Dr. Raul Ruiz, U.S. Congress District 36 incumbent.File photo
Dr. Raul Ruiz, U.S. Congress District 36 incumbent. File photo

“I’m an emergency-room physician and what I do daily is solve problems,” said Dr. Raul Ruiz when he first ran for Congressional District 36 in 2012. He also stressed that he would support bipartisan solutions if elected. “We need representatives who will help implement the vision we have of working and solving problems together.”

Ruiz upset Mary Bono in 2012 and defeated Republican challenger Brian Nestande in 2014. Ruiz reiterated his vow in this election cycle to continue to seek collaborative solutions that serve all his constituents.

He said he is particularly troubled by the rhetoric of the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. “We cannot allow bigotry and racism to become the norm,” said Ruiz, in a telephone interview. “It is strange when the Republican nominee makes hateful comments against Latinos, women and immigrants. There are real consequences when people are emboldened to act out against others.”

Rather than deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, as Trump has suggested he would do, Ruiz supports comprehensive immigration reform and an earned pathway to citizenship. “I believe that any comprehensive immigration reform plan must be bipartisan, secure our borders, uphold the immigration laws we already have, protect our workers and businesses, and include an earned pathway to citizenship for those who have played by the rules,” he said.

“The issues that are important to me are the ones that are important to my constituents in their daily lives,” he said. “I am, first and foremost, a physician and the health of our community is my chief concern.” In that context, Ruiz supports guarantees for Medicare and Social Security and seeks to improve the Affordable Care Act so that it works better for the middle class.

In a health-related project he calls a “shovel-to-ground” program, Ruiz is leading an effort to restore the Salton Sea. “The Red Hill Bay Marina Project is the first step in realizing my vision to combat the health threats, environmental crisis and adverse economic impacts of the receding sea by transforming this threat into an opportunity to prevent dust exposure, and spur renewable energy and tourism,” said Ruiz. The project will cover 420 acres of exposed shoreline with water and create geothermal energy access corridors and well pads for future renewable energy development.

“The erosion of the sea is a health concern for the entire Southern California region,” said Ruiz. “The fine-dust particulates that the wind carries contain pesticide, arsenic and selenium that can get into lungs and cause major health issues. This project can be a model to turn a public-health challenge into an economic opportunity.”

Ruiz has voted to protect veterans’ benefits and transform the Department of Veterans Affairs so that it better serves veterans’ needs. “In my position on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I have focused on improving the health-care system for our nation’s veterans and developing bipartisan solutions to end the backlog of disability claims.”

Ruiz will host a “Veterans University” on June 25 and 26 at the California State University, San Bernardino, Palm Desert campus to bring together multiple local, federal and state organizations and entrepreneurs who can provide training and education for veterans and their families. “There will be skill-based workshops for veterans and their families to help them be more effective in the workplace,” he said. “It will be a model for regional and national approaches to providing knowledge and education for veterans.”

Ruiz also led an effort to counter recent state legislation that would allow discrimination based on sexual orientation. He helped author a letter to state governors considering or having passed legislation that would discriminate against LGBT Americans. “We are very concerned about the recent trend among some states to enact or consider expanded Religious Freedom Restoration Acts and other legislation that could allow businesses to discriminate against or deny service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans,” the members wrote. “These discriminatory policies, under the false guise of religious freedom, have no place in a nation founded on the principal of equal treatment for all.”

In an issue raised by his Republican opponent, state Sen. Jeff Stone, Ruiz said he had always advocated an evidence-based nuclear deal with Iran that would forestall or prevent its development of a nuclear weapon. “From the start, I committed myself to a rigorous, evidence-based approach without consideration of partisanship or politics,” he said. “I sought the expertise of nuclear physicists and non-proliferation experts. I met with concerned constituents and leaders of the Jewish community, and I reviewed the classified documents available to members of Congress.” Ruiz stressed he had never indicated to Stone or others that he would vote differently when the bill was presented.

On gun violence, Ruiz said he prefers congressional legislation over presidential executive actions. “Doing nothing is irresponsible,” he said. “I support increasing mental-health services and closing the gun purchase background check loophole. High risk individuals — terrorists, domestic violence abusers, convicted criminals and those that suffer mental illness should not be allowed to purchase weapons.”

Ruiz said he has endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination because she is the “best prepared and would hit the ground running on day one.”

He said he believes a civil discussion of the issues confronting the American public best serves the country’s needs and said he is dismayed that there has not been more push-back by other Republicans against the rhetoric that Donald Trump has used in his run to the nomination.

For more about Congressman Ruiz, visit https://ruiz.house.gov.