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June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 39

Photo of Sam Jammal

Sam Jammal

Democratic
Clean Energy Businessman
7,613 votes (5.4%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Create jobs in the new economy and commitment to the families and small businesses throughout our community – not special interests in Washington – will help ensure our economy continues to grow for years to come.
  • Fighting to protecting those with pre-existing conditions, finding more ways to reduce out of pocket costs for seniors and small businesses, and guaranteeing high quality and affordable coverage for all Americans.
  • I support a 100% transition to clean energy and will fight to promote the adoption of solar, wind, battery storage and electric vehicles throughout our communities.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Civil rights attorney, clean energy businessman
Senior Business Development Consultant, RAPIDSOS (2017–2018)
Associate Manager & Regulatory Counsel, TESLA (2017–2017)
Director for Policy & Electricity Markets & Regulatory Counsel, SOLARCITY (2015–2017)
Chief of Staff & General Counsel, OFFICE OF U.S. CONGRESSMAN TONY CARDENAS (2013–2015)
Special Assistant to the Under Secretary, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE BUREAU OF INDUSTRY AND SECURITY (2011–2013)
Special Assistant to the Under Secretary, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE BUREAU OF INDUSTRY AND SECURITY — Appointed position (2011–2013)

Education

George Washington University J.D., Law (2007)
University of Southern California B.A., Political Science (2004)

Community Activities

Chair, SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION, Community Engagement Committee (2016–2017)
Board Member, MI FAMILIA VOTA (2016–2017)
Board Member, COALITION FOR HUMANE IMMIGRANT RIGHTS LOS ANGELES (CHIRLA) (2016–2017)
Chair and Founding Board Member, THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL LATINO LAW ALUMNI ASSOCIATION (2006–2016)

Biography

While in high school and as a student at the University of Southern California, Sam worked part-time jobs to pay tuition and rent, including busing tables in La Habra, cleaning rental cars just outside the 39th District in Cerritos, working retail at the Brea mall and cleaning suites at Angels Stadium. Sam balanced work, school and internships to pay for school, gain work experience and advance his career.

Sam has always been engaged in issues of equality and opportunity. Recognizing law as a key lever for pursuing justice, equality and change, Sam studied at The George Washington University Law School, focusing on civil rights. Rather than taking a typical high-paying law firm job to pay down his student loan debt, Sam worked for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) as a civil rights lawyer, advocating for the rights of Latino and immigrant students to receive a quality education.

During the 2008 presidential election, Sam served as Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Latino Voter Protection Task Force and worked on the Obama campaign. After the election, Sam stayed in Washington to serve as Legislative Counsel in the United States Senate where he focused on civil rights, labor and national security issues. Sam was later appointed by President Barack Obama to serve at the United States Department of Commerce where he worked to expand export opportunities for American companies and small businesses. Following his work at the Commerce Department, Sam served as Chief of Staff to a Southern California Member of Congress. Sam was one of the youngest in history to serve in this role, in addition to being one of only a handful of Arab or Latino Americans ever to serve as a Chief of Staff to a Member of Congress.

In 2015, Sam returned home to La Mirada to work for SolarCity and later Tesla on their efforts to expand renewable energy and lower consumers’ energy bills throughout Southern California. Sam currently lives in Fullerton and continues to advocate for renewable energy development and job creation in the clean energy and technology sectors.

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (5)

What financing method(s) would you support to repair or improve roads, rails, ports, airports, the electrical grid and other infrastructure in the U.S.?
Answer from Sam Jammal:

I believe it is essential that the federal government invest in our infrastructure. California is the fifth largest economy in the world and supports our national economy, which is why it is essential that the federal government invest in our crumbling roads and bridges. We should not be responsible for funding our infrastructure alone, which is currently the case as Congress fails to pass an infrastructure bill. California – and the 39thcongressional district, in particular – deserves our fair share of what we pay in taxes.

This inaction on the federal level has led to worse traffic that impacts our economic productivity and quality of life. The 60/57 Interchange, for example, is ranked No. 1 for delays and truck accidents in California and No. 8 in the nation according to the American Transportation Research Institute. Caltrans ranked it as a top 5 most congested freeway interchange in Los Angeles County. We can do better than bad traffic and the potholes that fill the major streets, like Orangethorpe, throughout our district.  

