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Tuesday June 7, 2016 — California Primary Election
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United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 24

Photo of Helene Schneider

Helene Schneider

Mayor of Santa Barbara
31,046 votes (14.9%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • I believe that the top priority in our federal government should be ensuring that everyone has the ability to reach their full potential.
  • My top priorities will also be advancing policies that address access to quality higher education, affordable health care, and good-paying jobs.
  • I will fight to guarantee continued preservation of our natural resources, and the right to be who you are without fear of discrimination.



Profession:Mayor of the City of Santa Barbara
HR Consultant/Trainer, HRxpress (2004–current)
Mayor, Santa Barbara City Council — Elected position (2010–current)
Board Member, League of California Cities — Appointed position (2015–current)
City Council, Santa Barbara City Council — Elected position (2004–2010)
Human Resources Director, Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo Counties (1992–2004)


Skidmore College BA, English Literature, Women's Studies (1992)

Community Activities

Katherine Harvey Fellow, Santa Barbara Foundation (2004–2005)


I have a diverse background in public service as well as non-profit management. I serve our community in several leadership roles on a number of regional-wide policy issues, such as transportation, air quality, solid waste, public education, youth violence prevention and homelessness.

I not only serve my community at City Hall, but I also make it a point to volunteer in and around Santa Barbara. Previously, I served as a Member of Santa Barbara Foundation’s Human Services Committee and also as an Advisory Member to community groups such as Casa Pacifica, JUST Communities, United Nations Association- Santa Barbara Chapter, and COAST (Coalition for Sustainable Transportation). I serve on the Board of Directors for the League of California Cities, and nationally I have served as Co-Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Housing & Homelessness Task Force and am actively engaged on many other U.S. Conference of Mayors initiatives.


Prior to elected office, I spent 11 years working at one of our nation’s most important women’s health organizations—Planned Parenthood—where I served in human resources management at the Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties. I served on the Board of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund for Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo.


Furthermore, during my tenure as Mayor of the City of Santa Barbara, I have focused on working with a politically diverse City Council to find common ground on policies affecting our entire community, while steadfastly defending my core values of economic opportunity, environmental protection and prudent financial stewardship. As Santa Barbara’s Mayor and an active member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I have worked in a non-partisan capacity on local and national issues with Mayors from every corner of the country. This experience and ability to work with others of different backgrounds gives me the tools necessary to be a coalition-builder in Washington in order to tackle some of our nation’s most pressing challenges.

Who supports this candidate?

Elected Officials (29)

Individuals (41)

Questions & Answers

Questions from The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and California Counts, a public media collaboration. (4)

Should immigration laws be changed?  What changes would you support?  Please explain why.
Answer from Helene Schneider:

On a federal level we need comprehensive immigration reform that includes a variety of things such as securing the border, allowing people to have pathway to become legal residents and citizens, and changing the type of rhetoric that we use to describe immigration, immigrants, and the other. Thus, while far from perfect, I support the recent bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform plan passed by the United States Senate that secures the border, includes a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring citizens in our country, and allows the millions of people living in the shadows to formally join our society and work their way to becoming legal U.S. residents. Not only is this the just thing to do, but according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it will help reduce our nation’s deficit and strengthen our economy. Additionally, we need to change the culture of fear surrounding this conversation and recognize the value that immigrants bring to the community.

The political climate in Washington, D.C. has been extremely partisan in recent years. In that kind of atmosphere, what would you do to get things done while in office?
Answer from Helene Schneider:

 With all the dysfunction and gridlock that's plaguing our nation's capitol, it's time for a fresh approach and new ideas--but most importantly-- it's time for more problem-solving and action from Washington. My approach is to begin to build relationships based on the common ground that we share. I will seek out Representatives who come from districts that are affected by the same issues we see here on the Central Coast and begin a conversation with them about those issues. That means finding districts where gun violence has occurred, or where immigrant communities are growing rapidly, or where preservation and development are finding themselves at odds. By proactively reaching out to start the work together, a foundation will laid for the time when bills come to the floor.

