Things did not go according to plan at the Redlands Tea Party Patriots forum at the Mill Creek Cattle Company on Thursday, Nov. 7.
There were numerous delays due to problems with the venue's sound system. The start of the event was pushed back due to candidate Tim Donnelly arriving late.
When the forum did get underway, State Senate District 23 candidates Cristina Puraci, Lloyd White and Rosilicie Bogh were all taken off guard when Tea Party organizers and audience members asked them questions regarding federal issues instead of state issues that affected the 23rd district. Out of all the questions asked only two referenced a state issue.
One was regarding a pipeline for water from the Sacramento delta to Southern California that has been promised since the 1960s; Bogh answered first saying we don’t have a water problem we have an infrastructure problem and that we need to build more water storage to retain water.
Puraci said that local water districts are building a water-recycling center but that she did not know anything in regards to the pipeline.
Former Highland resident and Beaumont city councilman Lloyd White said the state of California forced the city of Beaumont to do a $100 million upgrade to its sewer recycling plant or have local control of the city's water systems taken over by the state.
The other question asked was how each candidate would conduct themselves if elected; Bogh responded that she would “try to model what I expect from people,” and that she “believes just because you can don’t mean you should.”
Puraci said that she has had to work with Democrats in the school board and the union; she went on to say that the Democrats gave her a chance to present her point of view. She also said that she would not be disrespectful or participate in the name-calling, saying, “That will never happen.”
White says, if elected, in the first 60 to 90 days he will reach out to Democrats to see what issues they can agree on and work together. He admitted that it wouldn’t be easy but that he “is up to the challenge.”
A straw poll was taken before the forum on the 23rd district candidates with Lloyd White coming in first at 51 percent followed by Rosilicie Ochoa-Bogh with 32 percent and Cristina Puraci with 17 percent. Another straw poll was taken after with White finishing at 64 percent, Bogh 24 percent and Puraci with 11 percent.
Following a short intermission, it was time for the two candidates for the eighth congressional seat ⎯ former assemblyman Tim Donnelly and 33rd Assemblyman Jay Obernolte ⎯ to take the stage. As the straw poll was taken before the start of both debates Donnelly started the night with 52 percent and Obernolte 48 percent.
The civility from the prior session, however, evaporated quickly after Donnelly went on the defense against a member of the audience who asked Donnelly where he was the past two years and why he was running a negative campaign. Donnelly told the audience “that he had been working,” and that he “had run in this seat a year before.” Another audience member then chimed in saying, “He lost.” Donnelly acknowledged that, saying, “Yeah, I didn’t win, but I fought.”
When asked again about his campaign Donnelly answered, “There is a big difference from running a negative campaign where you smear someone’s character and a campaign where you expose someone’s record.”
Obernolte responded, saying, “We can’t waste time and energy fighting amongst ourselves.”
The next audience question was whether the Democratic Party was evil?
Obernolte responded first saying, “No, I did not, but they are deeply misguided and they will take our country in a direction that will destroy us as a society if something is not done.”
Donnelly, however, had a different take saying that the Democratic Party was “the axis of evil,” and that they “were trying to steal the 2016 election.”
An audience member asked what three issues each candidate supported. Obernolte answered first saying limited government, personal freedom and personal responsibility.
When it was Donnelly’s turn he first joked, “I kind of agree with him for once.” He then named two issues, school choice and freedom of speech as he went on a rant on how Facebook should be investigated for censoring conservatives.
After the debate, another straw poll was taken with Obernolte finishing with 64 percent and Donnelly with 33 percent.