2022 election: Q&A with Randy Voepel, California State Assembly, District 75 candidate

There are two candidates on the June 7 ballot for the newly drawn state Assembly District 75, which stretches from the Riverside County border south through Fallbrook, Bonsall, Valley Center, Ramona, Poway, Lakeside, Santee and Jamul to the Mexico border and east to the Imperial County border. Current 71st District Assemblymember Randy Voepel and business owner/current 75th District Assemblymember Marie Waldron, both Republicans, will automatically advance to a Nov. 8 runoff election.

The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board sent them a 13-question survey, and is publishing their responses here. If you have comments or questions about the election or any of the candidates after reading this interview, please email Editorial and Opinion Director Matthew T. Hall at matthew.hall@sduniontribune.com.

Below are Voepel’s responses and a link to Waldron’s.

Q: From wildfires to sea level rise, the climate emergency is increasingly affecting California. What immediate steps should California lawmakers be taking to address it?

A: California is already one of the most environmentally restrictive states in the union. This comes at a huge cost to California businesses and drastically stifles economic growth.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature must consult with business and industry leaders on possible solutions before additional measures are enacted.

Q: The governor’s pleas to reduce water use have been widely met with indifference. What, if anything, should state lawmakers be doing to address drought conditions?

A: California’s water infrastructure has been neglected for long enough.

Investing in new and existing infrastructure is critical if California wants to retain rainwater and snow melt.

Additionally, with the funding now being used for the high-speed rail project, California could be investing in dozens of desalination plants that would go a long way in lessening the impacts of the drought.

Q: What would you do to address the surging gas prices in California?

A: Simple. California must lower taxes charged at the pump. California taxes make up over $1 per gallon. A suspension of these taxes should bring an immediate reduction in gas prices across the state.

Q: How do you strike a balance between reducing the state’s dependency on fossil fuels and addressing energy affordability issues, including the high cost of gasoline?

A: It’s extremely difficult, which is why I don’t believe the state should be reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. If anything, California should increase drilling, drastically lowering the cost to consumers and lessening our dependence on foreign energy.

Q: How would you bring down the high cost of housing, both for homeowners and renters?

A: The Legislature must stop placing additional burdens and red tape on developers. Reducing bureaucracy, and therefore the cost of building, would go a long way in easing reducing the costs of new housing. Lowering the demand for housing should have a positive impact on the costs for renters and homeowners alike.

Q: Homelessness is growing dramatically across the state. How would you address it?

A: Homelessness is a local issue with local solutions. The state has been incredibly slow at responding to this crisis and has a knack for issuing a one-size-fits-all policy to address certain issues. Local jurisdictions are much better equipped to deal with their homeless populations.

It’s clear that throwing money at this issue will not result in a solution. The homeless crisis continues to worsen.

Q: What, if anything, should the state do to make mass transit a viable option for commuters?

A: Mass transit doesn’t work statewide. The state needs to immediately divest in high-speed rail and any other statewide mass transit projects. Large municipalities are more than capable of maintaining their own systems. The current high-speed rail project has been plagued with massive cost increases and long delays. The money would be much better spent on our existing roads and bridges.

Q: How will you balance public health with economic and educational concerns going forward in this pandemic or the next one? What specific steps and strategies, from lockdowns to mask mandates, would you recommend or rule out if there is a new surge in deaths and hospitalizations?

A: We learned a lot from the pandemic, and we should use that knowledge going forward.

Unfortunately, many of the state’s current and proposed pandemic policies are not based on knowledge or facts.

Efforts currently underway to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine and punish those who don’t comply are a gross violation of individual freedom and should be opposed.

Furthermore, shutting down business and bringing the economy to a grinding halt with another lockdown should be avoided.

Q: California has the strictest gun laws in the nation yet has had some of the nation’s worst mass shootings this year. What more, if anything, should be done to reduce gun violence in California?

A: Guns are not the problem. Just like the fork is not responsible for obesity. Criminals by their very definition do not follow the law.

Law-abiding gun owners are not the problem and their rights must be protected. California should get tougher on crime and increase penalties for those committing them.

Q: California has adopted a number of criminal justice reforms in recent years. What would you change and why to ensure justice is equitable and effective?

A: Unfortunately, California’s “reforms” have put dangerous criminals back on the streets en masse.

Our communities become more dangerous every day, and lawmakers still insist on lowering penalties and reducing sentences. The state must reverse this trend and adequately punish those who prey on the rest of society.

Q: What single change would you make to improve California’s K-12 public school systems?

A: We must adequately fund public schools. Proposition 98 should be treated as a floor, not a ceiling.

There is nothing stopping California from spending more than the minimum guarantee to help our failing schools.

Q: Should taxes in California be increased? If so, which ones?

A: Absolutely not. Californians are already taxed to oblivion.

With a projected $68 billion surplus, the state should be looking at how to reduce taxes and increase affordability for its residents.

Q: What is the most important issue we have not raised and why?

A: The majority party in the state Legislature is completely out of touch when it comes to addressing the needs of the public.

Its members are much too focused on pet projects and “feel-good legislation” rather than resolving the most important issues facing Californians. Furthermore, they continue to create problems in search of solutions and regularly sequester earmarked funds for their own legislative escapades.

We need to listen to the people of this state and address what I feel to be their No. 1 concern, the high cost of living.

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