School choice, vaccine mandates and the Latino community: Highlights from the recall debate

Inside California Politics

(INSIDE CALIFORNIA POLITICS) — On Inside California Politics Recall Debate, John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Rep. Kevin Kiley answered questions about vaccine mandates, whether they would vote for Donald Trump, the border and the Latino community, which has become a focus of the special election.

California has made moves to mandate vaccines for some in the state, but all three candidates were in agreement saying mandates are not the solution. 

“I think everyone should be vaccinated,” Cox said. “I’m against vaccine mandates.” 

Cox said he believes if the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccines, more people would feel comfortable getting vaccinated.

Faulconer agreed with Cox saying he wants everybody to get vaccinated, but that California is not going to “mandate our way out of COVID-19.”

Kiley pointed to minority rights and that California used to allow exemptions. 

“I would have gotten the vaccine to the majority who wants it, as quickly as possible, respecting the minority of rights of those who do not,” Kiley said. 

When it comes to mask mandates from the state, they were asked if they would allow schools to instead mandate masks. 

“I would not be actively denying them that opportunity,” Kiley said. 

Kiley added that he would end the state of emergency, which may end the possibility of mandates. 

Cox said he would “favor local authority on this as much as possible.”

“Certainly favor parents having parental choice,” Cox said. 

Faulconer, like Cox, said he would also allow local school districts to do so — with the “consultation of parents.” All three candidates pointed to school choice and that parents should have more power when asked about the mandates. 

“This wouldn’t be much of an issue if California embraced school choice,” Kiley said. 

“When you have a one-size-fits-all policy in a state as big and diverse as California, you’re taking away the ability to actually adapt,” Faulconer said. 

For businesses asking for proof of vaccinations and requiring masks, Cox, appealing to his background in business, said they should have the right to do that but that he would advise against it. 

“I would lead the charge on advising them against doing that,” Cox said. 

Faulconer also agreed businesses should have the “opportunity to do what they think is best.”

“We have to save lives and we also have to save livelihoods,” Faulconer said. 

Kiley said he is against a verification system. 

The three recall candidates were asked whether they would vote for former President Donald Trump if he became the Republican nominee in 2024. 

“I stay out of national politics,” Kiley said. 

He added that he would, however, want to work with both sides. 

Faulconer said he would make the decision when the time comes. Cox was the only candidate to provide a clear answer. 

“Yeah, I would vote for President Trump over Joe Biden any day of the week,” Cox said. 

The issue of a border wall came up after recent comments from recall candidate Caitlyn Jenner. All candidates pointed to the federal government. 

“I certainly believe a border wall is needed. I would certainly want the federal government to be taking the lead on that,” Cox said. 

“Clearly a federal responsibility,” Faulconer said. 

Kiley said he would do whatever he could “within the restraints of state power.” But he pointed to the rule of law as an issue. 

“It’s the rule of law itself that has sort of been the biggest casualty of the sort of change in policy at the border,” Kiley said.

A main focus of the recall has become the Latino community. A recent poll showed support for Governor Gavin Newsom’s campaign from the Latino community has fallen. The candidates were asked what they would do for the community.

“We have to get our schools open,” Faulconer said. “Too many Latino parents were faced with that horrible decision …  ‘to go to work or am I gonna be at home to watch my kids.’”

Faulconer again mentioned school choice. 

“We need more parental choice,” he said. “When we do that, you’re gonna lift up all kids from all backgrounds.” 

Cox echoed the same sentiment.

“I started at the bottom and I got a good education. And then, I got the opportunity to start my own business. That’s what the Latino families need,” Cox said. “School choice is absolutely what I”m going to argue for … Education is absolutely key.” 

“The lack of educational opportunity is absolutely the most important issue,” Kiley said. 

He added that, if the recall is successful, it could open the way to school choice. 

The recall election is less than a month away. To see key days leading up to election day, click or tap here

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