By Nikki Garrett Metzger
(Victorville) — The Student Activities Center at Victor Valley College was the setting for the first debate between the candidates vying for the seat in the newly redistricted 8th Congressional District.
The Night of Politics, hosted by the Associated Student Body at Victor Valley College, gathered State Assembly Aide Gregg Imus, Former Hesperia Mayor Bill Jensen, Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron, and Victorville Councilwoman Angela Valles to discuss the issues and answer questions submitted by audience members.
The candidates discussed topics ranging from jobs to immigration, finance reform to the Federal Reserve. Some of the questions that came from the audience included the situation in Iran and the adoption of the National Defense Authorization Act.
At the end of the debate candidates where given one minute to give their closing statement.
Jeremiah Brosowske was one of the student moderators for the evening and also one of the organizers of the event. He explained why he got involved in this project, “I want to see who the best candidate is so far in this congressional race. And I really want to get young people involved.”
“Students have questions for the candidates, and students want to be involved. I think that, as college leaders, that’s what we’re supposed to do,” he concluded.
There was a group of students from the Model United Nations at VVC that attended the debate. One of the students, Dakota Higgins, talked about which candidate he was starting to favor after watching the debate, “McEachron because I feel he’s measured, calm, and more learned, like he has more knowledge of the politics. I liked his policy points.”
Another student, Caleb Brown, spoke about the candidates that he liked, “I feel that Angela Valles and Victorville mayor McEachron both have the public sector and private sector experience that they would need in Congress. That they have that sort of insight, in comparison to the other candidates. And I also think that having that small business experience puts Ryan McEachron on top.”
gStudent Ashlie McPhearson had a bit of a different opinion. “I think Bill Jensen was the most articulate, however I think in terms of getting their points across and being able to get something done, it would be Angela Valles or McEachron. I would be leaning toward one of those two.”
“I felt that Gregg Imus and Don Jensen were the most passionate about their beliefs, which is something that will keep them firm when they go to Washington,” said student Shelia Reddy. “But I do believe that Ryan McEachron and Angela Valles seem to be the most moderate out of the candidates and would be best suited for bi-partisanship.”
“I also believe Ryan McEachron is the candidate I’m leaning toward because he seems like he’s more willing to work with other people in Congress,” said Mariela Hernandez.
The reaction in the crowd was overall very positive. Bill Campbell offered his thoughts on the candidates, “I love Angela, I think it is just remarkable what she’s done, and that tells me she’s a fighter. And she fights on my side so I like that a lot.”
He continued, “Gregg Imus – I love the guy. McEachron I know the least, I like his philosophy very much. Right now I’m kinda leaning toward Imus because he’s a forceful guy with a good heart.”
Another audience member, Jay Graham, had a completely different view of the whole proceedings, “It wasn’t a debate, but it was a start. I’m hoping we develop the debate capacity just like the Republican debates that are going on. I think we can, but I don’t think the candidates right now have the foundation for debating. They gave us a good representation of what they think and what they believe.”
“I’m looking forward to future debates and better debates so that the people of the High Desert can get an education on who to actually vote for. So this debate was the beginning of something I think could be tremendous up here and I thank the college and the ASB for putting on what they did,” Graham concluded.
At the end of the event an announcement was made that there will be another debate in March, with more details to follow.