The Tribune recommends Lois Capps for the 24th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Lois Capps is shown during a debate at The Tribune in September 2012.
U.S. Rep. Lois Capps is shown during a debate at The Tribune in September 2012. Special to The Tribune

San Luis Obispo County needs strong leadership in Congress, ideally from a moderate representative who practices — and not just preaches — bipartisanship.

Abel Maldonado has demonstrated those qualities in the past, but we've seen little evidence of moderation or willingness to compromise during this particularly nasty campaign. Granted, both sides have crossed the line with negative campaigning in this race, but we were especially disappointed when, at a Tribune-sponsored forum, Maldonado denied running any negative advertisements.

We have supported Maldonado in previous races, most recently for lieutenant governor, but in this election we believe that Lois Capps will best represent our county.

During her 14 years in Congress, Capps has been consistently strong on environmental and health care issues and she has been effective in gaining federal support for projects on the Central Coast, including the Los Osos sewer, the Santa Maria River levee, affordable housing, health clinics and grants for local fire protection and law enforcement agencies.

Early on in the campaign, Maldonado seemed poised to paint Capps as a frivolous spender: “Congresswoman Capps has voted for many, many earmarks that frankly were appalling,” he told a McClatchy reporter.

In response, Capps pointed out that one of those projects — the Santa Maria River levee — directly benefited Maldonado’s hometown, and included $40 million from the Obama administration’s stimulus package.

There often is more to such stories, yet Maldonado presents everything in black or white, with no room for nuance: Washington is broken; overregulation is killing business; the Affordable Health Care Act needs to go, even though he says some of its provisions — such as allowing young adults to stay on their parents' policies — are good.

On a more local issue, PG&E’s application to do controversial seismic testing off the coast, Maldonado says the testing needs to be done now, so that we can move on.

Why the hurry? Why not try to develop a seismic testing program that will minimize the impacts on sea life and the fishing industry? That’s Capps’ position, and we believe it makes sense.

We also are concerned about Maldonado’s position on climate change.

“I believe there is climate change — how much I don’t know,” he said at the candidates forum, and went on to criticize clean air regulations as harmful to business.

We find that a dangerous position. Coastal areas like ours are especially vulnerable to rises in sea level — local governments already are preparing for that — and the last thing we need are Congressional leaders who are burying their head in the sand.

Certainly, we need jobs and economic growth, but not if it means turning the clock back on environmental regulations that may already be too little and too late.

We believe Capps is the one to balance competing interests and act in a way that will benefit all her constituents.

The Tribune strongly urges voters to re-elect Lois Capps as representative of the 24th Congressional District.