By Liz Kellar
Editor's note: The Union is presenting the positions of candidates in local elections in a question-and-answer format as part of our overall election coverage.
Republican U.S. Representative Tom McClintock is facing Democrat Clint Curtis and independent candidate Ben Emery in the 4th Congressional District. The largely conservative district encompasses most of Northeastern California, including all of Nevada County. Despite more than two decades of electing Republicans, however, voters nearly elected a Democrat two years ago.
McClintock, the incumbent who was first elected in 2008, bested GOP challenger Michael Babich in the June primary. Curtis ran uncontested for the Democratic nomination in June.
Q: What issues have you been focusing on during the campaign?
1. Providing representation to all the parties so we can work together for real solutions to real problems.
2. Bringing jobs to the citizens of this district.
3. Bringing our tax dollars home to help our communities.
4. Making sure that Social Security is not destroyed.
5. Bringing broadband to the entire district.
6. Protecting our water and our environment.
Our campaign has been focusing on government corruption, the importance of citizen-legislators, and accountability. Our elected officials have become dependent on special interest money to compete in elections, creating a disconnect with constituents. This money doesn't necessarily come from their district. Both (major) parties chase obscene amounts of money to compete in hundreds of races. Neither party will work with the other for any program that will cut off the money. My candidacy focuses on this corruption and how it is the root cause of almost all of the problems in our government.
I have focused my campaign on the damage that (the Obama) Administration and Congress have done to our economy by too much spending, too much taxing and too much borrowing. These policies have put us trillions of dollars in additional debt, and we're no better off than we were before. I agree with Ronald Reagan that government isn't the solution to our economic problems -- government is the problem. We know how to revive an economy because we've done it before -- by reducing the tax and regulatory burdens that are crushing our economy. It worked when Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman all did it. Unfortunately, this administration is doing the opposite.
Q: What steps would you take -- or are taking -- to represent such a diverse district?
Curtis: In my congressional office, I will bring in representatives from all the political parties across District 4. These people will be elected from their own parties based on those that have applied. We will work as a team on a day-to-day basis to reach the best possible solutions for all the citizens of District 4. Together, we can openly exchange ideas and work toward solutions that work for everyone. This means that not only will the Democratic and Republican parties have a seat at the table, but for the first time, the Greens, American Independents, Libertarians, Peace and Freedoms and even the decline-to-state voters will be able to have true input into the political process.
Emery: No one can represent a district if they don't talk to the people throughout the district. More than a couple of former candidates and even elected representatives have told us that campaigning is strictly a numbers game. The conventional wisdom is to ignore our neighbors north of Nevada County because there is no money or enough voters there to get you elected. I have ignored this advice, maybe to my peril, but I aim to be a representative of the entire district and population, not just of those who voted for me and those who donated to my campaign. We have and will continue to visit the people of the northern counties and will ask them what they want and need their representative to do for them in Washington, D.C. It would be my job to represent all of them.
McClintock: I have held 19 tele-town hall conferences and 22 live town hall meetings with constituents throughout the 4th Congressional District, returning every week of session to attend meetings and to listen to community concerns. The message is loud and clear: Stop the spending.
Q: How important are community ties when it comes to effective representation of your constituents?
Curtis: The need to have local ties depends on the congressman. In the case of our present congressman, his decisions are made based on ideology rather than direct representation of this district's citizens. His pledge is to "not" provide funding for the district, and he doesn't need to live here to vote against or turn down available funding. In that sense, it would make no difference whether he lives here or has even ever visited the area.
My concept of representation is to address the needs of the citizens of the district and surround myself with a staff drawn from the citizens of the area. This would provide me with decades of local experience drawn from all walks of life. Both myself and my staff would be real people and not career politicians or DC insiders. Our decisions would be based on the needs of the citizens and not on hard-line political philosophy.
Emery: This is an important issue in this particular race because I am the only candidate with long-term interests and proven loyalty to the district. The real issue isn't a candidate's ZIP code or whether that person knows about the Dorsey Drive interchange, but that they feel an obligation to the people they represent because they are their neighbors. I have been an active participant and volunteer in Nevada County for years. I have coached youth sports and junior high and high school athletics, been a science docent and a member of a number of local nonprofits, and participated in annual fundraisers with many different organizations. My wife and I chose to live in Nevada County because this is where we wanted to raise our children (both are students at Nevada Union High School).
McClintock: They are important, and that is why I have made it a high priority to return to the district every week and to hold an unprecedented number of public meetings across the district.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4229.
Political experience: Curtis has been heavily involved in the election integrity movement in Florida and in efforts to curb waste in government contracts. He was featured in several documentaries on the election integrity issue.
Residence: Nevada City
Political Experience: A member of the Green Party, but running as an independent candidate. "The highest office in a democracy is that of citizen." -- Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter
Residence: Elk Grove
Political Experience: United States Representative for District 4 (including Nevada County), 2009-present; California State Senator from Southern California, 2000-08; California State Assemblyman from Southern California, 1982-1992 and 1996-2000