California Senate Candidates Discuss Representation in Forum With Ethnic Media

Tanu Henry, Antonio Ray Harvey, and Joe W. Bowers Jr. | California Black Media

On Feb. 8, the three leading Democratic California Senate candidates participated in a forum to discuss their campaign platforms and field questions from reporters about issues concerning California residents.

U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), Adam Schiff (D-CA-30), and Katie Porter (D-CA-47) – joined the virtual event that was hosted by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services.

An invitation was extended to former Major League Baseball player and Republican Steve Garvey to participate but there was no response from his staff.

It is likely that one of the three candidates that took part in the forum will be California’s next junior Senator, serving alongside senior Sen. Alex Padilla. That person will replace Sen. Laphonza Bulter, who is currently the only Black woman in the 100-member U.S. Senate.

One of the questions directed to all the candidates was about how they would ensure that Black women’s voices would continue to be considered in national debates and policymaking. Lee said Black women legislators “fight for everyone.”

“It is important that they serve in the Senate to have that perspective or that lens that would be missing in the United States Senate,” Lee said, talking about the point of view of Black women, who are the Democratic Party’s most loyal voting bloc.

“It is ‘not just on issues of racial justice, it’s also on issues of equity, economic equity. When you look at billionaires, we have to pass legislation which I’m championing with Senator Sanders, the oligarch Act, the CEO compensation act – bills that will force billionaires to pay their fair share,” said Lee. “A black woman’s perspective on every single issue is very important.”

Porter said she would “work tirelessly” to make sure that Butler would not be the last Black female Senator when she finishes the interim term. Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Butler after longtime Senator Dianne Porter said California’s next senator needs to be “a champion for communities of color, particularly for Black Americans.

“Washington has long overlooked the needs of hard-working Americans, especially communities of color, including long standing racial gaps in homeownership and education and healthcare. We know that Black Americans have worse health outcomes. They’re less likely to graduate from college. They’re more likely to live in polluted neighborhoods. The question is what is Washington going to do about that?” asked Porter.

Schiff took a different approach to the question. He intends to appoint more Black women and people of color to the judiciary, cabinet positions, and intelligence community such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).

“In every aspect of policy, and every appointment I have to make, I want to make sure that we’re elevating people that look like America, that will be representative of every community in America,” Schiff said. “And that very much means Black women and Black men, people from the Latino community and the AAPI community, people in the LGBTQ community as well.”

Reporters from CBM, EMS, India Currents, and La Opinion formulated the questions for the briefing.

The candidates also fielded questions about the border crisis, funding Ukraine funding, single-payer health insurance, the expansion of the Federal Child Tax Credit, sponsoring bills to protect local journalism, legal immigration relief to essential undocumented workers, legal immigration relief to essential undocumented workers, climate change, reparations for Black Californians, among other topics.

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