Highlights from Suzette Martinez Valladares’ interview with The Talk of Santa ClaritaProclaimer Staff July 28, 2019 0 COMMENTS
Stephen Daniels of The Talk of Santa Clarita recently interviewed congressional candidate Suzette Martinez Valladares, and we put together some highlights from the interview to help our readers get to know the Republican candidate seeking to represent California’s 25th Congressional District.
Daniels: How’s the campaign going for you? How long ago did you announce?
Martinez Valladares: It seems like a year ago, but it’s only been a couple of months. I was the first candidate to announce on April 2, so, I don’t know, what’s today? Two and a half months. It’s going really well, you know. It’s long hours. I’m a working mom, I have my mom’s preschool that I’m also operating, so I’m busy but I’m also on the campaign trail full-time, and the most fun part for me is just meeting people and hearing their personal stories and earning their support. And also, I’m doing a – I’m totally going to plug here – I do a Facebook Live town hall.
Parallels between incumbent Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce) and Martinez Valladares
Daniels: Okay, here you are, running for Congress – and I think you already know where I’m going with this – there’s an amazing parallel here. You went to College of the Canyons and [California State University, Northridge], live in the Acton area and run a nonprofit. Does that sound like anybody we know?
Martinez Valladares: That’s just the top surface. You’re talking about our current congresswoman. You know, we do have parallels. She’s a passionate person. So am I. But, I mean, we’re night and day, and not just because she’s a blonde and I’m a brunette. Our political philosophies… I grew up differently.
How Al Gore influenced her decision to identify as a Republican
Daniels: How did your political ideology develop?
Martinez Valladares: Al Gore.
Daniels: Al Gore? I remember reading that in The Proclaimer.
Martinez Valladares: Al Gore. And actually, I’ll step a little bit further back because I’ve always been very vocal and very passionate about community. My grandparents on my father’s side were born and raised and worked the fields in Toleno, Bakersfield in Kern County. My grandmother actually worked with Cesar Chavez on one of his great plants back in the 40s and 50s, and my grandmother was very political and an advocate. So my first experience in understanding that when you can bring together community and speak up for an issue, you can actually make a difference or get some attention, was in third grade. There was a little thing called Exxon Valdez oil spill in the 1980s, and I remember watching that on T.V. and seeing how it affected ocean life and seeing birds with oil all over their bodies, and as a nine-year-old, it was traumatic. I remember going to school and talking about it, and my third grade teacher – Mr. Smith, who is actually a Facebook friend of mine today, still – said, “Well Suzette, what are you – what do you want to do about it? And I was like, ‘Well, let’s write the president of the United States!’”
Martinez Valladares: So we wrote President Bush and he responded. It was probably a secretary, or, you know, but it was pretty cool that our entire class wrote a letter and we got a response. That, there, kind of started the advocacy flame in my heart, and my mom had worked with the special needs community and volunteered in special needs classrooms all of my elementary and junior high school years, and in high school, my school counselor knew that I was kind of vocal about politics. I hadn’t quite picked a party, but she was like, “Al Gore is going to be speaking at Fairfax High, you should come, come see him.”
Martinez Valladares: I went to go see him speak, and everything he said – and again, this was, you know, 20 years ago, I don’t remember verbatim – I just remember feeling, well, I don’t believe that. That doesn’t make sense to me from a family, Christian, conservative family where family values and loyalty are more important, where hard work is important. My dad was a small business owner. My dad never graduated high school, but he was an auto mechanic that worked hard every day to provide for our family. He would get home late, and my mom was up late taking care of us. My mom worked part-time sometimes. We were a middle-class family, and sometimes we were a poor family. It was sometimes feast or famine for our family, so I knew nothing would ever be given to me, free, I knew that I would have to work hard. I knew that they wanted me to get an education and I have older brothers that had gotten involved in gangs and drugs and fell into that lifestyle that affected my family deeply. I looked around me at the Democrats who were on the city council, on [Los Angeles] City Council, and Democrat leaders, and here the high school dropout rate was more than 50 percent. Three of my 10 high school girlfriends were pregnant before graduating high school. All of these – and I was always told I’m Hispanic, the Democrats support Hispanics and people who are poor and that was the party you should align with – none of it made sense to me, and Al Gore was speaking about it, and none of it made sense to me.
Daniels: What part didn’t make sense?
Martinez Valladares: I was 17 years old, and it didn’t make sense that if their policies were supposed to help to advance my community and Latinos, where was it?
Martinez Valladares: So there wasn’t that connection of “What their party’s policies are producing in my community are effective.” It made me question. “Well, maybe I’m not a Democrat.”
