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CHIP: Kaptur, Kucinich, and “Joe the Plumber” debate immigration reform, jobs

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent

LORAIN, Feb. 22, 2012:  U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) is still under fire for voting against the DREAM Act in 2010.

US Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, moderator David Arredondo, Lorain Model United Nations student Tiffany McClelland, US Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and Graham Veysey.

This time the critique came during a debate in Lorain from U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) and Cleveland Democratic entrepreneur Graham Veysey, her contenders for the 9th district seat.

The newly redrawn, Lake Erie-bordering 9th district seat stretches from Toledo to Cleveland to include parts of Cuyahoga, Lorain, Ottawa, Erie, and Lucas counties.

The 12th annual Coalition for Hispanic/Latino Issues and Progress (CHIP) primary candidates’ debate welcomed a few hundred people including a handful of veterans, at Lorain’s St. Joseph Center, Feb. 22, 2012.

Contested primary election candidates for the U.S. Congress 7th and 9th districts of Ohio and Lorain County Commissioner hopefuls participated. The 7th district includes Avon, North Ridgeville, and Wellington.

Kucinich, who voted in favor of the DREAM Act in 2010, asked Kaptur to explain her vote.

Kaptur said she voted against it because she believes in comprehensive immigration reform and because it singles out Latino immigrants.

She has previously said it would allow immigration officials to more aggressively target the parents of those DREAMers, and force invasive family screenings.

While she spoke, Kucinich shook his head expressing his dissatisfaction with her response.

Kucinich responded “my friend’s explanation seems to say that well, because there is a perception that it benefited Latinos the most, we simply couldn’t let that happen. I mean the fact is that it benefited everyone.”

Veysey said he too supports the DREAM Act and also noted Kaptur’s disapproval vote.

The bill, which passed in the House but tabled in the Senate, would have created a pathway to citizenship for qualifying undocumented youth brought to the U.S. as children, attending college or the military, among other requirements.

Economic Growth

As the nation faces debt, the 9th district hopefuls shared ways they would improve their district’s economy and restore faith in the U.S. Congress.

“For too long Congress has been more about scoring political points than finding policy solutions,” said Veysey, 29, “But what I’m offering is a fresh face with fresh ideas.”

Kaptur, 65, (current D-9th district) a 15-term congresswoman, has opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because she said it cost the U.S. jobs, and opposed the Iraq War, but supported the Afghanistan War.

“I’m the jobs Democrat in this race,” she said “I also believe that I’m the candidate on my side of the aisle that knows the district best.”

Kaptur, who has also represented parts of Lorain County, said she is the best candidate because of her “record of real results” including bettering the Port of Lorain and saving the U.S. auto industry and steel jobs in the region. She said she supports the Keystone pipeline project that would import oil from Canada, and create jobs.

Kaptur, Kucinich, and Veysey agreed in federally funding commuter rail linking Toledo, Lorain, Cleveland, and Sandusky.

Kucinich, 65, (D-10th district) an 8-term congressman and former Cleveland mayor with two unsuccessful runs for president, has been greatly antiwar condemning both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and has proposed laws for universal health care. He reminded the public of his position of those issues Wednesday night, and vowed to make education “a top priority” in the country.

“We have an obligation to young Americans and to their parents right now to make sure” that there are jobs, health care, education and retirement security for all, Kucinich said.

Kucinich said he also helped to save Lorain’s Republic Steel jobs and NASA jobs, and plans to secure funds to finish the Second Inner Belt Bridge in Cleveland.

Kaptur is the second ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, which writes annual federal spending bills.

She said she would secure funds to protect the arts, the food sector, sensor industry and advanced energy in her district.

Lorain Arts Council President Antonio Barrios said “I can’t tell you how excited we are,”for Kaptur’s support, like helping them with grant applications.

Kaptur said she would pass laws that protect the Black River and prevent added pollution and Asian Carp from entering Lake Erie.

Veysey said education is one way to solve the rising poverty rates in Toledo and Cleveland. “The war on poverty is being lost here at home,” he said.

“I’m running for Congress just because it’s a David versus two Goliaths;” Veysey continued: “they might be strong but I’ll be more nimble; I might be outspent but I’m going to outhustle.”

Republican candidates for the NorthCoast District

The Republican contenders for the 9th district seat Samuel Wurzelbacher known as “Joe the plumber,” and Steve Kraus also debated.

Wurzelbacher, born in Toledo and from Springfield Township, and Kraus, from Huron, said they oppose federally funding school districts or the commuter train system, but prefer local funding sources.

Kraus, an Iraq War Veteran, said commuter rail is necessary and would support it if his constituency agrees.

Wurzelbacher, wearing a casual shirt and jeans, said: “We’ve got to get back to the consumer and the private market driving forces instead of the federal government and the state government saying they know what’s best.”

Both candidates said they support extracting natural gas by hydraulic fracturing, saying it would create jobs and make the country energy independent.

“There is so much abundant natural energy,” in Ohio under Lake Erie, Kraus said; also, “We can safely harvest and export it,” and overnight become “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.”

Republican running for the 7th District seat, Hombre Liggett,from Dover, a Christian pastor for over 19 years, said he opposes the federal government mandating school districts or what health insurance companies should provide, and instead said individuals should decide.

His contender Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) did not attend.

Also speaking were supporters for the Republican Presidential hopefuls Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum, and Domestic Relations Judge hopefuls for the Court of Common Pleas attended.

The two incumbent Lorain County Commissioners Ted Kalo and Lori Kokoski, Democrats, said they believe St. Joe’s Center will survive despite its financial problems.

Kokoski’s opponents, former Elyria Mayor Bill Grace and former county sheriff’s Capt. Rich Resendez, said the center, which houses a Veterans office and LCCC campus extension, needs to be protected.

Berry Taylor, Kalo’s opponent, said the county needs to know if the center is viable before funding it further.

The forum will be televised up to the March 6 primary on LCCC’s channel and Lorain City Schools channel.

See La Prensa’s Videos at: http://www.youtube.com/user/LaPrensaWeekly

To see how your Rep voted on the DREAM Act, go to: http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/111/house/2/625


Copyright © 1989 to 2012 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/28/12 13:19:08 -0800.





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