Here are some of the priorities of our campaign. I support a woman’s right to determine what medical decisions are best for her and her family. I also want to protect families from gun violence. In 2018 we will morph our priorities into issues, with our various white papers on these issues.
We are running a bold progressive message. I believe that the 6th Congressional District of Arizona can be won with a message that creates a new economy that allows all of us to thrive, while also including everyone. I am proud to present our campaign’s priorities.
Standing With Our Brothers And Sisters With Disabilities:
I am part of the one in three Arizona voters who are directly impacted by disability, and recognize the many barriers that individuals and caregivers confront. People with cognitive, psychiatric, or physical disabilities from birth to late adulthood continually face obstacles based on assumptions of who they are and what they can not do.
I will fight alongside people with disabilities for the rights of people with disabilities of all ages to be fully valued and included in society.
I will introduce or support bills that remove physical barriers and facilitate the participation of people with disabilities in the greater community. I will oppose bills such as the American Disabilities Act Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620), which would make it easier for businesses to ignore the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and dilute the rights that people with disabilities have fought for.
Raise the Wage Act, is one of the bills I would support. This bill would phase out the ability of employers to pay some of our brothers and sisters with disabilities less than the minimum wage, when they create so much more value to that business’s bottom line. And I will support options to increase affordable, accessible integrated housing and community-based supports for people with disabilities, so that our disabled friends and family members no longer have to reside in nursing homes or other segregated settings, due to a lack of options.
I will work to ensure that all people with disabilities have equal access to integrated and quality educational and career-development opportunities. Our goal must be to build an education system that is not overly harsh and punitive to our children with disabilities. I will demand that IEP’s are a true partnership between teachers and parents, and not twenty plus pages of bureaucracy that only fuels resentment and frustration.
Finally, I support a single payer healthcare system, which would ensure that ALL people, regardless of preexisting conditions have access to high quality health and mental health care. I want to live in a world that is free of not only yearly limits, but lifetime limits. People with disabilities should never have to worry if they will live or die based on what Congress decides that year.
I Will Fight For Medicare-For-All:
Healthcare is a human right. Once we recognize that and acknowledge it, it becomes obvious that universal healthcare is the only path forward. While the Affordable Care Act vastly expanded Americans’ access to health care coverage, approximately 28 million people still do not have access to health insurance. Millions more remain underinsured. And with ballooning drug prices, one in five Americans cannot afford to fill a prescription due to costs. We can and must do better. In Congress, I will fight against any reduction in Americans’ current health care coverage and fiercely advocate to implement a Medicare-for-all, single-payer healthcare program to ensure that everyone has access to the care they need.
Under a single-payer system, all Americans, regardless of economic, employment, or medical status, will have access to medically appropriate care. Many health problems can be prevented by early and routine medical appointments. Under a single-payer system, people will no longer avoid that care because of cost—there will be no more bills, including no co-pays or deductibles—allowing any health problems that do arise to be discovered and dealt with prior to becoming emergent. Patients will be able to seek care from any participating health care provider they choose and doctors and nurses will once and for all be in charge of what care their patients need. Under a single-payer system, an unforeseen accident or illness will no longer mean losing coverage or the prospect of bankruptcy or financial ruin.
Moving to a single-payer model is not only the right thing to do, it is the most economical. Americans will save money with universal health care. Plan representatives will be able to directly negotiate the price of prescription drugs and medical devices in bulk, allowing Americans to finally obtain a fair deal. Workers will no longer feel locked into jobs because they need insurance, providing employees the freedom to take risks whether it be choosing to build their own business, go back to school, or stay home to provide care for their family. Single-payer health care will also free employers from the cost of providing health insurance to their workers, allowing companies to invest the time and money spent administering those plans back into the business, with additional funding for growth and research and development.
Transitioning to a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system is necessary. The transition, however, will likely not be easy and involve work. I will listen to those affected to find creative solutions to lessen that burden, including potentially seeking tax credits for those impacted by changes and creating policies to lower the cost of educational programs related to health care.