But we also must go beyond road repair and modernize our infrastructure. Whether it is upgrading our grid to transition to solar and battery storage, building water storage capacity to respond to future droughts or modernizing our ports and airports, so we remain a global hub for trade, it is essential we upgrade our infrastructure. Particularly when it comes to the electric grid, we can transition to 100% clean energy. I worked for SolarCity and Tesla and saw firsthand that the technology is ready to transition, but we need the political will. This transition is not only good for the environment, but also our national security since distributed sources of energy (solar on roofs, for example) are less susceptible to cyber attacks.

I will work with Democrats and Republicans to pass an infrastructure bill. We should pay for this through repeal of the Trump tax reform bill, which created a $1.5 trillion hole in our deficit. Its more critical for our economy to build our infrastructure than to give another tax cut to CEOs. We should also take a hard look at our federal budget and reduce duplication of services among agencies as well as outdated spending priorities. For example, our biggest national security threat is cybersecurity – yet, we continue to spend on big ticket defense items when we should be spending on the tools needed to prevent hacking from hostile forces, which is a lot more cost effective than building a fighter jet or tank we will not use.

We cannot continue to neglect our infrastructure while expecting to build a modern economy. California deserves better and I will be an advocate for brining infrastructure dollars in to our community.

What programs or legislation, if any, would you support to help Americans of all ages secure affordable health care?
Answer from Sam Jammal:

Families are concerned about whether they will be treated if they get sick, if this care will bankrupt them and if it will be high quality care. My priority is making sure we cover everyone, and families aren’t squeezed by out of pocket health care costs.

This starts with protecting and defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which includes life-saving protections and curbs abuses by the insurance industry. I believe its especially important that we preserve protections for those with pre-existing conditions. My sister is a breast cancer survivor and I am concerned what type of coverage would be available for her in a post-ACA world. We also must preserve the funding for community health centers, as well as contraception coverage for women. Employers should not be involved in what can be covered for their female employees. 

Ultimately, I support a transition to Medicare for All. Ask any senior, Medicare works. Its one of our best run programs, which is why its so popular among seniors. Having worked in business, we must invest in what works and scale it. We cannot continue to spend 19% of our gross domestic product on health care while the rest of the world spends 7-12%. I think its important to begin this transition by allowing for Medicare buy-ins and look for ways to open up Medicare to more consumers. 

Today, with Donald Trump as President, we also need to prioritize saving Medicare and lowering costs for seniors. The Trump tax bill blew a hole in our deficit that has already led to proposals to cut Medicare and Social Security. I will stand up against any attempts to cut Medicare. Our seniors earned these benefits and they should be able to live healthy.

To preserve Medicare, we must use the leverage our government has to lower prescription drug costs and reduce administrative fees. We cannot continue the status quo when it comes to rising prescription drug prices. Families in our community are already stretched thin. This makes things worse. We must allow for more generic drugs in the market and cheaper imports from Canada. With an expanded Medicare or even under the current system, the government has the leverage as the buyer to push for lower costs. 

Describe an immigration policy that you would support if presented to the House.
Answer from Sam Jammal:

Our immigration system is broken. Donald Trump only made this worse through his attempts to eliminate DACA. The uncertainty he created for Dreamers is wrong. These young people know no other country than America and should have a shot at the American Dream. Worse, he has also systemically eliminated the Temporary Permanent Status (TPS) for individuals who were allowed to come as essentially refugees in response to conflict in their home countries. These individuals followed all of the rules and participated in a program whose elimination leaves them without status.

The reality is that we cannot keep doing what we are doing on immigration. We need comprehensive immigration reform, which provides a pathway to earned citizenship for the undocumented. A comprehensive bill must also address our visa system where we have shortages on our farms and in our technology companies. Our economy is driven by immigrant labor. 75% of our agricultural workers are undocumented. You cannot have a meal without it having been touched somewhere along the way by labor of an undocumented farm worker. More so, our health care system relies on visa holders for nursing positions and our technology companies are dependent on workable visa programs. 

We must look at immigration from the standpoint of our real economic needs. Comprehensive immigration reform ensures we continue to value the contributions of immigrants to our economy while strengthening our rules for employers to not break the rules.

As the son of immigrants, its especially important for me that we preserve our family-based immigration system. The contributions of immigrants have been tremendous in the 39thcongressional district and across California. This is rooted in our family-based system, which we must preserve.

