This week, voters began to receive sample ballots in the mail for the June 6 primary election. The top two vote-getters in the primary will face off in the Nov. 6 general election.
To provide Tracy voters with information about the candidates for the 10th Congressional District race, the Tracy Press and Patterson Irrigator sent a joint questionnaire to the candidates. They were asked 11 questions on topics that include transportation, health care, immigration, business and agriculture issues. They were also asked about their qualifications for office.
Sue Zwahlen's responses are printed unedited below.
Why do you believe you will best represent the 10th California Congressional District?
I’ve been working in this community as a nurse, community volunteer and parent for over 40 years. I was born in Modesto and have spent my whole life here. My family roots in the area go back to the early 1900s, so my connections to the residents of CD-‐10 run deep.
Two of the top concerns of voters in this area involve healthcare and education. My background and expertise in healthcare as a 42-‐year ER Nurse and my service on the Modesto Schools Board of Education give me a unique perspective, along with my deep roots, make me uniquely qualified to represent this area in Washington DC.
Why did you decide to run for Congress?
I have been asked a number of times over the years by leaders in our community to consider running for Congress. As I have watched politics become more and more divisive, I knew that it was time for me to bring my skills as a problem solver and consensus builder together. I love this Valley and I have been bringing people together to work on some very complex problems and we desperately need someone with those skills in Congress, and I’m the one to do that-‐-‐ the same way I have in the ER and on the School Board.
What is your prior experience in elected office and what do you count as your two most important accomplishments?
I have served on the Modesto City Schools Board of Education from 2009-‐2017—this is the 3rd largest employer in Stanislaus County with 30,000 Students and $350 million budget. I served twice as Board President. During my tenure, I am particularly proud of the fact that we reduced school suspensions and increased graduation rates.
The district is comprised of a variety of areas that derive their economy from different sources. What economic policies do you favor for agriculture-‐based businesses?
Water and free trade are both vital to a healthy Ag economy. We need to stop the trade wars of the Trump administration and work with other countries to allow our products to move freely and without penalty. And we need to protect our water at all costs. I oppose the Governor’s Twin Tunnels proposals (in all its forms) and feel we need to look for water storage solutions – like groundwater recharge, raising the height of existing dams, and reducing seepage and evaporation from canals -‐ to guard against the ravages of climate change and more severe drought and flood cycles.
What economic policies do you favor for logistics businesses?
The growth of the logistics industry in Patterson and Tracy have really transformed the economy, and they need a Member of Congress who supports them. The number of jobs being created by these companies -‐ many of which are entry level, but paying a decent wage and offering the prospect of a real career to students who may not otherwise find those opportunities -‐ are really phenomenal and are critical to providing employment to young people from throughout the region. I support efforts to attract these businesses to our area, including making sure we have a well developed workforce that includes access to training programs to give them the skills they need, and wisely investing our public dollars in state-‐of-‐the-‐art transportation systems and infrastructure.
What economic policies do you support for small businesses?
Healthy small businesses – many of whom are sole proprietors – start by benefiting from the same policies everyone does: more affordable health care, better schools, and a cleaner environment. In addition, they want a representative who will listen to them and work with them to meet their needs and eliminate unnecessary barriers to growth. I will be in constant contact with businesses in the district and will routinely convene small group meetings to hear their concerns and address them. I will also advocate for a tax structure that is fair to people at all income levels, not just those at the top.
What can the federal government do to attract business to the 10th Congressional District?
I believe it starts with leadership. I will bring people together from across the region, and from Silicon Valley and the Central Valley, to make our area the Ag technology capitol of the world. Farmers today are extremely dependent on technology to maximize their profits and make their lives easier, and that technology should utilize the talents of the UC’s, CSU and MJC to develop and manufacture those products right here in CD 10.
Ease and frequency of mass transportation is an important issue throughout the district. How will your policies address transportation needs?
I believe the future of our economy depends on access to a variety of modes of transportation. Time and again, we see that communities with multiple transportation options, are communities that thrive. We need to invest in all forms of transportation infrastructure, but as public stewards, we need to closely monitor and audit projects to make sure our taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and not wasted.
What groups or individuals have endorsed your candidacy?
I am very proud of the nearly 400 local endorsements I have received (list attached). I’m particularly proud of the endorsement I received from Former Congressman Tony Coelho, and Former State Assemblyman Sal Canella and State Senator Mike Machado—they have also represented this area and it is an honor that they have put their confidence in me.
What is your position on DACA / immigration?
Immigrants built this country, and they need to be valued and treated with respect, not denigrated and scapegoated.
We need a comprehensive solution to immigration that will allow people to move through the process in a reasonable amount of time, protect our borders, and not discourage the influx of talent and energy from around the world that has made our country great.
In the near term, we need a plan to protect the DACA children. These young people have been and will continue to be contributors to our community and economy. They exemplify what is best about our country and that is why I support the bipartisan Dream Act.
How should Congress address heath care access for people in the 10th Congressional District?
As a 40-‐year emergency room nurse, I believe access to good health care is a right of every American and have seen, first hand, the positive impact it has had right here in our community. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, nearly 51 million were uninsured. By 2015, the uninsured rate hit a historic low with only 9.1 percent of remaining in the ranks of the uninsured. I will work in Congress to make sure that we do everything to get that last 9 percent insured.
I will fight to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and I will do this by urging my colleagues in Congress to support expanding coverage of Medicaid, Medicare, and the the federal-‐state Children’s Health Insurance Program—all 3 of these are crucial elements of the social safety net and need to be maintained and strengthened.
I will work to bring down prescription drug costs and work with the FDA to find effective, but more economical ways to deliver prescription medication.
I will advocate to expand funding for programs that attract healthcare providers to rural areas like ours where we so desperately need them. In fact, my current employer Doctors Medical Center is leading the charge in this effort.
Lastly, I would stand against any effort to privatize any of these programs, including social security.