I know first-hand the value of a good public education. As a first-generation student, I depended on my teachers’ guidance to navigate through classes, shape my goals and pursue my ambitions. Without the support of my public-school educators, I wouldn’t have graduated from UC Berkeley or obtained my law degree.
I am a professor at Fresno City College because I want to provide students with the same guidance and support that I received. Most of the students that I teach come from similar backgrounds as myself, and I want to make sure that the next generation sees people in positions of power that they can relate to.
When I speak with my students, I hear about how they are struggling to balance it all – school, work, personal lives and their finances. Too many students are crippled with high debt loads right as they start their careers. And, I understand that struggle because I am still burdened by my student loan debt ten years after graduating.
I am passionate about expanding educational opportunities, and I have a long track record of advocating for good education for all. As a Fresno City Councilmember, I helped expand Fresno City College campuses into the City’s two most low-income neighborhoods. And, I also helped create a scholarship fund for DREAMers at Fresno City College.
As a member of Congress, I will fight to make college more affordable and accessible for all students. I will support student loan forgiveness programs, as well as support tuition-free community college and vocational training programs. I will also work to strengthen our kindergarten through 12 public education system, supporting our teachers, providing them with the resources they need and advocating for universal pre-kindergarten education.
Environment & Environmental Justice
For generations, Central Valley residents have struggled with poor air quality and a lack of access to clean drinking water. Today, new threats from climate change have raised the stakes – threats that disproportionately impact low-income and communities of color. Addressing climate change is no longer just about protecting the environment, it’s also about protecting our health, addressing energy inequity and now potentially our economic equity. We can do good for the environment while also creating economic opportunity for working families in the Valley.
California has long been a national leader on climate change and the environment. We have innovated policies to dramatically expand the use of renewable energy, protect our water, reduce carbon emissions, and clean our air. However, the Central Valley has been left behind in this progress, and it’s time to change that. I believe that we can become the Silicon Valley of renewable energy – creating new good-paying jobs and growing our economy, all while protecting our environment.
In Congress, I will push to create a new Green Energy Innovation Zone, which will incentivize businesses in the renewable energy and sustainability industries to put roots in the Valley. To do that, I will work to increase funding for research, provide job-creation incentives, and increase cooperation between the private sector and our colleges and universities to help foster the growth of this new industry right here at home.
Not only can we create jobs, we can address one of the biggest challenges we face. The Central Valley has some of the nation’s worst air quality. Residents are forced to breathe polluted air that does not meet many federal health standards, putting our health at risk. I will work to clean up our Valley’s air by supporting new technology that controls air pollution, greater enforcement to ensure that industries are complying with emission standards and investing is renewable energy sources.
The Central Valley also has the highest rates of drinking water contamination in the state. In particular, small, rural, disadvantaged communities of color are disproportionately affected by groundwater contamination. It is unacceptable that residents in the world’s wealthiest nation are suffering from diseases caused by water contaminated with nitrates, arsenic, pesticides, and uranium. I will advocate for the creation and modernization of clean water infrastructure so that every resident in the Central Valley has access to clean drinking water.
We have a lot of work to do in achieving environmental justice in the Central Valley. I will supportive policies that not only advocate for cleaner technology and new infrastructure to improve the lives of residents in the Central Valley, but that also bring new, good jobs to the region.
Healthcare for ALL
I believe that it is a human right to have access to quality and affordable health care. I will fight to protect the Affordable Care Act in Washington, and I will fight to ensure that no American is turned away from medical help due to high medical costs.
My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and my father was put in the hard situation where he chose to quit his job and forfeit his income to be with my mom to help her take her medication and go about her daily activities. Even though finances are tight, my parents have some income and their children to fall back on. I know all too well that many Americans who face medical hardships do not have the good fortune of having financial security when faced with a medical emergency.
I will also advocate for more access to mental health and substance abuse medical coverage for all Americans. The lack of investment in our health and access to treatment is now visible on our streets with our growing homelessness crisis.
I understand that access to doctors and medical procedures is just one part of the puzzle as we seek to live healthy lifestyles. Everyone needs access to fresh air and recreational space for our well-being. I am proud to say as a councilmember in Fresno, I helped bring the first universally accessible park to the Central California region. The 8-acre state of the art facility provides much needed green space for residents west of Highway 99. This resource represents an opportunity for improved health, education and sports programming, and renewed vitality to an area of Fresno with very little green space.
Housing and Homelessness
California and the Central Valley are experiencing a major housing shortage and to meet demand, we need four million new housing units in California – and over one million of those units need to be affordable. California and the Central Valley are also experiencing a homelessness crisis, with homelessness increasing by 17% in Fresno and Madera counties.
I believe that housing is a human right, which is why I have worked hard address the housing crisis and homelessness locally and regionally. I worked with the community and developers to bring in hundreds of new units of housing to Fresno, including the creation of market-rate, affordable and bridge housing developments. In 2019, I was honored to be appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to serve as one of six elected officials on the state’s newly created Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force where I can work to decide how best to spend California’s new $1 billion budget to solve homelessness in California.
We know that to solve our housing crisis, we need more housing. We need more housing for everyone: working-class professionals, seniors, and for people transitioning out of homelessness. To create this housing, we need to work to cut red tape and demand more federal housing funds. Over the past few decades, we have seen a steady disinvestment from the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This disinvestment has contributed to our housing and homelessness crisis.
In Congress, I will advocate to ensure that the federal government allocates to California and the Central Valley funding to invest in our housing stock. I will also fight for funding to deal with our some of the root causes of the homelessness crisis including medical, mental health, substance abuse, and job training services.
We know what the solutions are to address our housing and homelessness crisis. Now, we need to roll up our sleeves and get the work done. I look forward to taking my experience and expertise to Congress to advocate for the funding and support we need to truly resolve the housing and homelessness in California.
Stopping Gun Violence
To solve gun violence, we need substantial legislative reform. Whether caused by gang violence, mental illness or hardened prejudices, gun violence is unacceptable and we must rise together as a nation to solve this epidemic. We need to fight the NRA and corporate gun lobby. I propose we ban the sale of assault weapons, limit magazine capacity, close the “Charleston Loophole,” conduct buy-back programs and enforce strict universal background checks.
Real Immigration Reform
I am the daughter of Mexican immigrants who came to this country in pursuit of the American Dream. Each morning, my parents woke up before the sun to do the backbreaking work of farmworkers knowing that their hard work would pave the way to a bright future for myself and my siblings.
My family’s story is not unique. The United States has always been a beacon of hope and opportunity to individuals in search of a brighter tomorrow. But, despite being a nation of immigrants, our immigration system is broken and outdated. I support comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for those who are already here, as well as streamlining our court system. The Trump administration has not only failed to solve our immigration crisis, they have violated human rights by locking asylum seekers in cages. This needs to stop.
Not only do we need to reform our immigration policies, we also need to address the causes of why so many people are fleeing their countries. Congress should increase aid packages to strengthen democracy, grow the economies and defend human rights throughout the world, especially in Central America.
Getting Corporate Money Out of Washington
Political insiders who have been in office for decades are surrounded by lobbyists and lose sight of the needs of everyday people. While students are graduating college with record-high debts, families are faced with high medical bills and exploding housing costs – all while the richest corporations pay $0 in federal taxes. It is time for a change in business as usual in Washington.