Having worked on immigration as a civil rights attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and as a senior congressional aide in both the House and Senate, I have the experience to address this issue and make sure a final bill reflects our values. 

What programs or legislation would you support to meet the water needs of Californians and the federal water project infrastructure in California?
Answer from Sam Jammal:

Our water crisis is largely tied to our need to adapt to climate change. This is why fighting climate change is a top priority for my campaign. I believe its essential to transition to 100% clean energy. This is not longer an aspirational goal. We have the technology to do this. I saw it firsthand while working for SolarCity and Tesla.

Beyond fighting climate change to slow its worst effects, there are a number of important steps we can take to meet our water needs. First, we must prioritize water conservation and do all we can to promote best practices for water use. This is the cheapest approach to addressing our water need and yields the biggest impact. From there, I believe we must modernize our water infrastructure by investing in water recycling programs so we can reuse as much as possible. Orange County already has a successful waste water treatment facility that we should expand. 

I am also supportive of investing in more water storage facilities and am open to a conversation on the tunnels in Northern California, but first we must take steps to invest in what is already working on the ground before we spend tax dollars on new projects that may not be necessary and could harm our environment. Ultimately, decisions on big projects like the tunnels should be left to the voters.

With regards the federal government, we need infrastructure resources to make sure we can upgrade current facilities. The state is placed with overwhelming cost burdens when our droughts have national consequences. I will focus on bringing federal resources and then subsequently work with local communities in the 39thcongressional district to invest these funds appropriately. We cannot just have our water districts left to fend for themselves in upgrades and planning. This places a huge burden on rate payers, which makes it hard for families already trying to stretch their limited financial resources. 

It’s the role of the federal government to ensure our infrastructure needs our met to continue our place as the world’s fifth largest economy. Water plays a critical role since so much of our economy is tied to water use. In Congress, I will be a leader on securing federal funds, promoting innovative technologies and supporting best practices. 

According to a "Civility In America” survey, 75% of Americans believe that the U.S. has a major civility problem. If you are elected what will do to address this?
Answer from Sam Jammal:

I will work to make myself accessible to all residents of the 39thcongressional district. I am not just running to be the Congressman for the Democrats. I am running to represent all of us. 

The way to restore civility is by being accessible and listening. This is why I have pledged to hold monthly town halls to answer questions from our community on what I am working on in Washington. As a candidate, we have held nearly 100 meet and greets across the district to get to know our neighbors and answer your questions. I believe its essential that we make sure that bridge the gap between what is going on in Washington and our community concerns.

As the only Democratic candidate who grew up in our community and who lives in the district, I understand that we have so many different voices and perspectives in our community. I believe the best way to govern is by being accessible and going in to areas where Democrats haven’t always had a conversation. We are all concerned about the same things – good-paying jobs, health care, financial security and leaving a better country for the next generation. We may disagree on solutions, but I am optimistic about what we can do together if we just listen.  

I saw this when I worked in clean energy for SolarCity and Tesla. My role was to build coalitions across the political spectrum in support of clean energy. This involved working with not just environmental organizations like the Sierra Club or League of Conservation Voters, but also working with conservative, business and national security organizations on the importance of transitioning to solar. I never found division when the conversation focused on what we had in common – a desire to create good paying jobs and embrace innovation. I believe we can take this approach on so many issues and as your Member of Congress will do everything I can to bridge the current political divide. 

Who gave money to this candidate?

Contributions

Total money raised: $573,972

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

1
Sam Jammal
$5,411
2
Employees of New Jersey Pain Management Institute
$5,400
3
International Longshore and Warehouse Union
$5,000
4
O'Melveny and Myers and employees
$4,830
5
Employees of Salesforce.com
$3,200

More information about contributions

By State:

California 64.37%
District of Columbia 13.45%
Illinois 4.07%
New York 3.57%
Other 14.54%
64.37%13.45%14.54%

By Size:

Large contributions (73.29%)
Small contributions (26.71%)
73.29%26.71%

By Type:

From organizations (2.72%)
From individuals (97.28%)
97.28%
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

Washington is Broken – Here is My Plan to Fix It

Summary

Washinton is not working for our distict anymore. This is my plan to reform the way government works for us. 

