On Wednesday, Oct. 29, Las Positas College’s cafeteria hosted a public question and answer panel with a number of candidates running in the Nov. 4 election. Organized by the ASLPC, the panel gave LPC students a chance to meet the candidates, learn more about their positions and voice any questions or concerns they had going into the election.
Given the location of the forum, it was no surprise that the first focus of the discussion was on education and the struggles faced by college students. College president Barry Russell fired the first volley, asking the candidates what they specifically can do to provide more economic opportunities and support for LPC students.
“A lot of the income for university campuses comes from research grants,” said Hugh Bussell, a candidate vying for the seat for the 15th Congressional District. “Why are we giving research grants to universities if they continue to raise their tuition and make it more difficult to get an education? The federal government has a huge sledgehammer, a huge crowbar to say to the universities ‘Look: don’t raise tuition any faster than the rate of inflation.’”
Kathy Narum, an incumbent candidate for the Pleasanton City Council, pointed out that Pleasanton offers internships, both paid and unpaid, for college students.
“We need to make sure that when funding is coming from the state to our community colleges, there’s transparency in how it is spent and that there are standards for insuring that it’s not spent just on administrative costs but on actual classroom resources and student resources,” said Catherine Baker, who is vying for a seat in the California State Assembly’s 16th District.
Student-submitted questions ranged from campaign finance reform to drought mitigation efforts. Time and again though they came back to topics closer to home, such as the proposed BART extension to Livermore and the transportation funding proposal Measure BB.
“(Measure BB) will give us some funding for LAVTA, the Livermore Amador Valley Transportation Authority, which runs our buses here,” Narum said. “So for those of you who are dependent on public transportation, that’s an area where I think we can see some improvement.”
Above all, the candidates encouraged all LPC students to get involved in the political process.
“I started doing something five years ago that politicians often don’t do anymore and it changed my life forever: I started reading legislation,” said Chris Pareja, who is running for the Livermore City Council. “I started to realize the importance of local government, and that if we don’t stand up and fight for what we believe in at a local level we will lose that control.”