San José Spotlight asked readers what they want to know about the candidates running for Silicon Valley’s competitive Congressional District 16 race. We received more than 100 questions from readers for the candidates and narrowed it down to eight questions that capture a range of critical national issues — from immigration to foreign policy and partisan gridlock in Washington.
Here are Joe Simitian’s full, unedited answers:
How will you work “across the aisle” and overcome the challenges facing our political discourse?
My approach is to understand and speak to what motivates colleagues in the other party. I will find common ground where possible. I position issues we care about in clear, direct terms that make it easier for elected officials to overcome partisan resistance in order to do what’s right for the American people. In my career as a legislator, I’ve also learned that persistence is key to passing legislation. I will introduce legislation and build support; I will look to develop unexpected coalitions. I am not naïve. It’s tough, but I built such coalitions in Sacramento and will do so in D.C. as well. Just as important as building coalitions is working to win back the House. I will work vigorously to make sure the House has a Democratic majority, including fundraising and investing time and effort to ensure Democratic victories.
What will you do if Trump is re-elected fairly and then he violates the Constitution again through his decisions and actions?
I will not support nor enable anyone to disrupt or disable our democracy. In every office I have held, I took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States…against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and every member of Congress has taken the same oath.
Do you believe in, and will you publicly support, a two-nation resolution to Israel and Palestine?
What will you do to reduce the federal deficit?
The question of reducing the deficit is an interesting one because if and when to do so depends on the economic climate. There are times when measures to reduce the deficit would harm vulnerable populations and dampen business growth. There is also the question of just how the deficit would be reduced. I know how I would NOT reduce the deficit: I would not reduce Social Security benefits and I would NOT scale back Medicare. nI would also look at closing tax loopholes that hinder true tax equity.
How do you plan to help our region, state, and country to kick the reliance on fossil fuels as we make our way to a carbon-free energy future?
In Sacramento, I wrote legislation in the State Legislature to push the state towards renewable energy as quickly as possible (20% by 2010, 33% by 2020). These were the most aggressive renewable energy standards in the nation. On the County Board of Supervisors, I took direct action to increase the use of renewable energy throughout the county (I authored the proposal for Santa Clara County to be a founding member of Silicon Valley Clean Energy). In Washington, I will wean us off fossil fuels by implementing renewable energy targets and federally-funded incentives for energy efficiency; we need to expand on the good start the Inflation Reduction Act provides us. Bringing this climate-first vision to Congress is the best and fastest way the United States can address climate change. My commitment to and advocacy for our environment are constant and consistent from my early service on the Palo Alto City Council, to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, the California State Assembly and the California State Senate. I will fight for our planet in Congress.
What would you do to remedy the root causes of homelessness, such as providing better mental health and addiction services?
When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, or their loved ones reach out for help, we must do everything we can to respond quickly and connect people with the help they need. As a County Supervisor, I’ve consistently prioritized mental health initiatives, and I’m committed to carrying that advocacy to the federal level. Here’s a glimpse into some of my accomplishments as Chair of the County’s Health and Hospital Committee on the Board of Supervisors:
- Creating Acute Care Beds for Teens (currently under construction)
- Maximizing Medicaid Resources for Mental Health
- Investing in Youth Mental Health Programs, like allcove Palo alto, Youth Community Services and art therapy programs
The struggle for affordable housing is a defining challenge for California and the nation. We need to build more permanent supportive housing to ensure everyone has a place to live. In Congress, I will work to increase federal funding for affordable housing programs and champion policies that address the root causes of homelessness, such as poverty and lack of access to mental health care.
Will you support fully funding BART to San Jose and the High-Speed Rail projects?
It depends on the source of funds, the use of funds, and the conditions attached to the funds. The BART to San Jose effort has spiraled out of control. The High Speed Rail focus right now should be on a timely and cost-effective completion of the Central Valley segment.
What are your solutions to the border crisis and do you believe we should have an open border for any and all to be allowed into the country?
I support comprehensive immigration reform. The “system” has been broken for more than 25 years. We need a system that secures our borders, welcomes immigrants, helps the Dreamers, steps up on DACA and treats all parties with dignity and respect. Our asylum system is overwhelmed; we need to fund additional asylum courts and staffing immediately.