The Latino Times
Democratic Congressman Jerry McNerney, completing his third term in the 11th District, is seeking to represent California’s newly drawn 9th Congressional District, which covers San Joaquin County. He faces Republican challenger Ricky Gill in a race that has drawn national attention.
Latino Times: You have said that jobs are a priority. Where do you see potential for job creation in the Central Valley?
Jerry McNerney: There are a couple of areas that are really great opportunities. … If you look at Port of Stockton, that facility creates a lot of jobs. We can bring in money to continue dredging … We can put in more infrastructure so more trucks can get in and out.
Another area that I’d like to see blossom is food processing – we already grow the food here. That will create jobs. It will make the processing fresher. Besides that, this is a real shipping hub.
An area I’ve been very involved in is renewable energy. We have so much solar energy, some wind energy. We have resources here, we might as well get the facilities built here. … We have pretty good infrastructure. If we can manage public safety and improve our schools’ reputations, the jobs will come.
LT: You mentioned public safety. What can Congress do to help communities such as Stockton that are struggling with crime?
JM: I can help these local law enforcement agencies bring in grants to hire more officers. I helped bring in $8 million, which will hire 30 officers. It’s also a matter of using the bully pulpit … [to support] programs such as Operation Ceasefire.
LT: What do you see as some next steps in addressing the lasting consequences of the foreclosure crisis?
JM: I have a bipartisan bill [The Fast Help for Homeowners Act] that would cause short sales to close within 45 days. … I also have been pressuring the administration to move forward with principal-reduction programs. … As soon as the foreclosure crisis ends, the economy is going to take off.
LT: What chances do you see for immigration reform and reconsideration of the DREAM Act during the next term?
JM: If Mr. Romney is elected, I see no opportunity whatsoever. … I supported the DREAM Act in the last Congress. It’s so critical for young Latinos to have a way to envision themselves as citizens and as productive members of society. If President Obama is reelected and if there is a Democratic majority in the Senate, I think we have an excellent chance of passing the DREAM Act and making other necessary changes.
LT: What can Congress do to assist small business owners?
JM: There’s so much entrepreneurial spirit in the Valley. If we can make the streets safe and the schools good, businesses will open up. We can also look at tax incentives to hire people.
LT: What distinguishes you from your opponent?
JM: I’ve worked very hard to understand the issues and to help veterans. That’s been my trademark. I work to be open and accessible to people, and I think about legislation from a local perspective. … That’s a very personal approach.
LT: What other issues have seemed to resonate with voters?
JM: The Delta and peripheral canal plans are very important. People understand how devastating it would be if that canal goes through. I have an outstanding record on protecting our Delta.
LT: Is there anything else you’d like to say, particularly to Latino readers?
JM: There are a lot of Latino veterans. I’d like them to know that the Veterans Administration is doing everything it can to make sure veterans have the benefits they’ve earned. I’ve made that a personal crusade. If you have any problems … come to my office. This is what I am here for. I have made (services for veterans) a huge priority of mine.
The Latino Times