Editor’s Note: The San Diego Free Press has asked three dozen candidates in key electoral contests from throughout the county for submissions explaining why they think progressive-leaning voters should consider voting for them. Many of these candidates are running in down-ballot contests often overlooked by voters.
Public service has always been a major part of my life. My father was a firefighter; I followed in his footsteps. I began my career 30 years ago in Ramona and am now a Fire Captain and a Paramedic.
I am not a career politician. My progressive beliefs developed early in my career as I saw the need for quality healthcare and came to see it as a right. I saw the power of unions to responsibly protect workers and working families. As a firefighter, it was easy to become an environmentalist and believer in climate change because of the lengthening fire season. That is why I am a Democrat, because the majority of Democratic Party values match my own orientation to the issues that are facing us.
These experiences changed my family and me, turning all of us into political activists. Early on, we worked to register voters, especially in our hometown of Escondido where official discrimination toward Latino residents is visible on a daily basis. More recently, we have worked to ensure that residents knew the health care options available to them. I consistently supported progressive candidates.
Seven years ago, I stepped into the political arena more directly and decided to run for the Palomar Health Board of Directors, the largest health district in the state. Voters have elected me twice, and I have gained valuable experience as a healthcare advocate of north and east county residents. Transparency and accountability are the principles that guide my every action as a board member.
My two top priorities as a senator will include, first of all, support for a Medicare-for-all, single payer health care system so that all Californians, regardless of their income, will get the health care they need when they need it. There should be a right to health care in the United States similar to other developed countries.
Opponents of universal health care say we cannot afford it. That is simply false. The United States spends more than 17 % of its GNP on health care. No other developed country spends more than 10.5%. The issue is to manage healthcare in a way that is smarter and more efficient, especially by providing more preventive care and reducing the complexity and bureaucracy of American health care. California can lead the way, especially as the current congressional majority prepares to eliminate coverage of preexisting conditions and cut Medicare and Medicaid.
My second major priority is increased safety preparedness so the state can better manage the drought and wildfires that our changing climate accelerates. Increased infrastructure that allows firefighters to more quickly reach communities and save lives is urgently needed. We can do better on managing the urban-wildlife interface, even as global warming extends the fire season. Infrastructure spending to bury power lines and improved transportation corridors are two approaches that enhance safety. This investment in our future will save money and lives in the long run.
I will bring my experiences as Vice Chair of the Palomar Health District and my years as a firefighter with me to the California Senate. As a First Responder, I am uniquely qualified and can make a difference in Sacramento that a career politician could not. My other priorities include:
- Encouraging apprenticeships and vocational education. Not every student needs a college or university degree to thrive in our society. There are many needs for skilled workers that are currently being unmet, and there are too many veterans who need mentoring and stability in order to make successful transitions into the workforce.
- Addressing the student debt crisis with more innovative approaches that bring interest costs down to levels that are closer to the prime rate. Additional early counseling is needed so that college students do not drop out short of the college degree and make them even more vulnerable to student debt. Making the first two years of college tuition free would alleviate student debt issues.
- Tackling the affordable housing crisis more comprehensively. Patchwork solutions are not working well, and land use policies must be better integrated so as to encourage affordable housing.
- Promoting a State water policy and system that is as effective and innovative as San Diego County. Our region has been a leader in devising comprehensive and multifaceted approaches that diversify our water sources and encourage efficiency. Droughts may be here to say. Paying attention to just one primary source of water is insufficient for good policy.
- Supporting prudent fiscal policies so that the next economic downturn will not disturb education funding. We saw what happened to education budgets after the Great Recession. Governor Brown is leaving the State with a healthy surplus. I will be an advocate of budget discipline in the Brown tradition.
- Protecting women’s reproductive rights, particularly as they are coming under threats from the Trump judicial appointments. We cannot take those rights for granted even in a progressive state like California.
I urge the citizens of my Senate district of North and East County San Diego to vote for me, Jeff Griffith, for California State Senate. You will find that I am a pragmatic progressive who will be responsive to Republicans, Democrat, and independent voices. We need respectful conversations to know each other better and approach each other with civility. After all, I am a first responder, and first responders need skills of empathy and listening to be effective. Think of me as your first responder in the California State Senate—I will be responsive to your needs.
For more details on my platform, please visit my website www.GriffithforSenate.com