Capitol Alert

Climate, death penalty reflect policy differences in Bera, Jones

Ami Bera, Scott Jones split over the death penalty in California

As California voters face two ballot measures this November to either abolish or speed up the death penalty, congressional candidates Ami Bera and Scott Jones disagreed on the right approach in California at their debate in California's 7th congre
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As California voters face two ballot measures this November to either abolish or speed up the death penalty, congressional candidates Ami Bera and Scott Jones disagreed on the right approach in California at their debate in California's 7th congre

Most highlights from the lone debate Tuesday between Rep. Ami Bera and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones focused on their political vulnerabilities.

Bera, a Democrat from Elk Grove, was forced to deal with his father’s illegal campaign contributions to his campaign, while Jones, a Republican, was made to grapple with sexual harassment allegations that he denies.

Their divergence on two major policy issues, climate change and the death penalty, came later in the event, with both making post-debate clarifications to their earlier answers on the topics.

On climate change, which has not taken up much bandwidth in the closely watched 7th District, Bera said it is real and must be swiftly addressed. Jones, however, expressed skepticism over whether humans contribute to climate change, calling the matter a “political” question.

“I don’t know what to believe. I truly don’t,” Jones said after the debate. “There is a body of evidence supporting it either way.”

But he added that proposed solutions for addressing the effects of climate change, including increasing the use of renewable energy, are worthwhile regardless.

At the debate in California's 7th congressional district on Tuesday Oct. 18, 2016, Republican challenger Scott Jones cast doubt on the role humans play in climate change, while Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, insisted, "Climate change is real."

They also split on the death penalty.

Bera said the death penalty is broken in California and he would likely vote for Proposition 62, an initiative to abolish capital punishment. He said the death penalty doesn’t bring closure to families because people sit on death row for years.

“What we are talking about is potentially life in prison without the possibility of parole,” Bera said. “That could bring closure much quicker.”

But Jones said everyone on death row is there for a reason, and urged support for Proposition 66, a Nov. 8 ballot measure to speed up executions.

“We do need a death penalty,” Jones said. “No one is on death row by accident. They all earned their way to death row.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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