Doug LaMalfa and Audrey Denney face off in only Northstate debate

The crowd stands and cheers as the discussion forum comes to a close at Anderson Union High School.

Audrey Denney and Doug LaMalfa, candidates for California's first congressional district, met for the first and only time in Shasta and Butte Counties on Sunday evening for a public discussion forum.

The turnout for the debate, held at Anderson Union High School, was in the hundreds, much higher than expected. The line to get in stretched out the door, and some people resorted to watching the meeting on their phones from outside the venue.

The candidates sparred for an hour and a half over policy issues, ranging from healthcare to wildfires. When it came to the topic of Carr Fire recovery, Denney stressed the need for prevention.

"We have to continue to support FEMA in doing emergency relief. We have to continue to support the Small Business Administration to get loans back to you to ensure you get back on your feet. Folks, the way that we recover from this is to make sure it never happens again," Denney said.

She told the crowd that keeping forests healthy is a good way to prevent wildfires from starting in the future.

All eyes turned to LaMalfa when he rose to speak about the opioid crisis, and what he's done about it while in office.

"What we've passed in the House of Representatives, along with a really good mental health bill a couple years ago," said LaMalfa. "As these flower, we hope to see the results, but obviously in the short term, it's still difficult."

According to LaMalfa, the opioid crisis is impacting other areas of society as well, such as the work force, by hooking those who are unemployed and making it harder for them to find work. He closed his response by advocating for a balance between making opioids harder to get, and ensuring their availability to those who truly need them.

As the forum came to a close, Denney and LaMalfa were asked how they'd make themselves available to their constituents. Denney said she would make it a point to invite protesters into her office, and LaMalfa said he would continue coming home from Washington every weekend.

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