Americans do not trust their government. This was a problem before Trump that has only gotten worse. Too many families are falling behind while our elected officials are only focused on raising campaign funds, living large or scoring a political point. This is a problem because our challenges will only get harder as new technologies change the job market for millions of Americans, but we do not have elected officials either capable or willing to fight for those who rightly feel left behind.

I am running where I grew up because I am concerned about my community and country. I know how Congress and the Executive Branch work – I served in leadership roles in the Senate, House, and the Obama administration. I learned how to pass good laws and stop bad ones. And, while we need this experience to stop the Trump agenda – what we need most are new voices who will fix our broken government and restore trust.

Our system is functionally pay-to-play and members of Congress operate in the dark while making decisions that are making things so much harder for too many of us. Ed Royce was a part of the problem, but this is about more than just replacing him with a Democrat.

To pass good laws that address the challenges faced by families across the 39th Congressional District, we need to make Congress work again. Here are my ideas on fixing Congress:

Fix How Campaign Finance Works

Money is destroying American politics. Whether its special interests like the NRA using their resources to block gun control or the parade of millionaires trying to buy and influence elections across America, our democracy is in real danger.

  • Repeal Citizens United – This must be the top priority of Congress. While it will take years for a constitutional amendment to pass, the process must start immediately. Citizens United opened the floodgates of unregulated money in our system by corporations and special interests.

  • End Dark Money in Politics – While Citizens United opened the door to unlimited money inpolitics, this doesn’t mean this money can’t be regulated or lack transparency. All donors and money spent to influence elections must be disclosed. Every Democrat must take a pledge to oppose any dark money spending on their behalf – we must show leadership otherwise we are no different than Republicans. I oppose any dark money used on my behalf in June and ask my Democratic opponents will pledge the same.

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  • End the Self-Funding Circus that has become Democratic Politics – We can’t put a “For Sale” sign on our elections and tie party support to the highest bidder. A wealthy candidate for office should have to raise funds and build an operation like everyone else. This shows people beyond your consultants want you in office. Self-funding candidates should pledge to only match their personal donations at the same rate they would otherwise be able to raise from grassroots donors within their district.

  • Cap Individual Donations and Corporate Donations the Same – The maximum for a corporate PAC is $5,000 in a primary. For an individual, the maximum is $2,700. This is backwards. Corporate PACs contributions should be capped at the same rate as individuals. I have pledged to not take PAC money from the oil and natural gas industries because I worked in clean energy and saw their undue influence. We must level the playing field.

  • Establish a Public Financing Match Program – Candidates meeting a certain threshold – say $200,000 raised – should be able to participate in public financing match. While I am not wedded to the base line number, there should be a minimum threshold that pushes the candidate to do the work of raising money and shows community support. At the same time, a job requirement ofrunning for Congress shouldn’t be that you are a millionaire or have a handful of wealthy donors.

  • Ban on Contributions from Government Contractors – If you are receiving a contract from the federal government, you should not be able to finance the campaigns of those who fund these contracts. We spend so much money funding special interest projects when we really need to be funding our schools, roads and public safety. Banning these contributions will keep government honest and is critical as we face tighter budgets in the coming years.

  • Ban PAC Trips – An open secret to get around rules prohibiting private interests from funding congressional travel are PAC trips. Members of Congress in both parties will hold destination weekends where wealthy donors and lobbyists pay for a weekend getaway with the Member of Congress. The Member of Congress and their family receives a few nice meals paid for by their donors and a free vacation. This is wrong on so many levels and must be banned.

    Fix How Congress Works

    Congress is fundamentally broken and needs new rules to restore public trust. We are well past replacing Republicans with Democrats as the needed fix. We need steps to hold Congress accountable and make them responsive to us.

• Establish Congressional Term Limits – No one should spend a generation in office, which was the case with Congressman Ed Royce. We need a government responsive to changes in our community. If elected and re-elected, I pledge to serve no more than 5 terms (10 years) in Congress. If you can’t make improvements to our country in 10 years, you have no business collecting a check from taxpayers. While there are examples of Members of Congress who have served for 20 years and contributed immensely, there are also dozens more examples of Members of Congress who literally do nothing other than show up to work, yet have the advantage of incumbency to prevent challengers. We cant do this anymore – our country and economy are changing too rapidly for Congress to serve as a retirement home.

