I am running to save our healthcare, jobs, veterans’ benefits and natural resources from the measures enacted by our rubber stamp career politician: Paul Cook. Congressman Cook has been removing protections from our most vulnerable neighbors, including our senior citizens, immigrants, and the poor, while privatizing our precious resources for corporate profit. The people of California’s 8th district deserve better.
Marge is a local leader in healthcare
As a nurse and healthcare leader in a low-income rural community, I see my patients and neighbors scared and uncertain about their future health coverage. The people of our district deserve the reassurance that they can access healthcare when they need it, but threats to our current system have resulted in an unstable insurance market and rising costs. Meanwhile, our current Congressman voted to strip health coverage away from 22 million Americans--including over 100,000 people in our district--and voted for a budget that strips over one trillion dollars from healthcare.
Your Healthcare Needs
It is time to stop playing political ping-pong with people’s health. I will fight to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable healthcare. We must preserve the critical protections of the Affordable Care Act while moving towards long-term universal healthcare solutions that provide medical security and peace of mind for all in this country. This means expanding the reach of successful programs like Medicare, not further shrinking and privatizing our care! Efforts to decrease coverage just create chaos and poor outcomes for workers, families, seniors, and individuals with preexisting conditions, as well as for our overall economy.
Containing Costs and Preserving Services
With my decades-long experience in healthcare leadership, I will fight against excessive premium increases and prescription drug costs. I will work to preserve and promote access to public health services for poor, rural, and underserved communities, as well as access to care for addiction services to combat the opioid crisis and other drug epidemics plaguing our region. I will also fight to preserve mental health coverage on a par with other coverage in our healthcare system, and for policies that treat gun violence as the public health crisis it is. I will oppose any attempt to inhibit access to comprehensive reproductive health services, and will advocate for increased medical and public health research. By focusing on lifesaving and cost-saving preventive care and early intervention programs, we can target care in fiscally responsible ways that improve long-term health outcomes, stop the overuse of costly emergency services and save money.
To better serve our veterans’ health, I propose to make all federally qualified health clinics in the country accessible to vets under the VA system. This will nearly double the available points of access for healthcare to veterans clinics nationwide, including in many rural areas that may not otherwise be served by the Veterans Administration.
I will also fight to protect and increase the healthcare jobs that are central to our region’s economy. The health sector is an economic anchor and employment engine throughout our district, and medical facility closures and cuts to health funding threaten both lives and jobs, particularly in our most rural areas and tribal lands. As an elected official on the Board of the Morongo Basin Healthcare District, I successfully worked to save our community's hospital from closing, stabilized the healthcare district’s finances, and prevented the loss of 600 healthcare jobs. Sadly, many other rural hospitals have closed across California and nationwide, leaving a healthcare and economic vacuum in their wake, and hundreds more are at risk.
Protecting Our Rural Health Centers
We must protect our remaining rural hospitals and community health centers and bring more high-quality facilities to the district, including a trauma center in the High Desert. We also must strengthen healthcare jobs training and expand the home care workforce to give our seniors and neighbors with disabilities access to quality, affordable long-term care, services, and supports, as well as increase student loan repayment assistance for medical professionals who opt to work in rural settings.
Our rural and tribal areas also depend on physicians from around the world to serve our neediest populations. I support the bipartisan Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act, which allows international doctors to remain in the U.S. upon completing their residency under the condition that they practice in rural and underserved communities, and I will oppose any immigration bans and visa restrictions that needlessly jeopardize our district’s ability to attract and retain quality medical professionals.
Our Beautiful District
California’s 8th district contains some of America’s most pristine and beloved outdoor spaces, from the desert landscapes of Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks to the ski slopes of Mammoth Mountain and Big Bear. Our district contains natural treasures like Mount Whitney--the highest peak in the lower 48 states, Mono Lake, ancient bristlecone pine forests, and millions of acres of public lands such as Mojave Trails National Monument, Mojave National Preserve, Sand to Snow National Monument, and the Inyo, Angeles, and San Bernardino National Forests.
