As Democratic presidential hopefuls spar on the national stage, another race is kicking into gear closer to home.
Democrat Brynne Kennedy is currently running to unseat six-term U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock in California’s 4th Congressional District.
Kennedy recently sat down for an interview with the Enterprise at Gold Country Roasters in Murphys before touring the town to meet with business owners.
Kennedy grew up in a rural community in Massachusetts, where her father was a teacher and her mother was a small business owner. She won three state championships as a competitive gymnast, and qualified for the U.S. National Training Team before an injury brought her Olympic dreams to an end. After graduating from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in history, Kennedy went on to earn her MBA from London Business School.
As a businesswoman, she worked on financing infrastructure and housing projects around the world, and advised lawmakers on economic policy issues. She also founded Topia, a $100 million California-based software company that provides tools to help companies manage the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce.
Kennedy said that she chose to run for Congress in order to bring real-world problem solving to Washington, D.C.
“I feel that we’ve gotten to this point of partisanship above people, and finger-pointing above problem-solving, and so I decided to run so that I can bring a real focus on problem-solving, and some business acumen to doing that, and hopefully bring some benefits to folks throughout our 10 counties,” she said.
Kennedy has been touring the district to meet with residents and learn about their concerns. She cited health care, wildfire management, infrastructure and housing as the most pressing local issues.
“I support ensuring that everyone has access to high-quality and affordable health care,” she said. “I will defend Medicare; I will defend the ACA with its protections for pre-existing conditions, and I will ensure that we have a Medicare option that people can buy into at an affordable rate, so that they can get coverage, and then through greater coverage in our country and the effects of markets, costs for health coverage and prescriptions drugs can come down over time.”
On the issue of wildfire, Kennedy pledged to work to secure adequate funding for the U.S. Forest Service.
“I support advocating for funding to ensure that our Forest Service is funded and can do their job, and can manage our forests with fuel breaks to protect us in the face of wildfire,” she said. “I support incentives for homeowners – tax breaks and incentives for folks who harden their homes – and I support collaborating closely with the state government and the county governments on what they are doing to support us from our wildfire risk.”
Kennedy said that she had repeatedly heard concerns from homeowners over losing their insurance due to high wildfire risk.
“It’s terrifying for people,” she said. “I support the efforts that the state is making to expand the FAIR Plan into an insurer of last resort … At the federal level, one of my top priorities will be firstly calling a hearing with all of the CEOs of those insurance companies, getting them to Washington, talking to them, holding them accountable for not supporting our community, and working with them to ensure that we can bring them back through incentives and government support.”
Kennedy said that infrastructure and housing were critical for economic growth in the district.
“I see great economic opportunity for our area, but in order to support that and support the creation of more and new good-paying jobs, we need infrastructure and we need housing,” she said. “So I will be fighting for infrastructure funding to come back to our district. We need leadership; we need someone in Congress representing us that’s fighting for dollars to come back to our community.”
On the housing crisis, Kennedy suggested using tax incentives to spur the construction of new homes.
“I’ve spent a lot of time meeting with local electeds at the state, county and local level because I think that it is a team sport between all of us to solve some of these issues,” she said. “At the federal level, I think what we can do is ensure that we are using our tax code, and using our incentives in a productive way to solve these problems, to incentivize the creation of more supply so that there are affordable places for people to live across our community.”
Kennedy said that she had plans to support small businesses in the district.
“I will be fighting hard to return and then expand the deductions for small business owners in our tax code, because the previous tax bill removed a lot of those, which has increased the costs dramatically for people,” she said. “I support ways to increase community lending, so that folks can access capital … and I support constituent services from my office across all of our counties that could help our small business owners navigate regulations that exist at the state and federal level to start and grow their businesses.”
Kennedy said that the business world taught her how to compromise and how to execute ideas, which will be assets in government.
“(In business) you have to debate. You have to come to agreement, and sometimes that requires compromise, and then you move forward to progress the business and serve the customers. That’s a skill that Washington has forgotten how to do, and that’s something that I will be bringing to fighting for our needs and our community in Washington,” she said. “In companies, you don’t get to just have ideas and not make them happen, because you’re accountable for solving things. That translation from an idea to execution again is something that Washington’s forgotten.”
Kennedy said that she and McClintock represent very different choices.
“I’ve actually not only had a real job, but I’ve actually created real jobs in our economy. He’s a career politician who spends a lot of time with special interests and cable TV hosts,” she said. “I will be present; I will be communicative; my team will be across all of our 10 counties; and I think we offer a very different vision for our community.”
Kennedy said that she hoped to help create a better government in Washington, D.C.
“Another thing that I’m really a champion of is better government – not right; not left; not big; not small; but just making our government transparent, accountable and efficient; conducting audits of our federal agencies; modernizing big bureaucracies and old systems so that all of our tax dollars can be used more efficiently,” she said.
Following the interview, Kennedy left to meet with Murphys business owners and continue her tour of the district.