On the Record: Congressional candidate Julie Lythcott-Haims

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.

Read all the candidates’ answers.

Here are Julie Lythcott-Haims’ full, unedited answers:

How will you work “across the aisle” and overcome the challenges facing our political discourse?

I am known for facilitating difficult conversations and building coalitions among people who disagree to work respectfully and collegially to find solutions to difficult challenges. That approach to leadership is necessary in this American moment. I am not polarizing. I am someone who brings humans together. And we must come together to build a better future for our kids. I don’t care whether someone has an R or a D next to their name; I care about where we can find common ground to build a better America together.

What will you do if Trump is re-elected fairly and then he violates the constitution again through his decisions and actions?

As a Black and bi-racial American, I’ve felt the scourge of white supremacy rising since before Donald Trump came down an escalator to announce his candidacy for president. I felt that something was coming before January 6th, and I watched in horror as MAGA extremists tried to overturn our election, then lied about it. Before we talk about the nightmare scenario, it’s important to discuss what we can do, now: Strengthen our Democracy. In congress, I will support the Freedom to Vote Act, which will protect voting rights, end partisan gerrymandering, improve campaign finance and safeguard the electoral process. I will also support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act which will strengthen legal protections against discriminatory voting policies and practices. And I will support the Electoral College Reform Act to ensure that when we vote for President, each person’s vote has the same weight regardless of what state a person lives in. If Trump wins, and attempts to dismantle our Democratic institutions, I’ll do what I’ve always done: Stand up, speak out, and fight.

Do you believe in, and will you publicly support, a two nation resolution to Israel and Palestine?

I’ve stated publicly that the only way for Israelis, Palestinians, and other nations in the region to have safety is for all to have safety. That requires a two state solution. We must find a path to peace, to stopping the fighting, quickly and humanely. We must neutralize Hamas, allow more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip and hold our allies accountable.

What will you do to reduce the federal deficit?

The government needs to do more to help Americans thrive. We spend most of our money on defense, social security, and healthcare. The Pentagon has to be held to account. It hasn’t passed an audit in six years — we need to understand where our dollars are being spent, and ensure they are being used efficiently. Medicare for All will save Americans money by reducing total healthcare spend. Allowing Medicare to negotiate will reduce the deficit. The tax system must be reformed so that everyone pays their fair share and so that we can invest in our schools, our communities and our kids’ futures. I support a progressive income tax system that eases the tax burden of lower-income earners and asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share. I also support raising the social security tax cap which places a disproportionate burden on lower-income earners.

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?

I applaud the legislation passed by the Biden Administration. These historic pieces of legislation are a great first step, but we have to do more. It’ll cost $150 billion in California alone to retrofit buildings and to get everyone in non-fossil fuel burning vehicles. Yet at the Federal level, only $8 billion has been allocated for climate action. We need campaigns at the level of each city and town where individuals feel excited to transition. I’d also support the Thrive Act, which would authorize at least $1 trillion per year until 2031, providing family-sustaining, green union jobs for more than 15 million American workers.

What would you do to remedy the root causes of homelessness, such as providing better mental health and addiction services?

The root cause of homelessness, for a vast majority of folks, is the lack of affordable housing. When people have housing that they can afford, they don’t fall into homelessness. That is my priority. In Congress, I’ll fight for pro-housing legislation, including the Yes In My Backyard Act, Build More Housing Near Transit Act, People Over Parking Act, Family Vouchers and Stability Act, VITAL Act, and fully funding Section 8 vouchers. When it comes to mental health and addiction services, we have to make sure that every American has access to the health care they need — that’s why I support Medicare for All.

Will you support fully funding BART to San Jose and the High Speed Rail projects?

Better public transportation is good for the planet, good for our cities, and good for our people. Public transit needs public funding, at all levels, to improve mobility, facilitate more equitable access to and within communities and reduce traffic congestion and pollution generated by cars and trucks. I support federal funding for BART and BART expansion into Silicon Valley and coordinating transportation agencies and projects to create a more seamless mobility map throughout the Bay Area.

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?

Thousands of immigrants coming into our country have read the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I believe that our approach to immigration should be guided by that sentiment. The immigration process we have is fundamentally broken — people come into this country without a clear pathway to citizenship. I support the continuation of DACA and the DREAM ACT, and I will work for desperately needed comprehensive immigration reform to deliver an effective and efficient immigration process that reflects our values. We must protect the people who are here and center our border practices on humane policies. We must fully fund our immigration system and asylum courts, so immigrants can quickly and clearly receive their status. Comprehensive immigration reform requires investment in processing, and a fully staffed distributed system to do that processing. Rather than allocate money to build a wall with dubious benefits, channeling those resources into reform would do more to address immigration — legal and undocumented — at all our borders. Of course we should not have an open border. We need to know who is coming into our country, but that does not mean we restrict opportunity or let humans literally drown in the Rio Grande.

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