ELECTION ‘12//ASSEMBLY 20 | There are difference between Assembly candidate Bill Quirk and Dr. Jennifer Ong, after all, and they rest squarely on Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s sales tax increase on the November ballot.

“There are real differences between me and my opponent,” said Quirk, a former Hayward councilman, “you heard it on Prop. 30, which she didn’t quite say she opposed, but she’s against raising taxes, so I think that means she’s opposed to it.” In an exchange earlier at Wednesday’s candidates forum in Hayward, Quirk said consumers could afford to pay the quarter-cent sales tax increase, saying a the purchase of a $1,000 television would only add another $2.50 to the bill.

“It may seem like there’s not much being affected,” countered Ong, “but that’s not the case for the people who don’t have much to begin with or can’t access social programs because they are undocumented.” She added, “I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘I don’t’ know how much more we can pay in taxes or anything at all.’”

The mostly sedate 45-minute forum, however, was awoken from its slumber during Quirk’s closing statement when he repeatedly banged his open hand against the desk before him punctuating his support for Prop. 30. “I’m for it. I walked for it!” he said, while arguing he has seen, firsthand, the state of disrepair at schools and colleges due to continuing cuts to education.

Ong, instead, proposed going after companies who have failed to pay an estimated $8 billion in corporate state taxes and instituting an oil extraction tax also proposed by 18th Assembly candidates, Rob Bonta and Abel Guillen.

“Well, certainly we would love to see that $8 billion collected,” said Quirk, but corporations not paying their fair share has long been a problem at all levels of government. “We can do more, but I wouldn’t count on it.” Along with approving Prop. 30, said Quirk, he proposed closing corporate sales tax loopholes and doing so by attracting the help of new, hopefully more moderate Republicans in the next Assembly.

Later in the forum, Quirk asserted Ong was continually ducking the moderator’s questions, specifically those concerning her stance on Prop. 30. Afterwards, Quirk griped, “Often times, I don’t think she answered the question.” When pressed about her position on the proposition, Ong told The Citizen she was troubled by the regressive nature of the sales tax increase. “I won’t be able to personally support that,” said Ong. “It’s trying to stick it to the poor.”