Our community faces serious challenges in the coming years. Climate change threatens our environment. The costs of health care, housing, and higher education continue to rise faster than wages. We need sustainable economic growth to maintain our quality of life. But our leaders in Washington DC are stuck in partisan gridlock. We need members of Congress who will work across party lines in our best interests. That is what I pledge to the residents of our district.

I grew up in south Orange County. My wife Chrissy and I live in San Juan Capistrano and we know the pressure of raising children and paying the bills while saving for college and a secure retirement. We care deeply about our community and country and have chosen to dedicate ourselves to something greater than our own self-interest.

I am an environmentalist who has worked to create good local jobs in sustainable energy. I have over a decade of experience in the clean energy industry, helping to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable power generation and transportation options. I served for several years on the board of the Center for Sustainable Energy, based in San Diego, and co-founded Sustain OC in Orange County.

I feel that a transition to a sustainable energy future is imperative, due to both our depleting natural resources and the environmental impact of fossil fuel use and extraction. The question is whether Americans will be using clean energy technologies developed and manufactured in Asia and Europe, or whether our federal government will spur clean energy innovation to help America lead in this rapidly-growing industry. I want to help renew our nation’s commitment to reducing global warming, oppose new offshore oil drilling, and clean up the toxic waste stored at San Onofre. I also will vigorously oppose the Toll Road extension through our south Orange County communities.

I will work to make healthcare affordable and protect those with pre-existing conditions. In the near term, I believe we must work to repair and strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I believe that President Trump’s wanton neglect of the ACA is unconscionable. Many ideas to improve the ACA must be explored, including the implementation of “public option” early Medicare coverage within health insurance marketplaces, and the hiring of new full-time federal enrollment assisters to help Americans enroll.

I will defend Medicare and Medicaid, ensure young people can stay on their family health insurance plan, prevent discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions, and ensure veterans swiftly get the care and benefits they have earned. I will also fight to protect Social Security from cuts and privatization.

I will support outstanding public schools and work to make college affordable. We must work to ensure that every child in the 49th Congressional District can achieve their full potential. Our education system must prepare students well for the jobs of the future. I believe our teachers are heroes and should be at the core of any plan to improve public schools. I am also very honored that the California Teachers Association has endorsed our campaign.

I will fight the Trump Administration’s desire to privatize public education. Instead, I will advocate for our local public schools to get the resources they need to hire and keep excellent teachers, reduce class sizes, and invest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) programs. We need to focus on training and retraining teachers, especially in STEAM, special education, and bilingual instruction. We must address an increasingly dire teacher shortage by improving college loan forgiveness programs, addressing housing accessibility, and making it easier for retired teachers to return to the classroom and provide mentorship.

I believe that any student who qualifies to attend college must be able to do so affordably, and that our community colleges must serve as increasingly important centers for job training and placement. Towards those ends, I will advocate for solutions like the College for All Act, which aims to eliminate tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities for students from families that make up to $125,000 per year and would make community college tuition-free for all income levels.

I am honored to be endorsed by Orange County teachers and firefighters, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, National Organization for Women, Sierra Club, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and by President Barack Obama.

I believe that it’s more important than ever to hold Washington accountable, protect the truth, and put country over party. We are living in unprecedented times that require accountability, transparency, and a free press. I will be a dedicated and conscientious voice for Orange County in Congress.

Mike Levin is the Democratic candidate running in the 49th Congressional District.

On OC: Gil Cisneros on the 39th, Mike Levin on the 49th

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

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