Priorities

An Economy for Everyone

For too long, Republicans have billed themselves as the party that gets people to work, but they leave out key components that help working families and regular folks thrive. I have had backbreaking hourly jobs being a maid, a line cook, a dishwasher–you name it. I know the struggle of what a low hourly wage, high housing costs, and no job security can do to a person and their community. Our communities need at least a $15 minimum wage and a family leave policy that protects the health and wellbeing of working families on a national level. Big corporations stand in the way of worker’s rights by threatening those who unionize, but we need to enable workers to build strong unions, not fire them for exercising their rights. We must also understand that a green economy is a growing economy, and invest back in our infrastructure and in renewable energy like wind and solar. A government’s budget is a statement of values. In congress I will prioritize the core values that have been informed by my own life experience by investing in working class people and fighting for working families in this district, who — just like I did —  work two or three jobs just to make ends meet.The bottom line is this: no one working full time should be living in poverty. I will fight to make sure every person who wants to work, can, and when they do, they have a living wage that they have a say in.

Criminal Justice Reform

For over 20 years, I served this community first as a federal public defender and then for over eight years as a judge. While I was working in the criminal justice system, I realized we need dramatic changes to achieve equal justice for all. Unfortunately despite the progress our country has made, justice is still far from equal. That is why when I’m in Congress, one of my top priorities will be ending mass incarceration by reforming our criminal justice system. Together, we must stop this injustice by ending unjust programs that promote racial disparities, poverty, and prejudice. I will fight tooth and nail to end the war on drugs, cash bail, private prisons, and mandatory minimums. When I was on the bench, I made sure that everyone was treated with dignity and respect–black or white, LGBTQ+ or straight–and when I’m in congress, I’ll make sure the government does the same.

Education

I owe part of my success to education, and every student, no matter the zip code, should be allowed to walk the same path to success that I did. In the classroom, it’s teachers, not the government, who know best.  We should continue to take steps towards moving control to the classroom and empowering teachers to fulfill their calling by having autonomy to teach their students and reduce the emphasis on arbitrary, high-stakes tests. In order to make sure that our teachers can provide the best education possible, we need to support them through robust funding. That means that no public tax money should be going to private schools, no matter if those private schools are a part of voucher programs. Instead of funding tests, we need to be funding art classes, school counseling programs, and the kinds of activities that we all needed to grow up and become poised for success. But we can’t just stop at highschool, because life doesn’t stop at highschool. A strong, educated America depends on making college accessible. We need to make community colleges free, and 4 year state Universities should have the federal resources to waive their tuition for students who face economic barriers. DREAMers need to be able to keep in state tuition as well, because they are as much a part of our educational system as anyone else. Donald Trump and Betsy Devos are fighting to take away Pell grants and Student Loan Forgiveness, but I’ll fight right back to not only keep, but expand those programs and make sure education is accessible for everyone.

The Environment

South Florida is ground zero for climate change, and we must lead the way in combating it. We are already seeing the effects of stronger storms and increased flooding. By 2100, South Florida will be underwater–we cannot wait for action. As of January 2018, the Trump Administration has already overturned 33 environmental protections implemented under the Obama Administration, including green-lighting the dangerous and disrespectful Dakota Access Pipeline. We must start divesting from fossil fuels and invest in green energy. America needs to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and show global leadership in innovating for a sustainable future that incentivizes jobs in renewable energy. America cannot afford an EPA that does not protect the environment against those who seek to exploit nature and local economies through destructive drilling, fracking, and pipeline construction practices.