Our District Is Under Threat
Our district also contains infamous sites of industrial contamination and life-threatening pollution. These include Hinkley--where the community’s struggle with chemically-contaminated groundwater inspired the movie Erin Brockovich--and the Owens Valley, where enormous amounts of windblown dust from the dry Owens lakebed regularly exceed federal air pollution standards for particulate matter, affecting 40,000 permanent residents and hundreds of thousands of seasonal visitors per year.
We Must Not Let Outsiders Steal Our Valuable Water
The controversial draining of Owens Lake to provide water to Los Angeles inspired another famous movie--Chinatown--and the paradoxical export of water from our arid district continues to be big business. Currently, the Trump administration just reversed longstanding protections to allow the controversial Cadiz Inc. groundwater mining project to go forward. The Cadiz project would pump 16 billion gallons of water per year from the Mojave Desert to Orange County, draining springs connected to Mojave National Preserve and threatening wildlife and plant life that rely on fragile desert water sources. Congressman Paul Cook supports the Cadiz project and proposed removing nearly half a million acres of the Cadiz Valley from Mojave National Trails Monument to facilitate it.
Marge Will Fight For Us!
I will fight to defend our priceless public lands, not shrink them, and I will advocate for clean air and water for the health of our children and every district resident. Water in the desert is not a renewable resource, and I oppose the harmful extraction of water from our fragile ecosystems for private profit.
Our Military Depends on Our Desert
Our public lands are also critical to our military’s mission in the desert. As Major General Paul Eaton has noted, the vast public lands surrounding our region’s many military installations provide a necessary buffer for the military against urban development, mining, renewable energy facilities, utility and transportation corridors, and recreational activities.
Tourism Is One of Our Biggest (And Growing) Economic Assets
Our tourism and outdoor recreation economy likewise depends on preserving and protecting our district’s unique natural resources. As a destination region filled with lands of natural wonder and beauty, we welcome millions of visitors a year. From climbers to OHV enthusiasts, hunters to hikers, skiers to boaters--outdoor recreation and sightseeing constitute an economic powerhouse fueling countless small businesses and jobs in the district. The erosion of protections for public lands, unsustainable resource extraction, and climate change all threaten this vibrant economy and the local jobs it sustains.
Our District Is Highly Vulnerable to Climate Change
As a region of climate extremes already, the 8th district is a bellwether of climate change and particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events. Death Valley National Park recently broke its 100-year-old record for the hottest month ever, wildfires across the district have intensified, and snowfall in our Eastern Sierra and San Bernardino mountains is increasingly unpredictable--our residents and businesses know that climate change is real. Climate change poses an existential threat to our seasonal industries and sensitive desert and mountain regions, as well as to the long-term livability of our high desert communities.
Our Health Depends on a Healthy Climate
The California Department of Public Health warns that climate change-related health impacts can include heat-related illness and death, more air pollution-related exacerbations of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, increased injury and loss of life due to severe storms and flooding, increased occurrences of vector-borne and waterborne diseases, and stress and mental trauma from loss of livelihoods, property loss, and displacement. We must adapt to climate challenges and reduce our carbon footprint by limiting greenhouse gas pollution and adopting more efficient technologies and renewable energy sources. America has always been at the forefront of innovation, and as Americans we must remain loyal to that patriotic heritage as we respond to this challenge. Otherwise, our children face unacceptable risks to their health, prosperity, security, and environment.
We Can Add Clean Energy Jobs to Benefit Our Community
Our commitment to meeting the climate challenge must also be reflected in the infrastructure investments we make. We can improve our economy in the district by bringing in clean industry and sustainable energy jobs, as well as bolstering local educational opportunities to teach tomorrow’s workers vitally needed skilled trades and technical jobs. We need to make our existing infrastructure safer and cleaner and build the new infrastructure necessary to power our clean energy future.