National Security

What, if anything, does the U.S. need to do in order to address national security and terrorism? Please explain your answer in detail.

No answer provided.
The Federal Government plays a part in California water allocation and use through a variety of laws.  What, if any, legislation would you support in an effort to handle water shortages caused by the current and any future drought?
Answer from Helene Schneider:


The reality is that this crisis is real, immediate and cyclical, and we must tackle it accordingly. We must promote a diversification of clean and reliable water supplies, institute forward-thinking conservation policies, and expand our options, such as recharging our ground basins, purifying and expanding recycled water opportunities, adding safe and environmentally sound desalination technologies, and reducing storm runoff discharges, among other strategies. Currently, many households do not even have a water meter, making it impossible to measure overall conservation efforts. In Congress, I will treat water as the vital resource it is — preserving and safeguarding it for the dry years to come.


The City of Santa Barbara addressed its water supply needs by enhancing our conservation efforts while also aggressively expanding our water supply options through the City’s recycled water treatment facility and re-commissioning its desalination plant. We led the way during this exceptional drought as one of the 5 Top Water Conservation Areas throughout California.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $653,088

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Employees of Riverhead Building Supply
Employees of Keller Rohrback
Employees of Spumoni Holding Company
Employees of Pizarro Building & Design
Employees of The Berry Man

More information about contributions

By State:

California 84.80%
New York 9.44%
Texas 1.41%
Nevada 0.79%
Washington 0.79%
Other 2.77%

By Size:

Large contributions (91.19%)
Small contributions (8.81%)

By Type:

From organizations (2.94%)
From individuals (97.06%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy


I would describe myself as a pragmatic progressive: I believe in working together to get things done. I plan to pursue an agenda that focuses on helping Californians reach their full potential by creating more good paying jobs, growing the middle class, advancing more progressive environmental protection policies, investing in our infrastructure and education, defending Medicare and Social Security, and ensuring equal pay for equal work for all Americans. I am ready to take on Washington by bringing a fresh perspective and the pragmatic, progressive change we need.

Position Papers

Energy Plan


This paper discusses my beliefs on renewable energy and my plan to reduce our carbon footprint. 

In a world where the pace of environmental change is increasing exponentially, and where droughts are becoming more and more prevalent and unpredictable, and the cost of environmental change is still largely unknown, we must take the necessary steps to ensure we are better prepared for the changes that our current climate are facilitating. This includes being more mindful, on a federal level of our energy and water use. In 1979, President Carter had 32 solar panels installed on the white house to set an example for American people amidst the national energy crisis at that time. In 1986, President Reagan ordered that the solar panels be taken down. Years later we are in a time of environmental crisis, and we need to take permanent action. President Obama has done so by ordering that solar panels be re-installed on the white house. Administration officials expect the system will convert sunlight into 19,700-kilowatt hours of electricity a year. According to The Associated Press, that would save a typical Washington, D.C.-area household $2,300 on its electricity bill annually. Additionally, the solar hot water heating system could save an additional $1,000 a year. We are finally taking the first steps we need to lead Americans to be more environmentally conscious.


        I believe the best way to lead is by example. By making federal buildings more ecologically friendly wherever possible, we are leading by example and will influence home and business owners to take steps to help our environment as well. Solar energy is better for the environment, and better for the economy. Let’s decrease our dependence on foreign oil, and create jobs while fostering a more sustainable energy system. I have supported several solar power projects in Santa Barbara, including those installed at the Public Works Motor Pool Facility, and I plan to bring this experience with me to congress to further improve environmental conditions. The goal is to have all federal buildings using solar powered energy and greywater irrigation systems by 2030. In President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, he proposed that we reduce our overall carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by 2030. I agree that we need to regulate carbon pollution and set clear limits, but this is not enough. I propose that we begin to lead by example at the federal level so that home and business owners can see the positive impact that emissions reduction has on the environment, and on the economy.


