Taxes, Business, at Candidates’ Night

With just two months before the statewide direct primary elections, Republican candidates vying for various positions spoke at the Pacific Palisades Republican Club’s Candidate Night last week to garner support.

Club member Sarah Piehl addressed the three candidates and the crowd of some 80 people in attendance at the Palisades Lutheran Church the evening of Thursday, April 3. The event was co-sponsored by the Santa Monica and Maibu-Bel Air Republican Women’s Federated groups.

Piehl urged the Republican candidates to do well in the primaries set for June 3 “because there’s a dirty little law in California that the two most popular people in a category on a ballot get to Election Day,” she said.

Candidates talk politics ahead of the June 3 primaries at the Pacific Palisades Republican Club Candidates’ Forum held at Palisades Lutheran church on Thursday, April 3. Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer
Candidates talk politics ahead of the June 3 primaries at the Pacific Palisades Republican Club Candidates’ Forum held at Palisades Lutheran church on Thursday, April 3.
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act took effect in 2011 and allows the two top candidates with the most votes to move on to the general election, regardless of party affiliation or vote totals.

Club member Mel Friedman introduced the candidates, who spoke in turn. The topics of taxation and business were common themes touched on by the three candidates.

Elan Carr is one of five Republicans and 25 candidates overall who is running to replace outgoing Rep. Henry Waxman in the 33rd Congressional District. Carr is calling for a simpler tax system that closes loopholes and drives businesses out of California.

“In this state of all states; a state blessed by the best natural resources and talent and creativity — entrepreneurial talent in the north, entertainment talent in the south — and despite all of that … business is fleeing our state,” Carr said.

Businesses are also leaving the state because of its stringent environmental policy, according to the candidate.

“We all are environmentalists in a sense because we care about the environment, but the way to have clean air and clean water and progress on environmental issues is to have a fair regulatory system where the burden is shared throughout the United States and throughout the world,” Carr said. “And to do it any other way is unjust and destructive to good business.”

Brad Torgan — who will square off with incumbent Richard Bloom for the Assembly District 50 seat — is also calling for lower taxes and the closing of loopholes, but also mentioned the disparity between high taxes and low-quality city services. The candidate also mentioned saving Proposition 13, or the People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation.

“As high a tax state as we are, that’s really only the one saving grace we have,” Torgan said. “And you have a majority of the Democrats in the Assembly and the Senate who want to either go into a split role … or lower the thresholds for new taxation down from the current two-thirds.”

A split role would remove proposition protections for commercial property.

The candidate cited a study conducted by the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University that showed a split role would cost California some 400,000 jobs and $70 billion in economic activity in the first five years it is enacted, Torgan said.

Pete Peterson — executive director of the Davenport Institute and a candidate in the race to replace Debra Bowen as California Secretary of State — will look to digitize the process for business registration, currently in a six-week backlog under the current paper-based system, he said.

Peterson also wants to see a reduction in the business franchise tax, which is currently set at a minimum $800 annually for a company wanting to do business in the state.

“Other states roll out the red carpet for small businesses and here in California we roll out the red tape,” Peterson said.  “That needs to end.”