Gun Violence

I am 100% committed to taking on the NRA and enacting policies to end our country’s epidemic of senseless gun violence that for too long has left our most vulnerable communities to suffer in silence. Florida does not require background checks for private sales, and it is not alone in allowing this massive and deadly loophole to persist. 33 states have taken no action to close this so-called “gun show” loophole. Common sense gun reform is necessary to ensure the safety of our kids and our communities. Weapons of war have no place in our classrooms, neighborhoods, or public spaces. This is something I truly believe most of us agree with. But we’ve been stuck with inaction and death because The NRA has billions of dollars- they’ve bought and paid for a Congress that will advance their agenda and their profit margins upon command. The NRA won’t be able to buy me and I’ll make sure that Congress listens to the American people and mandates universal background checks, closes dangerous loopholes, and reinstates the federal assault weapons ban.

Healthcare & Reproductive Justice

Growing up my father managed a fish and tackle shop, Fisherman Paradise. Chronic health problems forced him out of his job. Because he lost his job, he lost his healthcare. I know what it’s like for a family to be one health crisis away from financial disaster. In fact, it’s one of the number one causes of personal bankruptcy in this country. I believe that healthcare is a fundamental right and should be treated as such. In congress I will fight for universal, affordable health care for all, because health care should be a right for all Americans, not a privilege for the few. I won’t be afraid to take on Big Insurance and other special interests that stand in the way. I believe in medicare for all, but I think the road to get there has to be traveled in a way that insures more people along the way, not fewer. This means that more subsidies should be provided to middle class folks who are currently insured through the ACA, more health centers need to be situated in rural areas, and reproductive health must not be excluded from healthcare plans. Women have the right to make their own decisions regarding their families and their bodies– period. Planned parenthood is a medical facility, and it needs to be fully funded so people in every area can receive reproductive care. Women’s healthcare should not be chipped away by special interests intent on controlling our bodies. Abortion is healthcare and we must stop the assault on Roe V Wade and the 14th amendment. Birth control should not be a luxury for those in wealthy communities that have access to clinics. Pregnancy shouldn’t be a cause of death in the United States, but we have the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world. The rates are much worse for women of color, and we must to fight to ensure that Black women are not a statistic. Everyone, regardless of race, gender identity, or background should have access to high quality, comprehensive, and affordable healthcare.

Immigration

The immigrant dream IS the American Dream: if you work hard, and play by the rules, there are no limits on what you can accomplish here. So when I see that Donald Trump and the Republicans are trying to make it impossible to play by the rules by having families wait in unending, impossibly expensive immigration limbo and criminalizing Black and brown bodies not only at the border, but all throughout our nation, it makes me furious. When I get to DC, I will channel that fury into change and fight for permanent protection and dignity for all 11 million undocumented immigrants by paving their way to a realistic path to citizenship. We must end DREAMER’s uncertainty by immediately reinstating DACA until they, too, can secure citizenship in the only place they’ve called home–the US. We must also support TPS recipients by allowing them to choose their own journey, whether that be resituating back home, or here in the US, their new homes. My husband’s family moved from Mexico to the Midwest in the 1950’s, drawn by good-paying jobs in the steel mills and auto industry—jobs where hard work meant a good wage, good benefits, and the ability to create a good life for your family. When Trump called Mexicans rapists and criminals, I was personally offended and I knew that every progressive needed to make immigration a top priority instead of just last minute legislation tacked on to other bills–and when I’m in Washington, I promise to be one of those progressives.

Veterans & Social Security

Veterans have offered this country the greatest gift of all, protecting our freedom and the numerous sacrifices that come with service. When we support our veterans, we strengthen our economy and our country. My parents were both veterans. My mother was a nurse in the Korean War and my father served in World War II. So this issue is deeply personal to me. Veterans need a strong social safety net, proven job training programs, and reliable health services so that they aren’t forgotten. We must block any and all efforts to privatize the VA and prioritize healthcare, including mental healthcare, for all of our veterans. Every day, over 20 veterans commit suicide and many more are homeless on our streets. Almost 25% of all social security beneficiaries are veterans, and in order to lift veterans out of poverty and into safe, affordable, and supportive housing, we have to maintain a robust social security program. Social Security is America at its best–a shared belief that every American should be able to retire with dignity after years of hard work, and that should especially be true for veterans.