Linda Parks thinks she can become the first “I” in the House of Representatives by not being a "me, too" politician.
“Being independent gives me a platform for pushing the public good. It’s the people instead of the party,” she said in an interview with IVN.
The 26th California Congressional District candidate is the only non-affiliated up against four Democrats and one Republican challenger. There is no incumbent in this newly revamped district that includes most of Ventura County in southern California.
“If I’m elected, it will send two messages,” Parks said. “First, money can’t buy elections; and, second, that it’s the people over the parties.”
Parks' campaign will not accept donations from corporations, unions or other special interests via PACs or direct contributions. She’s raising her money from small donors only. She said that party-affiliated Congressmen must give hundreds of thousands of dollars to their parties, and “they must get that money from special interests. As a result, most Representatives have to tow the party line,” she said. “It’s all about posturing."
Parks calls herself a socially moderate, fiscally conservative politician, and stresses her record of achievement as Mayor of Thousand Oaks and as a County Supervisor in Ventura County.
“We were able to balance the county budget while still getting things done for the people of Ventura,” she said. She thinks she can do the same in Washington.
Parks believes her name recognition as a County Supervisor puts her in a good position to gain one of the top two positions in the June 5 primary.
“I think I have a fair shot at getting into the election,” she said. “My main Democratic opponent doesn’t even live in the district.”
The opponent she’s referring to is Democratic State Assemblymember Julia Brownley, who is heavily bankrolled by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Brownley has been going after Parks with a series of attack ads that Parks calls a smear campaign.
Parks considers the campaign against her by the Democrats a clear sign that she’s being taken seriously.
“The only way Julia can win is by knocking me down,” she said. “I don’t believe it’s effective because people don’t want to see mud-slinging.”
The series of ads and mailers is highlighted on Parks’ website. Each charge is countered, which Parks says is easy to do since the DCCC uses what she calls “a cookie-cutter approach” in their attack ads.
“If I’m not a Democrat then they act as if I’m a Republican,” she explained. The attack ads say, for example, that Parks supports the Paul Ryan budget that turns Medicare into a voucher system.
“I oppose the Ryan budget and would never go with a system of vouchers for Medicare,” she told me. “I see this campaign against me as a microcosm of what is happening in Washington." Parks believes that the parties go after each other ideologically as opposed to dealing with individuals.
“I’ll have more influence because I’ll support a good bill no matter the party,” she said.
Parks’ website is chock full of issues ranging from national security to the environment. And she has a 16-point plan for increasing jobs.
“I believe in helping to create jobs by spending on infrastructure. But the priority should be based on need, not whether the job is shovel-ready” she told me.
On Health Care, Parks is focused on reducing costs and emphasizing preventative care.
“We brought costs down in Ventura County by negotiating the price of prescription drugs. This is not allowed in the Affordable Care Act. I will work to change that,” she said.
Many of her positions come from personal experience. In considering ways to reduce health care costs, she recalled the time she took her son to see a series of doctors for a broken clavicle.
“Each doctor ordered the same set of X-Rays,” she said. “It makes no sense that they couldn’t share the information.”
On immigration, Parks favors a path to residency (not necessarily citizenship). She also favors a guest worker program.
“We are an agrarian region and we need to be able to count on immigrant workers,” she said.
Parks practices what she calls a new, different kind of politics in which politicians work together for the good of the people.
“We shouldn’t be electing people who are working against us,” she said.
She also said that she plans to “break new ground” if elected by governing as a moderate instead of an extremist.
“It’s the only way to get things done.”
In addition to Brownley, three other Democrats (Albert Maxwell Goldberg, Jess Herrera and David Cruz Thayne) and one Republican (State Senator Tony Strickland) are running against Parks.