A Quality Education Is A Right Not A Privilege:
A public education is the great equalizer in our country, allowing opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, class, or zip code. In Congress I will work to ensure our public schools are fully funded to allow all students to reach their full potential and to provide community colleges with expanded backing to allow them to become the resource to move our workforce forward. Moreover, I will fight to ensure that every student that wants to attend college can.
I believe that public schools need full funding and resources if the students they teach are going to have a chance to succeed. Such resources start with skilled teachers with access to training and a commitment to smaller class sizes. We must also make early investments in both bilingual and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) programs so that our children have the best opportunity to thrive in today’s world.
In Congress, I will also work to ensure community colleges include offerings to prepare students for the jobs of the future, allowing workers already in the workforce an opportunity for retraining and an entry point into the new economy. While such classes may include writing computer code, they also may include training people to be home health aides to assist with the country’s aging population. We also need to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, which is going to take carpenters, boilermakers, electricians, welders, iron workers, boilermakers, and many other skilled labor positions, whom we can train and educate in our community colleges. Community colleges have the ability to revitalize the American workforce. They should be given the opportunity to do so.
I will also be a strong advocate for making college tuition and debt free. While higher education is not the path for all students, no person should be precluded from it as a result of how much money their family has and no student should have to incur massive debt to obtain it. I am a firm supporter of the College for All Act, a bill that would eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for students from families making up to $125,000 per year and would make community college tuition free for all attendees. “Free college” is not a new idea. Countries such as Norway, Germany, and Sweden have already put it in place. And states such as Tennessee and Oregon provide community college tuition free for qualifying students. It can and should be done for everyone.
Fixing Our Broken Immigration System:
America is not only a nation of immigrants, it is a nation of ideals. Its immigration policy should be tough but it should also be fair and espouse the very ethos that drives people to come here. In Washington, I will work to fix our broken immigration system by requiring reform, including the passage of a clean DREAM Act, while demanding a secure border and the humane implementation of our immigration policy.
Undocumented children brought by their parents into this country to live have built their lives here, know no other home than the United States, and only seek to fulfill their version of the American dream. I firmly support a DREAM Act that provides a pathway to citizenship for these children, assuming they have met certain requirements, and will work tirelessly to put such legislation into effect.
I will seek to create opportunity for those already here who are the parent of a resident by providing them with an ability to work, allowing them to participate in society and come out of the shadows, despite not being able to obtain citizenship. I will also work to modernize the Country’s H1-B visa program to provide more transparency into the lottery process so that employers can predict visa availability and plan accordingly.
I firmly believe that our border must be secure and will be an advocate for real solutions to keep nearby communities like Nogales and Douglas safe from those improperly trying to enter our country or to use their proximity for improper purposes. Fear-based proposals, such as a border wall, however, pose no real fix to these security challenges and I will steadfastly oppose them. Moreover, I will fight to ensure that immigration law is employed in a just fashion, including by advocating to end the use of private detention centers as part of my proposal to ban private prisons.
Animals, both domestic and wild, provide a sense of wonder and joy for all of us, myself included. In Congress, I will fight to protect our animal friends and their habitats.
The welfare of animals in our country is largely governed by the Animal Welfare Act and enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture. The Act, however, does not go far enough. “Puppy mills,” breeding operations where profit takes precedence over animal welfare, remain rampant in our country with estimates that there could be as many as 10,000 throughout the nation. If we cannot agree to eradicate this inhumane scourge, how will be able to agree on immigration, healthcare, or a number of other issues that confront us? I will work to strengthen the Act. I will also work to restore full public access to the USDA’s inspection reports and enforcement records. Such records were routinely used by everyone from animal advocates and state governments to journalists and consumers to monitor government regulation, expose violations, write state laws, and perform basic research about a breeder prior to making a decision to bring an animal into the home. The records were abruptly purged from public view earlier this year (2017) and have only been partially restored. Full access is needed.
