Speaking a week after DeMaio at the Mission Beach Rotary Club at Pacific Beach’s Catamaran Hotel, Peters said his record shows he’s adopted a “less-partisan, less-divided approach to Congress.”
Peters told Rotarians he’s been ranked as one of the most independent Congressional Democrats.
“I’m willing to vote with both sides to solve problems,” he said, outlining his political priority list to Rotarians. “I put country first. The district is second. My party is third.”
Peters defined political courage as “the ability to come to the middle, sit down at the table and work out a solution. That’s what I’m committed to do.”
A former San Diego City Councilman and San Diego Unified Port Commissioner, Peters said he chose to be on the House Armed Services and the Science, Space and Technologies committees because he wanted to be involved in areas to help San Diego spur its economy.
“San Diego’s economy is driven by tourism, the military and science and innovation,” Peters said. “One-quarter of our jobs come from the military. We’re the second-leading city in telecommunications with Qualcomm and the third-leading city behind Boston and San Francisco with biotechnology.”
Toward that end, Peters said he’s been supportive of local efforts to promote alternative energy, including the development of algae as a biofuel and solar energy for use by the military and in building technology.
Concerning immigration, Peters said, “The border’s a mess.”
Disagreeing with DeMaio, who favors shipping children who are illegally in the U.S. back to their home countries, Peters said, “We’d be sending them back to gang violence, rape and murder — and that’s just not what we’re about.
“We can’t be against human trafficking on the one hand and then just say kick the kids out on the other,” he said.
Discussing health-care reform, Peters said that’s one of the areas where he’s deviated from the mainstream-Democrat line in Congress.
“I think (Obamacare) needs a little help,” Peters said, adding quickly, “It won’t be repealed. We can’t go back. A lot more [reform] work needs to be done. I’m ready to talk about a real solution.”
Peters said he’s also out front in the effort to take some of the financial burden off students paying for school.
“There’s more student debt than credit-card debt now,” he said, noting he’s authored a Congressional bill that would “refinance all student debt to 4 percent. We shouldn’t be gouging kids by requiring them to pay as much as 8 to 10 percent.”
Peters said student debt has become a huge drag on the economy, forcing students to delay important decisions like getting married or buying housing in order to pay off accrued student debt.