Why I’m Running

Every day we’re hearing about more things coming out of the Trump administration that in the past were unthinkable. This is our reality now. Instead of worrying about whether our kids will eventually get into a good college or find a good job we’re worried about whether we’re going to enter into a new world war. We’re worried about our neighbors and our friends, those who don’t look like us or carry the privileges we have. We’re seeing this administration target minority groups in ways that make us less safe and less free as citizens and as a nation. This is not the America I know.

I have met many people across party and demographic lines from the district in the short time I’ve been campaigning. I’ve met people who care about many diverse issues. Coal ash and affordable college. Gun control and gerrymandering. Free press and free speech. Healthcare and higher wages. Voter suppression and taking care of our veterans. We may disagree on how we address these issues, but one thing unites us; we all care. We care about the future of our families, our district, and our country.

I want to defeat Patrick McHenry. But that will require resources. We need your help. We need volunteers and we need contributions. I want the backbone of my campaign to be the individual citizens who are compelled to support the change they desire. But a blanket stand against corporate money is not representative of our district. Corporations are not just the mega-corporations who refuse to provide living wages and work to destroy our labor unions, stifling our middle class. Corporations include small businesses. They’re not the 1%. They’re hard-working Americans who have built something that contributes to the communities where they do business.

I’m not an establishment politician. I don’t come from money nor do I have big donors backing my campaign. The way I talk about making corporations pay their fair share of taxes is not going to win me big corporate dollars. But if I made a pledge of no corporate dollars, I’d be a liar if I later took money from a small business in our district who agreed with our progressive message that includes putting the needs of small businesses above massive subsidies to big corporations.

I support public funding for elections.  I believe in forcing our representatives to compete on an even playing field so that if they fail to serve the people they represent, a challenger has a fair opportunity to defeat them.  Big money should not be able to have a finger on the scales of electoral justice. I believe in overturning Citizens United. I hope, in office, I can be a leader in making those changes happen. But that is not the system that we have today and we’re in a David versus Goliath fight for the soul of our country.

I have been taking the time to get to know the people of our district- what matters most to them, what their concerns are. I have supported those candidates in municipal elections that offer an agenda of progress. When I get the opportunity to meet with citizens, I spend more time taking questions and listening than I do talking. I passionately want to represent all of the people in the district.

Right now we have a representative who does not represent the interests of the people of the district. He says that he’s “proud” to further Trump’s dangerous domestic and foreign policy agenda. He voted against quality healthcare, against protections for our environment, and against common sense gun control. He does this because he’s been paid to represent the interests of his donors whose interests directly conflict with the interests of his constituents. He doesn’t care.

I promise to remain a true representative of the people of this district. I promise to only accept funding from persons and groups that do not conflict with the best interests of this district. I promise to fight every day for a progressive agenda that will lift up our district and not line the pockets of the most affluent in this country. I hope you will support me and join in this fight. And I look forward to continuing to get to know you and listening to your concerns. We can only win if we unite behind our common goals. Apathy and passivity can no longer be what defines us. If we truly care about moving forward and prospering as a country and a district we must fight, we must resist. We are in this together. We must fight and win for District 10 and for our future as a nation. Together, we can take back our district and our future.

Protecting the Right to Protest

The First Amendment explicitly protects freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest police violence against minorities and the system that protects police officers from the consequences of their actions is a right guaranteed to all Americans by our Constitution. It is not disrespectful to question your government when you believe that it is unjust in the way it treats people. It a patriotic duty for us to speak out.

The attempts to sully peaceful protest by accusing them of dishonoring those who gave their lives serving in the military is distasteful and completely misunderstands the reason they sacrifice themselves for our country. Our service men and women sacrifice so that you can protest or not protest. That is what freedom is all about. They don’t fight for a flag. They fight for the ideals that the flag represents. The First Amendment is fundamental to our democracy and we must protect it. Otherwise, we will lose it.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/29/sport/colin-kaepernick-flag-protest-has-history-trnd/index.html

DACA is Only the First Step

I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true. We are a nation of immigrants. From the time of our founding, this country has been a place of refuge for people fleeing from persecution. Some of the founders of our Republic, most notably, Alexander Hamilton were from other countries. Our shores have been open to anyone fleeing persecution or seeking a better life in a place of seemingly endless opportunity.

