By Eric Heinz, San Clemente Times 

The election for the 116th United States Congress has shaped up to be a monumental contest. The atmosphere of challenging new ideas, innovative solutions to the nation’s problems and political ideologies are culminating across the United States.
Many high-profile representatives will not seek reelection in their districts, one of whom is the 49th’s own Darrell Issa, a Republican based in Vista. Issa said in a press release earlier this year that he would not defend the seat that represents San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano, which he’s held since 2001.

That opened the door to many local hopefuls who want to bring change in their own ways to the House—an astonishing 16 candidates have thrown their hat into the ring—but only two will be selected in the primary election for a runoff in the general election on Nov. 6. Polls for the primary election are open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. on June 5 for the primary election. Visit www.ocvote.com to find out more information and where to vote. Registration to vote for the primary election has passed, but people can still register in person using the conditional voter registration process.

Some of the key issues in the debates have surrounded current and ongoing issues, such as gun-control laws, immigration and legal status conflicts, foreign policy and environmental debates.

To simplify the process, we’ve selected four of the top policies the candidates are championing through their forums as well as candidate statements from their websites.

Some of the issues omitted include the proposed toll roads through San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano communities, as it is a local issue that would likely be decided by officials within Orange County and Southern California.

Sources of information were taken from candidate forums, statements of candidacy and candidate websites. 
Candidates have been listed in ballot order

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Robert Pendleton, No Party Preference/K-9 Party-affiliated
-Wants to create legislation to protect personal data and require companies to ask permission to use it through transactions
-Supports increasing minimum age to 21 to purchase guns, federal background checks
-Advocates immigration policies based on work and skill merits
-Wants to place term limits on Congress

Sara Jacobs, Democrat
-An advocate for women’s rights in health care, employment opportunities and advocates against harassment and abuse
-Is in favor of a universal health care model, similar to models in Europe and other countries
-Wants to stop gun violence by introducing federal background checks on people who attempt to purchase firearms
-Advocates funding Housing and Urban Development programs to address issues of growing population

Mike Levin, Democrat
-Wants to explore clean energy and give incentives to companies for converting to alternative and renewable fuels; opposes off-shore drilling proposals for 2024 in California and other coastal-state waters
-Advocates for strengthening the Affordable Care Act and creating a more uniform health care system
-Opposes deportation policies set forth by the Trump administration
-Advocates for more funding in education, specifically for science, technology, engineering and math

Paul G. Kerr, Democrat
-Aims to create easier access to better education
-Advocates for strengthening care for military veterans, wants to curtail mental health problems they face
-Is an advocate for strengthening the middle class, advocates for an accessible health care system for low-income families
-Is self-described as “100 percent pro-choice” on abortion rights

Kristin Gaspar, Republican
-Opposes various taxes and new taxes, self-described “tax fighter,” is an advocate for reforming federal tax code
-Opposes California’s “Sanctuary State” law, wants to strengthen Southern California’s border
-Wants to increase funding for regional sciences and education to make U.S. workforce more competitive in future markets
-Wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and allow for practitioners to work across state lines

Doug Applegate, Democrat
-Has vowed to work with federal legislators to remove spent nuclear waste from San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
-Wants to bring more power back to Congress to approve U.S. military engaging in combat missions and wars
-Is in favor of having 100 percent renewable energy in the U.S. in the next 10 years
-Advocates for a single-payer health care system

Joshua Schoonover, Republican
-Vows to help keep the ocean and environment clean by providing incentives to businesses to use sustainable materials and waste removal practices 
-Wants to decrease the cost of health care 
-Advocates to fix illegal immigration problems
-Wants to remove cannabis from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s schedule of illegal drugs
Mike Schmitt, Republican
-Advocates for health care reform to repeal the Affordable Care Act, return control to patients and doctors
-Opposes offshore drilling by 2024 off U.S. coasts

-Supports gun rights and is a “strong” proponent of the Second Amendment

-Advocates immigration policies to accept based on merit and skill sets

Danielle St. John, Green
-Is in favor of bringing harmonizing discussions to Congress in an effort to make collaborative legislation
-Wants to drive a “cooperative economy” that is accountable for all members, eliminating any kind of greed in the marketplace
-Advocates for a complete reform of the U.S. education system, increasing teachers’ salaries and better physical health and creative curriculum
-Advocates for gun laws that allow responsible ownership

Rocky J. Chávez, Republican
-Wants to scale back federal regulations and intervention into business to create an easier market on small businesses and industry
-Advocates creating programs to crack down on human trafficking and other violent felony-level crimes
-Has stayed neutral on federal and state gun-reform policies
-Favors creating a stronger national defense

Diane L. Harkey, Republican
-Wants to make changes to the federal tax code
-Advocates for strengthening California’s resources of water, power and transportation
-Is in favor of reducing the national deficit by cutting federal spending
-Supports stronger national defense

Joshua L. Hancock, Libertarian
-Seeks to address the growing homeless populations in California and U.S.
-Supports increasing funding for U.S. border security
-Wants to dramatically cut federal spending to decrease the national debt
-Supports responsible gun ownership, would not ban assault rifles

Brian Maryott, Republican
-Wants more national security measures in place; would vote to authorize more authority to the president to engage in foreign conflicts, such as with North Korea
-Does not support off-shore oil drilling, advocates for environmental protection, but wants a balance of responsibility 
Favors repealing the Affordable Care Act 
-Opposes California’s “Sanctuary State” laws

Jordan P. Mills, Peace and Freedom
-Opposes the Trump administration’s proposed wall along the Mexican border as well as deportations
-Is in favor of outlawing high-caliber rifles for public purchase; opposes all war
-Supports pro-choice policies for women
-Wants to strengthen Social Security and social services

David Medway, Republican
-Aims to lower the national debt
-Favors affordable health care across the spectrum
-Is a pro-choice candidate and is pro women’s rights to access health care services
-Wants to find “innovative” solutions to stop gun violence

Craig A. Nordal, Republican
-Supports the Trump administration’s plan to increase offshore oil drilling by 2024 in an effort to boost U.S. trade status
-Advocates for a more Christian-based Legislature, religious freedom and liberty
-Is in favor of overturning Roe V. Wade
-Supports building and completing a wall along the Mexican border

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