        The federal government is the largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy. In 2009, President Obama imposed sustainability goals for the federal government by asking agencies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from sources such as building energy use and fuel consumption by 28 percent by 2020. The installation of solar panels on all federal buildings will fast track this process by increasing the use of renewable energy and thus decreasing fuel consumption. Currently, there are approximately 445,000 federal buildings in the United States. The heating, cooling, and operation cost of these buildings is roughly an annual cost of 7 billion dollars, which is footed by taxpayers. Based on an average amount of sunlight, solar panel installation can save up to 50 percent of energy costs. By making federal buildings energy-efficient and ecologically friendly, we can reduce the cost to taxpayers by up to 3.5 billion dollars a year. Additionally, the installation of renewable and sustainable equipment in federal buildings can eliminate the equivalent of 235 million barrels of oil use over the next decade. It is evident that the installation of solar panels is not only environmentally necessary, but it is also economically necessary.


        Greywater irrigation systems conserve fresh water by reusing unsoiled water from household sinks, washing machines, and other sanitary water runoff. Installing these systems can provide an estimated 30% reduction in water usage. I propose grey water irrigation systems be implemented in all federal buildings by the year 2030. In addition to conserving water, the lower need for sewage treatment systems and lessened energy use from chemical pollution treatment helps to achieve a more ecologically sustainable development. By using American companies throughout the installation process, the adoption of grey water systems, alongside the usage of solar panels, will stimulate the economy by creating thousands of job opportunities. Installing grey water irrigation systems will also have tremendous positive impacts on the environment. The average-size household uses 243 gallons of water per day. A grey water system can reuse 50-80% of this water for irrigation, saving up to 50,000 gallons of water each year, which translates to savings of roughly $400 per year.


        The first step to begin the process of making existing federal buildings more sustainable is to source out American solar production companies to work with.


This will create American jobs and stimulate the local economy, while decreasing our dependency on foreign oil. We will work alongside companies that manufacture solar panels in America, and source their materials from American companies as well. Projects like this can generate over 20,000 jobs for Americans. The implementation will begin by equipping all federal buildings with solar panels providing 50 percent of their energy needs by 2020. Once we have begun the process of installing solar panels on federal buildings, we will begin to install grey-water irrigation systems. This will reduce water usage by 30 percent, conserving millions of gallons of fresh water annually. The use of greywater irrigation systems will be fully implemented into all federal buildings by 2025. The cost of full installation of a pumped system ranges from $1,000-$4,000. With average water savings of $400 annually for an average sized system, water bill savings will offset the installation cost of greywater systems within a decade. On top of installing grey water systems at the federal level, we must incentive their use in households and businesses. We must then expand the use of solar panels to generate all electricity needs for federal buildings by 2030.

Generally, the cost per watt of a solar energy system decreases due to economies of scale when more solar panels in a system (and a higher overall wattage level) are purchased. With affordable solar solutions from Solar Energy USA, a small 4 solar panel system that has a total power output of 1,120 watts (1.12kW) costs $7.20 per watt while a larger 24 panel system that has a total output of 6,720 watts (6.72kW) costs $4.75 dollars per watt. A large megawatt (MW) array can be priced as low as $3 dollars per watt.



        The results of incentivizing renewable energy practices can be very successful. Germany, the global leaders of per capita solar power capacity, has achieved their success by incentivizing solar energy on the supply side. The rapid solar power expansion that Germany experienced was due to their feed-in tariff policy, which pays solar energy producers a set amount for the energy they produce under long-term contracts. Such incentives along with leading by example and using renewable practices at the federal level will lead us in the right environmentally. This plan will demonstrate the commitment that we have to our planet, generate American jobs, save taxpayers money, and influence individuals to take on the responsibility to be environmentally conscious in a proactive way.

10-Point Plan to Reduce Gun Violence


This paper discusses my policy position regarding gun violence. 

