Responsive and Transparent Leadership
My job as your Congresswoman will be to listen to your needs and concerns, and amplify your voices in Washington D.C. While Chris Smith, the current Representative of New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District, has not held a town hall in over 26 years, I have committed to hosting 39 town halls in my first term alone. I believe the basic job of a Representative is constituent services and being present in our community. I will provide prompt, responsive and compassionate constituent services. I want to hear from the people I serve and understand how my work in Washington can improve the lives of our families, friends, and neighbors. The Founders of this country always imagined that Congress would be citizen legislators and that is exactly what I intend to be. You can be sure that if elected, I will regularly take the short train ride from Washington D.C. back home to New Jersey, to meet with members of our community and discuss the issues we are facing.
Healthcare costs too much. It costs businesses too much. It costs too much out of our pockets too. Every person in the United States should have access to healthcare that does not force them to go bankrupt—no exceptions. People with a pre-existing condition, like me and the other 303,900 members of our community, should not live in fear of losing or being denied coverage because of their healthcare needs. I support legislation that automatically enrolls people who are uninsured or under-insured into a publicly-funded program such as Medicare, while maintaining employer-based insurance options for those who want them. I oppose the Medicare for All plan that is being pushed by some. I will also work to lower the cost of prescription drugs, as no one should be rationing their medication or deciding between taking their medicine or putting food on the table. We also must expand what is considered to be “healthcare.” Reproductive rights are healthcare; substance abuse treatment is healthcare; mental health services are healthcare too. We all do better as a society when we are healthy, and I will fight for that human right every day.
Environment and Climate
We live so close to the ocean and we see more “freak” weather, more once in a lifetime storms. Part of climate change is rising ocean temperatures that contribute to storms like Sandy. Climate change is an urgent threat to our community. I support efforts to re-enter the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement to reassert the U.S’s leadership on combating climate change worldwide, and reinstate any environmental regulations that have been rolled back. But that is not enough.
Like so many times before, America can innovate and build a whole new industry with high paying jobs for skilled laborers and in manufacturing. I see moving to cleaner energy sources as a way to kickstart a part of our economy that needs it and gives working people jobs right here in Central Jersey.
Part of that effort must include modernizing and expanding our infrastructure by securing our electrical grid, properly maintaining and modernizing our bridges and tunnels, and increasing access to trains and high speed rails. While we must act swiftly to prevent climate change, we must also grapple with the fact that some of its effects are already upon us, which is causing severe storms, flooding, and displacement. We at the Jersey Shore have already seen the devastating effects of climate change firsthand from Hurricane Sandy. I will work diligently to fully fund our flood insurance and federal emergency management programs so that victims of natural disasters have immediate support.
New Jersey residents rely on up-to-date infrastructure to do our jobs and to live efficient, productive lives. Taxpayers deserve an electrical system that they can trust, especially with more Americans than ever working from home, making electricity and internet service more crucial than ever. Our district’s first hurricane of 2020 showed that our electrical system cannot currently handle an afternoon storm. Households were left without power for days, endangering the health of some and preventing others from working from home during the pandemic. We need and are entitled to a strong infrastructure system—including reliable electricity and internet, clean drinking water, properly maintained roads and highways, and accessible and convenient trains and ferries that so many of us rely on for our daily commutes.
Infrastructure improvements provide a unique opportunity to embrace climate-friendly technology advancements and create good paying union jobs. In Congress, I will use both my voice and my vote to ensure that modernizing our infrastructure and securing our electrical grid are at the top of our agenda.
Taxes and Debt
The middle class, especially here in Central Jersey, is bearing the burden of tax increases and diminished property values as a direct result of Congress’ decision to place a cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction. We need to immediately remove the SALT Cap that explicitly and unfairly targeted our state to provide financial relief to thousands of middle class New Jersey homeowners. I support a balanced budget that addresses our spiraling national debt. We should not and cannot continue to increase our debt and hand it off to future generations to deal with. That means making cuts and rooting out waste.
I am a proud product of New Jersey public schools and I believe that every child should have access to a quality education.
Early childhood education is vital for future success since it serves as a foundation for development and learning abilities. A good start leads to more kids graduating from high school and increases opportunities for better jobs. I will work to make sure every child has access to pre-K and early learning programs.
