With less than a week until the votes are counted in the 54th Assembly Special Election on this Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Heather Hutt is taking nothing for granted. She has walked every neighborhood in her district for the past two months, explaining to voters why she is the most qualified candidate to be elected to the seat and encouraging voters to make sure they vote in this special election. “Voters are tired, this district has been voting for over a year, but I am asking voters to keep voting, keep fighting. Other states are trying to suppress our vote, our voice, so I am asking and encouraging our community to vote. We are not Georgia, we can vote; we can vote by mail, or we can vote in person, but we must vote,” stated Hutt.
Heather Hutt has not been walking the district alone. She has been joined on the campaign trail with the powerful Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Hutt is also supported by one of only two Black women currently in the state legislature, Autumn Burke. “We need Heather Hutt in Sacramento. We need a strong and loud voice who has the experience and understands how to deal with the issues facing our community, our families, our children. We cannot go backwards. In a time when our community our businesses are struggling, in a time when African American Women are standing strong and making such a difference throughout the country not having a strong woman like Heather in Sacramento is disrespectful to all the strong Black Women who came before her.” Stated Kim Brown and Arlington Heights resident who is supporting Heather Hutt for Assembly.
On Saturday, May 8, Hutt’s campaign trail landed at the parking lot of the Los Angeles Sentinel, where Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, Jan Perry, and a host of organizations and public officials gathered with community members rallying in favor of Hutt.
Heather is the former Statewide Director for then, Senator and now Vice President Kamala Harris. She is the first African American woman to ever hold this position in California’s history.
According to Hutt she declined an opportunity to move to Washington D.C. and serve under the Biden/Harris administration. Instead, her passion and love for this community drove her to stay home and fight for the people of her community. “I was born and raised in this community. I raised my three sons in this community, and I have been working and serving the residence of this community my entire life. I cannot think of a better job for me, a job that combines my years of experience working in Washington and in Sacramento along with my love of this community all to serve for the betterment of all,” stated Hutt.
If elected, Hutt says on day one she has a list of top priorities that she wants to address and here they are:
HEALTHCARE FOR ALL
The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare a wide variety of failures in our healthcare system that need to be addressed. Now more than ever, we are reminded of how connected we all are and how critical the need for universal healthcare is. If elected to the Assembly, I’m committed to ensuring that every Californian—no matter their income level or immigration status— can affordably access the healthcare they need.
Throughout the pandemic, I worked to mitigate the effects of the virus, including advocating for additional protections (Including paid leave) for our frontline workers, who are disproportionately women and people of color and risking their lives to keep the economy moving. At the onset, I was continuously briefed by the CDC & DHS regarding the coronavirus and helped the state of California formulate plans and precautions to keep us safe.
The pandemic has also highlighted the intense disparities in our healthcare system when it comes to race and socioeconomic status, an issue I am intimately familiar with. In the Senate, I brought together healthcare professionals to discuss implicit bias in the healthcare industry, especially for women and women of color. It’s an issue I’m committed to continuing to tackle in the Assembly.
HOUSING AFFORDABILITY & HOMELESSNESS
For years, California has clearly been in a housing crisis, with a dire need for more affordable housing. Over the past several years, our region has passed a lot of bond measures calling for more affordable housing, but few have been built.
We need to ensure that these units actually get built, and that the process happens more quickly. Also, we must really rethink what our community housing looks like to ensure that the so-called affordable housing units are actually affordable for working families, particularly someone making $40,000 who’s providing for their family.
As someone who has raised my family in this community and turned my house into a home, I know how critical it is that this same opportunity is provided to future generations. Even before the pandemic, gentrification has been a deadly force for many in the 54th District, displacing thousands of families and small businesses. That’s why while we must build more affordable housing, we must also preserve the integrity of our neighborhoods to ensure our families are not priced out of their homes due to the emergence of luxury high rises.
Our state and our region also clearly need a much more proactive approach to addressing homelessness and housing insecurity by investing in greater affordable housing units and preventative care like mental health and emergency services. As someone who has personal experience with housing insecurity, I know that we need to combat our region’s homelessness epidemic head-on by prioritizing housing-first solutions and by investing in wrap-around mental health services and other preventative measures
A FAIR ECONOMIC RECOVERY
The pandemic has brought about a devastating economic crisis that has intensified the gap between the haves and the have nots, with millions out of work, small businesses crumbling and the rich getting even richer.
The Governor and the legislature agreed on a package this week that is a great first step for families, but we will need to expand these types of programs, because the economic devastation left by the pandemic will not be erased overnight. As a former small businesswoman who would’ve been devastated by the pandemic, providing greater aid to struggling small and medium-sized businesses is tremendously important to me. We must also ensure that the aid being distributed goes to those who need it most, including businesses owned by women and people of color.
As a SNAP activist and former small business owner, I am deeply committed to repairing and rebuilding our post-pandemic economy in a way that prioritizes the most marginalized during the crisis. The only way to create an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top, is to properly invest in the working and middle class and ensure the wealthy pay their fair share.
That’s why in the Assembly, I am committed to expanding critical services for working and middle-class communities, including more aid to low-income Californians and vital support to small businesses, and enhancing the rights of working people. Importantly, I will use my intimate knowledge of the policymaking process to ensure that targeted assistance to small businesses and others helps those who need it most, and to continue increased unemployment benefits until we can get back to work.
Additionally, this time has shown us the tremendous importance of essential workers, including often-forgotten service workers who are critical to our day-to-day lives. Particularly given the grotesque way that the health of workers has been threatened like never before, over the past year, it is crystal clear that the rights of working people must be upheld and expanded, which I will fight for in Sacramento.