Equal Access to Reliable Internet Is Vital to Our Rural Communities
Our modern economy relies on high-speed Internet and a secure, reliable electrical grid, yet rural areas in our district are lagging behind. A major broadband infrastructure project, the Digital 365 initiative, completed an open access fiber optic “backbone” between Reno and Barstow in 2014, but many communities in Mono and Inyo Counties still lack connectivity to high speed service. Families, businesses and entrepreneurs in our small towns need faster residential and business broadband service, including gigabit-class fiber-to-the-home service. I will work on expanding broadband access the “final mile” to rural communities and upgrading our electrical grid to encourage economic growth and bring good, high-paying jobs to our area.
We Need More Good Union Jobs That Can't Be Outsourced
To create good-paying middle class jobs that cannot be outsourced, I support high labor standards and the right to form or join a union. I will work to expand access to cost-saving renewable energy by low-income households, create good-paying jobs in communities that have struggled with energy poverty, and oppose efforts by utilities to limit consumer choice or slow clean energy deployment.
We Need to Streamline Permits for Renewable Energy Projects
I support streamlining federal permitting to accelerate the construction of new transmission lines to get low-cost renewable energy to market, and I will work to incentivize wind, solar, and other renewable energy over the development of new natural gas power plants. I will also work to eliminate special tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel companies as well as to defend and extend tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy.
Clean Energy Projects That Don't Impact Sensitive Desert Ecosystems
In promoting clean energy investment in our district, we must always remain mindful of the impact of large scale renewable energy installations on our natural landscapes, ecosystems, and neighboring communities. New solar and wind energy facilities and transmission corridors should be in locations that have minimal impact on virgin desert habitat, natural resources, and nearby landowners. We can accomplish the most good by comprehensively integrating solar power systems and efficiency upgrades into the built environment as well as developing larger renewable energy facilities on land already contaminated or degraded by previous human use.
Under the Constitution We Are All Created Equal
As a Christian, I consider myself a child of God and believe that we all are. I see this as the great equalizer among people. If we are all equal before God, then we must treat each other with dignity and respect regardless of race, gender identity, sexual preference, religion, or country of origin. This value happens to coincide with the patriotic duty enshrined in the Constitution that all are “created equal.” Because this is a personal core belief, I will work to protect these basic and valued human rights for all.
Working People Are Suffering And Need Much More Support
Today’s extreme income and wealth inequality makes our economy weaker, our communities poorer, and our politics poisonous. Working people have longer hours, less security, and stagnant wages, while the cost of everything from childcare to a college education continues to rise. I support raising the federal minimum wage to $15, protecting the right to form and join a union, and supporting employers who provide their workers with a living wage, good benefits and family leave, and the opportunity to unionize.
Access to Education Is Key to Our Progress
Every child, no matter who they are, how much their families earn, or where they live, should have access to a high-quality education. I believe in making universal preschool and world-class public schools available to every child, and that every student should be able to graduate from college debt-free. I will advocate for lower interest rates on student loan debt and protection of loan repayment and forgiveness programs for graduates in public service, including for educators and healthcare workers who choose to work in rural, tribal, and other underserved communities.
We Aspire to Bringing Higher Education to the 8th District
Our district’s public schools and community colleges provide an invaluable educational service, as well as form a key economic pillar of our communities. However, our vast district--which is larger than the entire state of South Carolina--currently lacks any four-year public college, and only 17% of district residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher. I will work to bring a bachelor’s and graduate degree-granting public university to the high desert to better serve our local students and increase access to higher education in our region.
Prisons or Schools?
Like other low-income, rural areas around the country, our district has more prisons than universities. This is tragic. Our communities need broadly diversified economies that do not rely on incarceration or immigration detention for stable jobs. We must end the school-to-prison pipeline and build a cradle-to-college pipeline instead, where every child can live up to his or her God-given potential.
