David Jaramillo says VA, healthcare experience qualify him to represent District 17
This story ran originally as part of KBTX's Your Vote Counts: Campaigns and Coronavirus special report. Watch the special in the video player on this page.
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) COVID-19 has changed our lives, from how we interact to the political process. The District 17 Congressional race, currently in a runoff that will be determined July 14, has felt the impacts of the pandemic. KBTX’s Fallon Appleton spent a day on the campaign trail with each candidate vying to be District 17′s next voice in Congress.
Democratic Congressional candidate David Jaramillo is a Marine Corps Veteran. Now, he wants to serve his country again, representing District 17 in the House of Representatives.
Due to COVID-19, David Jaramillo’s afternoon on the campaign trail looks a bit different, especially with the family at home. This spring, their household was part school, part campaign office, and part art studio.
During a Facebook Live he held in May, Jaramillo told participants about what his home life was currently like.
“[The kids] finish their [school] work on Tuesday, and they are done,” said Jaramillo. “We still give them more stuff. We make them go play outside. We give them recess time. We started to do some more stuff to get them out of the house.”
Part of that includes going to a track in the evenings as a family to get some extra exercise. Jaramillo says it helps make sure they avoid going stir crazy staying only at home.
Even though he is spending a lot of time with his family and making memories, Jaramillo is serious about what is going on beyond the four walls of his house.
Jaramillo says safety is his number one concern about COVID-19.
“We aren’t doing enough to keep people safe, first and foremost. We have states that are opening up, Texas included. I understand that people want to get back to work. People want to provide for their families. I understand that. People want their livelihood back, and I’m not oblivious to that. I want that as well. What we need to do is take a step back, and we need to say, ‘Okay and this where Congress and the executive office comes into play.' They need to sit down and say ‘We need to do more for the American people.’”
Jaramillo says if he was in office right now, he would fight for an increase in stimulus packages.
“I would definitely fight for more of a stimulus package. If we have to until we have a vaccine, or something to get them past the stages where people can die if they are infected, I would fight for a monthly stipend until we can get that taken care of. While that is more, that is still minimal. People shouldn’t be making more on unemployment right now because we are failing to do something, and that’s what it comes down to. However, when the people we elect aren’t doing anything for the people and they are relying heavily on unemployment, that’s a problem.”
In order to get himself to Congress, Jaramillo spends his time calling across the district, sometimes just to check in on people.
Jaramillo says he even offers to go grocery shopping for people and mow lawns because, in the end, it’s not always about him.
“Now when I do those calls I always ask, ‘Is there anything?' I can ask what I can do for them. I’ve learned that people don’t ever get asked that. They are surprised. They are taken aback.”
Beyond his strong foundation in service, the other motivations behind Jaramillo’s congressional run include healthcare, immigration reform, prison reform, and VA reform.
As a veteran himself, veterans issues are very important to him, but he is also able to draw on his experience working in the VA as an employee.
He believes a constant flow of new doctors into the VA opens the possibility of more accessible care in more areas.
“We can start opening clinics in rural areas, we don’t have to be dependent on coming to Waco for certain things or going to Temple for other things within our district.”
Another problem Jaramillo sees is immigration, which is a key part of his platform.
“With immigration, we have less than 500 immigration judges in the United States. And last year alone we had over a million applications for immigration online. That’s it. Not in person. We had less than 500 [judges] to tackle that. We need to start hiring more immigration judges, that way we can start tackling the backlog, cause people are still waiting a decade.”
According to Jaramillo, he understands the lengths immigrants are willing to go to in order to protect their families and get a better life.
“When they are waiting a decade in harsh environments--no jobs, famine, violence. You know, they are going to try to do something to save themselves and their family. I have two kids and my wife, and there is nothing I wouldn’t do to keep them safe, so I understand that. But we need to do more... We need to hire more immigration judges.”
Jaramillo says, if elected, the first issue he would fight for would be health care.
“My first issue, I would say, is healthcare. That’s a huge thing. Every day we go without healthcare, it’s a day too late for somebody, and that’s an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Medicare for All is something I am in favor of until I can hear something new. I believe as a member of Congress that you need to be fluid. If something new comes to the table and it’s a good idea, no matter who brings it up, Republican or Democrat, you need to consider it.”
Jaramillo insists he’s got big plans if he’s elected, but it’s his vision for the future and others that he believes can set District 17 apart in 2021 and beyond.
“We are here for each other. I’m all about equality. I’m for every person here, and that is what we need. We can be the example in a positive way and that is definitely what I want.”
For more information on Jaramillo’s campaign, click here.
There are a couple of things you need to know before casting your vote. If you voted in a party’s primary in March, you can only vote in that party’s runoff.
Early voting begins on June 29, and election day is July 14.
Copyright 2020 KBTX. All rights reserved.