I will also work to lessen the impact of natural disasters on pet owners and their animals. While some work was done after Hurricane Katrina to assist pet owners in crisis, owners too often face the difficult choice of whether they will be able to evacuate with their pets or be forced to risk their own safety and the safety of first responders by staying behind to care for their animals. Current law only requires that FEMA take into account owners’ needs, it does not require any specific action or outline concrete steps to be followed to evacuate or transport animals and it does not provide for any assistance in rescuing pets. Moreover, federal assistance can only occur after administrative hurdles are crossed, hurdles which can be too high to accomplish in the middle of an emergency. Like with the AWA, additional work is needed.
I will also work to fight for wildlife conservation and habitat protection programs, including by opposing projects that disrupt such environments like the proposed border wall.
Fighting For Equal Wages:
Equal pay for equal work is a concept inherent in American values. Yet despite our country’s belief in this mantra, it still is not borne out in practice. Today, women only earn 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, despite the laws in place and progress made. Women of color face an even greater gap. And these disparities only grow with time, jeopardizing women’s ability to retire. In Congress I will fight to close these holes so that everyone who does the same work receives the same reward and has an equal chance to succeed.
I support the Paycheck Fairness Act, the enactment of which will be a huge first step to pay parity. While the Equal Pay Act of 1963 does make it illegal for an employer to pay men and women differently for substantially equal work, the act has loopholes that this new legislation will fill. For example, employers often use an applicant’s salary history as a means of setting that person’s new compensation. However, if a female candidate has historically been paid less than the standard wage for the position based solely on her sex, such questions only perpetuate the disparity. The Paycheck Fairness Act generally prohibits employers from requiring applicants to provide their salary history during the interview and hiring process and ensures that once hired, employees are able to talk about their pay amongst one another without fear of retaliation by their employer. The Act also requires employers to prove that any pay disparities that do exist in the workforce exist for a legitimate job-related reason consistent with business necessity, something that was not previously codified.
The Paycheck Fairness Act, however, cannot solve every barrier to closing the pay gap. Prohibitions on paying persons less based on characteristics other than sex must also be explored and potentially put in place. Moreover, sometimes bias happens before an applicant even gets in the door based on the fact their name or other information stereotypically implies a certain sex, race, etc. The solution to the pay gap must therefore also include other proposals such as the use of a blind application process.
Allowing Our Older Adults To Age-In Place With Dignity:
My wife and I are proud members of the sandwich generation. We care for both a precocious preschooler and aging parents at the same time. After many sleepless nights, I understand the barriers and struggles many older adults face to remain in their own homes if their health declines.
About half of people age 65 and older depend on Social Security for most (more than 50 percent) of their retirement income; it is not something to gamble with; and we all know the population over 65 is rapidly increasing. Therefore, I will fight to protect Social Security and fight any move towards privatization. I will also strive to ensure older adults and individuals with disabilities receive the services and supports necessary to enable them to stay in their own homes or the community of their choosing by supporting and expanding home and community-based services (HCBS), such as home care or home health, adult day, and respite services. I also believe that a single payer healthcare system will reduce the cost of prescription drugs and make the expansion of HCBS a reality.
I support an increase to Social Security Block grants. These programs are often used by older adults and people with disabilities to repair their homes or modify them so that they are wheelchair-accessible. Further, the increased availability of affordable, accessible, supportive housing through HUD will provide more assistance to those who don’t necessarily need costly 24-hour care provided by a nursing home.
Family caregivers save our country millions of dollars by helping to provide care for their loved ones in their own homes, often compromising their own health, employment, and financial well-being in the process. As a society, we need to better support and appreciate these caregivers. The provision of additional caregiver tax credits or financial assistance, expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act to employers with less than 50 employees, and increasing funding options for respite care in a range of settings may help reduce caregiving barriers.
