Congressman Mike Thompson, from the fifth district of California, visited Sonoma State last week to speak about many issues facing the community.
Mike Thompson’s congressional fifth district stretches across the North Bay and includes Sonoma State University. Thompson has served as one of the 435 members of the House of Representatives since 1999 and is a relatively centrist Democrat.
The forum was sponsored by the Emeritus and Retired Faculty and Staff Association (ERFSA), which is a group of retirees who maintain an interest of the well-being of the campus. ERFSA planned this event at Sonoma State to bring attention to the major election coming up in November. Over 200 students, faculty, and members of the community attended the event.
Professor David McCuan, a political science instructor at Sonoma State, interviewed Congressman Thompson on a wide-range of political issues facing our country. The discussion began with Thompson emphasizing the need for Democrats to win seats in this upcoming election. “The Democrats need to win 23 seats to take control of the house,” Thompson said. He went on saying that the Democratic party has recruited many quality candidates that could possibly win up to 55 seats.
Thompson spoke about the student loan crisis and how the average student graduates with $25,000 in student loan debt. Thompson, a member of the blue dog coalition -- a caucus that was formed for fiscal responsibility -- said that congress needs to discover new ways to keep college tuition costs down while increasing government grants. “I think how they are handling the student loan crisis is despicable. It affects our community and our economy,” Thompson said.
Professor McCuan asked Thompson about his view on the border wall. Thompson responded by saying that the border wall was a nonsense way for then candidate Trump to drum up people in his race. “It was political poppycock. Folks will tunnel under a wall, they will find a way to get around it, a wall is not going to keep people out,” said Thompson.
Members of the audience were given the opportunity to ask Thompson questions. A student in the audience raised the question regarding gun violence and the repeal of the second amendment. To fix this problem, Thompson said we should increase the number of background checks. The issue is that the national registry system is faulty, there needs to be a system that requires background checks on all purchases, whether it be online, at a gun show, or in a gun shop.
“I believe in the second amendment, as far as repealing the second amendment, well that’s just not going to happen,” said Thompson.
Another audience member asked Thompson about Democrats ability to focus on important issues facing the country and not only on the impeachment of Trump. Thompson answered by saying that there are Democrats solely focused on getting Trump impeached and there are Democrats working hard to combat the many issues our country is facing.
“There is a process in place where information is being gathered, if the information proves that there was wrong doing then that raises the question of impeachment,” Thompson said.
For over an hour and a half, Congressman Thompson covered a wide range of topics. The #metoo movement, DACA, sanctuary cities, as well as government shutdown were all discussed.
“Going into the event, I didn’t think any of it was going to be relevant to Sonoma State students, but after I sat down and listened I found that many of the issues that were discussed were directly related to issues going on within our country,” said Kane Kutler, a Junior business major student at Sonoma State.
The forum allowed many students and members of the community to voice their concerns and learn from Congressman Thompson about the issues that congress is tackling. At the end of the event, ERFSA representative, Rick Luttmann urged students to register to vote so that they will make an impact in the upcoming November 6 election.