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AV Press: Mock town hall features Garcia

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, paid a visit, Monday, to David G. Millen Magnet Academy, where 73 students in the school’s Law and Government Pathway had an opportunity to participate in a town hall-style meeting with the congressman.
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PALMDALE — Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, paid a visit, Monday, to David G. Millen Magnet Academy, where 73 students in the school’s Law and Government Pathway had an opportunity to participate in a town hall-style meeting with the congressman.

Principal Jason Deaville, Palmdale School District Superintendent Raul Maldonado and Chief Academic Officer Danny Kanga welcomed the congressman.

Garcia talked about growing up in Santa Clarita, being the first to go to college in his family and his military service. (Garcia was a highly decorated US Naval officer and fighter pilot.) He also spoke about leadership and being the best you can be.

“Excellence without arrogance,” was his description of being a leader.

Having just returned from a trip to the border between Poland and Ukraine, Garcia was able to put a human face on the war by describing the people as looking, dressing and living the way the students lived. He gave his opinion on the US reaction to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

“We could have begun these actions back in December or January to support Ukraine,” Garcia said.

The students are enrolled in classes with a specific Law and Government pathway focus. Introduction to Government and Current Events, Law, and Criminology are taught by David Vargas, Billie Martin and Daniel Hubler, respectively. Students made welcome signs and asked questions of the congressman regarding his military career, his time in the House of Representatives and his views on various topics. Students were respectful but asked pointed questions on abortion, the economy and his opinion on the war in Ukraine.

Garcia gave his views in a candid and direct manner. He pulled no punches on his stance on party politics, saying, “Parties should be weaker and leaders should be stronger.”

He stated politics should not be personal about individuals like presidents but about what is right for the country. “We need to unite, not divide, not create drama and separate people.” 

Garcia was in favor of term limits for politicians.

“No one should be in office for 30 years,” he said. “In 10 years, you will not see me. The House represents the people and should be a revolving door bringing new people in.”

Garcia asked the students if they were studying the Constitution. Students nodded and replied, “Yes.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out a pocket-sized version of the document.

“This is short, and written in old-style English, and can be hard to read. But read it. It is very important to understand what is in here,” he said, holding up his copy of the Constitution. “It tells you why you are equal to every other person. This gives you the same rights as any other American. This is what makes this country great. You hear about the American Dream. There isn’t a Canadian Dream. It’s the American Dream and this is why.”

Garcia explained unification as, “There are many ways we divide people. Dodger fans over here, Angel fans over there. We need to stop dividing people. It is important to know we are all Americans.”

When a student asked what he thought about the one-size-fits-all approach to education, Garcia replied, “It does not make sense. We all learn differently. College is not for everyone. Go if you have the desire, but there are careers like plumbing and becoming an electrician that do not require college. I want you to have choices, be responsible for your life, and build your life your way.”

Another student asked how Garcia felt about inflation. The Congressman replied that inflation does not care if you are rich or poor. Everything and everyone gets taxed by inflation. His definition of inflation was too much money going after too few goods. An example was a game console that costs $400 but only a few are available. Because there are only a few available, they cost $1,000.

“It is important for students to have experiences like this to talk with a current representative of the House,” teacher Vargas said, “It put into perspective some of the challenges of his career as well as how government representation works. This is essentially a town-hall type of event for middle school. In Current Events we spent time on Ukraine and Russia. This was a great way to learn more about that situation. I was  glad he promoted unification over party partisanship.”

Hubler, who teaches criminology, said, “Congressman Garcia previously participated in our 2020 mock election and we are grateful for his continued support of our magnet program.”

Martin agreed: “One the best things we can do as educators is giving our students access to our elected officials. I am grateful to Congressman Garcia and his team for making that possible.”

Principal Deaville added: “What an honor to have a leader such as Mr. Garcia at David G. Millen. He took his time, asked every student their name when they asked their question, and answered every question. I am so happy the students were able to spend over an hour with a sitting US congressman. What an honor.”

Garcia posed for a group photo and individual photos with students and thanked them for participating in the event.