Republican Congressman Mike Garcia and former Assemblywoman Christy Smith, a Democrat, are vying to represent a
northern Los Angeles County district that includes Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita and a sliver of the city of Los Angeles.
The race is one of
11 key California contests in the Nov. 8 midterm election that could determine the balance of power in the House of Representatives. The formerly Republican district has become bluer, as L.A. residents have moved in seeking affordable housing.
Smith’s answers are drawn from a questionnaire sent to candidates in competitive California congressional races; the responses have been edited for clarity and length. Garcia did not respond, so information about his
views were collected from his congressional record, public comments, campaign website, social media and news coverage of the race. Why should voters choose you? Smith Smith said she and Garcia hold “greatly contrasting visions” and criticized his congressional record, including votes against certifying two states’ electoral results in the 2020 presidential election and opposing the American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, as well as his record on abortion policy. Smith noted that in 2020 she “came within 333 votes of unseating Garcia in one of the closest congressional contests in the nation.” Garcia Garcia’s campaign website says he is “standing up to the career politicians in Washington and fighting for the issues Californians care about: putting a stop to inflation, getting our economy back on track, and ensuring the security of our nation and our neighborhoods.” What about your experiences make you most qualified? Smith Smith highlighted her work as a policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Education, in local and statewide education associations, as the chair of the successful bond campaign for the Newhall School District and in the state Assembly. She emphasized legislation she authored that became law, including measures to improve charter school accountability, college affordability, protections for homeowners and to make it easier for trafficking victims crimes to get restitution. “I was able to shepherd historic investments in emergency management and also secured $700,000 for the Free Clinic of Simi Valley, $450,000 for the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center and $397,000 for College of the Canyons,” she said, adding that she serves on the Delta Stewardship Council. Garcia Garcia’s campaign website points to his legislative record, which includes introducing a bill to roll back the SALT and local tax deduction cap, which he says “unfairly punishes Californians for their zip code” and one that proposed the creation of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration program to make it easier to detect wildfires. The bills were referred to House committees. What would be your top legislative priorities? Smith Smith said her priorities included “growing the middle class by fighting for good, family-sustaining jobs, access to health care and benefits, paid family leave, and the right to join a union; protecting democracy by fortifying voting rights and ensuring everyone’s access to the ballot box; and codifying reproductive rights.” Fighting climate change, investing in “renewable energy and water sustainability infrastructure; improving the American public school system and expanding economic opportunities”; passing gun safety legislation; and strengthening voting rights are also on her list. She said one of the first bills she would introduce would make the Child Tax Credit permanent and added she would work to pass measures for affordable housing, family leave and lowering healthcare and prescription drug costs. “I would also sponsor a bill to ensure that every American public school receives funding to cover the cost of a full-time social worker or counselor to help alleviate significant child and family mental health needs.” Garcia Garcia’s campaign website lists strengthening the economy, cutting taxes for Californians, reducing crime, securing the border, lowering the national debt and fighting against “Democrats’ dangerous socialist agenda” as among his top priorities. On abortion Smith “Supporting reproductive rights has been one of the centerpieces of my political career. As a woman who is a high-risk, near-death first pregnancy survivor, and had a complicated decision to carry a second pregnancy to term, I have been a stalwart advocate for greater access to services in my community and will continue to defend a woman’s right to unfettered access to safe, legal abortion services, including now codifying abortion rights into law.” Garcia Garcia is a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which as written would ban abortion nationally with no exceptions. The bill introduced in the House says that “the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization.” Before the Supreme Court’s decision in June reversing Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling guaranteeing a national right to abortion, Garcia signed onto an amicus brief asking justices to overturn Roe. The day the decision was announced, Garcia put out a statement saying abortion was now an issue for the states. “If you are concerned over your abortion rights, call your state assemblyman or senator as the law now falls under the guidance of Sacramento,” he wrote. After the primary election, his campaign indicated in a statement to The Times that he supported exceptions to abortion bans in cases of rape, incest or threats to the mother’s health — a departure from the Life at Conception bill. On the Jan. 6 insurrection and falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election Smith Smith criticized Garcia’s vote to block the results of the 2020 presidential election, calling it “a flagrant assault against the rule of law, the peaceful transition of power and ultimately American democracy.” She said votes against certification were more disturbing after the “revealing” hearings by the House Jan. 6 select committee investigating the insurrection. Garcia Garcia was one of seven California members of Congress who voted to overturn 2020 presidential election results. Garcia voted against certifying Pennsylvania and Arizona’s electoral votes hours after the Jan.6 Capitol riot and he opposed the impeachment of President Trump over his role in the insurrection, as well as the formation of a