More than any other modern democracy on Earth, America’s epidemic of senseless gun violence is significantly worse and occurs more frequently than any other advanced nation. Each and every day in America, approximately 289 people are shot, 86 die, 30 are murdered, 53 commit suicide, 2 die accidentally and 1 is shot in a police intervention.  This level of gun violence affects over 1,000 people, including families, children, co-workers, neighbors and bystanders.
Rather than maintaining the status quo and allowing Washington’s lack of action to persist, it is high time that we, as a nation, finally take real steps to address this issue head-on. That is why today I am proud to unveil my 10-point plan to drastically reduce gun violence across America.

Below is my 10-point plan:


1) $10 Billion for National Gun Buyback Program

There are over 300 million guns in the United States. That is enough for every man, women, and child to have a gun of their own. Frankly, in my opinion, that is far too many. 1.7 million children live in a home with an unlocked and loaded gun— and every single year far too many American children are killed or wounded due to unintended accidents with unlocked guns and end up hurting themselves or someone else. It is time we do something to keep our children and neighborhoods safe.

That is why I am proposing a nation-wide gun buyback program funded by and run by the federal government. My plan invests $10 billion into this program and tasks the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to follow the model of existing gun buyback programs that will take millions of guns off of America’s streets. Compared to the $50 billion per year spent on the F-35 fighter plane that doesn’t even fly, a $10 billion gun buyback program can and should be part of the solution to our nation’s growing gun violence epidemic. A program of this size – averaging $100 for handguns, rifles and shotguns, and $200 for assault weapons – will eliminate an estimated 1/6 of guns in circulation. That equates to roughly 50 million guns off of America’s streets.

This concept of a gun buyback program is something I’ve worked on locally, and have had enormous success with in partnership with the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Santa Barbara Coalition Against Gun Violence. Beyond Santa Barbara, this model has been wildly successful in other cities across the nation. Since Los Angeles initiated its gun buyback program in 2009, it removed 13,700 guns from the streets and its crime rate index decreased from 325.7 to 251.3. To put that in perspective, the average U.S. crime rate index is 294.7. Now it’s time to take this successful model and apply it nationally. The “no questions asked” voluntary nature of a buyback program will help us protect our neighborhoods not only from legal guns, but illegal ones as well, and likely can and will save millions of lives.

2)  Background Checks on all Gun Sales

We need to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. In order to do so, we need to increase restrictions on who can own a gun as well as implement stricter regulations when it comes to background checks on all gun sales. We need to increase screening for criminals, especially those who have been convicted of stalking or of domestic violence against a dating partner. This would greatly decrease violence against women and take dangerous guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.

We also need to increase screening for those who suffer from mental illness. We need to expand the restriction of persons buying guns beyond people who have been hospitalized as inpatients. I support extending the opportunity to mental health professionals to advise that certain mentally ill and unstable people are  prohibited from purchasing guns. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals know if a patient is stable enough to handle the responsibility of owning a gun, and they should have the authority to recommend that certain mentally ill and unstable patients be prohibited from owning guns for a specified period of time, after which the individual may be re-evaluated.

Moreover, right now private sales of guns-from one gun owner to another- is largely unregulated. People can purchase guns online or at a gun show without a background check. This puts thousands of guns in the hands of potentially dangerous people who should not own a gun. It also puts licensed gun sellers at a grave disadvantage. I believe those who are responsible and play by the rules should not be punished. In Congress, I’ll push for legislation that requires a background check is completed every time someone buys a gun. That means banning unlicensed private gun sales, permanently closing the gun show loophole and requiring that in every gun sale the purchaser is mandated to go through a rigorous background check, especially when it comes to new online sales.

Under current federal law, if a background check is not completed within three days of the attempted gun purchase, the sale can proceed nonetheless. This is simply unacceptable. There are safeguards in place to make sure that guns are used safely and stay out of the hands of people who intend to use them maliciously. We need to reinforce our gun laws by extending waiting periods to ensure the proper background check is thorough and fully completed.

In addition, there are currently no mandatory background checks on gun dealership employees. This is unsafe and contradicts any safeguards in place for the sale of guns. Those selling guns should be held to the same standards as those buying guns to ensure that all transactions are legal and background checks are accurately completed.

