HANFORD — In preparation for the Nov. 3 general election, the Sentinel asked the two candidates running for the 21st Congressional District a few questions so voters can get to know them.
In this race, Republican David Valadao is challenging incumbent Congressman TJ Cox (D-Fresno), who is running for his second term.
Valadao previously held the seat for three terms from 2013-2019.
The 21st Congressional District includes all of Kings County and portions of Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties.
Tell us a little about yourself.
As a native Californian and the son of immigrants, I was taught the importance of hard work, personal integrity, and fighting for what’s right. I am a family man, engineer, and small businessman with a passion for community development. I’m married to Kathleen Murphy, MD, a pediatric intensive care physician, and together, we are the proud parents of four children.
Why are you running for this seat?
I ran in 2018 with a simple mission: to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals and families of the 21st District. For decades, the Central Valley has been neglected in terms of federal investment and economic opportunity. I have committed myself to serving economically disadvantaged communities throughout the Central Valley — helping build health clinics, job-training centers, affordable housing, and clean energy plants. I spent my life working in the neighborhoods where Wall Street and the big banks refuse to go. That inspired me to run for office and ensure the voices of thousands of working Central Valley families were heard.
And when I came to Washington, what surprised me most was how much you can do in Congress, but also how much hadn’t been done.
What do you see as the biggest issue in your district and how will you work to solve this issue?
It’s the biggest issue everywhere: crushing this virus and getting our communities moving again. I fought to pass the first recovery package to help get cash in the pockets of working families, and now I’m demanding that the Senate pass the Heroes Act, the relief bill we passed in the House over four months ago.
But even with a once in a lifetime global health emergency, we haven’t ignored the other major issues facing the Valley. On local priorities like water, I have fought for and secured the largest investments for western water conveyance in over 50 years. And just recently, I introduced a water storage bill for dams, underground storage, canals, and other infrastructure; $800 million dollars over 5 years. And I’m proud to say my bills to get clean drinking water to communities that need it and to fix the Friant-Kern Canal have passed through the House of Representatives.
How are you different from your opponent?
The most important difference between me and my opponent is our ability to deliver on Valley priorities. I have worked across the aisle and fought to protect health care access and your earned benefits, while my opponent worked with Donald Trump to take away health care from millions.
In two short years in Congress, I’ve introduced more bills than my opponent did in his six years. I also helped pass landmark legislation to bring down the cost of prescription drugs and give our DREAMers a path to permanent legal status.
And I take questions of character seriously. My opponent has dragged this campaign into the gutter with Trump-style smears, including an audacious lie that I haven’t paid my taxes. The truth is I’ve paid every cent of my taxes, while David Valadao has been sued for fraud multiple times, left taxpayers and Central Valley small businesses with the bill when he defaulted on a $6 million loan, and walked out on $325,000 he owed to his workers.
Why should voters select you?
I am so proud of what we’ve delivered for the Central Valley, but we’re just getting started. I’ve given young people — the next generation of our district — a platform to grow via internships and other work opportunities. The Central Valley deserves a Member of Congress who shows up for real results — not a participation trophy — so I will continue to fight for universal health care, clean water for the taps and the fields, quality education for our kids, reliable Social Security and Medicare for our seniors, and COVID-19 relief for small businesses and hard-working families.
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