Candidate for Congress - CA 24
|Why are you running for office?:||I grew up on the Central Coast and my wife and I raised our family here. We now have two grandchildren, and they deserve to inherit a livable planet, and be able to work and live comfortably on the Central Coast when they grow up.|
I’ve fought for our Central Coast values in Congress, and worked across the aisle to bring federal resources to our community. I’m proud of what I’ve been able to deliver for the Central Coast, and I want to continue fighting to ensure that all members of our community cannot only survive, but truly have the opportunity to thrive.
The coronavirus crisis has crippled our economy, shut down schools, and exposed shortcomings in access to health care. I have faith that, through investment in our infrastructure and renewable energy, we not only can overcome the coronavirus crisis, but come back stronger. I want to take that fight back to Congress and continue working to make sure that Central Coast residents have every opportunity to achieve their American dream.
|What makes you qualified for the job?:||Before I was elected to Congress in 2016, I served for 12 years on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. I truly believe that government should work for the people, that public resources should be spent responsibly, and that elected officials at every level of government should be working toward progress and on tangible solutions to the problems our community faces. As a former County Supervisor, I strive to be an effective federal partner for our local governments and have worked with local partners to secure strategic investments in our infrastructure and create new affordable housing opportunities.|
I’ve worked across the aisle and introduced bipartisan legislation to mitigate the effects of climate change, prevent gun violence, and reform our immigration system. I have the experience to build on the Affordable Care Act, protect our environment, create economic opportunity, and move forward policies that improve the quality of life for all who call the Central Coast home.
|What are your two main priorities if you win?:||If I have the honor of getting re-elected, there are two main priorities that will guide my work: helping the district recover from COVID-19 and taking decisive steps to protect our environment.|
COVID recovery must begin with leadership in the White House, but there is much we can do in Congress. I am committed to advancing policies that protect and expand affordable health care and prescription drugs, help small businesses regain their footing through additional relief, and enable families to return to stable, good-paying jobs that allow them to afford housing in the place they call home, and provide a future for their children.
Addressing climate change should be a cornerstone of our community’s ability to bounce back from COVID, and actually to survive in the long-term. The effects of climate change hit places like the Central Coast hardest, and with California’s worst wildfire season in history raging on, we know that we cannot wait one more minute to act. This means continuing to block onshore and offshore oil drilling throughout our region, which I have fought at every turn. The very first bill I introduced was the California Clean Coast Act, which permanently bans oil and gas leasing off our coast, and the bill passed the House with bipartisan support. When the Trump Administration moved to expand offshore oil and gas leasing in nearly all federal waters, including those off the Central Coast, I led an effort through the appropriations process to block the Administration from doing so.
I will continue to defend our public lands through efforts such as my Central Coast Heritage Protection Act which passed in the House and will extend the highest level of federal protection to nearly 250,000 acres of public lands in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument, preventing any commercial development from taking place in these natural wonders - including oil and gas drilling.
Finally, I was proud to secure a wildfire budgeting fix to adequately fund mitigation for fires through the US Forest Service. In my first term, I helped fix a dangerous practice called “fire-borrowing,” which forced the Forest Service to withhold mitigation funds for fear of going over budget. Each year we experience more destructive wildfire seasons and it was past time that we budgeted for wildfires like we do other natural disasters - to allow for more spending on mitigation and not just suppression. And, I introduced the bipartisan FOREST Act which will increase federal funding for forest service roads to enhance our ability to fight wildfires. I’m proud that this bill passed the House as part of a larger infrastructure package.
As I have done since I was first elected, I will never stop fighting to make sure that the Central Coast’s unique and pristine environment is protected, and that each of us can recover from this pandemic and move forward, together.
|How will you interact with other governments?:||I have always believed that working together is the best way to achieve real progress. I routinely work with elected officials at all levels of government and I will continue that approach. I have worked with Governor Newsom and local officials to bring private and public investment to Vandenberg Air Force Base and the surrounding area. I’ve also worked with our senators to make long overdue safety reforms to small passenger boats after the Conception Boat Fire, introduce gun-safety reforms, and address the COVID-19 outbreak at Lompoc prison.|
For the government to truly work for the people, we must all work together - regardless of party, and look for solutions that benefit everyone throughout the district. While Congress has a reputation for gridlock, I’ve brought my experience in county government with me to Washington. As a Member of Congress, I am committed to making sure a lack of coordination is never a roadblock to progress, and partisan politics don’t get in the way of real progress.
|What are your plans to help overcome COVID-19?:||The coronavirus pandemic has shone a bright light on the need to make sure every American has access to affordable, high quality health care. While the Trump Administration has tried to undermine the Affordable Care Act at every turn, I have worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on legislation to improve, protect, and expand the law. When Republicans tried to repeal the ACA, I fought back, to ensure my constituents with pre-existing conditions would never be denied health coverage. I’ve also supported legislation to create a public option under the ACA, to bring much-needed competition with the private industry and drive down insurance premiums. I also believe prescription medications shouldn’t break the bank, which is why I helped pass legislation that allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices to drive down costs for all Americans.|
The coronavirus has also set back our regional economy, forcing local small businesses to close their doors, in some cases permanently. In Congress, I fought to bring federal COVID-19 relief funding to the Central Coast to ease the burden on our small businesses, preserve jobs, and help those unemployed. The Paycheck Protection Program, created by the passage of the bipartisan CARES Act, brought $1.16 billion to 2,132 small businesses in our district, which ultimately saved over 158,114 jobs.
While the Trump Administration drags its feet, I have fought to bring federal funding home for testing, tracing, and treatment so we can defeat the coronavirus and safely reopen our schools and businesses. I helped secure over $77 million in federal funding to help local hospitals, health clinics, and frontline workers. I also helped expand the programs that help families keep food on the table and ensure that even when kids aren’t at school, they’re still able to get nutritious lunches. This support helped our local food banks that work tirelessly to make sure no-one goes hungry.
|Which two issues are most important to you?:||First, we need to address the skyrocketing cost of housing. I grew up in public housing, which allowed my family to live on the Central Coast despite economic hardship. I‘ve worked across the aisle to fund affordable housing projects and introduced the Home for the Brave Act to help veterans afford housing. I will keep working on this issue, so the next generation can afford to call the Central Coast home.|
Gun violence is an issue that has touched me personally, and one I hope no family ever has to experience. When I was 12, my sister took her own life using my father’s gun and in 2014, a shooter in Isla Vista took the lives of six innocent students. In the wake of that tragedy, I introduced the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, which offers a tool for law enforcement to temporarily disarm individuals who display signs that they may harm themselves or others. I vow to keep working on common sense gun safety legislation so no American has to live in fear of gun violence.
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