Our Broken Immigration System Needs to Be Fixed
This nation was built on the strength of our immigrants. If you are not a Native American, you come from a heritage of immigration. Our strength is in our diversity. Only small-minded politicians will attempt to exploit and divide us over this issue. We need to fix our broken immigration system, which tears families apart and keeps workers in the shadows. Immigration enforcement must be humane and consistent with our American values, prioritizing those who pose a threat to the safety of our communities, not hardworking families who are contributing to their communities and our country. I support continued protections for DACA recipients (DREAMers) and will join the bipartisan push for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented immigrants. While maintaining rigorous screening and vetting, we must also continue to provide safe haven for religious minorities and those fleeing violence abroad, without implementing stigmatizing bans that play into a politics of fear.
We Can Learn From Our History
Our own district is familiar with the mistakes of the past: During World War II, the U.S. government ordered more than 110,000 Japanese-American men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps, including Manzanar War Relocation Center in the Owens Valley. Now preserved as a National Historic Site, Manzanar is a stark reminder that when we allow fear to determine our policy, the outcomes are horrendous and inhumane. Yet, today, we see similar reactions to our Muslim brothers and sisters in America as well as discrimination against vulnerable refugees fleeing war and persecution abroad. We must take care to learn from history and guard against painting any group with the broad brush of hate, suspicion and fear.
We Honor and Appreciate Our Whole Military Community
In our district we are privileged to have several of the largest and most strategically significant military training and logistics centers in the country, including Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Fort Irwin National Training Center, China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, and the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Mono County. Our service members and military families are an integral part of our district’s economic and social fabric, and we honor them for their service at home and around the globe.
Training and Preparedness Are Vital
We must prioritize military readiness and disaster preparedness by making sure our Active, Reserve, and National Guard components remain the best trained and equipped in the world. I support a smart, predictable defense budget that meets the strategic challenges we face, protects our troops, and carefully scrutinizes all private defense contracts to avoid fraud and waste.
A Diverse Military Is a Strong Military
Our military is strongest when people of all races, religions, national origins, sexual orientations, and gender identities are honored for their service to our country. Discriminatory restrictions that prevent qualified, patriotic Americans from serving their country have no place in our modern armed forces. I will also work to protect programs that provide expedited naturalization procedures for noncitizen members of the U.S. armed forces and veterans, as well as for spouses of servicemembers who are or will be deployed.
Our Vets Deserve Better Care
We must take care of those who have put their lives on the line to defend us. I will push for more educational benefits and job training, solutions to veteran homelessness and suicide, and to protect and preserve the post-9/11 GI Bill for future generations. I propose to make all federally qualified health clinics in the country accessible to vets under the VA system. The VA also must be fully resourced so that every veteran gets the care that he or she has earned and deserves, including those suffering from sexual assault, mental illness and other injuries or ailments.
Military Families Must Be Fully Supported
Military families must be fully supported with jobs, education, childcare, and healthcare. I will promote family-friendly policies and champion efforts to care for our military family members, especially for military spouses and children who have to rebuild their lives after the loss of a loved one or life-altering injury or disability.
The Resilience of Our Community Is Our Best Defense
In an era of senseless terrorist attacks around the world, we must remain a resilient nation, always coming together to stand up to terror. We can promote greater security at home by investing more resources to improve mass transit, aviation, infrastructure, and port security and to ensure that the intelligence community and law enforcement is prepared to deal effectively with the threats we face. We must work to dismantle the global network of terror, which supplies terrorists with money, arms, and fighters, and stop them from recruiting and inspiring potential radicals in person and online.
Upgrading Our Cybersecurity Should Be a Much Higher Priority
We also must secure our industry, infrastructure, and government from cyberattacks, while protecting the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. I will work toward modernization of federal information technology, better communication between the technology and public safety communities, upgrades to government-wide cybersecurity, and faster notification to the victims of hacking attacks.
