By Dana DOWSE
On Tuesday, the League of Women Voters Pasadena Area, Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and Pasadena City College sponsored a debate between Anthony Portantino and Michael Antonovich. The debate took place at Pasadena City College from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Portantino and Antonovich are both running for the 25th Senate District seat.
The debate was structured so that each candidate had three minutes for an opening statement, then the candidates would answer three questions from the League of Women Voters and then take questions from the audience.
In his opening statement, Portantino touched on his public service history, his emphasis on education reform, his success in establishing California’s umbilical cordblood bank, and the importance of his family.
Antonovich spoke about his family and personal history, his experience in the army, his education, his tenure as a Los Angeles County Supervisor and his 32 years as a reserve police officer.
The candidates then took three questions from the League of Women Voters. The first question asked the candidates what they would do to enhance the business environment, especially for small businesses. Antonovich responded that he would make reforms that apply to all industries. Portantino said that the California Small Business Association endorsed him and that he would like to lower the cost of workers’ comp for small businesses. He said that would facilitate the construction of the Rams stadium to bring jobs and revenue to the city.
When asked how the state senate could play a role in revising education funding for public schools and community colleges, Portantino replied that he supports Prop 55 and that he would like to bring every school district up to pre-recession 2007 funding levels. Antonovich said that there should be fewer Dept. of Education employees and that he would like to eliminate the state board of education as most districts have their own board of education.
Finally, the League asked the candidates for their positions on the High Speed Rail (HSR), particularly the E2 route. Antonovich answered that the HSR is now double to triple the costs of the original proposal. He said he would like the legislature to vote against the HSR and instead expand light rails like the Metrolink. Portantino said that the E2 route was suggested by Antonovich before Antonovich decided to run for the 25th district seat. He also said that large-scale public works projects should have to have a comprehensive financial plan on the table before they can be passed.
The candidates also answered many questions from the audience. One asked the candidates about long-term solutions to preserve the state’s wells and levies. Antonovich said that the state should actually utilize and implement water-related studies. Portantino emphasized protecting the delta and expressed his support for Prop 1.
The candidates were in agreement in that they are against the 710 Freeway expansion and taxing services and both said they were for the plastic bag ban.
The candidates also disagreed on many issues. Antonovich does not support raising the minimum wage while Portantino does. Antonovich opposed the location and plan for building the Rams stadium. Portantino supported building the stadium in the downtown location to bring revenue to L.A. and to keep the stadium out of Pasadena and possibly competing with the Rose Bowl. Antonovich stated that he was for the death penalty while Portantino said he struggled with the issue. He said that he wasn’t prepared to ban it altogether, but knows it is an area that needs improvement.
The final question from the audience asked the candidates what specific character trait about themselves they would like to share. Antonovich emphasized his 36 years of public service and moving the county ahead. Portantino wanted to share that he works hard but is also dedicated to his family.
The Pasadena League of Women Voters studies and acts on public policy issues but never endorses candidates. For more information see http://lwv-pa.org/.