Endorsement: Christy Smith is ready for Congress, and to help lead the nation through this pandemic

2020-04-17 | Los Angeles Times

April 17--Local elections may be the last thing on anyone's mind at the moment. Picking candidates on a ballot is far down on the list of concerns when the economy is in free fall and even a short trip to the grocery store is potentially dangerous.

But for people in the Antelope, Simi and Santa Clarita valleys, voting in the May 12 special election is a pandemic response in its own right. They will decide which of two candidates will serve out the remainder of the term of former Rep. Katie Hill, a Democrat who abruptly resigned from the 25th Congressional District seat last fall. (Voters will be asked to choose between the same two candidates again in November, when the full two-year term that begins in January is up for grabs.)

The winner of the race will be thrust immediately into one of the most important challenges that has faced Congress in modern history: helping guide the nation through an economic and health crisis that's still unfolding.

There's no question which candidate is better prepared to step into the debate and help shape smart policy. That's state Assemblywoman Christy Smith, a quietly accomplished and centrist Democrat whose background includes stints as a U.S. Department of Education policy analyst and as a longtime member of the Newhall School District board. Her experience guiding a school district through the last economic downturn and now the state through its pandemic response makes her uniquely qualified for precisely this job at precisely this moment.

Smith's opponent, by comparison, is simply not a good fit for Congress at any moment. We can see why Republicans might be attracted to Mike Garcia. The former Navy pilot and Raytheon executive has an unusual resume and a nice backstory as the son of a Mexican immigrant. But having a good origin story doesn't translate into legislative competence.

And Garcia offers no record to examine for clues. He has never been elected or appointed to office, and his platform consists of vague statements of values. We don't know what his real policy goals are. But the fact that he's Trump loyalist who describes himself as more conservative than most Republicans should give every voter in this district pause. Congress needs unity right now, not more partisan extremism.

So please vote in this important race and cast a ballot for the only qualified candidate. It shouldn't even be difficult. Because of the pandemic, mail ballots have been sent out this week to all registered voters. Those ballots can be filled out and mailed back or dropped off at one of nine vote centers (for voters in Los Angeles County), which will also allow in-person voting at a safe distance from others.