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Candidates Justin Fareed, left, and Salud Carbajal shake hands Oct. 20 before squaring off in their 24th Congressional District debate at Cal Poly. Fareed conceded the race to his opponent Wednesday via his Twitter account.

Peter H. Klein, Contributor

Stumping for Fareed

As a voter of the 24th Congressional District, we heard a lot of campaign promises from Rep. Salud Carbajal when he ran. Rep. Carbajal promised to be a bi-partisan voice and work with both sides of aisle to fix the gridlock in Washington.

After reviewing his record, it is clear to see Carbajal played us for fools. He has voted over 97 percent in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi since he has been in office. His claim to fame is that he is on the No Labels Problem Solver Committee in Congress, but he is part of the very problem we sent him there to fix.

We need a representative who is not afraid of, and I saw Justin Fareed portray that message throughout his campaign. He wanted to fix the system from within and do what’s best for local residents. Justin focused on important issues such as water infrastructure, veterans and breaking the gridlock in Washington. Since Rep. Carbajal has been in office, he has voted against improving every one of those issues that matter to our district.

I hope Justin Fareed decides to run for Congress again because voters of the 24th District are starting to have buyer’s remorse. We need a fresh, independent voice in Washington, not a career politician who is out of touch with his constituents.

Rebecca Gowing

Santa Maria

Change diet, save animals

We are a nation of special observances. There is even a World Day for Farm Animals, observed on Oct. 2. Apparently it's intended to memorialize the tens of billions of animals abused and killed for food.

Like most others, I always thought of farm animals as "food on the hoof." But when a friend sent me an amazing, endearing Facebook video, it dawned on me that farm animals are much like our family dog, fully deserving of our compassion and respect.

My internet search showed they get neither. Male baby chicks are routinely suffocated in plastic garbage bags or ground up alive. Laying hens are crowded into small wire cages that tear out their feathers.

Breeding sows are kept pregnant in tiny metal crates. Dairy cows have their babies snatched away immediately upon birth, so we can drink their milk.

It drove me to replace the animal products in my diet with a rich variety of plant-based meats and dairy items offered by my grocery store. I have since learned that a cruelty-free diet is also great for my health and for the health of our planet.

Sedrick Mackenzie

Santa Maria

Credit Union argument overlooks differences

In her Sept. 19 commentary, Simone Lagomarsino contends credit unions’ tax exemption status is no longer needed. Her argument overlooks some key facts and fundamental differences between banks and credit unions.

She says “many credit unions are virtually indistinguishable from taxpaying community banks” because of their larger size — and are thus unworthy of federal income tax exemptions. This argument conveniently omits the fact Congress exempted credit unions in 1937 from federal income taxes based on their structure as member-owned and controlled, and not their size. Congress reaffirmed this tax exemption in 1951 and 1998.

By their very definition, credit unions serve all their members. They provide a full range of products and services to the communities they serve, including the underserved. During the financial crisis, credit unions continued to lend to consumers and small businesses when other lenders were unable or unwilling to do so.

As financial institutions, credit unions are expected to offer financial services. It’s logical that larger institutions will offer a wider variety of services. Lagomarsino sees this as putting banks at a disadvantage due to the credit union tax-exemption status. Not true at all. Credit unions encourage other financial institutions to work harder to keep customers satisfied. Without this competition, banks could charge higher fees, pay lower interest on savings, and increase loan rates.

Credit unions in Santa Barbara County recently generated a $69.1 million impact for the region’s economy, supporting 537 local jobs while producing $7.8 million in savings to members. A tax on credit unions is a tax on the middle class.

The bottom line is whether it is a business loan or an auto loan, the credit union’s mission does not change: It is to serve the member-owners of a not-for-profit cooperative.

Diana Dykstra,

President and CEO

California Credit Union League

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