Congressman Salud Carbajal, right, speaks to members of the San Luis Obispo community at a SLO County Progressives citizens’ summons event talking about climate change and foreign affairs.
Photo by Chris Bremer/Cuestonian
By Chris Bremer
Copy Editor/Online Editor
Following a victory in the 2016 elections, Congressman Salud Carbajal is representing the 24th district – which includes both the San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties – with a liberal agenda.
Carbajal took issue to several of President Trump’s platform topics at a citizens’ summons event in late April, including the administration’s planned budget cuts, foreign policies and increased immigration enforcement.
Among the most concerning aspects regarding the presidential administration’s policies is the proposed budget comprised of plans to cut spending on the Environmental Protection Agency.
“My hope is that we are able to stop the dismantling and the defunding of the U.S. EPA,” Carbajal said. “[…] I was privileged to serve on Obama’s climate action task force […] and we came up with over 500 recommendations, that were distilled into about 60 or 50, about what we nationally need to do about climate change.”
Carbajal is a member of the bipartisan U.S. House of Representatives group, Climate Solutions Caucus, “[…] which will explore policy options that address the impacts, causes and challenges of our changing climate,” the Citizens’ Climate Lobby website states.
Alongside these budget cuts, Carbajal takes issue with President Trump’s military action overseas.
“Assuming the information is correct that chemicals were used on people, certainly that warrants some action, but I will tell you I am very concerned that the president […] was being hypocritical while not allowing Syrian refugees to leave such treacherous and economic strife,” Carbajal said. “He is not only is a hypocrite but he needs to come to congress to get authorization to use military force like that.”
Carbajal served eight years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, including active duty service during the 1991 Gulf War, his official website states.
Further concerns expressed by Carbajal relate to the increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids occurring in the tri-county area, following the signing of the Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements executive order.
“President Trump’s executive order basically opened broadly the new enforcement action,” Carbajal said. “The way they enforce immigration laws, they can basically deport anyone that is here illegally anytime […] they have even broadened everything to include people with minor misdemeanors and minor offenses.”
Regardless of how one looks at this occurrence, Carbajal notes, these actions are ripping families apart.
Though these anti-Trump topics were popular at the citizens’ summons event, they did not prevent criticism directed at Carbajal.
Members of the community voiced concerns over Carbajal’s process of receiving campaign finance. Former rival candidate for the 24th congressional district, Bill Ostrander, noted that the appearance of corruption is just as important as corruption itself when interviewing Carbajal.
“The beverage industry contributed $35,000 to your campaign and you have a bill that you are cosponsoring changing the tax rates on beverages,” Ostrander said to Carbajal at the citizen’s summons event.
Carbajal responded to these campaign finance critiques by stating he supports legislation that would incentivize the use of small contributions, going as far as to say he would support a constitutional amendment changing the campaign finance system.
Alongside campaign finance reform is a debate over bipartisan compromise.
“I think he should [just] work with the Democrats, I notice a lot of the people here tend to be more Democratic – that’s what I notice – and I see them wanting to go more Democratic so I think that would be a good idea,” said Juliana Hooson, a first year Cuesta student. “[…] I don’t agree with any of the things that our president and congress are doing.”
However, the 24th district is mostly Republican, according to the County of San Luis Obispo Clerk-Recorder’s office. Some students feel this means compromise is necessary.
“We’ve got to work together,” said Jacob Corr, a second year agriculture and environmental plant science major at Cuesta. “I know there’s a lot of conflicting interest as far as what each party is working towards and what they’re trying to achieve, but there needs to some sort of middle ground.”