Who am I?
I was born and raised in Riverside, Californiathe largest city in the 41st Congressional District, followed by Moreno Valley, Perris, and Jurupa Valley. I attended Myra Lynn Elementary and Arizona Intermediate Schools. At La Sierra High School, I played on the football team and competed on the wrestling squad, but increasingly my interest turned to public service. Public school provided me an excellent education and I graduated high school as the valedictorian.
I moved on to Harvard College and received a bachelor's degree in Government in 1983. During my senior year, I organized and co-founded Ride for Life, a transcontinental bicycle ride to benefit the international development agency Oxfam America. Upon graduation, I worked as a substitute teacher for various public schools in the Boston area. I observed first-hand the disparity between well-funded and acclaimed suburban schools in Brookline and the beleaguered inner-city Boston schools. I postponed my original intent to enter law school to understand why the performance gap in our public schools was so persistent. I decided to become a teacher.
I returned to my hometown to attend the University of California, Riversides School of Education intern program and to obtain a secondary teaching credential in Language Arts and Social Studies. I began teaching in the Rialto Unified School District in 1988 in schools serving predominantly Latino and African American students. I have remained a classroom teacher since that time, confronting the challenges in our public education system on a daily basis. Currently, I teach high school seniors British Literature and Expository Reading and Writing. Young people continue to inspire me with their endless potential, and I hope to provide them a stronger voice once in office.
In 1990, I was elected to the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees, finishing first among eleven candidates competing for two seats. I was elected Board President in 1991 and helped the Board and the District gain stability and direction amid serious fiscal challenges. I led the search for a new Chief Executive officer would have a long and successful tenure.
As a member of the RCCD Board of Trustees, I championed the first public Project Labor Agreement in the Inland Empire and helped oversee the transition of the districts Norco and Moreno Valley campuses to become independent colleges. I won re-election to the Board in 1995, 1999, 2004 and 2008.
In 1992, at the age of 31, I defeated a crowded field of six opponents to win the Democratic nomination for Californias 43rd Congressional District. My underdog campaign went on to lose the General Election to Ken Calvert by less than 550 votes in one of the closest Congressional Elections in California History. I outperformed President Bill Clinton by 8%, Senator Barbara Boxer by 9% and Senator Diane Feinstein by 2% in the district.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have an opportunity to be the first Democrat to represent Riverside County in over twenty years.
Why am I running?
I am running for Congress because I care deeply about the community where I was born a place where diverse families come to live and achieve the American Dream. The cities of Riverside, Moreno Valley, Perris, and Jurupa Valley hold the potential of creating opportunities for each and every resident of this new 41st Congressional District to succeed.
We have been presented with a unique opportunity to change the political atmosphere that places austerity measures before the needs of the people. With more than 14% of our neighbors and friends out of work and many of us having lost or in the process of losing our homes, we need to recognize the need to shift away from the Party that chooses partisanship over the well-being of its constituents. I am running for Congress because I have the experience, the resilience, and the courage to place the needs of my community first.
1. Create Jobs and Promote Economic Development: Riverside County suffers from one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Many are under employed or work multiple jobs to make ends meet. The top goal for my first year in office is to support an aggressive jobs plan. As with MIT economist Paul Krugman, I believe our economy suffers from inadequate demand. Extreme House Republicans have stymied job creation measures that have drawn bi-partisan agreement in past economic downturns: investing in infrastructure, assisting state and local governments in maintaining education and public safety, and extending unemployment benefits. I believe the American people need to replace the current majority in the House with members that will place people before political ideology.
2. Improve Education: With over 20 years experience as a classroom teacher and as an elected community college trustee I will bring to Congress ideas to reform education so that there are less high school dropouts and more students going on to college or high quality career and technical education. I will fight for policies that will ensure our nation maintains its creative edge technological innovation and that we have a highly skilled workforce. I will work to broaden teacher and student accountability beyond standardized testing. The good intentions behind NCLB have had perverse effects, such as the narrowing of the curricula. We need to restore a proper balance between federal, state, and local education policy and ensure more access and less student debt for college and career and technical education for young students and those adults in need of retraining.
My DFA Values
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My Campaign is People Powered!
Since I announced my candidacy in July, I have only hired two in-district staff members to manage day-to-day tasks. Our campaign, however, is receiving an unprecedented amount of support especially among students. During the last two quarters, weve had fifteen interns volunteering ten hours a week or more. They split their time between school and work and still manage to volunteer a few hours a week. One student in particular goes to school part-time, works two jobs and still manages to take the bus to our offices twice a week. Riverside is ready for a change and these students are the driving force behind our grassroots campaign.
During our first quarter campaigning (Q3) we managed an incredible feat we outraised our Republican opponent 3 to 1 for the quarter and our campaign fundraised more during one quarter than he did during two. Our fundraising success has come in large part due to our support Labor and from small donors who make up nearly 80 percent of our contributors.