The people of the 9th District deserve a Congressman who will advocate policies that create jobs and sustain the economy in the Central Valley. With unemployment in San Joaquin County nearing 20 percent, the economic downturn is taking a heavy toll on our quality of life. The resulting exodus of young people from the communities in this district will imperil our future if left unchecked. Congress' greatest imperative must be to rejuvenate the economy, and this district's representative must work to stem the economic downturn and foster renewed job growth.


Agriculture is a $2.1 billion annual industry in San Joaquin County alone, and our economic recovery is contingent on the health of this sector. As Congress debates free trade agreements in Asia and Latin America, the people of this district need a representative committed to opening foreign markets to our world-class agriculture products. In addition, Congress needs to prevent the federal bureaucracy from enacting onerous regulations at the expense of job growth in agriculture. The federal government thoroughly regulates private agricultural operations. Yet where the government has a responsibility to maintain public infrastructure, such as our levees and water systems, it has been derelict in its duty.


Civic leaders and concerned citizens must coalesce around improving our schools. We ought to embrace competitive grants, charter school philanthropy and higher academic standards. Only if we insist on a culture of excellence in education will the next generation be able to flourish. Congress also needs to retool our skilled immigration policy. Foreign students often earn valuable, graduate-level degrees in engineering in the US, only to find their visas expire at the end of their studies. The people of this district deserve a representative who will capitalize on this investment and welcome these innovators to the Central Valley.


Elected officials and private sector leaders should collaborate on a jobs initiative that connects our valley with Silicon Valley, where the unemployment rate is 60 percent lower. We should encourage Bay Area technology companies to build facilities and locate operations in the San Joaquin Valley, rather than states in the Midwest. All interested parties, from federal to state and local representatives, should come together to craft persuasive incentives to attract these new jobs. Congress also should adjust federal jobs training programs to meet the challenges of a dynamic global economy.


Congress needs to rid our economic policy of idiosyncrasies that are slowing economic restoration. Congress must reduce corporate tax rates, which will enable us to retain high-paying jobs at home rather than watch as they are shipped overseas. Congress ought to act on the long overdue promise of tort reform so businesses can invest in jobs and innovation, rather than legal fees. Congress also should require federal agencies to fully and honestly forecast the costs of proposed regulations, including any unemployment or dislocation that is likely to result, rather than allow them to weigh only direct compliance costs.