More than one in three older adults will also be victims of financial exploitation. I will support any legislation that protects them, as well as ensure that Medicaid/Medicare fraud and abuse units are fully funded and staffed. Providers in any services and supports setting who abuse beneficiaries or defraud our government must to be prosecuted.
Restoring Faith In Our Criminal Justice System:
Being tough on crime does not mean foregoing our values as Americans. In Congress, I will work to ban private prisons and require federal oversight of officer-involved shootings to ensure that our system remains morally right and fair for everyone. I will also work to fund programs that reduce crime and will seek to decriminalize marijuana.
Prison as a business is bad for all Americans. While the Justice Department had stated that it planned to end its use of private prisons after concluding that the facilities are neither as safe nor as effective as government-run institutions, that decision has now been withdrawn by the new administration. Such facilities, in comparison to their government counterparts, generally have higher rates of recidivism, provide substandard rehabilitative resources and care, have higher rates of safety and security incidents, and result in no clear cost savings from their use. Moreover, in addition to being bad policy, private prisons are also poor employers. For example, private prisons in many cases “save” money by paying their corrections officers less. In Arizona the starting pay for a corrections officer at a private prison is significantly lower for the same position at a state or county-run facility.
Officer-involved shootings are a source of concern for all involved, including the police officer at issue. I will fight to have such incidents investigated by the FBI and any resulting prosecutions handled by the United States Attorney’s office. Allowing for such independent review will free local law enforcement from investigating themselves and provide reassurance to all involved that justice will be served.
I will also work to ensure that we invest in stopping crimes before they start. I will fight for mandatory deescalation training and programs that help individuals suffering from substance abuse or mental health problems. And I will work to expand resources for community policing initiatives so officers and the people they protect can meet one another for the first time before an incident occurs, not after it.
I will also seek to amend the Controlled Substances Act to remove marijuana as a Schedule I drug, decriminalizing it at the federal level. The investigation and prosecution of marijuana related crimes are a drain on law enforcement without any substantial benefit. Instead, marijuana should be regulated by the states similar to tobacco and alcohol.
While the recognition of gay marriage seemed like a tipping point in the struggle for LGBTQ equality the new administration has taught us that we cannot become complacent with any achievement and must continue to move forward. In Congress I will work to ensure that rights for LGBTQ persons become codified at the federal level, schools are inclusive, and that the United States continues to be an active voice in the struggle for LGBTQ rights throughout the world.
I firmly support the Equality Act, which expands the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, and other anti-discrimination laws to specifically include protections for persons based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. While these laws have been interpreted by agencies to include LGBTQ persons in the past, those interpretations can and have changed with the new party in power. Basic rights should never waver based on politics. Passage of the Equality Act is necessary to ensure that LGBTQ persons have the safety and security under the law they are entitled to. LGBTQ members of the Armed Forces are an asset to this country and should be allowed to do their duty openly. Attempts at banning transgender persons from service are not only morally repugnant, they are a disservice to our country. In Congress, I will fight any effort to divide and weaken our military by evaluating persons on a basis other than their ability to serve and will back legislation that protects our transgender troops.
I support programs that teach tolerance through the school systems and provide protections for LGBTQ students through education and programs that prohibit harassment and bullying.
And as a world leader, I believe the United States has a role to play in protecting the rights of LGBTQ persons in other countries. In Congress, I will strive to ensure that America’s foreign policy is LGBTQ inclusive and will support the work of the State Department’s Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons.
We Are Going To Build Silicon Oasis And Create New Jobs:
Living in Los Angeles in the early 2000s, I saw how the city was transformed by the tech industry with the creation of Silicon Beach. And two of the most instrumental people of Silicon Beach sponsored me before the Arizona Bar Association when I moved to Arizona to practice law. These experiences taught me that development of a Silicon Oasis in North Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Cave Creek will require three equally important factors: improving our public schools; developing new technology that will disrupt and change our world; and training and retraining our workforce for the new economy.
