Six candidates for 39th Congressional District seat discussed Immigration, international trade and health care at forum in Fullerton

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Six candidates debate issues like immigration, trade and health care at a forum in the Fullerton Community Center.
(Amanda Chacon / Daily Titan)

Immigration, international trade and health care were a few of the polarizing topics explored at a forum of six candidates running for representative of the 39th Congressional District.

The forum, held Thursday evening at the Fullerton Community Center, was organized by the North Orange County Chamber and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The candidates present at the forum were Republicans Bob Huff, Shawn Nelson and Young Kim, and Democrats Sam Jammal, Andy Thorburn and Mai-Khanh Tran. The forum was moderated by Rick Reiff, editor at large for the Orange County Business Journal.

All candidates raised their hands when asked if they wanted to find a solution to fix the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but Huff and Nelson said there should be more laws to focus on legal immigration, while Kim called for immigration to be handled in a humane way.

Jammal challenged Nelson, member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, on the Supervisors’ decision to sue California to overturn the state’s sanctuary laws, which was met with applause by the audience.

“I thought it was despicable what the Orange County Board of Supervisors did this week by demonizing immigrants,” Jammal said.

Rieff also prompted the candidates to share their opinions on trade agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Thorburn called international trade complex but that it is always better to be diplomatic before threatening countries.

Nelson disagreed that compliance is the best way to handle negotiations with other countries.

“If you negotiate from a position of weakness, you’re going to lose every time, but if you negotiate from a position of strength, you have a shot. This president has an unusual way of doing things, but he is a successful negotiator,” Nelson said.

The audience had a strong reaction to this statement, made evident by their laughter and yelling.

Rieff then turned the audience’s attention to health care.

All the Democrats said the Affordable Care Act was working well initially, but that it still needs minor adjustments like lower prescription prices and the establishment of a single-payer system.

However, the Republicans disagreed and said the Affordable Care Act is extremely flawed.

“It has given less than acceptable quality health care … This is an ability to keep the original intended promise. I will not ask for a complete repeal unless there is a solution that can be sensible and insure all Americans,” Kim said.

As a registered nurse, Tara Gray attended the forum in hopes of finding out how the candidates planned to deal with health care and immigration.

“I would like to see health care made affordable for everyone. When working in the emergency room you can see patients come in that do not have health care, and yet they are entitled to have health care provided to them as anyone else,” Gray said.

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