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Interview with San Benito Link

Lawrence Milan, 32, was born and raised in San Jose. Milan works in community outreach. 

BenitoLink: Why are you running for the 18th District seat?  

I am running for CA-18 because I believe that this district deserves someone that is reflective of current demographics and who really understands the challenges and strengths of the community. I want to see progressive change to a region that has historically been left behind. I want to represent those who have worked countless hours in the sun. I want to represent those families that are struggling to build wealth, not because of merit, but due to circumstance. I want to represent the child who dares to dream but worries those dreams will not come true. I am the son of a migrant farmworker and I have seen how stressful and hard life can be for many. It would be my honor to work for this community in Congress.

What issues are most important to your district and, if elected, how do you intend to handle them? Why are these issues most important?

The singular most important issue is health care. Communities cannot thrive if they are not given effective and accessible health care options. From a federal level, we can use Medicare to provide health care for all, regardless of status. This would take away our need for health care through employment, which is stressful and not stable for many. By bringing federal funding to cover health care costs, this will help free up money for families to use for other critical items such as groceries, clothes, etc. By being able to support themselves more, less people would become homeless due to medical debt. Health care is a human right and this topic would be my No. 1 priority in office.

San Benito County residents experienced severe flooding in 2022-23. As a representative in Washington, how will you ensure that resources and funding make it to victims of natural disasters, even if it’s on a smaller scale compared to other jurisdictions?

I would guarantee that counties with recurring climate issues would have access to funding without a state of emergency being declared or before FEMA is called in. This would allow local leadership to allocate funds quickly and efficiently. Directing from a local level hastens each community’s ability to prepare, respond and repair. I believe FEMA should expand their hazard mitigation assistance program because this would allow for more proactive intervention. What is needed, immediately, is climate change legislation. Scientists have told the world that last year was the hottest on record. The increase in flooding is another example of the high cost of climate change to our communities. These warming temperatures, floods and fires will continue to bring devastating climate events to our community, including displacement.

What are the pros and cons of the California High-Speed Rail system that would travel through the Central Valley and past San Benito County, in light of the project’s rising costs? 

Pros for the high speed rail are immense. In a state that is almost impossible to traverse without a car, a high speed rail system would allow more people to commute within the state, which in turn makes it more accessible. This potentially would encourage less cars on the road and help with efforts to combat climate change. The project will also create jobs and if leveraged correctly, municipalities can use this to drive tourism. All this goes to helping grow the economies of many counties in California.

The main drawback of the project is the high price tag. Though this is a concern, we need to look at the project as a service, an investment in the future that will pay back what it costs to build. With continued federal investment it will be an amazing service for all involved.

Rural counties such as San Benito are struggling to fund road repairs. In what ways will you help obtain funds for affected roads?

Somewhere in the system there is a roadblock that is preventing rural counties from getting the critical funds to improve and maintain the roads. I view my position as finding out what that block is, addressing it in order to get the funds moving and then working to see how this can be prevented in the future. The rural counties need a strong advocate. The district representative can’t just focus on the more urban areas. My job is to support all aspects of the county. The 18th District deserves to be included in all major legislation. I can provide better representation and advocacy by showing how important these areas are to the country.

Many hospitals are struggling in the state, especially rural hospitals. What will you do to ensure rural communities have access to health care?

I believe that healthcare is a right and that means that no matter where you live you need access to health care. To ensure that rural communities have access to health care, I would first work with community leaders to learn more about their unique needs and why rural hospitals are struggling. Is it lack of access, transportation, education, or lack of trust in the system? This includes what access to health care looks like for these communities. I will then continue to work within these communities to ensure access to health care is achieved. This partnership with our rural communities is important for the success of the program, especially in the long run. I would also work on ensuring that more federal funds go to these rural areas. Also, if we move to a single-payer health care system we can remove for-profit hospitals. We should be building more city-, county- and state-run hospitals that put patient care first and are not worried about maximizing profits. We have to move away from a capitalistic platform and move toward a system that benefits community and builds

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