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Democratic candidates for the 10th Congressional District voiced their opinions on a wide variety of topics during a recent debate.

The debate was hosted by the York County Young Democrats and was held Thursday, April 26, at Marketview Arts, 35 W. Philadelphia St.

Candidates Shavonnia Corbin-Johnson, Eric Ding, Alan Howe and George Scott were all in attendance. They are vying for the seat currently occupied by U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg.

The event was moderated by Shane Coolbaugh, York County Young Democrats organizer, and state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York City. Questions were developed by a committee and also were received from the public via email. 

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Gun control: The first question of the night pertained to gun-control legislation in the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Corbin-Johnson, a former White House adviser during the Obama administration, applauded the Parkland students who advocated for "commonsense gun reform" and said that it's time to get the process moving in the federal government.

In addition, she said it was vital for states to enforce the laws they have on the books. She endorsed universal background checks and preventing domestic-violence abusers from purchasing guns.

If elected, it's an issue she said she would bring to the forefront on Capitol Hill.

"As the students say, 'enough is enough,' and I agree," she said.

Ding, a public health scientist and epidemiologist, said he agreed with stricter gun-control legislation, but he emphasized the critical importance of making mental health care more accessible and affordable for everyone. He said that similar tragedies will continue to happen if the issue is not addressed.

"If you plug six out of seven holes on a ship, the ship will still sink," he said. 

Howe, a retired Air Force veteran, advocated a total ban on bump stocks as well as all high-capacity, semi-automatic rifles and pistols.

Scott, a retired Army veteran and Lutheran pastor, said the country needs a holistic solution and that representatives need to stand up against the National Rifle Association. 

"This is an issue we can't kick down the road anymore," he said.

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Health care: The candidates were then asked to state their policy ideas on health care.

Ding said doctors should be held accountable, as they bill now based on how many procedures they perform, not on the quality of those procedures. 

He also said the entire system is confusing because procedures come with different price tags at different hospitals. 

However, he said there are multiple ways to ensure universal health care for everyone.

Howe said he supports the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010. He said that a public option should be available for everyone, coupled with a private system.

In addition, he advocated lowering the age for Medicare eligibility to 62 and lowering the income qualification for Medicaid from 138 percent to 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

Finally, he said that reform was needed for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and he believed that first-responder care could be provided through the department.

Scott said that health care reform is one of the top issues of his campaign, with a focus on women's health care and mental health care.

He said the country needs to move forward with the progress made with the ACA.

"The current administration wants to do absolutely the opposite," he said. 

Corbin-Johnson echoed these sentiments.

"I believe that health care is a universal right, not a privilege," she said. 

She acknowledged that the ACA is not perfect but said that it achieved two things: It started a necessary national conversation about health care, and it served as a starting point for moving toward universal health care.

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Immigration: Immigration was the hot-button issue of the night, as the candidates were asked to give their opinions on the DREAM Act, the deportation of undocumented immigrants by President Donald Trump and immigration reform.

Ding, who immigrated to the U.S. from China as a child, was passionate about the plight of families who were separated by deportation.

"It's horrible, inhumane and unjust," he said.

He said that the country’s treatment of immigrants shows "our humanity as a nation."

Howe described Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration as a product of racism and said that every human being should be treated equally and with dignity.

Howe also noted that the economy has become dependent on undocumented immigrants who are performing the jobs that citizens won’t do.

If those jobs aren't filled, economic stagnation will result, he said. 

"Immigration is our life blood," he said. 

Scott said immigration is integral to the definition of America.

"It's the core of our identity. It's who we are as a nation, " he said. 

Scott said he supported the DREAM Act as well as a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, improving the immigration process and helping immigrants gain the skills they need to compete in a knowledge-based economy.

Corbin-Johnson agreed with the other candidates. 

"What we need in this country is comprehensive immigration reform," she said. 

Corbin-Johnson agreed with Howe that immigrants drive the economy and noted how necessary they are in the agricultural industry, as farmers depend on them to work in the fields.

She said immigrants are people and are coming here for a better life.

"The American dream is only as stable as how we protect our immigrants and those are most vulnerable amongst us,” she said.

The primary election will be held May 15.

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