2012-04-11 / Front Page

Candidates discuss family issues at forum

By Chris Frost
Bulletin Staff Writer

COMPTON—The congressional campaign in the newly created District 44 officially kicked off on Thursday, April 5, with a forum featuring Rep. Janice Hahn (District 36) and Rep. Laura Richardson (District 37).

The Compton Watts Interfaith Collaborative, YWCA of Greater Los Angeles and Los Angeles Universal Preschool sponsored the event.

The Democrats entertained questions about family values and support, illegal aliens, the parent’s role in making sure children progress through school, and plans to help women and families during their first 100 days in office.

“I want to have Congress on your corner in every community in the district,” Hahn said. “Nothing fancy, just two hours of sitting behind a card table talking to women about their challenges with no appointment necessary.”

She also wants the Small Business Administration to meet with women-owned businesses.

“A lot of them have trouble raising capital,” she said. “I also want to have a tradeconnect with the port of Los Angeles, so women business owners can learn about exporting and the opportunities available in our area.”

Richardson said reuniting family members is her top priority for women and families.

“I plan to continue my partnership with Congresswoman Karen Bass, and help families reunite with children in foster care,” she said. “ There are too many children taken away for one mistake, and before you know it the family loses all their children, not just the one they have issues with.”

Another big priority, Richardson said, is supporting soon-to-be-released prisoners coming home due to prison overcrowding.

“ There is a federally funded program called second chance and I plan on partnering with community churches and companies to help people find work,” she said. “It is one thing to say you are going to connect and meet, but try telling that to someone who has to list a felony on their job application. Stable employment unites and strengthens families.”

Both candidates acknowledged parents’ role in helping children succeed.

“We know that children do better when parents become involved in their schoolwork,” Hahn said. “It is an interesting question because some parents work three jobs just to make ends meet.”

One solution is making sure people earn a livable wage, she said, and Hahn touted her work in the hotel industry as an example.

“Classroom size also makes a difference,” she said. “We need to continue finding education resources and pressuring the state to restore funding from kindergarten through grade 12.”

She said universal preschool, and afterschool programs, are the keys to success.

“It takes a village,” Hahn said. “We have single parents out there who do not have the time. We all need to support the children.”

Richardson said mandated parental involvement is critical.

“ Teachers know what it is like to get to school early and prepare to educate students,” she said. “ They cannot do it all themselves, you need to have parents.”

Richardson said if a parent has to go out and clean graffiti because the child got in trouble, the accountability changes.

“I go to church every Sunday and say spare not the rod on the child,” she said. “We need more parental involvement. It should not be everyone else but them.”

If the parents do not have the educational tools to help the student, Richardson said, the after-school program should also be made available to them.

“Many parents cannot help their children with algebra homework,” she said. “ They deserve the opportunity to learn English, science, computers and math if they need to. ”

Immigration reform is long overdue, Richardson said, and the days when people came to the United States, got in line, and became citizens after waiting their turn are over.

“ Today immigrants go through tons of paperwork that gets lost in the system at least six times, pay for several attorneys, and still get the runaround,” she said. “In Compton alone we helped 21 people in the first three months this year. People want to play by the rules, but they must be fair.”

Richardson said she hosted an immigration workshop on Saturday, March 31, to provide information and financial relief for residents.

“We had the appropriate agencies onhand,” she said. “People brought their paperwork and got on track for free. If people work, pay taxes and play by the rules, they should have the opportunity to be a U.S. citizen.”

Hahn said she wants Congress to pass immigration reform legislation.

“ There are 12 million undocumented people in this country, and many arrived when they were a year old,” she said. “They are told to go back to their country of origin for 10 years before applying for citizenship.”

Hahn advocates creating an unbiased line that no one bypasses and a citizenship fee for people living in the United States illegally.

“ They still need to show that they live, work and pay taxes here to become a citizen,” she said. “I also believe that people who serve in our military deserve citizenship.”

Both candidates applauded the residents attending and participating in the forum.

“I will work hard to deliver resources to our community,” Richardson said. “We have not received what we should have, and this district needs a representative fighting for its fair share.”

Cutting federal government red tape and fighting for everybody highlighted Hahn’s closing comments.

“You need a representative in Washington who listens, fights and streamlines the government for you,” she said. “That is what I tried to do in Los Angeles and will continue doing in Congress.”

Visit janicehahn.com and laurarichardson.us for more information about the candidates.

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