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Republican candidates weigh in at local forum

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Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:09 am, Wed Mar 28, 2012.

Republican candidates for one congressional, one State Senate and three Assembly districts representing the Lodi-Galt area expressed their allegiance to less government, no tax increases, Christianity, a pro-life stance and the right to own guns during a candidates forum Tuesday night.

The forum, hosted by the California Republican Assembly at Harvest Bible Church in Morada, featured candidates from the newly formed 9th Congressional District, 5th Senate District and the 9th, 12th and 13th Assembly districts. Democratic candidates were not invited.

9th Congressional District

Ricky Gill of Lodi said he is running so that San Joaquin County finally gets a local representative after seven years. Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney has served San Joaquin County the past seven years, but Gill noted that he's lived in Pleasanton. McNerney is also running in the 9th District.

Gill pledged to streamline government, adopt a federal balanced budget amendment and either overturn the new health care plan or defund it.

John McDonald, who lives in the Mountain House area west of Tracy, said he offers more experience in the workplace than Gill. He touted his experience in international trade, where he says he's seen the competitive advantage that China and other countries have gained over the United States.

5th Senate District

Bill Berryhill has farmed for 30 years in the Clements and Stanislaus County areas. He says his top priorities in his three years in the Assembly have been water, regulatory reform and education.

Berryhill acknowledged that he made two exceptions to his no-new-taxes philosophy. One was to support sales tax on Internet purchases, and the other was a half-cent fee to cover gas station inspections.

San Joaquin County Supervisor Leroy Ornellas of Tracy said he would only support a fee if it was for a service that is absolutely needed. Ornellas also supports elimination of the California Air Resources Board because of what he considers excessive regulations.

9th Assembly District

(Most of the Lodi-Galt area)

Tony Amador, an 18-year Elk Grove resident who moved to Lodi three years ago, said that agency bureaucrats should have less power, people are more important than fish when governing waterways and that environmentalists should have less authority.

Amador and Ed Nemeth of Elk Grove said one of their major reasons for running is to defeat Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento.

Nemeth, who has a daughter who is severely brain impaired, said he is running because of current restrictions in health care. He advocates tax decreases, a simpler tax code and eliminating the California Air Resources Board.

Sophia Gonzales Scherman has lived in Elk Grove for more than 40 years. She has served on the Elk Grove City Council since the city incorporated in 2000 and served on the Elk Grove Community Services District (now Cosumnes) before that. She also served two terms as a state parks commissioner under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Scherman lists her priorities as auditing every state agency to identify and eliminate fraud or waste, reduce regulations on businesses, hold school teachers and administrators accountable, reform public pensions to control costs and make the legislature operate under the same rules they impose on residents and businesses.

13th Assembly District

(Includes rural areas west of Davis Road, Flag City, Terminous, Thornton, Morada)

Stockton resident Dolores Cooper grew up in Acampo and attended Lodi High School. She advocates eliminating Planned Parenthood and the California Air Resources Board and not instituting any tax or fee increases.

Candidate J. Kafri, also from Stockton, owns farmland southeast of Stockton and once worked on the State Water Project. He says that farmers are losing their jobs because of state regulations and that environmental laws should be relaxed so that California can compete with other states for businesses.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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