SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. — A congressman with upwards of 10 years of experience has his eyes on representing District 9 for a few more years.
Rep. Jerry McNerney currently represents east Contra Costa County and portions of San Joaquin and Sacramento counties in California’s 9th Congressional District.
McNerney is looking to add another term to his lengthy tenure in the House of Representatives.
He said that his work has done a lot of good in the community and in the district, pointing specifically to the health care center in French Camp and his fight for a sustainable water policy.
“I certainly want to continue that kind of good work for at least the next few years,” McNerney said.
With McNerney seeking re-election to the House of Representatives, ABC10 surveyed McNerney on his priorities for District 9 if elected to another term in office.
“We need to crush the virus. Right now, we’re not following scientific principles on a nationwide basis,” McNerney said.
McNerney emphasized “crushing” the virus and rebuilding the economy. He said the HEROES Act that passed in the House would have provided unemployment and education benefits to many people and would have also helped state and local governments.
He said rebuilding the economy will be an important aspect to ensure people don’t lose their homes or become homeless due to the pandemic.
“We’ve had more than four million acres burn this year. That far surpasses anything we’ve had in the past, and it looks like this is becoming a new normal…,” McNerney said.
He said the hotter summers and extended droughts need to be taken into account when discussing wildfire mitigation efforts. McNerney said climate change is the root cause of the issue and is looking toward science to help officials learn how to best manage the forest and the climate.
He also wants to ensure good communication for these types of events, which means ensuring that people can contact relatives and get alerts for emergencies and Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).
Public Safety and law enforcement
“I think the important step would be to pass a bill into law, such as the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, which would bar chokeholds and make police departments and agencies more accountable for their actions,” McNerney said.
He said there are some common-sense steps that leaders can take to make police more accountable and effective.
“The terminology ‘Defund the Police’ has been politicized, but we do need to have a conversation about how money that’s going into public service is being affected,” McNerney said, adding that there could be some conversation on whether communities want money put toward mental health professionals or people who can defuse crises.
“It’s not going to be an overnight change,” he said. "This is something we’re going to have to take our time with and get it right over the next several years.”
“Education has been a significant issue for the Stockton and San Joaquin area for quite a while, and we want to make sure that the pandemic doesn’t aggravate that and make it worse,” McNerney said.
He emphasized the importance of broadband access in times of distance learning. McNerney again pointed to the HEROES Act, which he said would have provided access to hotspots for students.
He believes that, after the pandemic, good broadband access could enhance student performance.
McNerney said that addressing the area’s affordable housing issue will call for policies at local, state, and federal levels of government.
He added that the pandemic could aggravate the situation with affordable housing and homelessness due to people being unable to pay their mortgages or rent after losing their job. He said the HEROES Act would have provided homeowners and rental assistance, which would have helped people stay in their homes and avoid homelessness.
“I think that’s the first step, right now,” McNerney said. “How do we prevent the problem from getting worse? And then, we can look at whatever policies are needed at the federal level and effectively address the… problem.”
McNerney said there was tremendous celebration when the veterans’ clinic in French camp finally broke ground and said that he continues to monitor the progress on the clinic's construction.
McNerney said he’s shared the hours-long drive down to Palo Alto with a veteran seeking health care. He said that he has worked hard to ensure that this clinic comes to fruition.
“We want to make sure that that project moves forward, and I’m going to be involved every step of the way. We’re not done until those doors open and veterans have health care in my opinion,” McNerney said.