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North County Candidate Forum Draws Crowd at Abacoa


Seated at a long table, 10 candidates for 3 north county races (Congress 18, Senate 32, and House 82) answered questions from moderator Michael Williams, Emmy winning anchor of WPTV’s “To the Point“. The Palm Beach County Tea Party event was co-sponsored by South Florida 912.

Williams’ show, which airs on Sunday mornings, is a “must-watch” for county residents who follow local politics and issues. Over the last few months, he did on-air interviews with 5 of the 6 CD-18 candidates (Nick Wukoson will be on July 13), giving him a unique perspective on their positions and styles.

Unlike many grassroots forums where the organizers provide the questions, Williams did his own thing, although sticking to topics he thought would be of interest to the audience. Debt, taxes and Obamacare were covered as you would expect, but he also spent time on All Aboard Florida, money in politics, and helping local businesses, and took audience questions on immigration. The candidates for the Florida Legislature were also asked about Common Core.

Participating in the event were all 6 Republican candidates for Patrick Murphy’s CD18 (Carl Domino, Beverly Hires, Brian Lara, Alan Schlesinger, Calvin Turnquest and Nick Wukoson), Senate 32 incumbent Joe Negron, Republican opponent Brandon Cannon with Democrat challenger Bruno Moore, and House 82 incumbent Mary Lynn Magar who will face Democrat Mary Higgins in November.

The CD18 candidates gave predictable answers on debt and taxes (too high and won’t raise them, incentives to repatriate foreign capital), but they differed some on Obamacare. While most were for a “repeal and replace” strategy, promoting competition across state lines and health savings accounts, a few answers stood out. Carl Domino spoke of some of the “good” things in the Affordable Care Act and did not want to “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Calvin Turnquest pointed out that advertisements for car insurance are all over the TV channels, but not health insurance, since competition is very limited in a government controlled system.

To help local businesses, Alan Schlesinger would allow individual health care deductions on the front of the 1040, so small business would get a similar break to large corporations.

Not surprisingly, all 10 of the candidates are opposed to the widely despised “All Aboard Florida” as presently proposed, and argued among themselves as to who was first to point out that it should be called “All About Freight”. It should be noted that Democrat Patrick Murphy is also now against it. Carl Domino pointed out that it is not accurate to call it a “private” enterprise, since it requires a $1.5B taxpayer loan guarantee, and very little financial or operating data has been disclosed to the public.

The state level candidates were also speaking from the same page on many issues (against Common Core, simplifying processes for small business), although Democrat Bruno Moore did point out that common education standards are needed to prepare today’s students for the global competition.

Immigration garnered a few differences in the candidates. Joe Negron opposes in-state tuition for illegals and promotes e-verify. Nick Wukoson pointed out that the current border crisis does not need new laws – enforcing the current ones would be sufficient. Brian Lara would oppose the expansion of H1B visas, such as those that provide for high-tech workers (and take jobs from home-grown specialists). Pointing out the fallacy in Williams question about illegals “taking jobs from Americans”, Alan Schlesinger pointed out that the real problem is not employment but the overburdening of the social systems. Calvin Turnquest, a legal immigrant himself from the Bahamas, summed it up with “I am the face of immigration”, and anyone who came to this country by following our laws is being disenfranchised by the flood of illegals who are circumventing the system.

Links to the “To the Point” interviews of the candidates can be found in our voters guide on the candidate”s pages. See: PB County Online Voter’s Guide


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