Signs are up on fences and out on lawns, the symbols of election season, decorating the Santa Clarita Valley landscape.
With the 2022 midterm elections scheduled to be held Tuesday, Nov. 8, less than 40 days away, the battle for control of the federal government might hinge on the race for the newly redistricted 27th congressional seat.
As the incumbent U.S. Congressman for the 25th District, Mike Garcia (R) faces off against former California State Assemblywoman for the 38th District Christy Smith (D).
Two years ago, their congressional race was decided by just 333 votes – a count Smith hopes to turn in her favor this time around.
“The district’s shape has changed with redistricting, so we know that the vote result this time is likely to be very different from it was in the last cycle,” said Smith.
As the cycle moves closer to Election Day, both candidates attempt to get their message out to voters through dueling town hall meetings.
Town halls allow officials to hear the community’s views on public issues and express opinions directly to their repressive.
Garcia held his town hall at the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center, where he discussed his legislative success in front of an estimated 200 people.
The former Navy fighter pilot and Iraq War veteran described his efforts to help veterans and those currently serving by pushing to increase the pay of enlisted active-duty military personnel and co-sponsoring the Military Spouse License Reciprocity Act, which allows spouses of service members to use professional licenses outside of the jurisdictions where they were issued.
Garcia also went into detail about how his office helped get 115 American and Afghan partners out of Afghanistan after the country fell to the Taliban.
Not just focusing on national issues, Garcia also took time to discuss his effort to combat the rising fentanyl crisis that is affecting the Santa Clarita Valley by focusing on supporting border security.
“I think the congressman stated some really good ideas he has for strengthening our Border Patrol and aiding local government,” said Mary McAdams, a former COC student and event attendee.
“The help with enforcement will be a big change for the fentanyl use we see.”
Smith held her town hall just a bit south of the campus at Wiley Canyon elementary school, where she spoke to an auditorium filled with supporters.
Addressing the crowd, Smith, a former governing board member of the Newhall School District and College of the Canyons graduate, laid out her legislative agenda if elected. Including codifying Roe v Wade, working with instead of against the Biden administration, protecting voting rights, and passing common sense gun regulations.
“I voted for her in the past and plan to in the future as she is a great gun sense candidate,” said Kat, a Smith supporter who declined to provide her last name.
“Unfortunately, our current congressman helped gut the Violence Against Women act before it passed…which angers me, and I know it angers her.”
After her speech, Smith sat down and answered questions from the audience, submitted anonymously on cue cards, discussing topics such as climate change, crime prevention and the importance of protecting women’s health.
“I would like to ensure that we create a new caucus focused on women’s advocacy of reproductive freedom and never let these issues get misused again,” said Smith.
Even with outreach efforts and enthusiastic turnouts, candidates should expect a very tight race in a district that is still up for grabs, according to College of the Canyons political science professor Karl Striepe.
He considers the 27th District a “battleground district,” which means it has an even number of registered Democrats and Republicans, making it politically up for grabs.
Striepe sees two issues that could decide the election: inflation, which is the worst it has been in 40 years, which could help Mike Garcia. And second is the recent placing on the ballot of Proposition 1 to enshrine the right to abortion into the California state constitution. Which he believes is designed to drive up turnout among Democrats, and aid Smith in her bid for the Congressional seat.
Those who have not yet registered to vote can still sign up online or by filling out a registration form and mailing it to your local election office.