Jackie Speier campaigns at SF State
Speier addresses Iraq war, health care and education
March 13, 2008 8:03 PM
Larry Lessig, a professor of law at Stanford University, announced that he would not run for congress because while he was relatively unknown, Jackie Speier’s approval ratings were higher than of either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
Another opponent, Mike Maloney, wrote on his Web site, “I feel very strongly that we should call off the special election of April 8 to replace the late Tom Lantos, and concede the seat to the princess Ms. Jackie Speier.”
If her opponents’ predictions are right, Jackie Speier will become SF State’s next representative in Congress. After all, she’s running for the 12th congressional district, an area that stretches from San Francisco’s Sunset district to Redwood City and encompasses SF State.
Assistant professor of Political Science, Graeme Boushey, said, “The reason we should care about the type of person who represents us is that this person will be in a position to direct government spending towards the district, and to benefit the residents of this district.”
“And obviously, the type of person you elect to office be they liberal or conservative will have different priorities with the type of projects that they support and what they ask the federal government to include in terms of spending to the district,” Boushey said.
Students got a chance to find out about Jackie Speier and about her political views on March 12, when she made a campaign stop at our campus.
So who is Jackie Speier?
The short answer is that Karen Jacqueline (Jackie) Speier, 57, is a politician with a degree in law. Between 1980 and 1986, she was a supervisor and then chair of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. She worked on the state assembly for nine years (1987-1996), and she was a state senator for eight more years (1998-1996).
The long answer is that Speier was born in San Francisco, to a truck driver and a seamstress. After studying at UC Davis and at UC Hastings College of Law, she worked as a legal counsel for Congressman Leo Ryan, who represented the 11th Congressional district.
In 1978, an event occurred that prompted Speier to go into a career of public service.
Speier and Ryan had flown out to Guyana in South America to investigate what was going on in a religious commune called Jonestown. During their stay, they learned that people were being kept against their will and that they wanted to leave.
While transporting truckloads of people from Jonestown to an airport, Leo Ryan and Speier were shot. Ryan was killed. Speier was shot five times.
Speier had to wait twenty hours before she got medical help.
“I was twenty-eight years old and I thought of my God this is it,” Speier recalled.
“I told myself that if I survived I would never take another day for granted, that I would live every day as fully as possible, and that I would dedicate my life to public service.”
She flew back to America and spent two months in a hospital, getting surgeries.
Shortly thereafter, Speier ran for congressman’s Ryan’s seat. She lost, but did not give up.
The following year, she ran to be the supervisor of San Mateo County and won.
Ten years later, in 1996 when her term in office was nearing its end, she ran for state senate. Then she got pregnant. Since her pregnancy was considered high risk, she withdrew her bid for statewide office. Two weeks later, her husband was killed in an automobile accident.
Remembering that time, Speier said, “So all of a sudden then, I was a single parent, a widow, I was pregnant with our second child, and I was termed out of the state legislature, and had a life experience, that frankly wouldn’t recommend.”
For the next two years, she worked at Electronic Arts as the vice president of a department called the Governmental and Community Affairs.
In 1998, she ran for state senate, won, and served for eight years. In 2006, she ran for lieutenant governor, but lost.
Now, 30 years after Speier ran for congress the first time, she is doing it again.
So that is who Speier is as a person, but what about her politics?
Speier is a democrat.
When it comes to education, Speier said that higher education should be free, but since that was not possible now, she wanted to expand need-based aid.
“I think what we need to do is look at more grant problems, expanding what we call the Cal-Grant program, so it’s not just a loan — it’s actually a grant for qualified students,” Speier said.
Speier said that she is running for congress because she wants stop the war on Iraq, create universal health care, increase consumer protection, and protect the environment.
On the topic of war, Speier said, “I believe we need someone representing this district who is going to go to Washington DC and be someone who votes for ending the war in Iraq now. Not in two years, not in a hundred years, but right now, and bring our men and women home immediately — in a responsible fashion, but immediately.”
She also said that she wanted to make sure that returning veterans had access to health care, which included mental health benefits.
When a student asked her to explain how troop withdrawal can be both immediate and responsible, she replied, “When you say immediate you think of plane-loads of people leaving on the same hour at the same day, and it physically can’t happen. People discuss how many weeks, how many months. I think they will come out in waves.”
Speier believes it will take time and resources to exit Iraq properly.
“It’s not a simple process. I’ve been told that if you look at the equipment there right now, there’s a hundred billion dollars worth of repairs to be made to that very equipment before you can even bring it home, so that’s what I mean. I don’t think you can just abandon and leave it. There are assets that are very important.”
Another student asked her if she would give more money to the military.
Speier said, “For the men and women that are there, I want them to be safe while they’re there, but I want them to start coming home. So will I vote on all expenditures? No. Will I vote on a measured expenditure for what they are doing right now as they start to come home and a reduced amount over the next eighteen months- yes.”
On the home front, Speier wanted to reform health care by creating a single payer system similar to Medicare or Medicaid.
“Now some people say ‘single payer system - I don’t know’. But think about it. A single payer system is alive, and well, and tested in America. There’s a single payer system in Medicare and a single payer system in Medicaid. And by the way, those two systems have an administrative cost of 3 to 5 percent. Do you know what the administrative costs are on health plans? About 25 percent. So for every premium dollar, 25 cents is not going to health care, it’s going to the administration of the system, the system that tries to deny you healthcare- a bureaucrat who tells you can’t have this procedure, even though your doctor has ordered it, even thought the person who is denying it, isn’t authorized or a medical professional. So that’s one of the things I want to see fixed.”
Speier said her third reason for running was to continue to work on consumer protection.
Speier said her fourth goal was to make the “Environmental Protection Agency protect the planet rather than the polluter.” This was a critique of EPA’s recent ruling against California’s bid to set its own fuel emissions standards.
Regarding the corrections department, Speier said she wanted prisoners with drug problems to be able go to rehab.
After the event, students took pictures with Speier. One student asked her to sign a campaign poster, which she did.
Mary Watts, 20, a political science major said, “[Jackie Speier] seems like a real person who is different than a lot of candidates. I felt like she was answering very honestly in how she really feels, whether we agreed with it or not, most of which I did, so I guess that was good.”
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