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Garamendi visits Colusa High
Colusa High School students discussed hot political topics including the Dream Act, the Affordable Care Act, the ethics of bombing Syria and the need for cross-aisle compromise with Congressman John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, when he visited the school this week.
Garamendi visited Colusa County on Monday, meeting with citizens and touring businesses. He was elected to represent the 3rd Congressional District in 2012. Prior to redistricting in 2011, Colusa County was not a part of the district.
Colusa High advanced placement government class and honors U.S. history class, with teacher Jennifer Corriea, had the opportunity ask Garamendi questions, to which he often engaged the students in a back and forth dialogue.
"It is a rare thing. It was such a privilege for him to speak to our class," said student Taylor Davies.
One Colusa High School student asked Garamendi about the Dream Act, which would allow certain immigrants who came to the United States as minors and graduate high school a shot at permanent residence.
"I think it's absolutely essential. I suspect there are a few dreamers in this room. Good for you for wanting a good education and to work in this country," Garamendi said.
He also said comprehensive immigration reform is also necessary.
Another student asked, "Do Dreamers present competition for slots in college?"
"Sure," Garamendi responded. "But who are the Dreamers? They are people in this community. They are competitors."
Student Ryan Abele asked Garamendi if compromise across the two parties at a federal level was possible.
"Yes. We're trying to figure out debt, the ag bill, transportation and right now, it's the funding of federal government. It's got to pass," Garamendi said. "We're going to fight it out next week and we may see a government shutdown. There has to be a compromise. I don't know what it's going to look like."
He told the students that the distance between the two parties has widened in the past 15 years.
Later, when someone asked him what it was like to be a Democrat representing a portion of a district that is heavily Republican, Garamendi said: "This is a swing district. ... This is Republican turf, but I'm going to try to get votes out of this community."
He said there are a lot of issues that are bipartisan: "Agriculture is neither a Republican or Democratic issue."
"I'm a representative; that's my job, to represent the community," Garamendi said.
Before addressing the students, during a luncheon at Rocco's Bar & Grill, financial adviser Vance Boyes asked Garamendi, "Where do you think we've been and where do you think we're going as a state?"
Garamendi said "we're better than we were, but we're not where we need to be."
He said the state needs to continue focusing on what it is good at: Education, research, manufacturing and infrastructure.
During his tour of Colusa, Garamendi started his day with Williams leaders, the forest supervisor for Mendocino National Forest and Colusa Head Start.
He then met with the Colusa County Farm Bureau to discuss his opposition to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, before taking a tour of Premier Mushroom plant. He had lunch with farmers and Colusa leaders at Rocco's Bar & Grill, before heading to the high school. He then took a tour of Ampla Health Community and Dental Center and ended his day by meeting with tribal officials at the Colusa Casino Resort with a focus on ways to advance economic development for Native Americans.