Mayoral candidates, Mike Brem and Gary Soiseth, along with Harinder Grewal (D), candidate for State Assembly District 12, and Michael Eggman (D), candidate for Congressional District 10, gathered at the California State University, Stanislaus Tuesday to answer the important questions raised primarily by students.
The purpose of the event, according Edgar Garcia, ASI Governmental Relations Coordinator, was to inform CSU Stanislaus students and community members of local candidates running to represent their community. Garcia noted that all Turlock Mayoral candidates, Assembly District 12 and Congressional District 10 candidates were invited to participate.
Attendees were able to submit written questions directed toward all candidates, or questions specific to the federal, state or local level. A collective focus was on issues most pertinent to college-age students; common areas of concern were bridging the gap between the community and University, education policy and funding, agriculture and economic development, job creation, immigration reform, high speed rail, sustainable infrastructure and water.
Candidates gave a brief introduction and in someway or another, tied their background to CSU Stanislaus. Brem commended the University, stating that he hopes his grandchildren attend; Soiseth mentioned visiting as a child on the Fourth of July and teaching at the University last Fall; Grewal noted his and his children’s attendance as well as teaching at CSU Stanislaus; Eggman noted his education from the CSU system and his sister’s attendance of CSU Stanislaus.
Eggman spoke about the role of the federal government in relation to higher education. He noted the need to address the high costs, the way student loan interest rates are calculated, as well as longterm implications for borrowers. He noted a need for change in the way federal money is distributed to universities, prioritizing the California State schools.
Grewal noted that education, in his view, is a top priority and a way to address the Country’s shortcomings; he mentioned the need for sustainable funding and the necessity of a strong educational foundation. He emphasized the need for ongoing communication and working together with representatives and the community. Grewal also mentioned the need for a long term plan to create jobs.
Questions for Mayoral candidates Soiseth and Brem shifted when both were asked about how the community and University could work together toward a stronger relationship to develop more of a college-town feel; they noted geographical and zoning challenges, but insisted it was possible.
Both candidates agreed that the participation of CSU Stanislaus students with updates at Council meetings would be continued regardless of who becomes mayor.
Soiseth related with students in mentioning the struggles of student loan debt; he recognized the issues graduates face with unemployment and underemployment. He stated the need to bring industry to Turlock to retain graduates.
Brem noted the plans for the regional industrial park in Turlock as an opportunity for employment in the agricultural industry for CSU Stanislaus graduates. He mentioned the need for further work with the University, and saw it as an opportunity for good things to happen.
The question of combating sexual assault on college campuses was raised; all candidates agreed that there was something necessary to be done at the University.
Soiseth noted the need for community recreational programs to create comfortable environments for the City’s youth. He mentioned ride-alongs he had taken with the Police Department and the need to shine light on the issue of sexual assault.
Along the same lines, Brem stated that prevention of sexual violence begins at a young age and commended anti-bullying initiatives in Turlock schools noting them as a preventative measure; he stated the importance of taking away stigmas attached to victims of sexual violence.
The forum was an opportunity for candidates to appeal to a primarily younger audience in Turlock by answering questions that might not be raised by the typical median-aged voter.