by Don Kazak
Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, was elected to Congress four years ago in the election in which Bill Clinton swept into the White House and Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer won U.S. Senate seats. Two years ago, Eshoo persevered in a Republican year during an election when some of her staunchest Democratic supporters were angry at her over her earlier NAFTA vote. Despite those factors, Republican Ben Brink lagged badly behind Eshoo, losing 61 percent to 37 percent.
Brink is back for another run at Eshoo and hopes to make a better showing. To that end, he has worked harder in shoring up local Republican support and going after party donors harder.
One thing both Brink and Eshoo wholeheartedly agree on is the importance of Silicon Valley to the rest of the country, and the need to keep the high-tech industry healthy.
"The future of the country is being created in places like Silicon Valley, not in places like Washington," Brink said.
Other candidates: Besides Eshoo and Brink, three other candidates are on the ballot in the 14th District.
Joseph W. Dehn III is a Libertarian Party candidate, Robert Wells is a candidate from the Natural Law Party, and Timothy Thompson is a Peace and Freedom Party candidate.
Dehn and Wells were at a candidates' forum in Palo Alto last week with Eshoo and Brink, explaining the political philosophies of their parties to about 100 people at the Greenmeadow Community Center.
"The problem the Libertarian party was formed to address has gotten worse," Dehn said. "The government is expanding. Americans want less government than we have now."
"The American electorate is completely turned off by the Republicans and Democrats," Wells said. "The Natural Law Party wants to provide a real alternative." He said it is the fastest growing third party in the country.
Residence: Palo Alto
Occupation: Business executive
Background: Brink is the chief operating officer for a Silicon Valley chip manufacturer. He has strong business views and a belief in reducing government regulations.
Where he stands: "I'm running against her voting record," Brink said. He notes that Eshoo voted against this year's controversial Welfare Reform Act, which he supports, that he supports a balanced budget amendment and she doesn't, and that he is for stronger capital gains tax reforms than she is.
"I'm very much a federalist," he said, in terms of moving power away from Washington and giving more to local governments. "We need to move responsibility out of Washington," he said.
He also notes that there has been a lot of recent finger pointing among Republicans and Democrats over the failures to reform the Social Security system and Medicare. "I fault the Democrats," Brink said. "The proper debate was never held."
Brink said he supports Proposition 209 even though he has seen affirmative action work in the military, where there is proper training for recruits. Brink serves as the commander of a U.S. Navy reserve combat unit. "I will vote for it, but I won't campaign for it," Brink said of 209.
Occupation: Member of Congress
Background: Eshoo, before being elected to Congress in 1992, served for 12 years on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.
In Congress, Eshoo is a member of the House Commerce Committee and pays attention to issues that effect Silicon Valley. She was a co-sponsor of the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1995. She also notes she is one of only 12 members of the current Congress with a 100 percent voting record on environmental issues, as compiled by the League of Conservation Voters.
Where she stands: Eshoo opposes Proposition 209. "Affirmative action is part of a very strong struggle," Eshoo said. "Proposition 209 says that everything is OK. I think it is a step backward for California."
Eshoo has worked for environmental protections and health reforms while in Congress, and thinks the next Congress will have to solve the problems of Medicare and Social Security, most likely through a commission. "If someone thinks they're going to get hammered," Eshoo said of Medicare, "they'll stay away from it."
Eshoo also will support a move to balance the budget, which remains a priority for both parties.
The controversial welfare reform bill will also be revisited, Eshoo thinks. "I'll work to reform the bill," she said. "I voted against it" in the form that it was passed.
Eshoo thinks that one of the results of the 1996 Congressional elections will be that, no matter which party controls the House, it will be a kinder, gentler House. "If the Republicans win, they will come back chastened," Eshoo said. "I think they misread the 1994 election. I don't think they will be such right-wing, hard-line ideologues."
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