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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Bera, Jones spar for 7th District U.S. congressional seat; Candidates agree on student debt tax relief

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ami Bera (L) and Republican, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones in a debate for the highly competitive 7th Congressional District seat at the KVIE television studios in Sacramento, Calif. on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. Pool photos by Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee
Democratic U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, left, and Republican Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones in a debate for the highly competitive 7th Congressional District seat at the KVIE television studios in Sacramento, Calif. on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016.
Pool photos by Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee

In their only debate, incumbent Congressman Ami Bera and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones came face-to-face in their contest for the 7th District seat, pouncing on each other’s character and answering key issues during a live broadcast of their showdown Oct. 18 at the KVIE-TV studio.

Both candidates were put on the defensive when panelists asked about misconduct and recent scandals.

Republican candidate Jones denied  allegations of the 26-year-old female deputy who filed a lawsuit against him for unwanted sexual advances. Jones called the allegations “absolutely untrue, unequivocally false.”

“She is lying,” Jones said.

Bera rebutted the deposition was “pretty disturbing,” enough that it resulted in taxpayers “on the hook for $10 million.”

“This 26-year-old testified under oath and said you sexually harassed her over 30 times. A jury didn’t believe you,” Bera said. “I don’t believe you.”

Bera, who holds the U.S. representative 7th District seat, was next to go on the defensive when questioned about his father, who was sentenced and sentenced to a year in prison for election fraud in connection with Bera’s 2012 campaign.

“He’s not a criminal but he broke the law,” answered Bera, a Democrat.

Bera denied any knowledge about what his father was doing and emphasized that he himself was cleared by the FBI of any involvement.

Jones responded by saying he did not believe the congressman was ignorant of his father’s actions, implying Bera knew about the illegal activities when they happened.

“To believe that he didn’t know about it you would have to believe one of two things: That the 90 friends and family who all knew what was going on engaged in a conspiracy for four years, or alternatively, that [he] didn’t have any substantive conversations with any of those 90 friends and family,” Jones said.

As both candidates were forced to answer uncomfortable questions, the candidates focused on ‘character’ and ‘pattern of behavior’ as measures for being elected in office.

When it was time for candidates to ask each other a question, Jones asked Bera if he would be proud if he won or lost the election. Bera replied his character and track record are important factors in holding one of the highest elected offices.

Jones highlighted his career record as Sacramento County sheriff , but Bera queried Jones on his early support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Bera said Jones only recently renounced his support when Trump’s  poll numbers tanked.

“When he was making fun of disabled people, that wasn’t enough? When he was making comment after comment disparaging women, that wasn’t enough?” Bera asked.

Jones replied he had parted ways with Trump.

“It didn’t take me one and a half years to figure out Trump’s character. This guy doesn’t have the character to be president,” Bera said.

Here are the candidates stances on some of the issues during the debate:

Medical marijuana:

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Bera was vague on his stance on Proposition 64, the California ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana, saying he has some public health concerns regarding addiction, but said he would honor voters and their choice.

“What I do worry about is the criminalization of folks who have filled our jails because of possession of marijuana,” Bera said.


The Republican candidate does not support California state Proposition 64. He stated potency of marijuana today is higher than it was decades ago.

“I think that would be a horrible thing, not just for this generation but for many future generations. If it were to pass, I would enforce the law,” Jones said.



Bera pointed out a comprehensive immigration bill as the best way to address the issue.

“It also then addresses a way to get the best and brightest to come here, get their education, build their companies here,” Bera said.


The sheriff said there are two ways to address immigration: a border and pathway to legal status with a background check.

“The folks that are here, the undocumented population that’s here, I would advocate as I’ve always advocated, for a pathway to legal status for each and every one of them if they can pass a background check,” Jones said.

Student debt:


Tax deductible payments were something Bera agreed with his opponent on. In addition, he proposed new ways of teaching, such as online systems through established institutions and free community college.


Jones said cutting overhead cost is a route to end student debt, citing excessive spending in administrative costs. He used University of California President Janet Napolitano as an example. He stated loan payments should be tax deductible as a way to ease the burden.

Jones responded saying free college doesn’t create a vacuum.

“Money has to come from somewhere,” Jones said.

The debate took place at KVIE-TV studio before a studio audience. It also aired live on Capital Public Radio. The Sacramento Bee, Folsom Lake College and the Los Rios Community College District also sponsored the event.

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