Congressional candidates talk immigration, cutting back military spending



Incumbent Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) is running for his fourth term in the March primary, battling against a Republican and a fellow Democrat to represent parts of San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties and all of Santa Barbara County.

CANDIDATES TALK Incumbent U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara), is running for reelection in the March 5 primary against Republican Thomas Cole, middle, and fellow Democrat Helena Pasquarella. - PHOTO COURTESY OF IAN MARIANI
  • Photo Courtesy Of Ian Mariani
  • CANDIDATES TALK Incumbent U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara), is running for reelection in the March 5 primary against Republican Thomas Cole, middle, and fellow Democrat Helena Pasquarella.

A statement provided to New Times by Carbajal's senior advisor and communications director, Ian Mariani, said that Carbajal has helped write new laws to lower health care and energy costs, while expanding access to affordable housing and creating new jobs for the region.

"I have spearheaded efforts to work across the aisle and finally fix our broken immigration system, as well as respond to issues like the rising cost of child care and the worsening threat of climate change. And I have helped bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to our region through projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other landmark laws I helped pass in recent years," Carbajal's statement said.

Challenger and Republican Thomas Cole is running a campaign fueled by the differences between his policies and Carbajal's. He told New Times his policies focus on peace, border control, and parental rights.

"Almost everything revolves around those three issues and that's what I'm focusing on," he said. "I'm reaching out to those who may have left the Republican Party and I'm also reaching out to centrist Democrats that are unhappy with the far left unreasonableness of the party today."

Cole said he aims to work on closing the borders as thousands of people who enter the U.S. illegally. In January 2024, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol recorded 124,220 encounters between ports of entry along the southwestern border, a 50 percent decrease from the month prior.

He added that closing the borders would lead to less fentanyl in the streets, which he said kills around 50,000 people a year. In 2022, USA Facts reported that 73,654 people died from fentanyl overdoses, more than double that of 2019.

Cole claimed Carbajal is working to keep our borders open with a "free flow of fentanyl." However, Carbajal co-led the Disrupt Fentanyl Trafficking Act, which was signed into law by President Biden on Dec. 20, 2023.

This law declares fentanyl trafficking a national security threat stemming from drug cartels and smugglers, directs the Pentagon to develop a fentanyl-specific counter-drug strategy, requires the Secretary of Defense to increase security cooperation with the Mexican military, and more, according to Carbajal's website.

Cole, who owns a data analysis company, has raised $10,370 in campaign funding, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings through Feb. 15. He told told New Times he has "about $20,000" in reserve.

Helena Pasquarella, a schoolteacher, Democrat, and photojournalist, reported zero dollars raised to the FEC, but told New Times she has received $2,900 in campaign funding since the last reporting period. She said that U.S. sanctions on economies such as Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela have caused havoc and increased the number of undocumented immigrants claiming asylum on the border.

"We need to make them documented, and we want to protect them, but I think another really important issue is the issue of pesticides," she said. "We have 35 pesticides that are being used in our 24th District that are illegal to use in Europe."

Pasquarella's campaign revolves around peace. She believes that the U.S. needs to actively promote peace internationally and at home by approving The Peace Building Act of 2021.

"I decided to put my heart and soul into this campaign and educate people about the military industrial complex," she said. "Right now, I'm focusing on Palestine and the genocide because people are dying daily with our tax dollars, and at this point, we really got to understand that we are directly involved in that war."

Pasquarella and Cole both alleged that Carbajal was sitting on more than a million dollars in campaign contributions from "military industrial complex" providers such as the RTX Corporation—formerly known as Raytheon—a major U.S. defense contractor.

However, Carbajal's senior advisor and communications director, Mariani, said the largest category of contributors is constituents. The defense industry, Mariani said, is nearly the lowest category of financial support he has received.

This cycle, Carbajal has raised $1.2 million in campaign funding, according to FEC filings, and he has $2.68 million cash on hand. FEC filings show that RTX Corporation gave Carbajal $3,500 in 2024.

The top two vote getters will head to November's general election. Δ


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