Economic issues facing my district is one of the main reasons I am running for the State House of Representatives. We haven’t seen meaningful economic legislation introduced from our current representative that would benefit our community in 8 years. I’m concerned that we aren’t doing enough to help our residents who are some of the most impacted in the state. Just by looking at a couple of quick statistics from the most recent demographic report that was released on the state shows how dire our situation is:
· More than a third of my district makes less than $30,000 a year
· 20% of the residents in my district live in poverty, and only 8% of the residents received food stamps. That’s double compared to the 4% of all Utahn’s who live in poverty with no access to food stamps
· 16% of my district received food stamps or cash public assistance compared to the 10% of Utahns state wide
· Nearly 10% of the income received by residents in House District 33 come from Social Security and supplemental security sources
The evidence is in the data, and what we do next is incredibly important.
The proposed responses we have seen from the legislature have been disturbing, with one of the worst examples being the proposed food tax increase. This tax would have put further pressure on the most vulnerable in our community. This is personal to me. I have seen the faces of those households who are experiencing food insecurity; how that hurts parents who worry non-stop about how they are going to feed their families and the children who see a drastic decline in educational performances due to food insecurity. Add to that narrowing of eligibility for those who qualify for Medicaid in our Medicaid expansion and you can see a legislature that is going too far. These proposals punish those who are most at-risk while not evaluating other options to make sure we are still able to prosper economically.
The lack of leadership here is exactly why I’m running, and I want to share what I want to do when I am elected to the Utah State House of Representatives.
How do we help the single parent who wants to get a high paying trade job but is currently unable to do so? We expand both accessibility and affordability in child care. This is an essential step to help those who would be a welcome addition to our work force, and providing affordable childcare might help that single parent get their associates degree to be able to pursue that high paying job.
How do we help address the growing issues of food insecurity and economic instability caused by the virus? We need to expand Utah’s portion of CHIP funding and other critical services.
How do we help our neighbors who are hit so hard by the economic fall out of the COVID-19 virus? We need to be connecting individuals and local businesses with the resources available to them, like PPP loans and services to help individuals navigate applying for Unemployment Benefits and Food Stamps. This is an especially important element, as there is a lack of guidance from both Federal and State leadership in how to apply for these services. One wrong click or one mistake may deny the applicant access to urgently needed resources.
We as a community need to ask ourselves a very important question, as we look down the road 8 months from now to the next legislative session, who do we want representing us? The State of Utah is undoubtedly going to cut its budget - West Valley City and other cities in Utah are not getting the sales taxes it needs during this unprecedented time. Cars are sitting on lots not being sold, when people go shopping it’s really only for groceries, and if people do indulge in personal spending they certainly aren’t making purchases the way they did during a strong economy. When the legislature inevitably puts more and more social programs on the chopping block to deal with the economic devastation this virus has and will continue to cause, we need someone who will fiercely protect the programs that a historic amount of Utahn’s will rely on. It’s clear the job of a Representative for the Utah State House goes beyond the obvious duties of proposing, drafting, and passing legislation. It requires participation, activism, and the same kind of advocating I have done for the last 15 years of my career. The stakes of this election are too high to rely on someone who won’t stand for West Valley City, we need a representative with the confidence to lead without fear. I know I am that candidate.
To view my Facebook Live discussion on this topic, please click here. I am so excited to collaborate with my community and work toward a brighter future for West Valley City. Thank you for reading, and I hope to earn your vote!