Placer County doctor runs against McClintock for House
Dr. Kermit Jones got nearly 100,000 views on Twitter of his video announcement in September of his candidacy for the U.S. House seat held by Tom McClintock, an Elk Grove Republican whose 4th Congressional District includes Placer and El Dorado counties.
“For me, it’s never been about partisan politics. I’ve treated close to 20,000 patients and I never ask if they are a Democrat or a Republican,” said Jones, who carries Democratic Party hopes of unseating the veteran congressman. “After 13 years of a career politician who cares more about politics than people, I think our families deserve a representative who puts us first.”
Jones said his career as a physician and military service have shaped his perspective and sharpened his decision making. He said doctors are trained to listen with empathy and treat all no matter who they are.
“I’ve had patients of mine who did not believe COVID was real, did not want the vaccine, were frustrated that they had to wear a mask coming into our facilities,” he said. “But when they got sick with COVID, I still took care of them 100 percent, no judgement.”
His first hurdle will be the primary election June 7, 2022.
The Michigan native grew up on a small cattle farm and went on to study as a physician. In his third year of medical school, the United States came under attack during 911, which was what sparked Jones decision to join the Navy as a doctor. He was deployed twice to Iraq for five years of active duty.
“My wife is from Southern California,” he said, “and so after I finished my residency, we figured it’d be best for us to come back to California.” They live in Roseville.
HEALTH CARE UP CLOSE
As a doctor who has seen over 20,000 patients, Jones said he believes that Americans are not receiving a proper care-to-cost ratio.
“Every other country in the world that’s an industrialized country, in most instances the care is cheaper and people are living longer,” he said. Working on presidential campaigns in 2019 opened his eyes to one of the biggest problems in the health-care system, which was that the quality of care was not matching the cost of insurance, he said.
He also saw this up close in his own life when his mother had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in 2018. He said she had done everything right, even had good insurance, but took away from the experience that the system had still failed her. He wants to increase the district’s access to quality health care, increase federal funding, and lower health-care costs.
When it comes to wildfires, Jones wants to ensure that all have access to affordable fire insurance, similar to flood insurance. He also hopes to double federal funding to District 4 to hire more wildland firefighters and pay them better, as well.
He is interested in producing jobs in biomass conversion, as well as having a long-term plan for the wildland fire threat, which includes ensuring that people have more access to micro-grids, local production of electricity, higher tax incentives to use solar panels, and tax incentives to harden their homes and produce defensible space.
“It’s about addressing the biggest problem that we have in the room, which is climate change,” he said. “The fire seasons would not be longer … the drought would not be as bad as it is if we weren’t dumping as much carbon as we are.”
He said he does not believe in an all-or-nothing climate plan that may leave those who can’t afford the transition behind.
“My oldest son has asthma,” he said, and during the fires “he couldn’t go outside for long periods of time because the skies were orange or the air quality is poorer than it is in India. … We have a representative that focuses more on saying that our volunteer firefighters are unskilled labor. We need someone more seriously addressing this problem.”
His time in the military helped form his national service idea.
“We talk about a national service program with other ways that people serve in the community and that also pays for their education on the other side,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t have thought of that had I not gone through that same experience in the military myself.”
In the military he worked alongside people with diverse backgrounds.
“There were tons of people that I didn’t agree with,” he said. “When it came to taking care of injured service members in Iraq, little kids that had been injured by bombs, we did our mission. We got them to higher service, we took care of them, and we left the politics at the door. I’m hoping I can do that in my candidacy because one of the most frequent things I hear today about what scares them about our politicians and politics right now isn’t necessarily one policy versus another, it’s that we’re so divided as a country.”
He said he deployed to Iraq with a Marine squadron that took injured service members and Iraqi civilians to safety. After returning from Iraq, he served as a White House fellow under President Obama, working with the secretary of health and human services to improve quality of care for our veterans.
One reason he decided to run in a congressional district where his party is outnumbered is that the people here remind him of those he grew up around in the Midwest.
“I think those people are the salt of the Earth in terms of our country,” he said. “People that you look at them, you listen to them, you hear their stories — they may have been mechanics for 30 years, they may have been farmers for 25 years, they make have worked in the family business, and now they feel as if what was common to them and the things that they felt most comfortable about are under threat.”
He said constituents have grown concerned that the people who are supposed to represent them aren’t really doing that.
“They’re fighting amongst each other,” he said. “I hope that the people of this district look at me as someone who will fight for them, someone who cares about my community and service more than I care about myself.”
Elizabeth White is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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