Suzette Valladares has heard the comments: “You’re a mother to a young child. Why run for office? Why not stay home?”
“What are we in, 1950?” she asked, “I’m proud to be a mom. I’m proud to be a mom running for Congress.”
She’s also a Republican and a Latina, not a combination many come across but one that fits her perfectly, and she seeks to parlay that uniqueness into unseating Rep. Katie Hill next year and representing the 25th congressional district.
She was the first of what are now four Republican challengers to Hill (D-Agua Dulce), having been joined by Mike Garcia, Angela Underwood Jacobs and Mark Cripe.
She said it’s extremely rewarding “having mothers come up to me to introduce their daughters to me and say, ‘We’re so proud to have a conservative Latina leader in the community running for Congress. Thank you for showing my daughter she can do anything.’”
Valladares’ platform is informed by her family’s background and experiences; for example, her views on immigration. As an American-born child whose relatives came from Mexico and Puerto Rico, she recognizes how important immigrants have been to the building of this country, so she wants to build a path to citizenship.
Yet from a story she heard about from her grandmother, who worked with Cesar Chavez in the grape fields near Bakersfield, Valladares learned a unique twist on illegal immigration. As Chavez worked to unionize, he and his followers also had to deal with undocumented workers in the fields.
“The only way to change those conditions was to unite and to strike,” Valladares said, “and if you had people that were willing to cross that picket line, specifically people that were not documented to work because they were taking money under the table to work anyway, it contradicted what they were trying to do.”
She also wants a secure Mexican border, but not to keep out people truly needing asylum. Instead, she wants to keep out drug and human traffickers. She blames the drug cartels for abusing and exploiting young children by taking advantage of asylum loopholes to smuggle in drugs. “Just because I want a safe, secure, modern border doesn’t mean I’m not pro-immigrant,” she added.
Even the reason she became a Republican comes straight out of a life experience. A counselor knew she was vocal and showed potential for activism, so she suggested Valladares go hear then-Vice President Al Gore speak at Fairfax High in 1999.
Valladares had been raised with the values of hard work, education, religion, family’s paramount importance and giving back to one’s community. According to Los Angeles Times and Time magazine articles, Gore spoke of gun restrictions and banning discrimination against gay students.
“Everything he said contradicted what my family said,” she recalled. “Nothing he said was resonating with me.”
Other platform points:
She opposes universal health care and “Medicare for All,” but believes health care must be affordable and accessible for all Americans. The key, then, is to keep costs down through a variety of ways. These include being able to buy drugs from other countries, selling policies across state lines and combining government and private investments.
One way she would do that is to create a Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA) within the Department of Health and Human Services to research, create and find cures and treatments. It would be modeled after a similar Department of Defense program created during the Eisenhower years that developed military and non-military technologies such as computer networking and the basis for today’s internet.
“If we can bring true cures to things like cancer or even therapies for diseases like dementia that currently have no therapy, no cure, we could more rapidly bring down the costs of health care,” she said.
She favors President Trump’s belief that for every new regulation, two must be removed. She said that since 1970, 190,000 new regulations have been implemented. According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the regulatory restrictions within the Code of Federal Regulations increased by more than 1 million between 197and 2016.
The Mercatus Center’s report said it is unlikely all these regulations were carefully crafted. Valladares knows this is true. Running her late mother’s non-profit daycare, she finds having a regulation that requires mats on changing tables to be of a certain thickness to be “burdensome.”
“Why are we getting so hyper-focused on the smallest of details instead of making it easier for the industry to safely open up more?” she said.
Not all regulations are bad, she said. Those that benefit public safety, the environment, clean air and clean water must remain.
She supports block grants for early childhood education and favors local control of public schools.
People need to hire more veterans, who in turn need to be encouraged to work, her website says. She wants to better address their families’ needs, including physical and mental health care, employment opportunities, job training and retirement benefits.