House committee to investigate the Capitol attack. On Supreme Court cases involving LGBTQ rights and gun restrictions Smith “I have long been a champion for LGBTQ+ equality and smart, common-sense gun safety measures and am horrified by the Supreme Court’s rollback of concealed carry policies and incoming assault on LGBTQ+ rights and will fight back against them in Congress.” Smith said she would work in Congress to strengthen “hate crime laws, lift federal restrictions on LGBTQ+ individuals giving blood, fully fund gender-affirming care and services, end conversion therapy, ensure PrEP coverage in all public and private insurance plans and pass the Equality Act to finally extend federal nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ+ people.” Garcia Garcia was one of the 47 Republicans this year who voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which aims to codify same sex marriage rights in the U.S. “It’s the law of the land — it’s settled,” Garcia told Fox40 News during an interview in July, noting that the Supreme Court ruled on the issue years earlier. “As a legislator... at the federal level my role and responsibility regardless of how I feel about it is to ensure that those constitutional rights are equally applied to everyone that it covers.” Garcia has voted against new gun restrictions but pushed for schools have armed police officers on campuses. What is the federal government’s role in trying to stop mass shootings? Smith “The federal government can and must have a significant role in combatting mass shootings. There are a wide variety of actions the federal government can take to save lives, and I look forward to building a broader coalition of Americans from any support these common-sense measures, including enacting Red Flag laws, universal background checks, banning assault weapons and raising the gun purchasing age to 21.” Garcia Garcia has opposed new restrictions on guns. In May, Garcia voted against the Protecting Our Kids Act, which seeks to expand the types of weapons and devices that are regulated. The legislation passed the House. In June, Garcia introduced the Strengthening School Security for Students Act, which seeks to prohibit schools from receiving federal funds unless they hire two full-time school resource officers who are trained and licensed to carry a firearm. In June, he voted against the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, a “red flag” bill that passed the House and seeks to temporarily prohibit people who have been deemed a danger to themselves or others from having or buying guns. In July, he voted against the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022, which passed the House and aims to make it a crime to import, sell or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon or large capacity ammunition magazine. What is your opinion about efforts to overhaul police funding? Smith “I believe that we need to fund police departments so they can do the critical work of keeping our communities safe while holding bad officers accountable for violating Constitutional rights, and ensuring public safety with common sense reforms that fund, housing, drug rehabilitation and mental health services.” Garcia Garcia, whose stepfather is a former LAPD officer, has been a vocal critic of overhauling funding for law enforcement. His campaign website says he “has proudly stood with our officers as they’ve faced cuts in funding, an increase in violence against police, a wave of progressive backlash, and vaccine mandates that threaten to crush their departments.” On the Affordable Care Act and prescription drug costs Smith Smith said the Affordable Care Act was a step forward to realizing healthcare as “a basic human right.” “However, much work remains to be done to ensure that all Americans have access to comprehensive healthcare through employer-based coverage, ACA plans, Medicare, and Medicaid. If elected, I will support legislation to expand healthcare coverage for all, reduce prescription drug prices and lower healthcare costs. We need to take on prescription drug costs by further opening market competition while ensuring patient safety.” Garcia During his campaign in 2020, Garcia supported repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Last year, Garcia co-sponsored the Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act of 2021, which aimed to ensure that people with pre-existing health conditions would not be denied coverage if the Affordable Care Act was repealed. On immigration and the border Smith Smith supports worker protections and a roadmap to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S., as well as securing the border. “Immigration is a humanitarian issue, and distinct from border security, which rightly looks to prevent human and drug trafficking,” she said. “Instead of tearing immigrant children from their parents, inciting division, and spreading fear, we must treat immigrants humanely, recognizing that they are an essential part of our nation’s fabric and economic engine. Instead of walls and deportations, our treatment of immigrants must be consistent with our core national values and our fundamental humanity.” Garcia During a discussion on the House floor last year Garcia said the American Dream and Promise Act, which aims to provide a path to citizenship for people illegally brought to the U.S. as children, “should not be considered before addressing our broken immigration system that led to this very problem.” “Providing amnesty to Dreamers while ignoring the crisis at the border is like cleaning up spilled water before fixing the broken pipe,” he said. What is the federal government’s role in dealing with the homeless crisis? Smith “While many of the solutions to our region’s homelessness crisis ultimately must be addressed locally, the federal government can play a significant role. In Congress, I will support incentives to build more affordable housing, such as tax credits and investments in American housing stock, and providing more funding for mental health services.” Garcia Garcia wrote on Twitter that “when it comes to the homeless challenges our district faces, one of the most effective means to help people is through charity.” He posted the comment after a tour of a nonprofit in Lancaster that offers services including showers and meals to the unhoused. “Lots of success stories...no federal government involvement. Just good Americans helping with a hand up, not a hand out!”