in a June 6 runoff. (Their answers were edited for style and length, but they were not fact-checked.)

Jimmy Gomez, state assemblyman

Would you be willing to negotiate on reforms to the Affordable Care Act, and what would be your No. 1 priority in terms of changing or protecting healthcare law?

“While the ACA has dramatically cut the number of uninsured, it still leaves millions without healthcare. We need to fight to save the ACA and then strengthen and broaden it, moving toward a single-payer system like the one I co-authored in California last month. I will not negotiate the demise of the ACA with the Trump administration, but I would certainly be willing to work with responsible Republicans to fix some of the problems, particularly by strengthening the individual purchasers market to bring younger and healthier people into the risk pool. ”

Many of the candidates for this seat have said they support comprehensive immigration reform. If given the opportunity, would you work with President Trump and House Republicans on such a package and if so, name two requirements you’d have for that reform.

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“I would work on such an immigration package, so long as it specifically ended the possibility of using taxpayer funds to build a border wall and it required [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or] DACA, to be permanent. We must continue to honor America’s commitment to keeping families together and not turn our backs on refugees and asylum seekers. ”

Do you support the idea of sanctuary cities and what would you do if the Trump administration or congressional Republicans attempt to retaliate by blocking funds for such cities?

“I do support ‘sanctuary cities’ and I would be a firm, non-negotiable ‘no’ vote on any deliberations that include the possibility of blocking funding for them. We need to mobilize professionals in criminal justice and public health to speak out loudly about why keeping immigrants connected to society makes us all safer and healthier. We must grow the movement to make it impossible for President Trump to deny federal support to sanctuary cities. I will not support a federal budget that cuts funds for sanctuary cities, states or universities. ”

District voters have said opposing Trump is one of their top priorities in this race. Which issues would you fight President Trump on and how would you plan to do that if you’re fighting the majority party? Please be specific.

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“First and foremost, I will fight President Trump on any effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. No congressional district has experienced a larger drop in the uninsured rate than CA34. I will build a working coalition of Democrats and independents to explain to voters in so-called red districts’ the financial impact this repeal would have on them and their families. I believe that once the GOP fears significant electoral losses, talk of repeal will diminish. The minority party can influence legislation by being united, resolute and disciplined — and by focusing on winning elections. ”

What do you believe the role of charter schools should be in public education, and what role should the federal government versus the states have in oversight and accountability for school districts?

“I recognize that charter schools are now part of our educational system, but they need to be transparent and held accountable for results. That means they must be subject to the same oversight as all other public schools. Oversight is best done at the state and local level. I will vigorously oppose efforts by Trump and [Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos to undermine public education through unregulated charters and vouchers which would fund sectarian and for-profit schools. American democracy rests upon a foundation of universal, equal education. I do not support ‘reforms’ that create a two-tiered educational system.”

This district is one of the poorest in the state and nationwide. Please name at least one tangible policy solution you would try to implement to improve this and describe how you would work to get it passed in Congress.

“An infrastructure program would serve this district, and our city, well. We have much to do to upgrade roads and bridges, water, energy transmission, ports and airports. The American Society of Civil Engineers has identified $1.4 trillion in urgent infrastructure needs by 2025. Industry leaders must be mobilized to pressure GOP members of Congress to support these investments. I would also work to unite the California delegation to support a joint program.”

Robert Lee Ahn, lawyer and former L.A. city planning commissioner

34th Congressional District
Robert Lee Ahn addresses an audience on the night of the primary election.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Would you be willing to negotiate on reforms to the Affordable Care Act, and what would be your No. 1 priority in terms of changing or protecting healthcare law?

“Republicans have the votes to amend or repeal the ACA, so it is essential that Democrats press negotiations in order to protect critical portions of the existing law: 1) Low-income families and individuals must have access to affordable, quality healthcare. 2) Young adults must remain on a parent’s plan until age 26. 3) Any reduction to Medicaid replaced with automatic coverage for catastrophic events or diseases and yearly checkups. 4) I support the ability of individuals to purchase insurance across state lines. 5) Public’s ability to choose their own doctors. 6) Ensure that those with preexisting conditions remain covered.”

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Many of the candidates for this seat have said they support comprehensive immigration reform. If given the opportunity, would you work with President Trump and House Republicans on such a package and if so, name two requirements you’d have for that reform.

“Obviously, the current system is going to be changed under this president. I think it’s important for Democrats to work with Republicans to ensure balance as the process moves along. For example, Democrats would not vote for any bill that included breaking apart families based on their immigration status. … The public wants reform that make sense for the country while at the same time is humane and protects the lives of law-abiding residents and communities. We need to reach a strong, intelligent and compassionate compromise.”

Do you support the idea of sanctuary cities and what would you do if the Trump administration or congressional Republicans attempt to retaliate by blocking funds for such cities?

“Continued existence of ‘sanctuary cities’ is ultimately going to be addressed in the courts. Suits and injunctions have been or will be filed to block Washington action. However, I think the reality is that if the issue reaches the U.S. Supreme Court and the court agrees to hear the matter, the ruling will ultimately be against sanctuary cities. There may be some constitutional constraints on the federal government when it comes to pulling certain funding appropriations from the states, but once again, this puts the court system center stage.”

District voters have said opposing Trump is one of their top priorities in this race. Which issues would you fight President Trump on and how would you plan to do that if you’re fighting the majority party? Please be specific.

“Though Democrats are in the minority party, they can still have a strong voice. We can and should make an intelligent case for why we must oppose many of Trump’s proposals. We have ideological differences and we can certainly offer smart, compassionate alternatives. For example, a strong case can be made that reductions to Medicaid must be replaced with automatic coverage for catastrophic events or diseases and yearly wellness checkups.”

What do you believe the role of charter schools should be in public education, and what role should the federal government versus the states have in oversight and accountability for school districts?

“Charter schools were created as a result of a demand by parents and I am a firm believer in parents having a decision-making role with regard to the education of their children. That being said, in the best interest of children and their parents, I want oversight and parameters within which these schools operate. In answer to your question about accountability, I think the state is better equipped to evaluate and provide oversight of school districts, rather than the federal government.”

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This district is one of the poorest in the state and nationwide. Please name at least one tangible policy solution you would try to implement to improve this and describe how you would work to get it passed in Congress.

“Incentives for small businesses and increased funding for police would greatly benefit the district. One of my priorities is to obtain additional federal funding to address the mental health needs of the homeless. The streets are not safe, the homeless themselves are not safe and the filth and unstable behaviors associated with the mental-, drug-, alcohol-related issues in this population degrades and deteriorates entire neighborhoods. I will bring in mental health experts, local government officials, heads of agencies ill-equipped financially to address the problems, neighborhood residents with personal stories of encounters, relatives of victims on the streets, etc. I believe I can build an enormous case for receiving substantial new funding.”

christine.maiduc@latimes.com

Twitter: @cmaiduc

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