3) A Comprehensive Ban on Assault Weapons

I believe strongly in a comprehensive ban on assault weapons. Assault weapons are in reality military weapons and totally unnecessary in the hands of average Americans and on our streets.  A wide-ranging ban on these deadly weapons would greatly decrease gun violence across the US. In 2004, the U.S. Senate declined to extend the pre-existing assault weapons ban even though gun violence had dropped drastically since the measure took effect. We must renew our commitment to instituting the federal assault weapons ban proposed by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and ensure that some of the tougher measures included in California’s assault weapons ban are included in the legislation to make it more comprehensive. In Congress, I will be a staunch advocate for this legislation.

4) Ban High-Capacity Magazines

High-capacity magazines are typically classified as any gun magazine with the capacity to accept more than ten rounds of bullets. Magazines containing over ten rounds can kill more people at a time and translates to greater amount of stray bullets fired. They cause innocent bystanders to be caught in the cross-fire and are designed to maximize kill rates. They should be kept on the battlefield and off America’s streets. Here in California, as well as several other states, we have instituted bans on high-capacity magazines. We ought to make this common sense state law nationwide, and I plan to push for it in Congress.

5) Crack Down on Gun Trafficking   

Guns are often bought and sold illegally, which can counteract any gun safety regulations in place. Currently there is no clear and effective path established to punish gun traffickers. One way to crack down on gun trafficking is to limit the amount of guns purchased per month to inhibit “straw purchasers” – those who buy guns in bulk then resell them on the streets- from illegally selling guns. In Congress, I will work on making gun trafficking a federal crime so that we can develop effective ways to further de-incentivize and punish these criminals.

6) Strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System

We need to maintain accurate records to ensure that our background checks do not let any vicious criminals fall through the cracks.  Since its creation in 1998, the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) has blocked the sale of firearms to over 2 million prohibited purchasers. But we need to make sure that States continue to submit up-to-date records and that there is universal regulation across all 50 States.  We need to ensure that all 50 States send mental health records to the NICS.  Currently very few States do so.  Therefore a mentally ill person prohibited from purchasing a gun in California can go to Nevada or New Mexico and easily purchase a gun. In Congress, I will work to ensure that the federal government retains handgun sales’ records to more effectively investigate gun crimes and help prevent prohibited purchasers from possessing weapons.  

7) Keeping Guns Out of Local Neighborhood Schools & College Campuses

California State Senator Lois Wolk proposed gun legislation this year that aims to ban individuals with concealed weapon permits from bringing firearms onto local K-12 neighborhood schools or college campuses without specific permission from school or college campus officials. With the exception of law enforcement, I strongly support this measure and believe it can and should be adapted nationwide.

8) Regulating Production of Guns & Materials from 3-D Printers

With America’s ever-evolving technology, we must remain vigilant and work to ensure that these new technologies do not undermine or skirt our laws. Increasingly, the invention of 3-D printers are allowing consumers to print almost any product imaginable, including guns and gun materials. In Congress, I plan to enact tough regulations to ensure that any print-sale of guns or gun materials goes through a licensed gun dealer and passes through vigorous screening and background checks just the same as physical licensed gun retailer would for their sales.

9)   Toughening Sales of 80 Percent Receivers

An increasingly dangerous item is the 80 percent receiver, which is a receiver that is 80 percent or less complete, meaning it still requires final steps of assembly of the necessary parts, available in a kit, to complete the gun through machining and welding to finalize, activate and functionally use the gun. Because of this, the 80 percent receiver is not considered to be a receiver in the eyes of the federal law. As a result of this non-firearm status, 80 percent receivers may be bought and sold freely in the marketplace. This loophole enables anyone to build a gun in their garage without a background check and without a serial number on the gun—making the gun virtually untraceable. This is precisely the gun that was used at the Santa Monica City College shooting not long ago. As these materials are becoming ever-more accessible for sale online, there are now YouTube videos showing consumers how to assemble a gun from these parts.  In Congress, I will work to enact tough laws that either completely end or severely limit the sale of 80 percent receivers.  For limited sales, I will work to ensure that purchasers go through the same rigorous background checks listed in my plan above, that products are sold with a serial number and are trackable, and that any purchases go through a thorough process and are in full compliance of these new, tough federal laws.

