HANFORD – A handful of Republican candidates took to the stage at the Hanford High School Presentation Center Thursday night to debate and discuss issues important to them in their campaigns for various offices, although there was very little disagreement between them when it came to the topics that were discussed.
Hanford-based political organization 1776 Sons of Liberty hosted the debate/town hall event on Feb. 1 that featured candidates from the Kings County Board of Supervisors District 5 race, the State Assembly District 33 race and the Congressional races for District 20 and District 22.
Jeff Mora, current radio and podcast host and former president of 1776 Sons of Liberty, moderated the event and said that all Republican candidates in the races were invited, though only a few attended. Mora said the goal for the event was for residents to get to know “the names behind the signs that we all see on the side of the road.”
“Hopefully after tonight you get a good idea of that name and who that person is so you know who you’re voting for,” Mora said. “That was always our goal with the 1776 Sons of Liberty, was to create an informed electorate.”
Congressional District 22 candidate Chris Mathys and Congressional District 20 candidates David Giglio and Mike Boudreaux participated in the event. The three all took the stage together to answer straightforward questions about their campaign platforms.
While each candidate has a different background that they feel makes them the stronger candidate, there was little disagreement regarding where they stood on the issues discussed. Topics discussed included the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, abortion, gun legislation, aid for Ukraine and energy policy.
On the topic of abortion, candidates were specifically asked when they believe life begins; all three said they believe life begins at conception and that more emphasis and funding should be put into promoting alternatives to abortion.
Boudreaux said that more accountability needs to be taught in schools, and Giglio said he wants to expand the child tax credit and implement tax incentives for married people who file jointly.
All three candidates also said they would not vote to send any more money to Ukraine to support the Ukraine-Russia war. Boudreaux and Mathys both said they do not trust that the money being sent to Ukraine is being used properly and Giglio emphasized his America-first stance, stating that “we can’t afford to be the world’s police.”
On gun legislation, all candidates said they support the Second Amendment and while they are for gun safety, they do not believe that any additional gun legislation should be passed.
As Tulare County Sheriff, Boudreaux said that of the approximately 10,000 gun permits in the county, zero law-abiding citizens use those guns in criminal action, but “untold thousands of people” throughout the Central Valley who are not supposed to have guns are the ones who use them in crimes.
Following Boudreaux’s answer to the question on gun legislation, Giglio said he didn’t think he’d “be doing any rebutting.”
“President Biden said that the Second Amendment wasn’t absolute and I think that there’s nothing more incorrect than that,” Giglio said. “I think everything that has gone on the last few years with COVID and with what’s going on in the world right now, I think if the framers were alive today they’d be telling us: that’s exactly why we gave you the Second Amendment.”
Regarding illegal immigration and the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, Mathys, Giglio and Boudreaux all said that they supported Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s actions in overriding federal jurisdiction. The candidates said the Biden Administration has failed at its job to protect the country and they want to see Congress impeach President Joe Biden and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
Giglio used the question to reiterate his position as a candidate who will vote for his constituents and not for any other political means, unlike what he has said many Republicans currently do. Boudreaux used the question to discuss his experience as sheriff and talked about being invited to see the border with former President Donald Trump.
“We need strong leaders in elected positions,” Boudreaux said. “You can no longer afford just to vote in the guy that sat behind the desk and had been an envelope licker all his career. You need someone who’s gonna stand up, who’s lived it and has the knowledge to push back and stand up like Gov. Abbott.”
Candidates also discussed their positions on climate change and energy policy; all three said they believe climate change is not an issue. To keep energy prices low, they want to see deregulation of oil and gas and an increase in its production, as well as an end to foreign energy dependence.
Mathys, a Republican, was the only candidate in the 22nd Congressional District race who was present. He is running against Republican incumbent David Valadao and Democrats Melissa Hurtado and Rudy Salas.
Giglio and Boudreaux are also Republicans and are running against Democrats Andy Morales and Marissa Wood, no party preference candidates T.J. Esposito and Ben Dewell and Republicans Matthew Stoll, Kelly Kulikoff, Kyle Kirkland, Vince Fong and Stan Ellis.
Also present at the debate was Robert Thayer and Adam Medeiros, who are running against Tyler Pepe, David Ayers and incumbent Richard Fagundes in the non-partisan Kings County District 5 Board of Supervisors race and Assembly District 33 Republican candidate Xavier Avila, who is running against fellow Republican Alexandra Macedo and Democrats Ruben Macareno and Angel Ruiz.