The heated battle for the 30th Congressional District seat moved to the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association meeting Wednesday night, with Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman engaging in their first debate since the June primary.
Between 150 and 200 people attended the debate, which lasted more than an hour in the Notre Dame High School cafeteria. And it didn't take long for each candidate to begin throwing verbal jabs at the record of his opponent.
Sounds of displeasure rang out from the crowd during portions of the event, as each candidate often strayed from answering the moderator's questions, instead choosing to point out the alleged failures of his opponent.
Berman questioned Sherman's ability to get support for legislation he has sponsored, claiming that Sherman has had only three bills passed while in office since 1997.
“There are a thousand ways to be effective," Berman said. "One of them is to get your measures through. But the fact is, your record is meager and sparse in terms of legislative accomplishments, amendments or any particular subject matter.”
Sherman, who won the June primary with a 10-percentage-point lead over Berman as each qualified for the final election on Nov. 6, suggested that Berman’s support derived mainly from people outside of the San Fernando Valley, what he called “insider Washington support.”
Sherman, whose campaign recently sent out a mailer claiming Berman had missed nearly 1,500 votes during his nearly 30 years in the House of Representatives, continued to question Berman’s voting record.
Berman referred to Sherman as a "serial exaggerator," and Sherman said that Berman holds himself to a "phony standard."
Here is a wrap-up of the candidates' responses to questions presented at the debate:
Berman on the three most important things he’s done for Sherman Oaks:
- Sparking the 405 expansion project
- Protecting jobs in the entertainment industry
- Putting more police on the streets in Sherman Oaks
Sherman on the three most important things he’s done for Sherman Oaks:
- "Preserving home prices" and helping to prevent a second precipitous decline in home values.
- Supporting and helping to spark the 405 expansion project
- Phasing out the noisiest jets at Van Nuys Airport
Berman on why he chose to run in the newly formed 30th District, which is made up mostly of Sherman’s former territory:
“I happen to live in the area I’m running in. I love where I live and I love the district I am running in. It is true, Brad represents significantly more of that district, but as we get to November, we will be introducing ourselves to more of those people. To run in the district I didn’t live in was not appropriate.”
Berman on his record of getting legislation passed:
“Here’s the real test of who’s effective: What does the L.A. Times say? What does the Daily News say? Why do 24 of the 26 people we work with every day support me—the governor, the senator and the mayor. They watch us every day. They know who produces for the city and for the Valley. Overwhelmingly, they are supporting me.”
Sherman on his record of getting legislation passed:
"I’m a workhorse, I’m not a showhorse. And that’s why when I authored the bill to raise the conforming loan limit to $625,000—a bill critical for home values throughout the Valley—and they said, ‘Well Sherman, your name isn’t going to be on it because we’re going to put it in a bigger bill,’ I said, ‘Thank God. I don’t care whose name is on the envelope, just put my bill in the larger bill.'"
"People who know of my record in the Valley are the people who live in the Valley, and that’s why I prevailed by 10 points on June 5. If you want to be told who to vote for by people who don’t live in the Valley and by people who aren’t focused on the Valley, then you can decide to vote for whoever has the most insider Washington support. If Howard Berman really believes what he says, he would have resigned in early 2008. Because at that time he had gone 17 years without passing but one bill, which was a technical and typographical correction bill."
Sherman on Berman's voting record in the House:
"If the San Fernando Valley were to elect me to represent it for another 90 years, I would not miss as many votes as Howard has already missed."
Berman on missing votes in the House:
“Brad and I have very different conceptions of what a good congressman is. I missed a bunch of votes when I went to the State Department to negotiate the final language on the Iran sanctions legislation with Hillary Clinton. There were votes like post office naming and private immigration bills that they were passing unanimously.”
“I was the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee for three years. On three occasions, I took flights from Washington, D.C., to Moscow overnight. I go to Israel to discuss a number of foreign policy issues. This is part of my job.”