Democrat Dr. Raul Ruiz is challenging Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack for the newly formed 36th district seat.
Dr. Ruiz is a Harvard graduate and emergency room physician here in the Coachella Valley. He sat down with KESQ News Anchor Karen Devine to talk about his reasons for leaving the medical profession for politics.
Dr. Ruiz told Devine that he's fed up with career politicians. Obviously, words aimed directly at his opponent, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack who's been representing our district in Washington for the past 14 years. Ruiz believes congress is broken and that Bono-Mack has voted to create gridlock in order to put up obstacles rather than to focus on solutions that he says we need in our communities. Dr. Ruiz went on to say, "Now more than ever Mary Bono Mack has exposed her values through her votes and the Ryan Bill to gut medicare, to decrease funding for our youth and education and to ship jobs to overseas instead of creating jobs here locally."
Ruiz grew up in Coachella, the son of farm workers. He attended college at UCLA and was the first latino to receive three graduate degrees from Harvard. He made a promise to his family and the community to come back to the valley after his education and put his knowledge and skills to use here. He's been back since 2007 serving the community, but says he can do more in Washington. "Too many people have lost their jobs, too many people unemployed, too many seniors concerned about losing medicare, too many youth come to me saying they want to be a doctor, but they're in tears because they can't afford their education."
On the economy, Ruiz says change has to start locally.
"First focus on small businesses and make sure we have re-evaluation of all the regulations in order to free up and give our small businesses the ability to grow. The second thing is, we have to make sure our banks are starting to lend to our small businesses so they can grow, you see you are not going to legislate our way out of this crisis, we're going to innovate our way out of this crisis and innovation occurs with small businesses and middle class."
When it comes to his stance on the Affordable Care Act or Obama Care, Ruiz says it's an imperfect law but in his opinion it's a step in the right direction.
"I am very much for promoting our private health insurance companies through these health exchange programs we're going to have that will ultimately improve the options that people have in purchasing private health insurance and it will also decrease health care costs for everybody because that is the primary problem in our country is the soaring health care costs that we need to put a reign on."
On the topic of education, he says local students should have the ability to further their education like he did.
"I've worked with the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership and created pipeline programs for our students to look at our long term solutions because we have to start problem solving."
When asked if he's ready to hang up his stethoscope, he had this to say,
"No more greater good than serving community and yes, I am ready."
Dr. Ruiz lost the primary election to Mary Bono Mack, but says that doesn't worry him. he was saving his resources for November and with just over two months until the election, he's holding more fundraisers, knocking on doors and getting out to meet the people in the district.