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  • Ban on Member or Member Spouse Lobbying or Family Enrichment – Too many Members of Congress are enriching themselves and their family. Public service should be about helping your community, not becoming a millionaire. There should be a 10-year ban on lobbying for any Member of Congress, their spouse and their children on the federal level. We also must fix our campaign finance laws to ban any spouse, child or family-owned enterprise from being paid by a candidate for federal office. There are prohibitions on using congressional funds to pay family members, but many Members of Congress get around this through their campaign accounts.

  • No Secret Settlements – Members of Congress must be prohibited from using tax dollars to settle sexual harassment or any workplace discrimination claims. Likewise, no campaign funds should be used for these settlements. If a Member of Congress is forced to settle a claim, the claim must be made public. Voters deserve to know if their Congressman is harasser.

  • No Budget, No Pay – In any other job, you don’t get paid if you fail to do your job. The sameshould go for Congress. If Congress fails to pass a budget and spending bills - which is now the norm in DC - they should not be paid until an agreement is reached. Likewise, if there is a shutdown, Members of Congress should be held responsible for paying the cost of maintaining their offices out of their personal bank accounts until an agreement is reached. Taxpayersshouldn’t foot the bill for incompetence and Members should not be reimbursed.

  • Make Schedules Public and Hold Monthly Townhalls – While I can’t mandate this acrossCongress, I can lead by example. My schedule will always be made public because I believe in a transparent government. Voters should know who I am meeting with and when. I will also hold monthly town halls throughout the district to make sure everyone knows what government is doing and how we can fix it.

  • Allow Tele-Voting – Members of Congress should be allowed to vote remotely, which will enable them to meet with constituents before key votes, instead of lobbyist, congressional leadership and special interests. Backroom deals have undermined families in the 39th district and across the country. We have the technology where Members of Congress can vote where they live– let’s use it so Congress is connected to communities.

  • Cut the Size of Congressional Staff by a Third – As a former Chief of Staff, I saw firsthand how much we waste taxpayer dollars on oversized staffs who functionally do all the work for the Member of Congress, so he or she can just focus on fundraising. If you are in Congress, you should be competent enough to read legislation yourself and decide on how to vote. Some of thegreatest legislative accomplishments in our nation’s history were driven by Members of Congresswith very small staff. The growing bureaucracy in the legislative branch is only meant to make sure lobbyists can have their meetings taken, which, in turn, opens the door to campaigncontributions. Congressional offices shouldn’t be a vehicle for fundraising. Staff should be focused on helping constituents, not serving lobbyists or doing the work for the Congressman.

  • End Congressional Pensions – For decades, Congress has failed to ensure our seniors have a secure retirement and now Republicans are trying to cut Social Security. Congress is willing to cut Social Security because their retirement is already covered by the taxpayers. If Members of Congress were forced to rely on Social Security like the rest of us, you can bet that they will make sure the program is solvent.

Sam Jammal Policy Series: Fighting for Our Environment

Summary

My plan to combat climate change and save our enviroment for generations to come. 

We are blessed to live in Southern California, which is rich in natural beauty and a constant reminder of the importance of environmental stewardship. In the 39th district, we have open spaces across our community that must be preserved. We also have a burgeoning clean energy sector that is leading the fight against climate change. As Californians, we stand to be disproportionately impacted by climate change. Whether it is the increased threat of wildfires or the negative impact of droughts, we are on the front lines and need leadership ready to fight for our environment on day one. I am running to be a champion for our environment and to help us reach our still untapped potential when it comes to clean energy innovation.

Save Our Open Spaces in the 39th District: Whether listening to the will of our voters and preserving Coyote Hills, keeping Tres Hermanos available to everyone or preserving the hills above Yorba Linda Blvd., our open spaces are a community treasure. We have a long history of open spaces throughout our community, but, as areas have been developed, we are losing our natural beauty. The reality is that onceland becomes developed, we don’t get it back and the next generation misses out on hiking the trails and having the needed escape from busy urban areas. While I am not opposed to development and support addressing our housing shortage, we can do this without removing the hills and open spaces that make our community a destination.

Protect Our Beaches from Drilling: In January, the Trump Administration announced its plan to expandoffshore drilling on California’s coast. Our coastline sets our state apart from the rest of the world. In Congress, I will use every means available to block attempts to open drilling on our beaches and will work with policymakers in the state to slow any efforts to drill. Whether its through litigation orrestricting funds for implementation of Trump’s plan, we must stop this extreme attempt to destroy our coast.

