Brynne Kennedy, Tom McClintock face off for 4th District Congressional District seat
Special to the Sierra Sun
California’s 4th Congressional District is one of the physically largest districts in the state. The boundary lines encompass the North Lake Tahoe region down to the lower Eastern Sierras in the Sequoia National Forest, including Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties — plus portions of Nevada, Fresno, Madera and Placer counties.
Prior to the redistricting that took place in 2011, the 4th District extended to the northeast corner of the state, stretching from the eastern suburbs of Sacramento north to the Oregon Border.
The region has consistently chosen a Republican as its congressional representative since electing John Doolittle in 1993. Since 2009, Republican Tom McClintock, a Sherman Oaks native and career politician, has served the region.
Brynne Kennedy is the Democratic challenger for California’s 4th Congressional District. She’s CEO of Topia, a software company that connects workers around the world with employers.
As an entrepreneur, specifically in the tech industry, Kennedy said she is particularly poised to lead the 4th Congressional District through COVID-19 and its economic fallout.
“I actually spent most of my life pretty far from politics,” Kennedy said. “I spent the last 15 years in the private sector, most of it working on a company that I started at my kitchen table to help connect people to good paying jobs.”
That focus on people and their ability to sustain themselves via entrepreneurship or accessible workplaces is exactly what Kennedy said sets the stage for her to make decisions on behalf of others as a legislator.
Kennedy said the private sector has two important facets that could change the political sphere: Working with people with diverse views, and an immediate obligation to owners, shareholders, employees and customers.
“Having a devil’s advocate in the room creates strong solutions,” Kennedy said, “not the opposite. If no one is talking to each other, if no one wants to be challenged, that’s the opposite of the private sector.
“You take an idea and execute it,” Kennedy said. “Otherwise you get removed.”
Kennedy said there is a disconnect between politicians and their constituents that could never exist between owners and customers.
“Politics is a lot of talk, and not a lot of action,” Kennedy said.
Although Kennedy is technically a Democrat, she remains critical of both sides of the aisle.
“Washington is fundamentally broken,” Kennedy said. “What I’ve heard from our community is that people are ready for change.”
Kennedy is running because she is ready for a change, too, and that means not accepting money from super PACs.
“For me this is deeply personal,” Kennedy said. “I grew up in a place where politics wasn’t a game. It mattered.”
International relations certainly affected the members of Kennedy’s family who have served in every war since World War I.
Kennedy is in favor of affordable medical coverage. She said she’s particularly sensitive to the needs of the 265,000 seniors in the district.
“We have a large older population,” Kennedy said. “Those people have worked for many years for Social Security and Medicare.”
Kennedy said her perspective comes from a well-rounded background, an education fortified by an Ivy League and grounded in parents with real jobs and real problems.
Kennedy said her experiences are not unique to that of a Democrat, Republican or Independent. They’re universal.
“I show up,” Kennedy said. “I bring that empathy.”
Tom McClintock is the U.S. Representative for California’s 4th Congressional District.
According to McClintock’s “About Me” page on his congressional website, the Republican incumbent served a total of 22 years in the California State Legislature before his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008. McClintock represented the 36th State Assembly District — then located in Ventura — from 1982 to 1992, and then the 38th Assembly District — a combination of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties — from 1996 to 2000. From 2000 to 2008, McClintock served as a state senator for California’s 19th Senate district, located largely in the Santa Barbara region.
McClintock couldn’t be reached for comment, but instead answered questions via email through his campaign manager, Jon Huey.
According to Huey, McClintock was inspired to run for Congress in Northern California “to bring a voice of fiscal sanity to Congress and to ensure that our natural resources are used to benefit the people and community that surround them.”
McClintock’s commitment to financial responsibility and local access to local land is evidenced by the four years he chaired the Federal Lands Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee, Huey said. McClintock oriented his committee’s work around the forest crisis.
“He produced land-mark legislation to restore scientific management to our forests and restore a proper balance between tree density and the ability of the land to support it,” Huey said.
Huey said the congressman’s legislation was signed into law as part of the WIIN ACT, and it expedited the removal of excess timber for fuels reduction and increased federal funding for forest management in the Tahoe Basin by $150 million.
“This has dramatically reduced the time and expense required for permitting fuel reduction projects and made possible the Lake Tahoe West project that will treat more than 60,000 acres — more than ever before — including nearly 20,000 acres of mechanical thinning under this new authority, reducing wildfire risk and restoring forest resiliency,” Huey said.
Huey identified McClintock’s leadership style prioritizes “principles over party.”
In McClintock’s June Capitol Comments, a monthly pamphlet made available on his campaign website, the congressman said the responsibility to protect oneself is incumbent on the individual.
“If they believe the risk of leaving their houses is too great, they are free to stay at home,” the pamphlet reads. “If they believe venturing beyond their front doors is a manageable risk, they are free to venture into the world.”
McClintock compared the restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to “authoritarian socialism.”
Huey said McClintock believes democracy is the foundation of the United States’ republic.
“He is honored to have the opportunity to stand before the voters every two years,” Huey said.
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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