Full audio from Sunday's town hall meeting can be found at the bottom of this story.
Sunday afternoon at the El Rey Theatre the Women’s March Chico and Our Revolution Chico organizations hosted a town hall gathering to meet the candidates running for US Senate. About 40 people gathered to hear from the three candidates who showed up – Pat Harris, David Hildebrand, and John Parker. Incumbents Dianne Feinstein and Kevin De Leon were invited but did not attend along with candidates Alison Hartson and John Melendez. NSPR’s Nolan Ford was there and has the story.
The event was moderated by environmental consultant Lindsay Wood and KZFR programmer/local activist Diane Suzuki. The first candidate to speak was Pat Harris, a criminal defense and civil rights attorney. A recurring theme in Harris’ presentation was that Democrats too often seek compromise with Republicans and need to take a firmer stand on the issues.
“The Democratic Party’s gotta fight and we need fighters. We need people who are willing to stand up and actually go into Washington. And Dianne Feinstein stated not too long ago, ‘We don’t need rabble rousers in Washington’ – that’s exactly what we need. We need people who are gonna go and raise hell,” he said.
Next up was David Hildrebrand who introduced himself as a corporate-free, democratic socialist, pro-union, working class candidate for US Senate. Hildreband has worked as a Legislative Analyst for over six years and said he contributed over 70 hours a week to the Bernie Sanders campaign. In February of this year he decided to run against Feinstein.
“We have to have someone who’s not for 7 billion dollars for war, who’s not for voting for Iraq, who’s not for spying on American citizens. So I said I’m going to wait and see if anyone jumps in. By the end of February no one jumped in so I jumped in. And I said I’m going to do this and I’m going to do this to win.”
The third candidate introduced was Peace and Freedom Party member John Parker who said he’s running because “time’s up.”
“It’s not only time’s up for misogyny. It’s time’s up for these brutal murders of black and brown youth by police and ICE. And these global warming. And to end these endless wars that drench our world in blood and refugee sorrow.”
During the first hour of the town hall each candidate fielded questions from the panel and in the second hour questions from the audience. The discussion covered a range of issues including health care, gun violence, the right to unionize, abolishing the Electoral College, climate change, and police brutality.
David Phillips, the father of Desmond Phillips who was killed by Chico Police last year, was one of the first people to address the candidates.
“30 years, 30 police killings. All justified. So how are you guys going to address that?”
Parker was the first to respond, saying that this is one of the main issues addressed in his platform.
“The proposal is to stop the use of deadly force, especially in black and brown communities and declare it a crisis, a state of emergency I say.”
Second to speak was Harris who said his experience as an attorney qualifies him to address the lack of accountability for police violence.
“That’s what I’ve been doing with my life though. For 25 years I’ve defended – I have gone in and sued those police officers. I’ve fought the police department. That’s what I’ve been doing.”
Hildebrand said he participated in seven separate protests in Sacramento against the recent shooting of Stephon Clark. He explained that much of the reason District Attorneys fail to prosecute police officers is because they receive funding from police administrations. He said the path to change has to begin voting corruption out of office.
“The reality on the federal level is we’ve got a lot of work to do. The reality on the state level is we’ve got a lot of work to do. But the work is gonna be done on the local level. Pamela Price in Alameda County, she’s running for DA there. First black woman running for DA. What’s that going to change? A lot.”
To hear what these candidates said about other issues discussed at Sunday’s town hall listen, click the play button below.
Town hall meeting full audio.