U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal and three-time congressional candidate Justin Fareed faced off in an often testy debate Saturday night hosted by KSBY.
The candidates sparred over topics such as immigration laws, offshore oil drilling, the future closure of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, the recent confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, gun control and more.
Carbajal will run for the second time against Santa Barbara businessman Fareed on Nov. 6, two years after Carbajal defeated the Republican and seven other candidates to succeed longtime 24th Congressional District Rep. Lois Capps.
On immigration, Carbajal said it’s necessary to secure the United States’ borders using modern technology rather than building a wall, as suggested by President Donald Trump. He also said a clear path to citizenship should be provided to those who are contributing to the economy.
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“We need to provide a path for DACA students to be able to live here without fear of being deported,” Carbajal added.
Fareed responded by saying “we need to put people ahead of politics,” and for too long politicians on both sides of the isle have been using “comprehensive immigration reform” as a talking point. A change in the type of leaders sent to Washington, D.C., is a must, Fareed insisted.
Additionally, Fareed said “it’s a shame” that Carbajal pushed for the closure of Diablo Canyon without having a concrete plan in place for what will follow.
“As a small businessman, you always plan out a succession strategy or an exit strategy before you ever make a decision on something like that,” Fareed said. “This is a prime example of government overreach in this regard.”
In his response, Carbajal said the agreement to close the nuclear power plant was reached before he became a member of Congress.
“I say that because that underscores the egregious lies that you will continue to hear tonight,” Carbajal said.
Fareed shot back that Carbajal was a “big proponent to shutting it down” while he served as a Santa Barbara County supervisor.
The candidates also discussed the #MeToo movement and the divisive appointment of Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assaulting Christine Blasey Ford when they were in high school.
Carbajal stated plainly that he believed Ford, and he would not have voted to confirm Kavanaugh.
Fareed said he did not have enough information to vote, referring to the findings of the final FBI investigation, and that he trusts the senators who did vote.
“We have a system in place that has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, but that we also need to be compassionate for victims in this country,” Fareed said. “We have to maintain that moving forward.”
The candidates further discussed fracking, water-related issues, possible changes they would have made in response to the Thomas Fire and ensuing mudslides in Montecito, and the contentious political climate in Washington, D.C.
In his closing statement, Fareed said this is going to be the most critical election on the Central Coast in a long time.
“I think it’s a shame that our kids are born here, raised here, go to school here, but don’t have an opportunity to raise their family here because the cost of living is so high and because it’s difficult to find jobs,” Fareed said. “I will work to turn that around.”
Carbajal closed the debate by highlighting the many issues where he and Fareed disagree.
Carbajal said he is pro choice and against offshore oil drilling and fracking. He hopes to save the Affordable Care Act, build on reducing health care costs, and he opposes reducing benefits for social security and medicare.
“Tonight I answered many questions,” Carbajal said. “My opponent didn’t.”