Two of three candidates for state Senate District 1 talk health care, other issues
Two candidates are challenging state Sen. Brian Dahle for his District 1 seat.
Pamela Dawn Swartz, a Democrat, and Linda Kelleher, no party preference, answered questions for two hours during the lightly attended Thursday event at the Eric Rood Administrative Center.
Dahle didn’t attend the forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County, saying he had a pre-existing commitment, league President Janice Bedayn said.
Swartz, who owns a skin care company, calls herself a “truly a fresh voice” not beholden to any special interests or corporations. She told the audience their elected representative needs to tackle issues like homelessness and the opioid crisis head-on.
“I’m upset with the lack of representation,” Swartz said. “No one is advocating for us.”
Swartz called herself a “complete outsider” and framed that as a “definite advantage.”
“I don’t have any political collateral damage, I’ve lived a very clean life,” she said, adding she looked forward to any opponents trying to dig up dirt on her.
Kelleher, meanwhile, stressed the importance of having a non-partisan voice representing the district, saying, “We need to get back to being citizens again.”
She called herself the “real outsider,” and injected a note of drama when she charged the local chapter of the Democratic Party with putting a candidate into the race at the last minute, after she filed.
Swartz defended herself, saying no one “twisted her arm.”
“I stepped in because I am sick and tired of the lack of representation in the district,” she said. “I was not told to run, it was of my own free will.”
Swartz said her goal is to represent everyone, to advocate clearly and do the work that makes the lives of the district’s residents better.
Kelleher continued to argue against party registration, saying that non-partisan voters are a rising force.
“People like my message because I’m not a Democrat,” she said. “I can cross both aisles. I was raised hick.”
Swartz said that while the district is diverse, its residents have common needs including health care, more jobs and better internet access. She had specific items on her agenda, including more biomass facilities to lessen wildfire risk and create jobs, and incentive programs to attract more physicians and medical facilities to the area.
Swartz also touted solutions to homelessness that include creating more affordable housing by retrofitting existing buildings.
“It’s really simple to solve the problem: Provide people with homes,” she said, noting that Redding has five empty hotels right now that could be retrofitted.
The intersection of homelessness and mental health issues, and the need for affordable health care for all, were discussed by both women.
Kelleher noted then-Gov. Ronald Reagan’s decision to close down state mental hospitals in the 1970s, saying, “We are still suffering the consequences of that decision.”
California needs health care for all, she argued, saying, “If health care was a civil right, we would have our children be screened for addiction and all sorts of things. … We can’t afford not to cover everyone.”
Swartz commented it is more expensive to jail the mentally ill than to treat them, saying she would fight to increase funding for mental health treatment.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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