Fund the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): We all remember the days of smog alerts and, while we have made progress, we cannot let Republicans undermine the EPA. The EPA has helped transform the air we breathe and the water we drink for the better. Under President Trump and climate denying Scott Pruitt, there is an active attempt to dismantle this organization and take us back to days where going outside or drinking tap water can make one sick. We should not allow what is happening in places like Flint to occur anywhere in America in 2018 and beyond. Whether its undermining Obama-era regulations or cutting funds for enforcing environmental protections, the mission of the EPA is under attack. In Congress, I will fight to make sure the EPA is fully-funded and we are holding Scott Pruitt accountable.

Transition to 100% Clean Energy: We have the technology today to begin the transition to 100% clean energy. The biggest hurdle we face is politics. The Koch brothers and fossil fuel industry have overpowered Republicans and even some Democrats at the expense of our environment and economy. This is why I have pledged to reject any donations from the oil and natural gas industries. I have also pledged to do all I can to move our nation towards 100% clean energy. This means transitioning away from fossil fuels and investing in the next generation of jobs.

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Lead on Clean Energy Innovation: According to the non-profit Solar Foundation, there are over 100,000 solar jobs in California. This includes thousands of solar jobs and small businesses throughout Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. Solar is creating middle class jobs throughout our district. Across the country, the solar industry already employs more people than coal and natural gas. Combined with a rapidly growing energy storage sector and growth in electric vehicle adoption, our state is leading on clean energy innovation and we are just getting started.

The key is making sure we have smart policies that encourage competition, deployment and job creation. This starts by removing Trump’s anti-competitive tariffs on solar panels as well as steel and aluminum. While we must encourage American manufacturing, the use of tariffs is an outdated solution that only serves to drive up the costs of solar panels. Instead, we should look for targeted incentives to encourage solar and battery storage manufacturing and deployment to help these industries compete and promote American leadership in clean energy innovation. The fossil fuel industry enjoys millions in subsidies that, along with their political influence, creates an uneven playing field, which hurts our ability to lead. Its time we correct this and promote the industries and technologies that represent our future.

Promote Clean Energy Adoption: As noted earlier, the technology is here to build a clean energy future. The challenge is building political will. We can do this if we focus on solutions encouraging local adoption. Here are my ideas for building a clean energy future:

  • Green School Infrastructure Bank – Earlier this year, the City of Anaheim Public Utilities announced a partnership with the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District to build shadestructures over schools’ parking spaces and picnic tables and cover them with solar panels that generate energy for the utility. The schools will receive a lease fee for use of their campuses. This is the type of program Congress should be encouraging. In Congress, I will introduce legislation to establish a green school infrastructure bank funded by matching public and private dollars to promote the deployment of solar, wind and battery storage to power our schools. This fund will support projects that provide energy to our schools, which will enable schools to sell excess power back to the grid and utilize their energy cost savings to fund our schools.

  • Veterans in Clean Energy Modeled after the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Ready Vetsprogram, I will draft legislation to create a job training partnership between our military, community colleges, apprenticeship programs and the clean energy sector to train veterans for jobs in clean energy. Today, the U.S. solar industry employs 13,000 veterans of the armed forces, a figure which represents 9.2% of all solar workers in the nation, exceeding the percentage of veteran employment in the overall economy. As clean energy adoption expands, we have an opportunity to help those who served once more serve our nation by leading the fight against climate change. It is critical we make sure local training resources are available to train our veterans for these jobs.

  • Community Solar and the Post Office – The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) maintains more than 25,300 leased spaces in its facilities inventory nationwide. These facilities encompass thousands of acres and unutilized roofs that could be the site for solar projects. I will introduce legislation to promote using USPS facilities to provide solar power in the communities they serve. Solar produced at the facility can be used to power the USPS, which will lower their operating costs, and excess power generated can be used for community solar projects that power surrounding neighborhoods.

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• Electric Vehicles Adoption – According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of all U.S. emissions – emitting around 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases for every gallon of gas. These emissions are also a leading cause of respiratory illness. While electric vehicle adoption continues to grow as cars become more affordable, we do not have sufficient infrastructure to support purchase of these cars. We also have incentives that promote foreign manufacturing over domestic suppliers. In Congress, I will propose inclusion of funding for electric vehicle charging stations in any infrastructure bill. I will also work to fix the electric vehicle tax credit to apply to make sure American manufacturers are not disadvantaged and we are promoting middle class adoption of electric vehicles.

