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Senate candidates discuss platforms during on-campus forum

Candidates for the 26th Senate District discussed their goals at a forum at UCLA Tuesday. (Miriam Bribiesca/Daily Bruin)

By Alex Torpey

May 14, 2014 12:00 a.m.

Candidates for the 26th California State Senate district discussed issues, including affirmative action and legalizing recreational marijuana, at the Korn Convocation Hall at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The district runs from Rancho Palos Verdes in the south to Malibu in the north, and includes the entire UCLA campus. Elections will be held in November.

As a former student regent, Ben Allen, a law lecturer at UCLA and a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu School Board of Education, said higher education is an important issue in his platform. He said he wants to find sustainable funding sources for public colleges and universities.

On affirmative action, many candidates said they opposed Proposition 209, a proposition that prohibited schools that receive state funding from considering race in admissions. Dr. Vito Imbasciani, career Army surgeon and State Surgeon of the California National Guard, said he would push to allow colleges and universities to use affirmative action.

He added that his experience as a gay man in the military gives him perspective on issues regarding marginalized people like undocumented students.

Amy Howorth, mayor of Manhattan Beach, said her 11 consecutive years as an elected official give her the experience to be in the senate seat. She added that sustainable energy and education are important focuses for the 26th district because they will help provide economic stimulus.

Of the seven candidates, Seth Stodder, an independent candidate and law lecturer at USC, was the only one who did not explicitly say he supports a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. He said he wants to use his nonpartisanship to promote bipartisan work on legislation such as immigration reform.

Betsy Butler, a former assemblywoman for the 53rd district, said environmental and elder’s issues were her main concerns while in office. To save water, she suggested using high volume home cisterns to ration water and getting rid of lawns that require a lot of water. She also voted for the DREAM Act while in office.

Patric Verrone, a former television writer, professor, union leader and attorney, took a comedic approach to many of his answers, including a drawn out “no” as his response to if he supports hydraulic fracturing as a method of pumping oil. He also said an important way to create equal pay for women is to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. He repeatedly referred to an ebook that outlines his platforms.

Some candidates supported legalization of recreational marijuana, but Butler, Stodder and Verrone did not.

All raised their hands when asked if they supported a woman’s right to an abortion. Many candidates stood by their promises to support environmental issues with examples of sustainability in their personal lives.

Barbi Appelquist was the only registered candidate not able to attend. due to work obligations, but answered questions on Twitter.

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