FIGHTING HATE & DISCRIMINATION
In another way the pandemic has brought out the worst of us, the surge of violence against the AAPI community over the past year is absolutely appalling and must be stopped.
We can’t close our eyes to the epidemic of anti-AAPI violence, egged on by racist dog whistles, and ignore the problem. If you see an incident happening, don’t be a hapless bystander. We all must engage and say or do something. At the same time, we must call out the racist dog whistles in our politics for what they are.
QUALITY & EQUITABLE EDUCATION
California’s public schools– still recovering from the last recession and decades of cuts– face a tremendous crisis confronting the economic consequences of the pandemic. While the state legislature is doing its best to plug the budget holes, our state clearly needs more revenue. The wealthiest among us, many of whom have gained massive amounts of wealth during this crisis, need to pay their fair share to ensure that a high-quality public education is available to every California student.
Clearly, the past year has been devastating for our young kids, with most students falling behind or staying stagnant academically. But we need to make sure the conditions for both students and teachers alike are safe before we return to the classroom. Our teachers are now being prioritized in the vaccine distribution, and we must continue to ensure that they’re at the front of the line so we can get the children back in the classroom.
In the Assembly, I’ll fight to invest in the most underserved schools, restore budget cuts to higher education, and work to make the system more affordable and accessible for lower- and middle-income California.
POLICING & CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
As a mother who has had all three of my sons fall victim to senseless gun violence while in college, I know all sides of this issue very intimately. I saw how my sons were treated like criminals by police officers after they were shot, but I also saw the good cops who worked tirelessly to achieve justice for my sons. Look, the protests last summer made clear to the world what black and brown people have known for a long time, which is that our policing and criminal justice systems are in desperate need of reform.
That’s why I’m refusing to take a dime from law enforcement unions, because they have frequently been obstacles in enacting transformative change. One example of a policy I’m going to pursue is getting rid of California’s gang database, a misguided policy that provides little public safety value, but serves to criminalize innocent black and brown youth simply for the community they live in.
When I was previously in Sacramento, I also worked to combat high rates of recidivism, including realignment issues, organizing the Assembly Select Committee on Community Resources Impacted by AB109 Re-Entry as well as the Assembly Select Committee on Human Rights, Diversity and Race Relations.
A GREEN ENERGY REVOLUTION
The damage from climate change isn’t in the future, it’s here now. The climate crisis is wreaking havoc on California already, with worse to come. Over the past several years, Californians have experienced firsthand some of the driest and hottest conditions in state history, resulting in an unprecedented frequency of severe droughts and fires. That’s why it’s abundantly clear that we need a green energy revolution that both slows down climate change and provides quality middle-class jobs.
Throughout my career, I have been at the frontlines of this fight. While serving in the Senate, it was an issue I confronted firsthand. When the Thomas Fire struck our state in 2017, Donald Trump denied assistance to the counties as part of his vendetta against California. As a result, I had to work with organizers in local communities to get a FEMA Individual Assistance Declaration so that folks struggling in the aftermath of the fire would have access to resources. After experiencing this obstruction, I worked with then-Senator Harris to institute a new office policy where anytime a fire in the state gets above 1000 acres, we start tracking the fire’s development so that the office is completely ready to reach out to FEMA for assistance once the fire subsides.
Additionally, I also championed a variety of environmental justice issues in the State Legislature, including access to clean water in Watts and other South Los Angeles communities as well as tracking wildfires to ensure resources to combat this ever-growing environmental catastrophe. In Sacramento, I will fight to accelerate California’s transition to clean, renewable energy, making sure that we prioritize communities that have been hardest hit by climate change and pollution.
When it comes to the issue of failing power grids, it’s certainly something that needs to be addressed immediately because the climate crisis will only continue to increase the likelihood of extreme weather events. With the rolling blackouts our state has been experiencing, seniors and other folk dependent on refrigerated medication and other high-level healthcare literally had their lives in jeopardy every time they lost power.
While there are a wide variety of reasons for the power grid’s repeated failures, the problem fundamentally boils down to handing off our electricity grids to private corporations and letting these systems fall by the wayside. Moving forward, we need to enact better oversight policies and invest in maintenance and operations.
California, and Los Angeles in particular, are places that thrive because of our unparalleled diversity, powered by generations of hard-working, enterprising immigrant communities. Growing up here, it’s clear that everyone deserves an opportunity to succeed, regardless of their citizenship status.
As someone who both fought to implement the DREAM ACT and someone who defended immigrant communities from the Trump Administration while in the U.S. Senate, immigrant rights are tremendously personal to me.
During my time in the Senate, I helped then-Senator Harris introduce the DONE Act, which called to immediately prohibit the expansion of immigration detention facilities. Further, I oversaw the creation of one of the most robust immigration casework teams in the nation to address the Trump Administration’s ever-changing anti-immigrant policies, including regularly visiting detention facilities to review the conditions of the detainees. Additionally, I also organized statewide local rapid response networks and deportation defense advocates in Fresno following widespread back-to-back raids throughout California in 2018. This convening led to the creation of the California Rapid Response Steering Committee which directly informed DHS policy on deportations. I also participated in numerous DACA renewal clinics throughout California and provided constituent services to countless recipients.
As your Senate State Director, I worked tirelessly to reform our immigration system, and I would bring the same tenacity to Sacramento if elected to the Assembly. In Sacramento, I’ll fight to not only protect immigrant communities from ICE abuse, but also ensure immigrants have access to critical services, including the COVID-19 vaccine, economic aid, and aid to small businesses.