Budget and Plan to Adapt to Climate Change: Climate change is real and it comes with significant costs. We have already seen these costs in Puerto Rico, Houston and South Florida as a result of massive and unprecedented hurricanes. We must put a price on climate change now, which means we must begin to budget for our response to natural disasters made worse by climate change, as well as prevention;otherwise, we will continue to absorb “unexpected” costs, which will be a drain on our budget. AsTrump’s tax reform severely tightens our federal budget, we must double down on adaptation programs inorder to avoid the high costs of catastrophe.

In Congress, I will introduce a matching grant program geared to support state and local climate adaptation efforts. For the 39th district, these funds can help with efforts to wildfire prevention efforts in our hills and canyons already underway by our local fire departments. Funds can also be used to address droughts that will likely be the new normal in the coming years. We must increase water conservation efforts, supporter waste water treatment and water recycling and invest in rebuilding our aging water infrastructure. Climate change is already causing catastrophic financial burden which will only get worse, we must begin making these investments for the future now.

Sam Jammal is a civil rights attorney who worked for President Obama, served in the U.S House and Senate and worked in clean energy, Sam has the experience we need to fight for families in the 39thdistrict. Sam has been endorsed by Democracy for America, Climate Hawks Vote, CHIRLA Action Fund, Dolores Huerta, the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union Local 13, 63 and 94, the Painters and Allied Trades District Council 36 and former Obama Administration officials. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Sam4Congress to learn more or visit www.sam4congress.com.

Can anyone own a home anymore?

Summary

The reality is that there is no short-term fix or single solution to our housing problem. While much of this will require leadership from state and local government to balance development with congestion concerns and the preservation of a community’s character, there is a federal role.

Can anyone own a home anymore?  

We all can picture the image — a white picket fence, nice green lawn and a two-car garage. Owning a home is a defining feature of making it in America. It’s what we all aspire to have.

Today, for an entire generation, this part of the American Dream is slipping away. Millennials — those born between 1982 and 2004 — lag behind in home ownership compared to previous generations. A recent Harvard study found millennial home ownership hit a historic low of 31% in 2015.[1]

There are a number of factors behind the decrease in millennial home ownership — student debt, delayed job market entry, etc. — but it’s not just millennials seeing a decrease in home ownership. Across the board, the nation’s home ownership rate for all ages fell to 62.9%, the lowest in 50 years. In California, where there is a severe housing shortage, home ownership rates lag even further behind at 54.6% — the 3rd lowest rate since World War II.

In Orange County, according to a study by the Association of California Realtors, you needed to make $157,950 a year to own a median-priced home this past summer.[2] The median sale price in Orange County in July was $785,000. As noted by the Orange County Register, the county’s minimum home buying income is almost twice the $83,450 annual income threshold that the 2017 U.S. Housing and Urban Development guidelines categorizes as low-income for a family of four.[3] Los Angeles County fares better with a minimum qualifying income of $103,070 and a median sale price of $566,240.

When you consider that the median income in California’s 39th Congressional District is $81,183, buying a home is out of reach for a large percentage of families in our community. But it’s no longer just purchasing a home that is pricing out families — rent is also too high. For six straight years, rent has increased in Southern California.[4] In Orange County, the average rent for a vacant unit is $1,799. In Los Angeles County, average rent is $1,775. With so few of us are getting raises at work, you have to wonder, “How does anyone — homeowner or renter — get by?”

With numbers like these, it’s no surprise the U.S. Census reports that 38% of those between 18–34 live with their parents. I love my parents and moved home myself in 2015 when I first moved back from DC, but this isn’t how our economy is supposed to work. The American Dream — or even just a taste of it — has become unaffordable.

While some will try to cast this aside as a generational issue, our housing crisis is a drag on our overall economy that must be addressed. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, $53 billion is lost in consumption spending because of housing costs.[5] This means people are tightening their belts and not spending at our restaurants and small businesses.

  Photo by Richard Horne on Unsplash

The reality is that there is no short-term fix or single solution. While much of this will require leadership from state and local government to balance development with congestion concerns and the preservation of a community’s character, there is a federal role.