Martinez Valladares: Republicans are about personal responsibility. They’re about limited government. They’re about local control, which resonated with me. It resonated with me that you should be empowered to make decisions for your life, to have government stay out of it as much as possible. I believe there’s a role and a responsibility [for government], but it shouldn’t be big government.
Daniels: It’s interesting, though, because it could be argued – you talk about your first desire to get involved in advocacy was the Exxon Valdez. It could be argued that one of the reasons the Exxon Valdez happened was because there was a lack of government control over it.
Martinez Valladares: Absolutely. I think there’s a big misconception that Republicans want no regulation, right, and want no oversight, and that’s just not a reality. I think that there should have been oversight. Even out here, Aliso Canyon was a result of some loosey goosey regulation, right? So I support regulation, especially when it’s for public safety, absolutely. But I think there are over 190,000 regulations that we’ve implemented since the 1970s, and a large percentage of those can be cut to allow our economy to thrive well, not compromising public safety.
President Donald Trump
Daniels: How do you feel about the president? Are you a “Trump Republican,” or are you a “Republican,” or?
Martinez Valladares: I’m a Republican, but more so, I’m a modern conservative, and I’ve been calling myself a modern Republican because I believe there are conservative solutions for our modern-day issues, and I champion those issues that aren’t traditionally considered conservative issues: education, autism, healthcare. These are issues that are important to me that Republicans have not run on recently. But to say that Trump isn’t a Republican, it’s kind of like the same talking point that they used about Bush as well, right? “He spent too much, so he wasn’t a conservative.”
Daniels: I think there’s a definite difference between those two.
Martinez Valladares: I’m not saying that they’re the same, I’m just saying that the argument was made also during the Bush administration and he was a conservative. With his faith-based initiatives, they didn’t think that was a conservative philosophy.
Martinez Valladares: Well, the way he wanted to fund it, to offer more funding and more spending at the federal level for that even though Christians, they tend to be more Republican and more conservative. But, you know, there are things that I don’t agree with the president. I support the president of the United States, I’m a lifelong Republican, probably a Republican before he was, so I’m not going to say that I’m walking in his footsteps by any means. Maybe he’s walking in mine. So, you know, I support the president of the United States.
Daniels: Do you support him because he’s the president?
Martinez Valladares: Absolutely, because he’s the president.
Daniels: So if Barack Obama was president, you would have been supportive?
Martinez Valladares: I did! And I criticized Barack Obama, whether it was the Paris Accord or [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] and the overreach of the executive branch and the administration, and the same with the president. While, when we talk about things that the president has done that I do not necessarily agree with, while I do think there is a crisis at our southern border, I do think that it needs to be handled through the legislature, through Congress, so I would disagree with any overreach at the executive level and call him out on that and support him when his policies work, and they have been working. They have been working for Latino families and African American families. We have the lowest unemployment rate for those two demographics than we’ve ever had. The economy is doing well. So I support the majority of his policies. I don’t always support his tactics, but hey, he’s not a traditional politician.
Daniels: The policy of the Trump administration is zero-tolerance on any illegal immigrant or undocumented coming across the border. They’re breaking the law, so they’re going to be put in some type of prison.
Martinez Valladares: I think [Trump] is actually very compassionate when it comes to the border. I think there is a misconception. I think he is trying to fix the problem at the southern border, and we have a crisis. We have 140,000 people crossing that border in a month, and when I think about the incentives, we’re creating an incentive through a broken immigration system that says if you come through the southern border, and you come with a child, we’re going to allow you in, whether it’s a 20-day holding period or whatever it is, we’re going to allow you in, we’re going to set you loose in the United States because there is nothing for us to do at that point because our system is broken and we can’t process you, whether it’s asylum or whatever it is.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017
Daniels: Did you support the Trump tax cuts?
Martinez Valladares: I did not, because I don’t believe that just because our system in California is different than other systems that we should be taxed on taxes, and that’s essentially what has happened.
Daniels: You would have voted against that?
Martinez Valladares: I would have voted against the state and local tax deduction elimination, yes. Absolutely.
Daniels: I mean, it was one vote for the full tax cut.
Martinez Valladares: Again, why would I vote against my own self-interest and my constituents’ interest? I personally lost three or four thousand dollars because of it, and I know other people in the district have lost that too. You see that other states are flourishing with the tax cuts, and we have a strong economy in California — and sometimes that baffles me given the regulations and the taxes that we pay here — but the reality is that we could be doing so much more if we were able to write off those deductions.