Friday, June 23, 2006

Talking With Jerry McNerney

I wouldn’t normally post content from another site in its entirety, but since this comes from the Democratic Party, I’m going to assume that it’s okay. And it’s a really nice interview with Jerry McNerney.

50-State Strategy: California - Talking with Jerry McNerney

Posted by Tracy Russo on June 23, 2006 at 10:42 AM

This week I sat down to chat with Jerry McNerney, the Democratic nominee for Congress from California's 11th District.

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and then went to a Catholic military boarding school, and later earned a PhD in mathematics in college. From there I started working in the wind and renewable energy field. I worked in that field for 25 years.

How did you get the into wind energy field?

Well actually, I got into it by going to an interview in Port Arthur, Texas for an oil company, but when I got off the airplane you could feel the oil in the air. It seemed to me that they were exploiting the earth for profit, and so I headed back home. When I got home I got a call about working in labs to develop wind energy and that sounded liked a perfect fit.

What made you decide to run for Congress?

After September 11, 2001 my son joined the Air Force to defend our country. He is now a commissioned officer, and in 2004 he called me and said there was no one running in the Democratic primary in 11th Congressional District, and said 'I want you to do your duty like I did and run for Congress'. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to run for Congress because I felt a duty to my son and a duty to my country.

What do you see happening in the CA-11th?

I have a positive vision for the District; I want to create thousands of jobs by transforming our District into the "Silicon Valley" of renewable energy - by fostering bio-fuel, solar and wind energy opportunities. This has really resonated with people I have talked to. They are interested in these technologies, on ending our nation's dependency on foreign oil, as well as concerned about pollution and asthma rates which are on the rise and some of the highest in the nation.

What kind of concerns are you hearing about on the ground?

A large part of the district is very depressed economically and so there is a political and economic divide. Yet healthcare issues are important across the board. Last week I was at a meeting at SEIU with a number of retired seniors who have pensions of $200 and $300 a month, yet they have to pay over a thousand dollars each month in prescription drug costs. We have 45 million uninsured Americans in this country, and even those who are insured have to pay a high price for health care. Healthcare costs are hurting our families and our businesses and we need to address this. Another issue of concern is our education system. Education is the key to our prosperity, but California is one of the lowest states for per capita spending per student. Education is part of what made California so prosperous and we need to devote resources necessary so our children can compete and be successful in the future.

Do you think the voters are ready for a change?

Yes, Mr. Pombo's corruption is being recognized and understood for what it is by the people of the District. We have some of the worst roads in the state and the worst air quality. We have twice the state's unemployment rate. Mr. Pombo is the Chairman of the Resources Committee, yet he's brought home very little for his own constituents. People are starting to get that.

Moving into the General Election, what is your strategy for success?

Last Thursday I joined the two other Democratic Primary candidates for a unity breakfast and we will be working together in the future. We won the primary with a great campaign team, a good ground game, and outreach into the District, and we'll win in November the same way. The grassroots have been a very big help and an inspiration. I feel humbled by how dedicated my supporters are. If this is what it takes to move our country forward, this is what we are going to do. We are going to appeal to our grassroots and netroots supporters and make a change.


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