SPECIAL SERIES : 2006 General Election
Local Candidates Engage in Debate at SF State
October 25, 2006 7:02 PM
SF State’s Political Science Students Association and College Republicans held a debate Wednesday between Howard Epstein, R-San Francisco, and Barry Hermanson, GP-San Francisco, both running for State Assembly.
Although the candidates were from opposing sides of the political spectrum, they did find some common ground.
“There was zero animosity between the candidates,” said Leigh Wolf, spokesman for the College Republicans. “They were very professional, and I would say that today’s debate was politics at its finest.”
Some attendees speculated that Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco – who was scheduled to attend, but did not – was trying to avoid the type of embarrassment she suffered during her debate at SF State last spring. The College Democrats were also absent.
“I am not surprised that they didn’t show up,” said Wolf. “I don’t blame them after what happened last time Fiona was here.”
For Epstein and Hermanson, Ma’s absence left an open playing field for their thoughts on her contributions as a member of the San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.
When asked to comment on Ma’s political objective, Epstein and Hermanson had many of the same opinions.
“I would if I knew what it was,” said Epstein, followed by laughs from the audience, as well as from Hermanson. “She is from the more liberal side of the Democratic ideology, and I am from the more common sense side.”
Hermanson replied by thanking Epstein for his comments on Ma.
“Fiona is very hesitant to tell people where she stands on issues,” said Hermanson. “Fiona Ma did nothing. I have made more of an impact on people’s lives in San Francisco in the last four years than Fiona Ma has made since she started her political career.”
The opponents also debated workers’ rights, medical marijuana and Proposition 87, which would tax California oil companies to support alternative energy.
“Proposition 87 is not a perfect initiative,” Hermanson said. “I am going to vote for this initiative because I would rather spend a little extra money now, than a lot of extra money in the future.”
Hermanson’s opponent, Epstein, disagreed with him on Proposition 87.
“I am not going to vote in favor of Proposition 87,” said Epstein. “There is nothing in Proposition 87 for the state. All the money goes to venture capitalists.”
On the issue of marijuana, the opponents once again found some ground for agreement.
“It should be legal and it should be taxed,” said Hermanson.
Epstein said medical marijuana should be legal, but argued that policies have not been properly implemented in California.
“Medical marijuana isn’t being dealt with the way it was meant,” Epstein said. “Medical marijuana is a good idea, but it should be in pharmacies. They shouldn’t be going to Joe’s in the Tenderloin. It’s not a good policy.”
Although the debate was about issues important to Californians, only about 10 people attended the debate, most of whom were from the organizations that organized the debate.
“The debates were very useful in helping me make some important decisions,” said Amanda Arsenith, 25, senior and liberal arts major, who is not affiliated with either organization. “These were two candidates that I didn’t know much about, and I think it is really important to be informed about all aspects of the election, not just who is running for governor.”
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