Congressional candidates forum exposes diferences, similarities

Congressional candidates forum exposes diferences, similarities

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — With the June 4 primary less than four months away, the top three candidates for California's 21st Congressional District aired their thoughts on the issues at a forum held at the Beale Memorial Library.

Incumbent Representative David Valadao, R-Hanford, is running for re-election against Democratic challengers Amanda Renteria of Woodlake and John Hernandez of Fresno.

The district stretches through several counties, including Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern.

The population in the district is about 70 percent Hispanic, making immigration reform a key issue.

The three incumbents realize that to win in this district, their stance on comprehensive immigration reform is critical. Not surprisingly, all three candidates are in favor of immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Unpopular as that stance may be with conservative voters, Valadao has bucked his Republican colleagues by openly supporting immigration reform and citizenship for the undocumented.

"I have put my name where my mouth is, and I'm very proud of that," Valadao told the audience.

Renteria is also in favor, but criticized Republicans on the issue, saying Republicans are blocking legislation toward reform.  Hernandez said he supports immigration reform, as well.

On the controversial practice of hydraulic fracking, Valadao and Renteria support the practice.

Valadao said fracking has been on going in Kern County for more than 60 years. Renteria said fracking creates jobs and provides an important role gaining energy independence. But, her Democratic colleague, Hernandez, said he has concerns about the practice and does not support it.

Valadao was elected to the post in 2012 when he defeated Hernandez, and was a dairy farmer prior to getting elected.

Hernandez worked on behalf of veterans with the American GI Forum, graduated from Cal State Fresno in 1996 and was elected president of the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Renteria was born and raised in Woodlake, a former high school teacher, and served as chief of staff in the U.S. Senate.

The two candidates who get the most votes in the June primary will then face off against each other in the general election in November.

The forum was sponsored by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.