Election 2022: Veteran Congressman Scott Peters faces challengers in newly drawn 50th District
The 50th Congressional District primary race features longtime Democratic Rep. Scott Peters, one other Democrat, two Republicans and one candidate with no party preference. The primary election is Tuesday, June 7. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election Nov. 8.
This is a newly drawn district created out of the redistricting process following the 2020 U.S. Census. The 50th District previously was represented by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, covered the north inland and east San Diego County areas and had more registered Republican voters than Democrats. Issa is running in the newly drawn 48th District.
The new 50th Congressional District covers a portion of the north inland county and coastal San Diego, including Ocean Beach, Point Loma and many other communities Peters represented when he was in the former 52nd District. With redistricting, the new 50th has more registered Democratic voters than Republican.
The candidates are:
- David Chiddick, 38, of Escondido, a Republican small-business owner with no previous experience in elective politics
- Corey Gustafson, 33, of Escondido, a Republican business owner and educator with no prior experience in elective politics
- Peters, 63, of La Jolla, a Democrat who has been a congressional representative since 2013. He previously served on the San Diego Port District Commission and before that on the San Diego City Council from 2000 to 2008.
- Adam Schindler, 50, a San Diego resident who is registered as No Party Preference. He is a scientist with no previous experience in elective politics.
- Kylie Taitano, 30, a Democrat who lives in San Diego and is a software engineer and chief executive and co-founder of Code With Her, a San Diego-based nonprofit dedicated to closing the gender and diversity gap in technology. She is on the San Diego Democratic Party Central Committee and is an executive board member and Assembly district delegate to the California Democratic Party.
Each candidate was emailed three questions and asked to provide written responses. Some of the responses have been edited for length.
There are five candidates on the June 7 ballot in the campaign for the 50th Congressional District that represents coastal and north inland San Diego County.
Q: Health and economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt in the 50th District and across the nation. As the coronavirus moves closer to becoming endemic, what should Congress and the federal government do to help Americans adapt to this “new normal”?
Chiddick: The “new normal” cannot be “How do we live with this virus?” but must be how do we as leaders help the people of our great country not live in fear their whole lives? I desire to lead the way in two areas. One, helping small businesses recover so we can get back to work and stray away from offering incentives disguised as financial aid for people who choose not to work. Second, implementing easy, tangible and affordable ways within our health care system for people to be prescribed alternative options like diet and lifestyle changes rather than a pharmaceutical drug, which almost always is just putting a Band-Aid on a deeper issue.
Gustafson: When the next pandemic comes, we have to make sure we prioritize our children’s well-being and mental health. America can improve its handling of crises like the COVID pandemic by acknowledging that its federal system of government was neither designed nor intended to dominate state and local government in times of emergency. We must embrace a decentralized approach that balances the resources of the federal government with the expertise of the private sector and the on-the-ground knowledge of local government.
Peters: The American Rescue Plan delivered crucial funding for health care, businesses, families and schools so that we could safely navigate through the tail end of this pandemic. Now we must combat the lingering economic and health impacts of COVID-19. I created and currently lead the New Democrats’ Inflation Working Group. Our highest priority is passing the America Competes Act to invest in good-paying jobs, domestic manufacturing, research and innovation, and lowering prices. We must also better prepare for new COVID-19 variants and future pandemics by ensuring greater supply-chain reliability for personal protective equipment, basic pharmaceuticals and accelerated development of tests, vaccines and treatments.
Schindler: With coronavirus likely to be in our population for a long time, an effective public health strategy should be put in place that balances disease prevention with social and economic activity. We should improve our data-gathering so that we understand the prevalence of disease in the population and use that knowledge to develop safety protocols. The U.S. has not had good leadership from the federal government during the pandemic, and our country has had the most COVID-19 deaths in the world. I became a biologist to improve people’s health, and one of my top priorities in Congress will be to advocate for a public health system that protects our population.
Taitano: If living with COVID-19 is truly going to be our “new normal,” then it needs to fall on Congress and the federal government to make ongoing fully funded COVID-19 relief and monitoring efforts part of its “new normal” as well. In addition to comprehensive ongoing testing and vaccination programs, our government should be using every available tool to monitor the rise of new variants and track case rates so we can stay ahead of this virus. Moving forward, we also need to do more to provide assistance to those suffering from “long COVID”-related disability and help people get back on their feet after more than two years of economic and social disruption.
