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By Eric Heinz
Bill Brough, the Republican candidate for California’s 73rd Assembly District, served on the Dana Point City Council from 2010-2014. Prior to that, he served in the U.S. Army from 1986-1991, and operated a government affairs consulting firm from 2005-2014, according to his campaign page.
Brough’s challenger is Mesbah Islam, a write-in candidate. The San Clemente Times reached out to the Democratic candidate and did get in contact with him initially. However, after weeks of continuous emails and phone calls, Islam did not respond to set up an interview. Islam recently took down his campaign page on Facebook, and a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Orange County said they didn’t think Islam “was very serious about running anymore.”
We do know Islam is a resident of Mission Viejo, a young man and a Democrat. His write-in campaign earned him 278 votes, or about .4 percent of Brough’s 74,568 votes.
But elections wait for nobody, and in the interest of fairness to Brough, who made time to visit with SC Times, we’ve assembled his answers to a variety of questions here. If Islam responds, we’ll run his answers online.
San Clemente Times asked Brough if he would do anything to alter Prop 47, which reduced punishments of certain crimes to citations in lieu of jail time.
“We had a series of fixes come through because we found out that things like the date-rape drug, stealing firearms or less than $950 were things that were missed in the proposition,” Brough said. “I think there were some unintended consequences that were missed when Prop 47 was passed.
We had a series of bills to try to correct those, and as things come up… we’ll certainly look at legislation to fix that.”
Brough also said Prop 57, which is on this year’s ballot and would release people convicted of mostly nonviolent crimes, is something he hopes does not pass. He also said he would have to contemplate raising the state’s prison budget.
SC Times asked about concerns Brough may have regarding the possibility of marijuana being legalized this year. Brough is the current vice chair of the Committee on Business and Professions.
“I don’t think it’s a good thing,” he said. “If a doctor thinks it will help someone, I have no problem with that. My big issue is if it’s legalized and gets into the hands of kids.”
Brough said, if the measure passes, he would like to tax both medicinal and recreational purposes as much as possible and to craft regulation around marijuana industry that would inhibit negative repercussions.
Sober Living Homes
SC Times asked Brough what people may expect regarding sober living home regulation in the near future.
“I was a little concerned at the last town hall where the lawyer said that the courts are looking at everything that we say and can base their decisions off that,” he said.
“We’ve got a big epidemic with prescription drug use,” Brough said, adding that he wants to approach sober living as a “consumer-protection issue.” He said, “I’m going to get with the insurance (companies) and see what it is they offer, and maybe there’s a way to steer people toward a licensed facility rather than an unlicensed.”
Brough also said it’s difficult to find space in South Orange County to establish a larger sober living facility.
SC Times asked Brough about what can be done to alleviate the increase in the homeless population.
“We have to have a community plan,” Brough said. “There’s actually money and programs out there, and the county is sitting on a bunch of mental health money, and I know they’re moving forward on that as a county problem. We just need to get that money out and the money needs to go to the homeless veterans and the support groups who are helping.”
At the end of the interview, SC Times asked Brough why he thinks his only opponent is a write-in and how his constituents view him now. He said because of his work on the hospital issues and Mello-Roos bills, he hasn’t had to “take (his) foot off the gas.”
Brough said he intends to be very active in the Legislature this year regarding the issues that face South Orange County and California. He also said he intends to continue studying the developments of desalination plants in the area.