It was a packed room as interested constituents from California State Senate District 23 attended the University of Redlands on Tuesday, Jan. 28, for a senate seat candidates forum, that tackled issues such as gender equality, the housing shortage and more. The U of R and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Redlands Branch, a non-partisan organization that works to advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education and advocacy, sponsored the forum.
Of the five candidates running for the seat currently held by Mike Morrell (R), four attended the forum, Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh of Yucaipa (R), Kris Goodfellow of Redlands (D), Abigail Medina of San Bernardino (D) and Lloyd White of Beaumont (R). Cristina Puraci of Highland (R) declined the invitation in advance.
Moderators included Dorene Isenberg, economics professor and co-director of the public policy program at the U of R; Renee Van Vechten, political science professor at the U of R; and Cassie MacDuff, former Press-Enterprise columnist and member of AAUW, Redlands branch.
Each of the four candidates were given time for an introduction.
Medina of San Bernardino, said in addition to being a school board member at San Bernardino Unified School District, she is also a mom of five beautiful children, four of them are at different, various colleges in the area.
“One of the things that I’m really proud of is the amount of support that I have received during this election but it’s also for the grassroots organizations that I’ve been involved with in the past,” said Medina. “(Much) of it has to do with the transferable skills that I’ve been able to build in my previous work force.”
She worked as a health advocate within the health care system and then as an active parent in the PTO and school site council.
Medina talked about environmental justice, air quality, housing and rent control.
Ochoa Bogh, resident of Yucaipa for the past 17 years, grew up in the Inland Empire. Bogh currently serves on the Yucaipa Calimesa Joint Unified School Board.
Along with her husband, Yucaipa Councilman Greg Bogh, she said, “We love to be part of our community, being very civically active, volunteering and being engaged in various ways, from being a member of the chamber of commerce, interacting with our local businesses, city council, as well as being a realtor for 17 years sitting on the East Valley Association Board of Realtors, bringing that skill set and knowledge base to this field, being a field representative and working for the california state legislature, getting to know the needs in those communities as well.”
Ochoa Bogh said she is “someone who values education as a conduit to breaking barriers.” Her other top priorities include the housing affordability, reducing high taxes, and quality of education for all students.
Goodfellow, a Redlands resident for the past 20 years, has never run for public office but has been civically engaged as a volunteer in numerous non-profit organizations. Goodfellow and her husband own a small software company in downtown Redlands.
She thanked the AAUW and guests at the forum. “This is an engagement that I think is so important to our democracy,” she said during her introduction.
Her top priorities are the three E’s: the economy, environment and improvement on the education.
“I’m thinking about those things for the 21st century,” said Goodfellow. “For the long haul and not just for the short-term.”
White of Beaumont, was elected to Beaumont City Council in 2014 and re-elected in 2018.
White talked about the challenges he faced while on Beaumont City Council. He said he lowered property taxes by $4 million.
“My biggest primary concerns are taxes, public safety and transportation infrastructure,” said White. “I will take the dedicated leadership that I had in Beamount to take on the challenges of Sacramento.”
The moderators asked each candidate how they would tackle affordable housing in a state where residents tend to pay more than twice the national average in mortgages and rent.
Bogh said there is a critical housing shortage and lack of inventory. She said it was the cost of housing regulations that makes it difficult to build in California.
Goodfellow said she supports subsidizing affordable housing incentives.
White said, “It’s not a one size fits all.” He supports incentives for businesses.
Medina said she looks at sub-prime loans and predatory loans as the problem and “we need to do better at educating our families.”
Other issues where the candidates differed included environmental laws and the state’s air pollution laws.
Goodfellow said the current federal administration needs work, there are issues with poor air quality and added, “We need to fight the adminstration on building up those standards.”
White said the state’s “regulations impact all of our lives.
Medina said she is “blessed to live here because we do have these regulations.”
Ochoa Bogh said “We (California) are leading in environmental laws but why do we still have incredibly bad air quality in California?”
Gender inequality on corporate boards, and equal pay for equal work for women and was also discussed.
Ochoa-Bogh said she prefers free market practices and doesn’t believe the federal government should intervene. “I find it insulting that government would mandate females to be on the boards.”
Goodfellow was 100% in favor of the all for gender mandates on corporate boards. “I think it’s fantastic.” She said it could benefit women by minimizing sexual harassment.
White agreed with Ochoa Bogh on the issue that the government should stay out of businesses.
Medina said there is a large wage gap between women and men and there are “vast differences” and discrepancies that should be addressed.