For me, healthcare isn’t just a policy position, it is a passion, one that has driven me to make it my profession. Expensive premiums and ridiculous co-pays are obstacles I have to navigate as a private citizen, but compared to what I encounter at work, sometimes my own problems with medical care pale in comparison to the often- overlooked pain my patients must endure even after their procedures.
As a psychiatric emergency screener, I see firsthand how struggles with mental health and addiction have deeply affected local families. Access to affordable services that address these issues should not bankrupt families or cause them to delay accessing life-or-death services and support. The realities of life can be unpredictable, and families should be protected by common sense practices. The stories of my first job in psychiatric health play a role in the everyday business of my second job — Atlantic County Freeholder.
Prioritizing the wellness of our people in our district can help us build South Jersey into the healthiest place to live and raise a family. Accessibility and affordability of health care are necessary for community well-being. I will fight to protect the lives and health of all people in our district.
Above every title and occupation, I am a woman. My lived experience as the daughter to a mother with ailments insurance companies would call “Pre-existing conditions” are my mandate to fight for the protection of women’s health care and those that need healthcare most. For me, it’s simple: quality healthcare is a human rights issue. So many of our families, like mine, skip or delay medical care or prescription medications because of the financial burden. We can do more to improve health outcomes in our district by increasing access to preventive care and timely services.
Pharmaceutical companies continue to get richer on the backs of sick individuals and regular families, taking advantage of us with out-of-control costs. New Jersey’s rich history of science and technology can allow us to lead the way toward better health and quality of life for all Americans.
For me, the struggle to earn a living isn’t just an economic position, it’s my experience. I’ve known what it is like to have to take payday loans during those times where emergencies don’t quite coincide with a bi-weekly paycheck. I have watched minutes turn to hours stuck on “Hold”, forced to listen to the elevator-music soundtrack of my mission to negotiate down overdraft fees with the bank when an unexpected bill has hit your account. I am not poor, because being poor means you’ve given up. I am struggling financially, but I still have my pride.
Every hard-working American deserves the sense of dignity that comes with earning a fair wage. I will work with all levels of government to fight for working families, like my own, who often live paycheck to paycheck, without the security and confidence that fair wages bring. We all dream for our families to do more than survive. I will work to strengthen the communities within our current industries while also looking ahead to promising additions to our jobs landscape.
We have room to grow and innovate in the areas of technology, clean industry, and tourism. Our infrastructure of roads and bridges should be improved by local workers, keeping economic investments at home instead of with outside corporations that take the money and leave. I will advocate for federal funding to expand our Aviation Park and bring real infrastructure and industry dollars back to our western counties. We can shift power back to the people by funding technical job training, listening to the needs of families and our local economy, and working with NJ transportation agencies to upgrade and improve our transportation hubs so that all people in our district can access the better jobs we create.
Small businesses, labor unions, and working people like teachers, municipal workers and service professionals are a solid foundation of our district. Jobs should be physically safe for workers, and a healthy retirement should be guaranteed. I will fight to make sure our workers get a fair deal and that South Jersey becomes stronger and better than ever.
It is not our environment, it is the environment. We are reminded of this distinction every day, as our ocean levels continue to rise, storms become stronger every year, with natural disasters almost becoming the new normal.
The earth and its climate will not simply “cooperate” with our needs and wants. We are only temporary guests here, and what is becoming more and more apparent, is that the earth perhaps not-so-subtlely encouraging us to change our ways — before it’s too late.
Climate change has been accelerated due to human activity, the science is clear. We have no choice but to address these challenges, not just for our own livelihood, but for the next generation, and the one after.
Our homes and livelihoods are vulnerable to climate change, and we must have the courage to take action on behalf of our collective future. I will fight to ensure our people are protected from pollution and the risks associated with catastrophic climate change. I support protecting the ocean, waterways, and open spaces in order to preserve our valuable farms, fishing ports, and boating industry. It is vital to ensure seafood and water quality while also looking to decrease harmful emissions. I will not ignore polluters that jeopardize our economy or the beauty of our natural wildlife lands.
