The importance of bipartisanship was a common thread discussed by Jack Uppal, the Democratic candidate running against incumbent Republican Tom McClintock for the U.S. House of Representatives' 4th Congressional District seat, during a meet and greet last week in Oakhurst.
"Last year I decided to run for Congress because I was sick and tired of watching our people suffer, and politicians arguing ideology that didn't accomplish anything," said Uppal to a crowd of about 40 people Oct. 10 at the Queen's Inn.
"The problem is more with parties than the congressmen or congresswomen ... I'm not trying to take a party stance on any of these issues. I'm trying to take a stance that's best for the people of this district."
Some solutions he offered specifically for the fourth district's economy included things like "intelligent forest management" -- reintroducing small-scale logging and the timber industry, and creating infrastructure to enable high-speed internet district-wide.
Uppal said some of the biggest problems throughout the state include what's happening to education, science, technology and the influence of money in politics.
The retired engineer and business executive from Lincoln graduated with a Ph.D. in chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) and has directed the annual spending budgets of more than $1 billion for Intel Corporation.
He stressed the importance of new technology to save the failing economy and save the planet -- specifically the need for a national transportation program that would focus on developing technology for an electric car, instead of spending money on things like high-speed rail, which doesn't develop new technology.
"Just as the space program generated technology used by industry in the 70s, 80s, 90s and even today, it would help not just cars but all technology and be a driver for the first half of this century," he said.
"I believe there are real problems and we need to attend to it," said Uppal of the environment and global warming, adding that as a scientist, he doesn't question science much. "Seventy percent of carbon emissions are caused by generating electricity and transportation. We need alternative energy sources that don't pollute -- hydro-electric, biomass, solar, wind, geothermal and nuclear. And I wouldn't advocate for nuclear unless there is a safer system for disposing of waste."
He's also in support of promoting new technology in schools for stronger vocational education programs, and said he will be voting yes on Proposition 30 to help give more money to schools.
If elected, he said he'd push for a budget that doesn't burden the middle class and that he will work to preserve Medicare "now and for future generations."
Uppal addressed a statement printed Oct. 9 in The Record newspaper in Stockton from incumbent McClintock to launch a discussion about the problems of money in politics. McClintock was asked to debate Uppal in Oakhurst Oct. 10, but declined.
"I'd be happy to debate Jack in a neutral forum the moment he takes the race seriously," McClintock said in The Record's story. "But he is not. He hasn't raised enough money to be competitive in a county supervisor's race let alone in a Congressional race."
The story reported McClintock has raised close to $860,000 without loans to himself, compared to about $31,000 raised by Uppal, which included a $5,000 loan to himself.
"I had always heard you need ideas and a message to run for office, but I never read anywhere that we have to raise millions of dollars," Uppal said. "Is there a problem with that (not raising lots of campaign money)? Does that make me a non-serious candidate somehow? I don't think so ...
"The single biggest problem we have is the influence of money in our government, and it's the most difficult problem to fix in our government. There is a difference in my book between what is right and wrong, and what is legal. It's very easy to break no laws and yet not do the right thing ethically."
Uppal said the "right answers" to the problems California and the nation face are somewhere "in-between" the two parties.
"The important thing is not just finding the common ground," Uppal said. "The important thing is finding common objectives. Things have to be approached from common objectives, and go from there. A lot of members of Congress can't even find common objectives to work on with anyone -- vote them out of office. That's why I'm running. To get one of those people out of office."