By CBSLA Staff

YORBA LINDA (CBSLA) – Four Republican gubernatorial candidates, all hoping to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom in the upcoming recall election, took to the stage Wednesday night for the one and only debate before September’s election.

The candidates included former Mayor of San Diego Kevin Faulconer, San Diego businessman and former gubernatorial hopeful John Cox, Northern California Assemblyman Kevin Kiley and former Congressman and businessman Doug Ose.

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On vaccines and mask mandates, the four candidates all want to take California in a very different direction.

“Look at what other states have done. I mean, I compare California to Florida. I have two nephews that live in Orlando. They were able to go to school the whole time,” Cox said.

“My view here is that instead of giving people mandates, need to give them options,” Ose responded.

“I believe in personal choice,” Kiley said.

“I urge everyone to get vaccinated,” Faulconer said. “Vaccinations is how we get our way out of this. I’m vaccinated, my family is vaccinated.”

Assemblyman Kiley was asked about mask mandates for kids as they return to school.

“I’m 100% against a mask mandate at the state level. California is one of the only one of a handful of states that has one and I think that a lot of the authority to impose that stems from the state of emergency,” he said. “So, I would terminate the state of emergency on day one.”

On tackling California’s ongoing crises, like homelessness, all four took aim at Governor Gavin Newsom.

“Hotels for homeless,” Ose said. “Not an answer. All it does is take somebody who’s dying on the street and put them in a hotel room where they can die.”

“…and I’m going to focus first and foremost on making California affordable,” Faulconer said. “I put forward the largest tax cut in California history for our middle class because we need it.”

Newsom was also hammered for the unemployment crisis.

“Just answer the damn phone, alright? Just answer the damn phone,” Ose said.

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The candidates also piled on Newsom, claiming he’s created a climate that’s bad for business and the state.

“Just to start a new business now in California, it takes six to 12 months to get the paperwork done, and then you’ve got all kinds of problems with bureaucracy and regulations,” Cox put forward.

On hot-button social issues, all four came out against teaching Critical Race Theory.

“Well, CRT has absolutely no place in our public school system, period,” Faulconer said. “It’s divisive.”

“So, I think we need to defeat this CRT bill, but we ultimately need to reimpose real civic education in our schools,” Kiley said.

Former San Diego Mayor Faulconer was also asked about his support for former President Donald Trump.

“Well, first and foremost, what happened on January 6 was abhorrent to our country, to have folks storm our Capitol, to attack our Capitol Police Officers. That was wrong in every way imaginable,” he said.

With wildfires and drought playing out across the state, the GOP candidates said California needs to rethink how we get our water.

“This is not theoretical. If you’re a farmer, these guys, they all know the story, I live it, alright. I live this issue. I’m your guy if water is your issue,” Cox said.

All four agreed less regulation and lower taxes are critically needed.

“We have a governor who doesn’t seem to think that it’s a problem because people are voting with their feet, and for the first time, we lost population last year. We lost a congressional seat of course, because of these terrible policies,” Faulconer said.

The candidates were also given the chance to talk about something a little more personal, which got some laughs.

“It’s the same talent I wear on my sleeve,” Ose said. “I get things done.”

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According to political analysts, Newsom is still in the driver’s seat if he can maintain his current position in the polls.