The candidates in the forum were Judy Lloyd, former President Reagan cabinet member; San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson; businessman Robert Rao; Alamo resident Joe Rubay; and Livermore optometrist Scott Kamena. Rubay has since dropped out of the race.
"They are interesting candidates," said Tracy Wheeler, a Blackhawk resident.
District 15 includes Danville, Alamo, San Ramon, Livermore, Walnut Creek, Brentwood, Discovery Bay and a part of Pleasanton, as well as portions of Stockton, Galt, Tracy and Elk Grove. Current Republican Assemblyman Guy Houston will be termed out in 2008.
At the forum, Rao, who operates an auto business and lives on a ranch in Livermore, spoke first.
"As a businessman, I have some insight to the problems in this state," he said. "There is a $6 billion deficit in the state in 2008. I believe we are entering into an era of a budget nightmare - not a budget crisis."
"I'm totally opposed to raising taxes." he added.
He noted he wanted to use the market system to develop a cost efficient and effective healthcare system. He said entrepreneurs - by nature - would demand the best in their services. If healthcare is run like a business, it would be successful.
Wilson talked about building trust and communication with everyone. He noted that to reach Gov. Schwarzenegger, one has to do his homework and know the issue at hand. Then he would sit down with the governor and show how an issue would benefit him. Wilson said Sacramento needs constraints on its spending.
"I'm financially conservative," Wilson said. "We don't spend what you don't have."
Lloyd said Republicans need to find themselves.
"I really feel that we have lost our way in the Republican Party," she said. "We need to equate Reagan's legacy to what the future holds for us."
Rubay said the state needs structure.
"I want to make sure California has a little bit of a plan," he said.
Kamena, a director with Livermore Parks and Recreation and son of Livermore Mayor Marshall Kamena, said giving children a strong foundation of values and direction will help immensely in alleviating many of their problems.
"They don't know why they are here," he said.
He, like most of the candidates, noted that youths should learn to be self-reliant.
"All kids should be self-sufficient by the age of 22," he said, making the crowd chuckle.
"You're all laughing," he responded. "I see 28-year-olds still living at home. We have too many giving and too many taking. Let's figure out what really works."
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