10) Temporary Seizures of Guns from Dangerous Individuals

In the wake of the devastating 2014 Isla Vista shooting massacre here in the Central Coast, California passed one of the most forward-thinking gun violence prevention policies aimed at averting a similar act from ever occurring again. The state’s AB 1014 law empowers law enforcement officers and/or family members to request from a court the implementation of a restraining order on an individual who poses a danger or threat to themselves or others and bars them from purchasing or being in possession of a firearm for 21 days or more.  The case may then be reviewed by the court. I believe this common sense law should be used as a model and applied nationwide, but that it should also include an element of mental health services for the individual in question, to ensure they receive adequate treatment, and don’t harm themselves or others at the time or in the future.

Drought and Water Supply


This paper discusses my policy position on the importance of full equality for women. 

On January 17, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown, announced a Drought State of Emergency. Droughts are cyclical – the exceptional drought California is experiencing now will end one day, to be followed by another. We need to think long term when it comes to ensuring reliable and clean water supplies. In Congress, I will bring my experience as Mayor during this drought to tackle these complex issues head-on at the federal level by working to establish more long-term water conservation and supply policies that ensure Californians and all Americans can afford and have access to clean drinking water, and the water supplies necessary to support and sustain our rich agricultural and tourism industries.

The City of Santa Barbara addressed its water supply needs by enhancing our conservation efforts while also aggressively expanding our water supply options through the City’s recycled water treatment facility and re-commissioning its desalination plant. We led the way during this exceptional drought as one of the 5 Top Water Conservation Areas throughout California.

In the year 2015, women are still struggling for full equality, whether it’s in the workplace, in their paychecks,  or over their own decision-making about their healthcare. This Congress has actually been turning back the clock on women’s rights, not forward. The best way to fight back against this extremist agenda is to elect more women to Congress who will champion our rights and work to ensure full equality for women and girls. Today, women represent only 19% of the members of the United States House of Representatives and Senate in Washington, DC. It is imperative that we strive towards gender equity in our nation’s Capitol.

My entire professional career has focused on providing women the capacity to reach their full potential. As a human resources professional for over twenty years, I’ve worked on a variety of employment-related policies, such as pay equity, access to quality health care and child care options, and preventing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In addition, having worked at Planned Parenthood in human resources management for over a decade, I’ve seen first-hand how important their mission is in providing women and their families access to quality health care and education.

Congress needs to stop restricting women’s reproductive health, and finally— once and for all— give women unequivocal equality in America: regarding their own body, their health, their education, and their careers. We need to pass the Equal Rights Amendment once and for all. These are paramount issues for me and I will champion them as a member of the House of Representatives. Specifically, I will focus on the following national policies:


Equal Pay

Women deserve equal pay for equal work. Currently women earn $0.75 to every $1 that men earn to perform the same job, with single mothers and women of color being hit even harder by the wage gap. This is unacceptable. I am a strong advocate for equal pay for women throughout all industries. Receiving lower wages for equal and oftentimes more work is not only insulting, but discriminatory.  We can no longer stand idly by and allow this to happen. It is about time that Congress stands up for women and prohibits institutional discrimination, and I will focus on this issue as a member of the House of Representatives.

Increasing Employment Opportunities for Women in Booming Fields

Women lack representation in industries that are vital to the success of America. While women represent 51% of the American population, they represent a mere 19% of Congress members, 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs, and in academic circl es, 32.5% of women faculty are in non-tenure track positions compared to 19.6% of men faculty. My Congressional office will include mentorship programs aimed to boost female representation in government and I will champion increased funding for STEM education for young women. I will continue my current practice as Mayor in hiring women on my staff in leadership roles as well as partner with programs for young women and girls, such as Girls Inc., Girl Scouts and local Panhellenic Chapters to inspire young women to take on leadership roles. It is essential that we give women the education and resources they need to compete fairly in booming fields of work.

