Approximately 80 people attended the Congressional Meet and Greet forum held at California State University Stanislaus on Wednesday evening. The university’s Political Science Honor Society Pi Sigma Alpha hosted the event, and many of the university’s faculty and students were in attendance.
While five of the 10th District Candidates were invited to attend the event, only three of the candidates showed up.
The leading Republican and Democratic candidates did not attend the event. Congressman Jeff Denham (R) was unable to attend, due to congressional business in Washington, D.C., and Jose Hernandez (D) said that he would not be attending due to a prior commitment.
While both Denham’s and Hernandez’s campaign managers showed up to the event in their place, both campaign managers did not speak to the crowd, as they both felt they could not speak on behalf of their candidates.
Candidates who did attend the event included Troy McComack (I), Mike Barkley (D), and Chad Condit (I).
Each candidate was given ten minutes to speak to the crowd, followed by a question and answer period from the audience. Troy McComack, a graduate of California State University Stanislaus, spoke first.
“This is something I always wanted to do, even as a kid,” stated McComack. He continued to talk about his education at CSU Stanislaus, and then addressed topics such as the importance of water for farmers, building a dam in the Carquinez Strait, and the possibility of having an extra lane built on all interstates for trucks.
“Water is a very important issue for me because it’s something that farmers don’t have enough of,” stated McComack. “Food grows where water flows.”
Candidate Mike Barkley, who has worked as a lawyer, then took the podium and encouraged the audience to vote for him, as he has had experience in both reading and writing legislation. He also spoke on the importance of job creation, strengthening the unions and the middle class, solving California’s water problems, and keeping student loan interest rates low.
“I hate the unfairness in how our country functions,” stated Barkley. “Congress is the only place something can get done, and so that’s why I’ve decided to run for congress.”
Candidate Chad Condit, son of former US Representative Gary Condit, finished the evening speaking out against the two political parties. He challenged the audience to question what the two political parties have given them over the past ten years, and continued to speak about increased tuition rates and the housing crisis as a result of both the Republicans and the Democrats political agendas.
“We’re robots,” stated Condit. “My challenge to you is, let’s stop it. Right here in Stanislaus County, and bring the status quo to its knees.”
“Partisanship is old, it’s tired. It needs to be done, or we’ll be in a world of hurt,” explained Condit. “I’m local, I’m independent, and I’m tough enough to actually go there and fight for this district.”
Condit described the arrogance of Washington D.C. as “overflowing”.
Political topics audience members asked Condit to address included same-sex marriage and civil unions, immigration and the Dream Act.
Both Barkley and Condit passed out campaign cards to audience members after the event with information on their political platforms, and how their websites could be accessed.
At the event, students and community members also had the opportunity to register to vote, as May 21 is the last day to register for the June 5 elections.
California’s new primary election process will allow only the top two vote getting candidates, regardless of political designation, to move on to the November 6, 2012, ballot.