Antelope Valley Press: Candidate points to infrastructure, education

PALMDALE – Democratic congressional candidate Bryan Caforio says he supports President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act but thinks it can be improved, believes more money should be put into public education and describes spending on infrastructure such as roads as a way to bring “good middle-class jobs to the community.”

Caforio, a Santa Clarita attorney who wants to unseat Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, for the 25th Congressional District seat that represents most of the Antelope Valley south of Avenue A, said the Valley needs jobs, especially because it was hit hard during the Great Recession.

“There are a lot of ways you can do it, but one great thing would be to put some infrastructure spending into this community and district,” he said in an interview last week. “That means making the 14 (Freeway), which I drive many days, as quick and as safe as possible without potholes.

“It means making sure we don’t have mudslides every time there’s an inch or two of rain, making sure those areas of the community are safe.

“Those are jobs that can’t be exported,” he added.

Heading toward the June 7 primary election, Caforio and a fellow Democrat, Agua Dulce Town Councilman Lou Vince, have been engaged in a battle for local endorsements and fundraising. Also announced as a Republican candidate is Lancaster tax attorney Jeffrey Moffatt.

At last month’s Democratic State Convention in San Jose, Vince won 74% of the caucus vote and received the state party endorsement for the June primary.

Earlier this month, Vince’s campaign accused Caforio of “playing dirty tricks” after a 2001 lawsuit against Vince surfaced. The lawsuit alleged Vince, as a Los Angeles police officer, beat an African-American man during a traffic stop in west Los Angeles. The city of Los Angeles settled the lawsuit in 2002 for $150,000.

Vince is now a lieutenant in that department.

Asked if there was a grudge between the two campaigns, Caforio said, “There’s certainly no animosity on my side.”

Caforio said he is a proponent of “green jobs,” including putting a large-scale water recycling plant in the Antelope Valley. Palmdale and Lancaster both have recently-expanded sewage treatment plants that produce water clean enough to meet state standards for irrigating parks, lawns and some types of crops.

“We can put a lot of emphasis on that green technology and green advancements, jobs here in the community where they will be built, that not only will improve our environment but will also create those jobs here,” he said.

Caforio said the water plant would provide jobs “both in terms of building it and then operating it for the lifetime of the facility, but it will also help the Antelope Valley become more self-sufficient with its freshwater supply.”

Caforio said he supports the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, but said it can be tweaked and improved.

“The so-called Cadillac tax is one thing that I think we need to go in and correct,” he said. “We are putting a very high tax rate on some middle-income workers who have negotiated for good health benefits as part of their jobs and now they are being penalized unfairly compared to other people for that high tax rate.”

Caforio said he wants to help veterans avoid the long trip to facilities in Sepulveda or West Los Angeles by either putting a care facility in the region or allowing care closer to home that can be reimbursed.

Caforio, who was raised by two public school teachers, said he wanted to see additional investments in public education, including preschool funding.

“Education spending at the federal level has gone down about 20% since 2011,” he said. “That’s absurd.

“Right now, our children are the future, and we need to change our priorities to make sure we are giving them all of the funding necessary.”

Caforio cited science, technology, engineering and math programs, vocational training and affordable community colleges as examples of programs he’d like to see funded. He also said he’d like to see internship and apprenticeship programs for locals associated with the B-21 bomber to be built in Palmdale.

“It’s going to be great for the community and thousands of jobs are forecasted to come from this, but I want to make sure those aren’t all jobs (for) people moving in from Texas or Florida,” he said of the bomber contract.

Caforio, a Southern California native, attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he met his wife Lisa. Her second great-granduncle, Leo Harris, opened a general store in Lancaster more than a century ago, according to Caforio.

After graduating from UCLA, Caforio went on to Yale Law School.

Caforio said he then worked for a federal judge in Billings, Montana.

He eventually returned to Southern California to practice law at the Century City office of Susman Godfrey.

“I’ve handled a wide variety of cases, but what I’ve really seen over the last few years are a number of banks and other large corporations who are taking advantage of people, everyday Americans, on a daily basis,” he said.

Caforio said that after discussing a possible political run with family and friends, he decided he wanted to represent and impact a larger group of people.

“Instead of trying to do something on a case-by-case basis, instead of going after one company on behalf of one client or even a class of clients, let’s get in there to try to build a better system,” he said. “Let’s work to build an economy that works for everyone and not just those wealthy few. That’s why I’m in this race and that’s what my priority is going to be.”

Originally published in avpress.com

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