People in Arizona’s Sixth District want better public schools and so do entrepreneurs and technology companies. If we are going to attract and retain our top tech talent, our public schools must improve. On the federal level, I will require that Arizona has the resources it needs to provide a quality education to all students. I will strengthen the protections for unions that teachers rely upon to drive better pay. I will also support legislation that reduces the number of police officers in our schools and raises the number of nurses and guidance counselors. Not everyone desires a career that requires a college degree, but everyone wants a good job with good pay. I will ensure that proper investments are made in career and technical education and incentivize businesses to get involved to help raise the prestige of this under-appreciated, under-utilized vocational pathway. More students could then graduate high school with a certificate, credential, or license in fields desperate for trained workers, so that they are able to acquire well-paying jobs. I will fight for a national $15.00 per hour minimum wage.
Next, we must leverage the technology know-how that we have in the district. Already in this state we have people who are perfecting driverless cars technology. From blockchain to crypto-currency, to solar, to wearable technology, we have the building blocks to make our area ground-zero for a new economy. We also have many successful men and women who have retired but who are still willing and eager to mentor the next generation. And, we have talented investment professionals who can help with angel capital, seed capital, and incubation of small start-up companies. We need to cultivate an atmosphere that unites our tremendous investment prowess with our technology knowledge and our business acumen to create a Silicon Oasis. I will do this by fighting for tax breaks and creating a new class of capital gains taxes for money that is invested in start-ups with less than ten employees or with a value of less than five million dollars.
If we are going to have a sustainable Silicon Oasis, then we must value all the men and women who help build it — equally; from the home health aide, to the ironworker, to the programmer, to the school teacher, to the school’s cooks who makes more affordable and nutritional food. That starts by advocating for free community college in the state of Arizona, which will improve many workforce challenges facing our area. Due to disruptive technologies, some will need to be re-trained in new career fields. We also have a large older adult population but a shortage of home care workers. We need to train and retrain people on how to become home health aides, provide physical therapy in people’s homes, and create diet plans that people can stick with and will not interfere with their medication. We must foster an environment where educational opportunities exist for everyone and where everyone’s contributions are honored.
Protecting Our Environment:
For many Americans, protecting the environment seems unimportant. They can’t see how something invisible that you can’t touch, like air quality, can impact the health of their neighbors and their own children. Yet, protecting the environment and ceasing to harm it even further is the moral imperative of our time. We must convince people to care by making stories of the environment personal and actionable. That is why I tell the story of south Phoenix, where the bus yards are located. In the mornings when hundreds of buses start their diesel engines, the community is enveloped in a cloud of smoke. It is no wonder why people in south Phoenix have the highest rate of asthma in the state. Demanding that all buses parked in south Phoenix switch from diesel to electric is part of the story we must tell.
We cannot talk about the environment without talking about environmental justice. To that end, I would resist any attempt to disenfranchise lower-income communities, by placing a coal-fueled power-plant, oil refinery, and or pipeline in their neighborhoods. We also must hold corporations accountable for all of the destruction they cause to our country. We can start by hiring more inspectors to monitor our super-fund sites (e.g., areas destroyed by toxic waste dumps), typically located in these lower-income communities.
I know that climate change is real; and we humans are causing it. In fact, the United States is one of the biggest offenders of global warming. I would support any policy that promotes the growth of clean, renewable energy and discontinue any support for fossil fuels. I would lead the charge against any rollbacks on environmental protections, including car and truck fuel efficiency standards, exploratory drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge (AWR), inclusion of green house gas emissions in environmental reviews, and offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. We continue to participate in fracking without fully understanding its effects to our environment. Instead, we must invest in research that evaluates this and any other invasive process to affirm that we are using processes that are least destructive to our environment.
For the safety of our planet, it is time we act now with the global community to reverse the damage we have done. As such, we need to lead by example. Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement was disastrous to our relationships abroad, as well as our own health. I would applaud all mayors, city councils, governors and leaders of industry who will continue to be bound by the accord.