My foremost federal role will be to use my convening power as a Member of Congress to bring together our community to discuss issues like the cost of housing and homelessness and identify federal resources that combined with local and state solutions will help address these issues. It’s also to make sure our community is heard. Too often — whether it’s regarding Coyote Hills in Fullerton or Tres Hermanos in Diamond Bar and Chino Hills — the voice of our community is being ignored at the expense of developers. I will use my platform to raise community voices.

I will also work to improve federal policy. Reversing the decline in home ownership starts with reversing Trump’s tax reform. In our district, thousands of families will see a tax increase as a result of changes to the mortgage interest deduction last year. We must restore the previous deduction level to prevent penalizing home ownership. Given our high housing costs, more families are reliant on this deduction than in any other state.

We also should look at tax reform as an opportunity to create incentives for first and second time home buying. For a lot of families, their “starter home” has become their permanent home because the jump is too steep to the next level of housing. The growth of the housing market is limited by the lack of upward mobility that we have seen years past. It makes sense to encourage home buyers to upgrade as well empty nesters to explore additional options — which is virtually impossible when their mortgage payments are significantly lower than the cost of an apartment.

Lastly, we must continue to expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which is responsible for millions of affordable housing units across the country. Affordable housing is essential for building communities and this credit has a record of success. We can’t solve our homeless crisis without real investments in affordable housing. Even more problematic, too many Americans are working full-time and unable to afford housing. We have families on the brink of homelessness due to rising housing costs.

In addition to making sure our tax code focuses on preserving and encouraging home ownership, we need to invest in infrastructure. Congress has consistently passed the buck on improving our roads and bridges. Anyone who spends a morning or afternoon on the 91 or 57 freeways experiences firsthand our need to upgrade our infrastructure. When thinking about infrastructure, we shouldn’t just limit ourselves to making sure our roads are paved (though critical given the poor conditions in Northern Orange County especially). We also need to invest in public transportation to reduce congestion and identify how we will avoid adding more congestion as a result of new development. Livability and sustainability must be a part of the equation as we try to address the housing shortage. We cannot just build and expect communities to absorb the new congestion without a plan.

Finally, we must have a viable home building industry. Part of the problem we face is that supply is not meeting demand. Data by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the number of home building companies shrunk between 2007 to 2012 by 50%.[7] This is a problem because even if the state issued housing bonds or the federal government doubled down on infrastructure, we may not have the workers to do the job. We can address this, in part, by making sure these small businesses have access to capital so they can scale to meet demand. Revitalizing the home building industry also requires having a workable immigration system because so much of our construction industry relies on an immigrant workforce.

One day — hopefully in the near future — I would like to be a homeowner. Home ownership was a part of my family’s American story. As working class immigrants, my parents were able to purchase a home on the border of Los Angeles and Orange County on salaries that could barely afford rent these days. Our home provided my parents the financial flexibility to support my education. We can’t allow the next generation to be a renters-only generation. We need new ideas and outside the box thinking to make sure that the American Dream is still a possibility.

These are some of the approaches I would have our federal government take to address this issue, but I want to hear your ideas on how we can solve our housing crisis. Email me at sam@sam4congress.com.

[1] http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/research/improving-americas-housing

[2] http://www.car.org/marketdata/data/haitraditional/

[3] http://www.ocregister.com/2017/05/15/income-needed-to-afford-an-orange-county-house-now-at-154120-a-year/

[4] http://www.ocregister.com/2017/02/09/average-asking-rent-hits-1800-a-month-in-orange-county/

[5] http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/urbanization/closing-californias-housing-gap

[6] http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-mortgage-tax-deduction-20170828-htmlstory.html

[7] http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/09/us-government-number-of-builders-declined-50-between-2007-and-2012/

 

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Trump is pushing for tax reform that hurts families in the 39th Congressional District. Ed Royce is voting for out-of-district millionaires over us. Join our campaign to stop Trump and retire Republican Representative Ed Royce.

The North Orange County Chamber CA39 Congressional Candidate Forum.

— May 7, 2018 Campaign

My story is the same as so many families in our district. We work hard to get ahead and are always trying to build for the next generation. I am a civil rights attorney by training and moved back home 3 years ago to work in clean energy after serving in the Obama Administration and as a Chief of Staff in Congress. I know how Washington works and just how broken it is. My experience in business and government have prepared me to do the job of fighting for all of us on day one.

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