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Dem House candidates call for public investments

Two Democrats vying for the chance to contend with Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, for his 4th District U.S. House seat introduced their campaigns Thursday to the Calaveras County party faithful.

Will Moore, a retired construction worker from Valley Springs, and Jack Uppal, a retired technical executive from Lincoln, spoke and took questions from about three dozen in attendance at the Calaveras County Democratic Central Committee Winter Social at the Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial Hall.

    Attendees were supportive of public investment in infrastructure, particularly high speed rail, in their comments and questions, and the candidates kept coming back to the topic time and again as well.
    Moore said government is the only entity interested in such projects that bring long-term economic benefit as opposed to short-term profits.
    “The powerhouses I built are still generating electricity. Truckers are still using the highways I helped to construct,” he said, offering an example. “Those are investments I say that have legs and pay off over time.”
    Specific to high-speed rail, Moore said there had been opposition to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system when he was surveying its eventual route in 1964 just as there is to today’s plan to link California’s largest population centers on a track that traverses the Central Valley.
    “That system has continued to expand and so will high-speed rail,” Moore said.
    Uppal said he can support high-speed rail or another investment of transportation funds with a similar economic impact, perhaps a study on how to get automobiles to achieve 100 miles-per-gallon fuel efficiencies.
    He twice referred to the U.S. space program as government spending that spun off entire industries and paid off in the long run.
    The two men come from very different backgrounds.
    Moore, 73, grew up in the New Deal era on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. His family farmed and harvested timber on land they bought in part with money earned from public works projects, and there he learned the trade skills he used throughout his career.
    Uppal, 57, moved to Minnesota from his native India at age 7. His family lived mostly on his father’s small graduate school stipend. He credits his public school secondary and undergraduate education in Minnesota and New York for helping him to achieve the American dream.
    Both men took aim at Republicans in the House for supporting corporate interests.
    Uppal said tax cuts will not inspire companies to create jobs.
    “You hire people because of demand for your product, and who is buying that product? It’s the middle class,” he said. “You don’t need to stimulate business. You need to stimulate the middle class who buy products to create jobs.”
    “These guys are trying to privatize our government,” Moore said. “They want to turn the whole thing over to crooks who are too big to jail.”
    He believes Social Security is under Republican attack because it is a successful example of big government.
    “They’re trying to break it because it is working too well,” Moore said. “They believe … by God, socialism can’t work or they’ll destroy it and that’s what they’re doing.”
    Moore called out McClintock as “an all-around road block” to Obama administration efforts to improve the economy and a Wall Street crony.
    He also sought to differentiate himself as a blue-collar alternative to McClintock or Uppal.
    “I’m not a politician. I’m a hard hat,” Moore said, donning a white construction helmet. “Jack Uppal is a decent and honorable man with good intentions. But he’s a corporate executive. He represents corporate principles and economic ideas. He doesn’t represent the workers.”
    Uppal, responding to a question from a public employee about government worker pensions, sought to assure the audience that he will represent working people.
    “What was promised (has) to be honored and I wouldn’t do anything to stop that,” Uppal said of benefits for current workers.
    He said the problem lies with upper-echelon government officials and practices like pension spiking.
    “Those need to be addressed because they give every other pension a bad name,” Uppal said.
    Whereas Moore targeted his appeal to working-class laborers, Uppal went more for stopping contraction of the middle class and shoring up diminishing access to higher education.
    “I’m running because I am tired of seeing people like my stepdaughter in Massachusetts working harder and falling further and further behind,” Uppal said.
    Near the end of the evening, the audience heard from another local Democrat who is considering adding his name to next year’s ballot.
    Arnold substitute teacher Mark Boyd, who has interned with Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said he may announce his candidacy for Assembly next month, especially if no other Democrat wants to oppose Republicans Rico Oller and Frank Bigelow.
    “I’m kind of waiting for the stars to all line up,” Boyd said. “If another Democrat stands up that I think can win, I’ll be right behind them. It’s not right to let the Republicans take the seat without a challenge.”

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