Investing in Public Health

California, along with the rest of the United States, has chronically underinvested in public health and prevention. If the coronavirus pandemic has shown us anything, it is that we must adequately invest in our public health infrastructure and fund strategies that address the socioeconomic and environmental factors that contribute to health outcomes. As a state, if we truly want to address health inequities and move towards equity, we must prioritize the social determinants of health and increase access to:

  • Affordable housing;
  • Affordable healthy food;
  • Quality education;
  • Safe built environments; and
  • Economic opportunity
In the Assembly, I will advocate for increased investments in public health and prevention. I am currently advocating for AB 1038, which is being championed by Assemblymember Mike Gipson and would establish a California Health Equity Fund ($180M over 3 years). This fund will support local health departments, community-based organizations, clinics, and tribal organizations that work to address the inequitable health and social impacts of COVID-19.

Poverty & Homelessness

California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. Slightly more than 36 percent of California residents are at or near the poverty level. California’s poverty and homeless rates have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Unsurprisingly, Black, Latinx, and other communities of color are much more likely to experience poverty and homelessness in California. As a state, it is important that we recognize that poverty and homelessness are a result of systemic and structural barriers, not individual choices. In the Assembly, I will:

  • Advocate for policies that address the social factors that cause individuals and families to fall into poverty and homelessness;
  • Advocate for policies that will protect and bolster California’s safety-net programs;
  • Advocate for policies that would work to racially desegregate our neighborhoods;
  • Advocate for increased access to affordable housing; and
  • Advocate for increased tenant protections

Access to Health Care

The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 significantly increased access to health care in California, however, communities of color continue to have less access to affordable health care. In the Assembly, I will advocate for access to affordable health care to ALL Californians by:

  • Advocating for efforts to provide coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status, age, disability, income, or other socio-economic factors;
  • Ensuring the protection and expansion of Medi-Cal covered benefits;
  • Advocating for increased access to services provided virtually (telehealth/telemedicine);
  • Advocating for increased access to behavioral health services;
  • Advocating for increased financial assistance in Covered California to reduce premiums and cost-sharing; and
  • Advocating for cost-effective coverage and value-based care, which focuses on value, quality of care and patient outcomes

Maternal & Infant Health

Maternal and infant health outcomes serve as a true indicator for the overall public health of communities. The well-being of mothers and infants determines the health of the next generation and helps predict future public health challenges for families, communities, and the health care system. California has reduced the rates of maternal mortality over the last 30 years, however, Black and Indigenous/Native American pregnant people, women, and infants remain disproportionately affected. In the Assembly, I will work diligently to address the alarming maternal health disparities by advocating for:

  • Medi-Cal coverage for community-based doulas;
  • Expansion of postpartum coverage in Medi-Cal to 12-months post-delivery;
  • Policies directed at addressing implicit bias and discrimination in health care;
  • Increasing access to midwifery care and birthing centers; and
  • Increasing access to group prenatal and postpartum care (Centering)
I am currently participating as a member of the Perinatal Equity Initiative Steering Committee in Alameda County. Furthermore, I am advocating for the passage of SB 65 – California Momnibus Act, which is being championed by Senator Nancy Skinner.

Equity in Education

California has made real progress in public education. However, many students of color are less likely to receive quality educational opportunities. We must continue to push for equity and ensure that all California students – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, family immigration status or income level have the necessary resources and supports to receive education in an environment that is beneficial for their personal and academic development.

Equitable Economic Recovery

While California has the 5th largest economy in the world, far too many Californians and East Bay residents have not been provided the opportunity to participate in or enjoy the benefits of the state’s economic success and wealth, particularly workers of color who are disproportionately represented in low-wage industries. The recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately impacted communities of color and women. In the Assembly, I will work to ensure that California’s economic recovery is equitable by:

  • Ensuring that the public health crisis is controlled in an equitable manner;
  • Ensuring that state resources reach the communities that have been disproportionately impacted;
  • Advocating for investments in job training programs, targeted at regions, sectors and communities with significant employment losses in 2020; and
  • Advocating for investments that ensure there are jobs for everyone who wants to work, as recommended by the Future of Work Commission publication (Mar, 2021).

Reimagining Criminal Justice

Although California has made some progress in reforming its criminal justice system, we have much more work to do. Black and Latinx Californians are incarcerated at disproportionately high rates. As a state, we must reimagine how our criminal justice system operates and prioritize alternatives to incarceration. In the Assembly, I will advocate for significant investments in our communities, increasing the availability of community-driven responses as an alternative to traditional policing. I will also work to ensure that police officers are held accountable for misconduct. I am currently supporting AB 118, the CRISES Act, which is being championed by Senator Kamlager, and would establish a grant program for community groups to create emergency response teams, which would respond to a wide range of calls, rather than the police.

Environmental Justice

California was one of the first states in the nation to codify environmental justice in statute. However, we must do more to ensure that environmental justice and equity guides our decision making as it pertains to environmental health and climate change. Due to environmental racism and structural inequities, Black and Latinx communities are disproportionately exposed to higher proportions of air pollution, toxic waste sites, landfills, lead poisoning, and other industrial complexes compared to their white counterparts. Additionally, communities of color are disproportionately impacted by climate change. In the Assembly, I will:

  • Ensure that environmental justice and equity are a priority in environmental health climate policy;
  • Advocate for zoning policies that would reduce air pollution in communities of color; and
  • Ensure that environmental justice leaders and community advocates have a significant voice in climate policy

Community Violence Prevention

Violence is a public health issue. Communities of color are more likely to be exposed to violence and suffer from negative health outcomes and loss of life due to the exposure. In the Assembly, I will work to address the root causes of violence, which include residential segregation, poverty, and community disinvestment. I will also ensure adequate investments are directed towards violence prevention initiatives.

AAPI Hate Crimes

The Recent surge in hate crimes committed against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, particularly against women and the elderly, are disheartening. We must invest in our communities, implement community-centered responses, and denounce all forms of systemic violence and white supremacy.

Structural Racism

Structural racism, defined as the historical and contemporary policies, practices, and norms that create and maintain white supremacy, is the root cause of the societal inequities that exist in our communities. If California wants to move boldly towards equity, we must prioritize dismantling structural racism and implement bold policies and systems that provide remedies for the state-sanctioned harms that have been brought upon California’s communities of color.

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Community Advocacy

Our voices are a powerful tool that can restructure our social, economic, and political systems. As a community, we must ensure that our society represents our values, beliefs, and truths.


 Community advocacy is a pathway for the change that is needed to ensure our systems and structures don’t leave anyone behind.