On Tuesday, voters in California’s 18th Congressional District, encompassing much of the peninsula, parts of Silicon Valley and all of Stanford, will vote for primary candidates on the federal, state and local level for November’s general elections.
Five candidates are running to represent the 18th district: Democratic incumbent Anna Eshoo and Democrat Rishi Kumar, Republicans Richard Fox and Phil Reynolds and Libertarian Bob Goodwyn. The Daily Editorial Board requested interviews with all five candidates. Goodwyn declined our request, and Fox did not respond.
Our interviews with Eshoo, Kumar and Reynolds focused on issues of particular relevance to the Stanford community, including the tech economy, student loan debt and student participation in politics, in addition to broader national issues like immigration and healthcare. We also asked questions about the candidates’ experience, commitment and leadership. In this article we focus on four issues we find particularly relevant to Stanford students, though we acknowledge that there are many other policy areas of great importance in this election.
After careful consideration of each candidate, we endorse the incumbent Eshoo. She has served with distinction in the House of Representatives for more than 27 years, and no other candidate has come close to her political experience or policy knowledge. She has clear plans and a track record of getting things done.
On the issue of ballooning student debt nationwide, Eshoo highlighted four ways she would address the issue. She supports allowing students to renegotiate their debt at zero-interest, forgiving student loan debt for those entering public service, splitting the cost of community college between the federal government and local districts and expanding Pell Grants and other federal assistance to low-income students. She also expressed her support for free community college.
As students, we support policies that expand access to affordable education. We know firsthand that access to education increases social mobility and drives innovation. That’s why making a college education accessible to a broader swath of students, irrespective of financial background, is a priority for us.
As the district representative of Silicon Valley, Eshoo is poised to be a leader in the crucial area of tech policy. With Zoe Lofgren ’70 (D-Calif.), Eshoo has introduced a bill proposing the establishment of a new Digital Privacy Agency with the power to determine and enforce digital privacy rights for Americans.
In 2009, before tech became the hot-button political issue it is now, Eshoo was already advocating a bill that would mandate net neutrality — the principle that, for a free, open and equitable internet, internet service providers should not be allowed to block certain internet services or charge different rates for access to such services. Net neutrality is critical for the innovative, competitive market economy that Silicon Valley aspires to be. Moreover, it is a precondition for retaining the freedom of the internet that is now increasingly under threat.
Under the Trump administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reversed many rulings it previously made in favor of net neutrality. Since 2016, the failings of the most powerful tech companies, like Google, Twitter and Facebook, are more apparent than ever before. With the right people in Congress, now could finally be the time when meaningful legislation is passed on par with the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe. It is thus imperative to have Eshoo’s leadership on tech in the next Congress.
Along with 97 others, Eshoo is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal. We agree that inequality, infrastructural improvements and the climate are interwoven and must be tackled together. As young Americans overwhelmingly concerned about the consequences of climate change, consequences our generation will have to deal with, we appreciate the implicit priority she has given the climate crisis through her support of the Green New Deal, recognizing that we are facing an existential threat.
Democratic challenger Kumar has campaigned on getting big money out of politics, pointing to the significant corporate lobbying directed at Eshoo. In her career, Eshoo has accepted close to $1.8 million in contributions — more than any other member of the House — from PACs for and individuals affiliated with the pharmaceutical industry. She is currently the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Health, tasked with regulating pharmaceuticals.
Eshoo responded to this critique in a statement to The Daily, admitting she received significant contributions from the health care community. She said the reasons for these contributions included her “expertise, tenure and geography,” among others, noting that as a senior member of the House she has run 16 times in a district that has a large concentration of biotech firms employing many people who are her constituents. Nevertheless, we are concerned by the donations she has accepted from the pharmaceutical industry.
There is unprecedented energy among youth nationwide for bold, new approaches to American politics. As the progressive wing of the Democratic Party pushes for more radical changes, key figures like presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Vt.) have garnered strong support in the Stanford community. Though Eshoo supports neither Sanders’ free public university and college proposal nor Medicare for All, she agrees with many of these progressives’ stances.
Now more than ever, a district which prizes cutting-edge thinking economically and culturally should also be represented politically by someone who is open to radical, but sensible, change.
Until the district sees a formidable challenger who can best her platform and her experience, Eshoo remains the clear choice for CA-18.
The Vol. 257 Editorial Board consists of Claire Dinshaw ’21, Malavika Kannan ’23, Layo Laniyan ’22, Adrian Liu ’20, Jasmine Liu ’20 and Willoughby Winograd ’22.
Contact the Vol. 257 Editorial Board at opinions ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.