The California Democratic party has failed to address issues that differentially impact Democrats living in rural and frontier areas. As Chair, I’m committed to addressing access to healthcare, wildfire prevention, universal broadband, and our rural economy.
Access and delivery of healthcare services, including mental health and substance abuse is a challenge, especially in our frontier communities. A hospital could be an hour’s drive or more, and a specialist only available in the nearest metropolitan area. I will hold our electeds accountable for not only moving forward on single-payer, but ensuring state policy accommodates the special needs of residents and tourists in remote communities.
The Tubbs Fire in Napa, Sonoma & Lake Counties, the Woolsey Fire in LA & Ventura Counties, the Mendocino complex, and the Camp Fire that killed 86 people and destroyed Paradise, CA, have created a devastating loss of life, home, and livelihood for those living at the wildland-urban interface. As a result, the price of fire insurance is going up, and entire communities are losing protection entirely, negatively impacting home sales and the rural economy. Many live in areas without adequate escape routes or access for firefighting services. All in some of the poorest counties in California.
Pandering to logging interests by clearcutting is not our only path to resolution. Safe, sane and selective forest management will bring skilled jobs to rural communities, support industry, maintain ecosystems, and protect people and property over the long term. Infrastructure projects, like those proposed in the Green New Deal, will help revitalize rural and frontier economies by laying pipe for broadband while we in-ground utilities. Over 1.4 million Californians do not have access to broadband, widening the gap in economic and educational opportunities with their urban counterparts. In tourist areas, this will make our towns and recreational lands safer and more picturesque.
Democrats want fair representation in rural counties, where leadership tends to be disproportionately red. It’s tough to be a Democratic challenger in rural California where TV, radio, and mail costs are high, and door-knocking is impractical. Fees across massive congressional, senatorial and assembly districts can be exorbitant, and funding sources are sparse. I am personally committed to maintaining our 2018 wins in these areas, and building our bench in Republican strongholds. In order to do so, the state party must finally pony up and commit financial support, access to data, feet on the ground, and localized training and grassroots organizing for endorsed candidates & central committees.