Joy Silver, Democratic candidate for state senate, delivers water Saturday morning to the Idyllwild Help Center with her assistant James Carver. The two also brought pasta sauce, jelly, batteries and cereal from Courageous Resistance of the Desert. Photo by Becky Clark

Joy Silver, of Palm Springs, is the Democratic candidate for the 28th state Senate District seat. She is challenging incumbent Jeff Stone.

Born in Pennsylvania, Silver spent much of her early career on the East Coast. She moved to New Mexico, was involved in healthcare and in 2007, and settled in the Palm Springs area, where she continues to be concerned about housing and health services for people who need help.

She grew up in a law enforcement family. Both of her parents were members of the Philadelphia-area law enforcement.

“I didn’t always know if my dad was coming home at night,” she said. “I understand public safety. I’ve lived the life.”

Campaign

“I have found being a candidate an interesting experience,” she said. The interactions with voters have helped to energize her. “I’m meeting with so many different people and groups. I’m learning what they want and propose.”

She cited examples such as teachers who want more students to teach, people offering new ways to deliver renewable energy or members of the building trade groups suggesting methods for sustainable construction.

“It’s exhilarating,” she said.

Campaign finances

One disadvantage of being a first-time candidate is running against an incumbent who has been involved with local politics for more than 20 years.

Silver, as a first-time candidate, has raised substantial sums; as of July 31, she had received nearly $330,000 and another $80,000 through mid-September. She did research and found the average expenditure for a state senate race in California has been between $675,000 and $825,000.

She is proud that the state Democratic Party endorsed her candidacy in the primary. Except for some contributions from labor groups, Silver’s funding is primarily grassroots — individuals.

“It takes money to just get my message out, especially since the district is about 6,000 square miles,” she said. “It takes a lot of time to raise money and you’re forever proving you can win.”

Healthcare

Two issues on the tips of most politicians’ tongues are healthcare and housing. Silver has devoted much of her adult life to both of these issues. And she was able to combine both when she became involved in senior care.

“Healthcare is the single most important issue,” Silver said. “In our district, we need somebody to stand up and protect and provide access to healthcare. It will have my primary attention and be my first priority if elected.”

Within the 28th District, she noted that healthcare also connects to the problem with the Salton Sea. “There are incidents of asthma and cancer because of air quality,” she noted.

While Democratic candidates and members frequently advocated single-payer health insurance, Silver acknowledges there are many unanswered and complex questions associated with it. For example, the funding mechanism is unknown.

“Ultimately, single payer is the way for the whole country, not California alone,” she said. “We will still be dependent on the federal government for payment.”

Her first priority will be to rein in drug costs, she said. Bringing down the cost of prescription drugs is the first step and achievable, she argues. She also wants to address women’s healthcare and mental-health issues. And she believes educational loans for health professionals discourage people from these careers.

“I bring to the table real experience in both providing healthcare and serving people,” she said.

Educational spending

Silver advocates increasing state spending for educational programs. Her concerns stem from California ranking 46th in spending per pupil, which is 28 percent below the national average.

“We’re drastically underfunded compared to the national level,” she said. “It’s the lynchpin for everything else we want to do.”

From her perspective, more educational spending will ultimately avoid the costs of future prison space.

“The cost of one person in prison is enough to send 15 kids to preschool. And those who attend preschool are 25 percent less likely to become criminals,” Silver stated.

To fund these programs, she will find ways to shift state priorities in favor of education.

Wildfires

Silver views this issue as part of the overall climate-change problems. Fires release carbon dioxide. She advocates increasing use of renewable energy sources to lower the carbon dioxide created by traditional electric generation.

Silver will seek more funds to increase brush clearing on the mountain and hopes to find this money in the state’s cap and trade account.

Gas tax

Silver does not favor Proposition 6, which would repeal last year’s increase in state gas taxes. “We need to ensure that roads are safe and in repair. Our first responders are dependent on good roads to quickly get to incidents,” she said.

Just in District 28, Cal Trans estimates there are 555 projects awaiting those funds, according to Silver.

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