Coast Report editors Kassidy Dillon and Isabella Balandran had the chance to ask the 48th Congressional District candidate questions during a public forum at Golden West College last week.
Coast Report: You’ve mentioned that Rohrabacher hasn’t been an effective legislator. How would you change that and what policies would you want to pursue?
Rouda: He’s been there 30 years. He’s passed three pieces of legislation — most recently 14 years ago. Almost half of the legislation he has submitted in those 30 years, he is the only sponsor on the bills, which is just highly unusual for someone who has been there 30 years, not to be able to find one other Republican to add their name to a bill he has submitted. It shows how ineffectual he is and that he doesn’t even have the respect of his fellow Republican members.
I’m committed to working extremely hard to pass bills that are important to the constituents of the 48th district and all Americans that focus on the Equality Act, environmental concerns, economic opportunity, building renewable resources and fair and compassionate immigration changes along the lines of Senate Bill 744 that was passed by the Senate in 2013.
Coast Report: How have you been appealing to younger people? Why is that important to you?
Rouda: When we identify the groups whose support we would like — obviously Democrats, obviously Independents and moderate Republicans — but within those three groups and predominantly Independents is a significant portion of young adults. Young adults are harder to reach because they’re less likely to be on TV, and they left Facebook when their parents got on it. So for us, we tend to look at other social media channels such as Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Hulu to be able to get our messaging out, but also trying to get forums where we can actually meet in person, and also through texting.
We believe that your generation is in some ways like the greatest generation from World War II. You rely heavily on your peers and friend to help you in your opinions. So we really want to try and build those relationships with young adults who can help spread the word.
Coast Report: Rohrabacher has said that you want to give MediCal to undocumented immigrants and that this goes against what the district wants. How would you respond to this idea that you don’t know what the district wants?
Rouda: I’ve never said that. The fact is, you could argue the United States has already paid for universal health care in the least efficient way possible — in the emergency room instead of through preventive care. We need to have basic levels of medical services available to all. Addressing undocumented immigrants in our country shouldn’t be done by withholding life-saving medication or healthcare services.
I don’t know if Dana Rohrabacher is suggesting they should go without all healthcare services and he’d rather see them die than have those issues addressed. That would be a question he would have to answer.
Coast Report: This district has long been solidly Republican. Why do you think it’s changed to become more Democratic?
Rouda: I think there’s a lot of reasons. Rohrabacher never had a candidate who’s exposed him for his true voting record. We have successfully educated a lot of voters that his extremist views are out of touch with their values. You do that by talking to them, by having town halls, by meeting with them, by listening to them, by talking to them — something that he won’t do. He hasn’t had a town hall — nobody can even remember the last time he had a town hall unless he was at a country club behind doors inaccessible to the public or on Facebook where the questions were screened. And that’s not representing the district.
Times have changed. Demographics have changed. People’s values have not shifted to the right the way his have and that’s why our message has resonated with so many folks. I would hope anybody who is voting would forget about whether there is a D or R next to the individual’s name and make the decision based on the character of the candidate.