Gomez Reyes Seeking To Give Working Families ‘A Real Voice’

(May 7)  A longtime Democratic Party activist who has supported others in their political aspirations but had never run for office herself, Eloise Gomez Reyes said she believes she is now qualified and prepared to seek office herself. She is currently one of seven candidates seeking to succeed Congressman Gary Miller in the 31st Congressional District following Miller’s retirement announcement in February.
“I think, to put it in fewest words possible, working families need a real voice in Washington and that is something I can provide,” Gomez Reyes said.
Of the challenges facing the 31st District, Gomez Reyes said, “Number one has to be jobs and the economy. We need to bring jobs back to America and that includes ending tax breaks to corporations that send jobs overseas.”
In addition to discouraging the outsourcing of job opportunities, Gomez Reyes said efforts have to be undertaken to train the current and emerging local work force so potential employees are matched with the skills needed by employers.
“Local economist John Husing talks about logistics and health care,” she said. “If those are the jobs of the future, we have to train our students to go into those areas. We need to train our children for those jobs in the 21st Century. We need to accept that not every student wants to go to college. That is something we encourage all students to do but some do not want to go to college and some need vocational training. That should be provided to them.
“We also have to ensure that small businesses succeed,” she continued. We have to figure out a way to promote small business growth, especially in the neighborhoods that have suffered the most. We have to help them manage their start up costs, perhaps by deferring payroll taxes during their first year of operation.”
She continued, “We need to  invest in infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers has given the Inland Empire a D plus on our physical infrastructure. We need to figure out what we should do with our bridges and roads.”
Workers need to be economically empowered, Gomez Reyes said. “The other thing is we should raise the minimum wage,” she said. “There is no reason why we can’t go to $10.10 an hour.  We should make sure there is equal pay for equal work. It doesn’t just affect woman or individual workers. it effects families. When we talk about raising the minimum wage, we are talking about the future. Wages up the social security investment. Women, we know, on average get less in social security than men do. We need family leave and paid medical leave. We need to make that available to them.  Another area is green jobs. We have to provide incentives for companies doing research and development in renewable energy. We have to get our veterans back to work. I will make sure that I never vote on anything that reduces social security to our seniors.  In fact, I believe we need to figure out some way to expand it.”
Gomez Reyes took up the issue of veterans’ benefits.
“We make promises to our veterans,” she said. “I am passionate about that. I am tired of how we make our veterans wait. I take this issue very personally. I had a brother-in-law who served in Viet Nam. He was exposed to Agent Orange. When his health started to deteriorate he applied for help and the health benefits that were due him. He died before he received a single benefit. Then after he was dead, his widow had to start the process all over again and reapply. She is now finally getting those benefits, but we can’t make our veterans wait. When we asked them to serve, they did not tell us to wait.”
Gomez Reyes further stated that it is hard to draw a distinction between local and national issues in the 31st District since so many national issues impact the local area.
“An issue very important to our district is comprehensive immigration reform,” she said. “We need a true path to citizenship. We can’t continue inhumane deportations separating families. I have been volunteering legal aid for 25 years. I have seen landlord tenant issues where tenants cannot afford an attorney. I have seen single woman who cannot afford an attorney to get the right child support. These issues are so local. We need to get our children through our educational system.  These are national issues but they are also issues of this district.”
She expanded upon how San Bernardino County and the 31st District are a microcosm of the country as a whole.
“When I talk to my future colleagues, as when I have gone to Washington D.C. to talk about my race, there is not anyone who did not express concern with regard to the economy and job creation in their districts. Those are also on the top for them.”
A broiling national issue that has piqued her interest, she said, is governmental surveillance of its citizens.
“I am concerned about the NSA [National Security Agency] and other issues having to do with our privacy, especially now that the NSA has access to people’s records, which are being held and reviewed. That is a concern of many I have talked to.  Immigration and education are local issues but also national issues.
“With regard to immigration, we do have to find a true path to earned citizenship,” she reiterated. “We need to secure our borders from terrorists, felons and gang members. When we know someone’s criminal record already, we need to move forward and make sure they go back to their country. There is a Senate bill that was passed. I think that is a great beginning. We need to look at how we proceed with deportations. We have students here who have been here their whole lives who are being separated from their families. That is something I am concerned about and which we need to be concerned about.”
The federal government should play a role in raising scholastic standards and ensuring education is universally available, she said.
“We need to look at the quality of education and equity in education,” she said. “We want all of our students to have opportunity. I was provided with opportunity. I want students to get education of the quality that was available to me. I believe we need  pre-kindergarten programs. That is something that is of benefit to them later on. By third grade, we want them reading and writing. Studies show those are important periods. We should do whatever needs to be done to make sure they are getting that. We should also make sure that we over intensive education programs in science, engineering and made. We need to be able to provide technical schools and vocational training. We should have short term adult education in place. We should have short term education and training for available jobs. These are paths to upward mobility. Without this, people are stuck and won’t be able to enter the middle class. We need to change the terms of student loans. We strap our students with huge loans. They leave college with a degree and huge debt. After graduating they should be free to get a job and start a family without being strapped with these huge loan debts where the federal government is making billions of dollars on the  interest.”
In the field of candidates in the 31st with Gomez Reyes is former Congressman Joe Baca, Danny Tillman, Lesli Gooch, Paul Chabot, Ryan Downing, and Pete Aguilar. Gomez Reyes said she is the best choice for the post because, “I am not a career politician. I am going to Washington to do a job, not to get a job or keep a job. I have served this community for over thirty years because I love this community. I want it to prosper like it once did. I believe I can lead it back. When I was 12 years old, I went to work, picking onions. That is how we bought our school clothes. That is something I am proud of. I was the first Latina to open a law office in the Inland Empire. I never shied away from hard work, not as an onion picker or as an attorney. I am not going to shy away from the hard work required in Congress.”
Gomez Reyes graduated from Colton High School, where she was ASB president. She attended San Bernardino Valley College and received an AA degree in liberal arts there before matriculating at USC, where she obtained a BA in public administration. She obtained her juris doctor degree from Loyola Law School and has been practicing law for 30 years in the areas of worker’s compensation and personal injury.
She is married with one child.

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