I support collaborating across industries to design bold, proactive strategies to prepare for future extreme weather events. Seven years after Hurricane Sandy, we continue to deal with the effects, and we can take what we have learned to design nature-based solutions that fit our local circumstances. I will advocate for FEMA to plan proactively to issue immediate emergency relief in the event of a hurricane or other disaster. We can create jobs while engaging in sustainable land-planning to prepare for sea level rise as well as extreme weather. Prices continue to drop on sophisticated green technology, which will allow us to choose cost-effective solutions that add value and peace-of-mind to our communities.
We can build on the growth of wind and solar industries in New Jersey to add good jobs that will develop more resilient, efficient energy and a modern power grid. I will explore the development of our ecotourism industry that can bring more business to our district while opposing offshore drilling but supporting clean energy innovations.
Our natural wildlife should be considered in our policy considerations. Local to South Jersey there are 75 species on New Jersey’s endangered or threatened wildlife list, including our Pine Barrens treefrog and the piping plover found along our shorelines. If we act soon to design responsible policies and solutions, we can prevent the destruction of our lands and wildlife and create a sustainable future for the next generations.
Community safety is a top priority, and I believe our police departments can collaborate with residents to find shared solutions to neighborhood issues. Increasing the use of community policing strategies can enhance relationships and build partnerships between police and residents. I also support proactive police training on preventing crime and safely de-escalating conflict in our communities.
The failed war on drugs left many people incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, rather than providing treatment and second chances. Mass incarceration breaks families and communities apart. I will fight for fair pretrial practices and against for-profit prisons, which capitalize on misfortune and promote recidivism.
We all bear the burden when formerly incarcerated people cannot access good jobs in order to restore their independence. I support a fair chance at employment. I will also work to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline. Students who are suspended are much more likely to be incarcerated in the future. Using suspension as a consequence for nonviolent behavior is commonplace in our schools, and we need to provide educators with the tools they need to run safe and equitable school communities in order to avoid punishments that result in long-term harm for the students.
I am who I am because I am a product of the South Jersey public school system. Public schools have the potential to be the best of who we are as a nation. When I get to Congress, I pledge to protect and improve our schools so that every child can receive an equitable education and enriching opportunities for a strong future.
I believe in offering two additional years of public education, with every student receiving the opportunity to leave school with an associates degree or the skills and credentials to work as a tradesperson. But we cannot forget the first, arguably most important years, of a student’s life. In addition to advocating for two years of Community College for all students, I will advocate with leaders at the state and local levels for the creation of universal pre-K, ensuring that our youngest learners get a great start to their education. We can enhance public school offerings such as work-study, internships, and hands-on technical training that lead our kids to job-focused higher education and good-paying jobs rather than years of crushing debt.
Because I believe so strongly in the role public schools play in our communities, I oppose the use of vouchers to pay for private education. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos should be replaced by an educator who understands what our public schools need for 21st century growth and will advocate for fair school funding. Our schools should receive the capital improvements they need to ensure the highest standards for air, environment and water quality for their learners and the infrastructure enhancements to become high-tech centers of learning. I believe equitable school funding will pay off in our future economy and quality of life.
College graduates should be afforded additional ways to refinance their loans, and Pell Grants should increase to alleviate the cost burden for families in the first place. I will advocate for lowered interest rates and incentive programs to reduce student debt in high-need professions. Student loan reform can help young adults contribute to our economy as professionals, rather than have every dollar earmarked for loan payments.
I support teachers and the value they add to our communities. Teaching should be portrayed as a rewarding and prestigious profession to our children, in order to increase interest and diversity in our teacher pipeline. Educators can be respected by ensuring fair pay and a voice in decision-making regarding what happens in their schools.
Community schools can empower families to have a say in how their children are educated, building public confidence and a collective movement toward outstanding schools. I will widen our focus on children to span pre-K to life, resulting in adults with secure, well-paying jobs that can help raise a family and design a satisfying life. Every child deserves the chance to achieve the American dream.