I will also work to increase access to and affordability of New Jersey’s colleges, universities, and trade schools. We need to expand our vision of higher education and recognize that the traditional four-year college model is not right for everyone. Trade schools can provide important training not just for traditional jobs like plumbers, carpenters, and electricians, but also for computer engineers as well as jobs in clean energy technology. And I will fight for a student loan interest rate cap and work to expand student loan forgiveness programs so that debt does not burden so many young adults and students have a realistic and achievable path to repaying their loans.
Teachers have one of the most important and challenging jobs. Now, more than ever, they are on the frontlines working to ensure the social, cultural, and economic health of our country. Teachers everywhere should be well paid and provided with the resources they need to be successful in the classroom. I will always have the backs of teachers across our district and our country, and will fight for fair pay, benefits, and healthcare for our educators.
Everyone in New Jersey deserves a good-paying job with safe working conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc in our community and I will work tirelessly to ensure we not only recover from this crisis, but build back better and stronger by supporting labor rights in a way that encompasses the broader needs of New Jersey’s workers. Labor unions are the backbone of the American middle class and are essential for a strong, unified voice for workers. I am a proud former member of the American Foreign Service Association, a union of foreign service officers that always stood strong beside me when I needed them. I know firsthand how critical unions are to protecting American workers and our rights.
I support healthcare legislation that would automatically enroll uninsured and underinsured individuals in a publicly-funded program such as Medicare, but also allow union members to keep the plans they have negotiated. I support the Employee Free Choice Act, and as the next Congresswoman in NJ-04, I will protect the right to collective bargaining, advocate for workplace safety, and always fight to ensure that workers’ rights are at the forefront of and integrated throughout our legislative agenda.
Gun Safety Reforms
Our children have the right to go to school in an environment free from violence. Nor should we have to live in fear of gun violence at the grocery store, movie theater, shopping mall, or our places of worship. We are fortunate to live in a state that prioritizes our safety with strong, common sense gun laws, but we are only as safe as the weakest protections elsewhere.
I was awarded the 2020 Moms Demand Action Candidate Distinction, which is awarded to candidates who are committed to advocating for gun violence prevention and governing with gun safety in mind. I support common sense gun reforms that will keep our communities safe while respecting the right to gun ownership. As your Congresswoman, I will support universal background checks, renewal of an assault weapons ban, and an optional gun buy-back program to decrease the number of weapons on the street. Every month, an average of 52 American women are shot and killed by an intimate partner, and abusers with firearms are five times more likely to kill their victim. Therefore, I also support red flag laws, as well as reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in order to ensure that those convicted of domestic violence offenses are not able to purchase or possess guns.
I will protect Social Security and stand up against privatizing this critical program and oppose any cuts to benefits. It is really that simple. You paid in to a system with a promise and you deserve to have the government keep that promise.
Supporting our Veterans
After serving our country, our veterans are entitled to support from our government and our communities. Veterans must have access to universal healthcare, including comprehensive mental health services. Our workforce and economy are rapidly evolving, and we should ensure our veterans have the resources they need to explore new economic opportunities after their service. Veterans deserve pathways to affordable, secure housing so that they can not only survive, but also thrive. I served overseas side-by-side with members of our military and I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as an advocate and champion for our veterans in Congress. I will fight to ensure that our district is home to a well-funded and transparent VA clinic. Ocean County has the largest veteran population of any county in New Jersey, and a new clinic will help us provide services and resources to our local veterans and their families.
First and foremost, I will work to change the provisions under the Fair Labor Standards Act that currently allow employers to pay people with disabilities sub-minimum wages. I will fight for a $15 minimum wage for everyone, and fight to protect and expand Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to ensure that the monthly maximum is raised above the poverty line. My work will not stop there. I will also fight to provide protections for people with disabilities. Specifically, I support the Medicare for America Act, which comprehensively covers long-term services and support for Americans living with disabilities and seniors. I will also work to fully fund our federal emergency management programs to make sure that federal disaster spending is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and supports and consults with people with disabilities with regard to disaster planning. Finally, I will support and expand the Violence Against Women Act, which includes protections for those with disabilities. This is incredibly important as women with disabilities have a 40 percent greater risk of intimate partner violence than women without disabilities.