Many of our ancestors made it to Ellis Island with nothing more than the clothes on their and were accepted into the country. They went on to build our cities, bridges, and roads. Their children have made America what it is and to say otherwise is to speak nonsense. Yes, we are a nation of immigrants.

Unfortunately, we have not always been welcoming.  In the 1880s, Congress passed a law banning all Chinese immigrants from immigrating to the country. In 1921 they passed quota laws. These laws put limits on immigration. The laws favored European immigrants over others and set strict quotas on the rest. These laws were on the book until 1965 when Congress passed the Immigration and Naturalization Act that did away with quotas and allowed families to sponsor relatives from their countries of origin. Immigration was made simpler and because of that, countries that had once been strictly limited in their immigration such as Latin America and Asia now had the same right to immigrate as anyone else.

Our country has gone through cycles of liberality and restriction and now it seems we have gone back to restrictive immigration policies that welcome some and exclude others. People with brown skin are being told they are not welcome here. This is unamerican and goes against the founding principle of equality that is the basis of our entire system of government.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the current administration ending the DACA program. The “Dreamers” were brought here by their parents. They did not choose to come here. How could they choose when the average age was six? But they are here. This is the only country they’ve ever known. Some were too young to remember their country of origin while others have never made trips back. Some don’t even the speak the language of the country they come from.

They have businesses, own homes, serve in the military and teach our children. They have no criminal records because if they did, they wouldn’t be allowed either to enroll or renew their status. There are 800,000 people living here under DACA status and it is a travesty that they should have to live with the uncertainty they currently face. This program should be put into statute and if I am elected I will fight to see that it is. They should not only be allowed to stay, but they should also have a path to citizenship.

But fixing this one program barely puts a dent into fixing our immigration system. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We need to enable those folks that are here undocumented to have a way to change their status and receive a path to citizenship.

We also need to streamline the process of getting legal status. With today’s technology, it shouldn’t take years to do satisfactory vetting. We should use the same criteria for all who wish to enter and not single out persons based on their religion or their country of origin.  We need to make the financial expense to immigrate less cumbersome. It takes up to $15,000 to ultimately attain legal status in this country thereby excluding the majority of people fleeing war, genocide and economic hardship in their countries of origin.

I believe that we should have adequate border security and a rigorous vetting process. But I also think Trump’s wall is both unnecessary and blatantly racist and I will oppose any attempts to fund a wall on our Southern Borders. We need security, but we also need to be fair.

Many of those coming from Mexico and Latin America are here as agricultural workers. They staff hotels, kitchens, and do many jobs Americans are unwilling to do. There should be a robust worker visa program that takes into account the economic impact of racial profiling folks coming from Mexico and Latin America. Without these workers, our economy will grind to a halt. It is a myth that they are taking jobs away from Americans.

A comprehensive study completed by Francine D. Blau shows that the overall impact of immigrants on the economy is positive. While the study does show first generation immigrants tend to require more in the way of assistant while they look for work, by the third generation they are here, they contribute around $223,000,000,000 to the overall economy. Laborers do the jobs Americans won’t and skilled workers contribute expertise and innovation which create jobs. There is no question, our economy would collapse without immigrants.

The same can be said for refugees. A study by Health and Human Services found that over ten years, refugees contributed $63,000,000,000 to the economy. Also, there have been no known terror attacks committed by refugees in this country in recent memory. No vetting system is perfect, but ours has been pretty stellar in its results regarding refugees.

We are a nation of laws. That is true. But we are also a nation of compassion. We have seen this in recent weeks as Americans have responded to the recent hurricanes. We understand what it means to help our neighbors. Do we want the world to see us as a fortress or as a beacon of freedom? I would prefer the latter. Wouldn’t you?

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/22/us/immigrants-arent-taking-americans-jobs-new-study-finds.html

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155005274470847&id=72186095846

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/05/15/north-carolina-needed-6500-farm-workers-only-7-americans-stuck-it-out/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/us/politics/refugees-revenue-cost-report-trump.html?mcubz=1