Q: With home prices soaring, housing is out of reach for many young people and young families. Homelessness is on the rise in San Diego and other cities. What would you do in Congress to assist local governments grappling with these issues? Is there a role for the federal government there?
Chiddick: Inflation and homelessness are all due to the failure in leadership from both a federal level and local here in San Diego. To be honest, eradicating homelessness is going to be a process. Our homelessness problem isn’t necessarily due to increasing home costs. It first starts with getting people to believe they don’t need to remain a product of their circumstances. Federal funding for people who aren’t working has to stop. With inflation on the horizon, it just doesn’t make sense. When I win, my goal is to implement ways to bolster our mental health and addiction rehabilitation facilities and make sure we have the right leadership in these areas.
Gustafson: To reduce the cost of housing, we must cut red tape and reduce the high cost of housing imposed by burdensome layers of government. For the homeless, we must better work with local nonprofits who know how to best deliver the help and services needed by our community’s most vulnerable. And we must always support veterans by improving the Department of Veterans Affairs and making sure that those who served our country in uniform receive the best care and support services possible.
Peters: In Congress, I introduced the Build More Housing Near Transit Act, which would leverage federal transportation funding to encourage local governments to build more homes near transit. I have also been an advocate for changing state law, specifically calling for infill housing to be shielded from lawsuits brought under the California Environmental Quality Act. I believe we must also update zoning laws to make it easier for local governments and developers to build more housing, and I have supported the efforts of UC San Diego to build more on-campus housing.
Schindler: Solving the housing crisis so there is adequate housing to support our population is a large-scale project that requires an investment from the federal government. Congress has not taken steps to help cities increase housing supply, and the result is soaring prices and increased homelessness. As someone in the middle class who understands the pressure that high housing prices place on families, I will advocate for Congress to allocate money to San Diego and other cities to develop enough housing to allow families to live in San Diego and provide shelter for the homeless.
Taitano: Across the nation, the single biggest driver of soaring housing prices is the lack of affordable housing units, and the response at all levels of government should reflect that we are presently in a supply-side housing crisis. While local governments will ultimately have to take the lead in approving new construction, this is a time for bold action, and the federal government should be doing much more to support those efforts, beginning with increased tax incentives and subsidies, and I will be a strong advocate for those policies in Congress.
Q: Title 42 authority is set to expire May 23, removing pandemic-related asylum restrictions. Many expect a large number of refugees at the border, certainly at the Tijuana crossing. How should the U.S. government handle this expected increase and do you support terminating the Title 42 restrictions?
Chiddick: Title 42 was a temporary solution to a bigger problem. The bigger problem is leaders who neglect the safety of Americans in order to protect others. For the southern border specifically, the Biden administration has opened our borders and people came in by the masses. So yes, we will now have a bottleneck at the border come May 23. ... For the safety of our people and our country, we need to seal up the southern border and make the process of coming into America easy for those who qualify.
Gustafson: The Biden administration has completely failed to secure our borders. Title 42 is a tool our brave border agents need to do their job. We must provide the Border Patrol with the resources and tools necessary to secure our border. We cannot fix America’s broken immigration system unless we know who enters and who leaves our country. Securing our border is a national security issue.
Peters: The Department of Homeland Security is actively developing a more efficient process for the intake of asylum seekers at the southern border, which includes additional personnel and enhanced processing starting in the country of origin. Title 42 will not be in place indefinitely — it’s a public health order meant to guard against COVID-19 transmission, not an immigration policy. However, we must be prepared for the consequences of lifting Title 42. A comprehensive plan to meet the needs of the migrants arriving at our border is critical.
Schindler: I support terminating Title 42, which removed the right to seek asylum in the U.S. on the grounds of COVID-19. As we lift pandemic restrictions, Title 42 should also be lifted and replaced with an asylum policy that aligns with our values as a country. A surge is expected to happen at the border, and to handle it, I support additional financing of CBP [Customs and Border Protection] to increase staff, along with improved technology and pre-clearance to expedite commercial traffic at the border.
Taitano: I do support terminating Title 42 restrictions. America has historically been a haven for those seeking refuge around the world, and our nation has been stronger for it. We must act swiftly and with compassion to take in as many people as we can and ensure that they have the help they need to integrate into our society.