As Americans we enjoy many rights, privileges and responsibilities: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is in our Declaration of Independence and the right to keep and bear arms is in the Second Amendment to our constitution. I believe in our founding documents and in the rights that they guarantee.
We have been challenged in recent years with a situation where these rights intersect. Americans are weary of waking up to a new mass shooting on what can feel like a daily basis. Others are fearful that the reaction to these events will result in losing their rights to have guns for sport and personal protection. So how can we resolve this while protecting everyone’s rights?
As a nation, we must find a way to balance our shared rights. Safety should be our guiding principle. The right to protect one's home has to be balanced with the right of the public to protect itself from individuals who cannot or will not conform to safety standards. For those who own guns, safety in their use, storage, and maintenance must be key. Just as most states require driving safety courses for new drivers, having new gun owners take courses in gun safety seems like a good first step to prevent tragedy.
Mass shootings have become a huge public health issue for our country. When faced with a challenge, America has always responded. Data often can be helpful in finding incremental solutions. Unfortunately, we currently have a moratorium on studying gun-related issues. I believe that this is counterintuitive and would move to lift this prohibition and allow the CDC to conduct studies to help guide our future actions.
In the past, we had an “assault weapons ban.” Since this law lapsed in 2004, the rate of mass casualty gun violence has risen. I support a renewed ban on the sale of assault weapons that does not have a sunset clause. I further support a voluntary buy-back of existing weapons of this type. Since this is voluntary, gun owners can decide for themselves if they would like to help reduce the numbers of these weapons in the country which may fall into the wrong hands.
I also support universal background checks on all gun sales–including internet and gun show sales. Individuals with violent backgrounds (including domestic violence) and others currently excluded from gun ownership should not be able to purchase weapons.
Contrary to the assumptions of many, individuals who act to murder others in mass shootings are not necessarily mentally ill. They are often experiencing severe situational stressors that lead to desperation and horrific acts. The “see something, say something” movement has proven to be effective in identifying at-risk individuals to officials. However, because civil rights and due process exist in our country, police and mental health professionals are often limited in their ability to respond in effective ways to these reports. Two states have put into place a “Gun Violence Restraining Order.” This works like other restraining orders, but focuses on access to guns. It provides for the identified individual to have a hearing before a judge to respond to the request for the GVRO. In short, it is a way to protect individual rights while also protecting the community at large. I support having this process in all of our states and territories.
Finally, I support full funding of healthcare treatment including general healthcare, behavioral healthcare and addiction treatment. Regardless of diagnosis, the people of this country deserve these essential services when they need them. Prevention is not only cost-effective, it has the best outcomes. (See our section on healthcare for further details.)
In the years between 1999 and 2015, the number of gun deaths in the U.S. amounted to more than 533,000 people. That is 12% of all deaths. That, and the increasing frequency of attacks on our most vulnerable populations in school shootings, shows just how ineffective our response to gun violence has been. These are not acts by isolated mental health victims.
The law, and the Supreme Court, have affirmed that Congress and the States have both a right and duty to set reasonable limits and standards for management of individual use of firearms. I pledge to bring all parties to the table to discover, discuss, and enact effective standards. I am prepared to do whatever it takes to both retain our right to keep and bear arms, and to reduce abuse by individuals who cannot or will not exercise normal safety standards.
Congress has this duty to perform for all of its citizens and for all of our natural human rights as well as those listed in the Constitution. I believe that it will take a combination of enforceable methods, e.g., limiting the sale and purchase of some types of assault weapons, more effective safety training for gun owners, effective background checks, and appropriate standards for licensing that we already have in place for other activities like driving a car or piloting an aircraft.
Saying that more gun ownership increases safety is like saying more cars on the road reduces the probability of a traffic death. It is better traffic controls, education, and enforcement that make the difference.