Democratic representative Loretta Sanchez and Attorney General Kamala Harris visited CSUN today to speak to students and community members about policy issues, ranging from student debt to immigration reform.
Both candidates are seeking to fill the senate seat which long time senator Barbara Boxer has held for over 24 years. While both candidates spoke about many issues, including student debt, Sanchez focused on immigration reform and Harris spoke about crime and gun control.
In an effort to promote the importance of voting to students, CSUN government and Community Relations hosted the event in which Sanchez spoke, drawing a crowd of roughly 50 people. The event which Harris spoke at was hosted by the Young Democrats, and it drew in a crowd of roughly 100 people.
In this senate race, between two democrats, with relatively similar policy concerns, one is left to wonder: what separates the two? When Sanchez was asked about the differences between her and her opponent, she spoke about her family background and experience in congress.
“I have the life experiences she doesn’t have. I grew up poor, she didn’t,” Sanchez said.
When asked how she would best describe the differences between herself and Sanchez, Harris mentioned her track record and accomplishments.
“The difference can be found in our track records and our ability to get things done,” Harris said. “I don’t think it should be a badge of honor that you spent 20 years in Washington, when Washington has failed to act on so many important issues.”
Sanchez also talked about how she plans to make immigration reform her first legislative priority if elected senator. Sanchez again spoke about her background and how she feels it makes her more qualified than her opponent to make decisions about immigration.
“When you live in San Diego, you live the breakup of families every single day,” Sanchez said. “It affects us a lot more than in San Francisco, where she’s from.”
After her speech, students shared their thoughts about Sanchez and if they were intending to vote for her.
“From what I was hearing and as a Latina, I’ll vote for her. She is very straightforward and has a story for every answer,” said political science major Maline Cruz.
Other students seemed less enthusiastic about the prospects of having Sanchez as the next California senator.
Ricardo Beltran, a 20-year-old political science major, had a specific grievance with Sanchez’s speech.
“I didn’t agree with her. For growing up in a poor community, she didn’t say a thing about the gentrification in Santa Ana,” Beltran said.
Harris, who spoke in a room only a couple buildings across from where Sanchez spoke, went into detail about congress’s inability to pass comprehensive gun control. Harris invoked images of the attack on Sandy Hook and congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford being shot at a constituent meeting in 2011.
After her speech, a member of the Young Democrats, 21-year-old Adam Labrie, spoke about how he agreed with Harris’s stance on gun control.
“I followed her re-election campaign as attorney general. I support her views on gun control and student issues.” Labrie said.
While both candidates spoke about the student debt crisis, Harris spoke in very specific terms as to her intention to provide debt relief for college students. Harris pledged, that if she were to be elected to the U.S Senate, she would be able to provide free community college and free college tuition to all households making $140 thousand or less.
With only a week left before the election, voters will have to make some important decisions and not only in the presidential election, but the senate race as well.
Click each candidate to hear their full speeches:
*This article has been updated from the previous version. Ryan Mancini contributed to the reporting in this article.