Paid Parental Leave/Pregnant Women in the Workforce

All parents deserve time off from work to bond with their newborn without fear of losing their job. New mothers need time to recuperate and recover from the strenuous process of giving birth. In addition, after having a baby, women and their families become financially responsible for another human being. This is why paid maternity leave in America is a necessity. It is shameful the way a large number of employers deny parents paid-time-off during parental leave. The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not make paid maternity leave mandatory. Only 11% of private-sector employees receive paid maternity leave.

Unlike in California, there is no federal law that that requires employers to provide sensible accommodations to the needs of pregnant women in the same way they are required to provide employees with mental or physical disabilities. Even employees who follow certain religious beliefs or practices are appropriately accommodated. In an attempt to address the issue, several states and New York City have passed Pregnant Workers Fairness Acts. Unfortunately, a federal version of such an act has been repeatedly turned down. We must outlaw pregnancy discrimination, and that’s why in Congress, I will make it my mission to fight for the rights of pregnant women in the workplace and ensure all women receive paid maternity leave.


Women’s Reproductive Healthcare

There has been an increasing number of measures that restrict a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own body. A three-year surge in anti-choice measures throughout the country has closed down a number of clinics, threatened others, and is making it increasingly difficult for women to receive the care they need. A woman’s health care decision should be between she and her doctor, not legislators. Women have the right to make decisions regarding their own bodies. Having worked at Planned Parenthood for over a decade, women’s rights and access to health care are paramount issues for me. Women should be able to make reproductive health care-related decisions in consultation with their medical provider and family — they shouldn’t be dictated by Washington’s politicians. Congress needs to stop restricting women’s reproductive health, and finally— once and for all— give women unequivocal equality in America. In Congress I will fight for a woman’s right to choose.

Funding Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is one of the leading providers of women’s health care in the country.  I worked for my local affiliate of Planned Parenthood for 11 years, so I know first-hand how much women depend on it – particularly low-income women, survivors of domestic and sexual assault, and young women. Certain lawmakers have made it their mission to abolish federal funding for this vital service, and some politicians in the House of Representatives have even threatened to shut down the government over the issue. But with 97% of services aimed at crucial preventative care such as mammograms and cancer screenings, Planned Parenthood is a desperately needed resource for many aspects of women’s health. We must not allow these politicians to succeed. We must remain vigilant in support of a woman’s right to choose, and ensure that women of all backgrounds are able to access the health care services they need and deserve.

Poverty and Homelessness

Over 70 million women and mothers in the United States live in poverty or are nearing poverty. Among the industrialized countries in the world, America has the largest number of homeless women and children. As the Co-Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Task Force, I’ve worked with Mayors across the country in finding and implementing programs and practices that work to reduce homelessness. I will work in Congress to secure the needed funding in housing, and supportive services that will help impoverished women become financially independent by providing them with employment opportunities, health assistance, and social security benefits. I will also continue to champion raising the minimum wage.

Inadequate Maternal Health Care

According to the Shriver Report, “The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations and ranks 50th among the nations of the world with regard to maternal deaths.” As the world’s leading country, it is unacceptable that medical care for expecting mothers is so poor. We need to ensure the good health and safety of pregnant women in order to reduce maternal mortality rates. I plan to improve the standards of health care for women in all areas.


Sexual Assault

We need to work as a nation to keep Americans safe. This includes the hundreds of thousands of women and members of the LGBTQ community who face sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape every year.  While in college, one in five women experience sexual assault, and in many cases, the institutional response has been substandard and insufficient. Lack of funding from the DOJ has caused massive backlogs in the cataloguing and testing of rape kits. As Mayor, however, I worked with Human Rights Watch along with the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office and our local police department to secure better funding for quicker processing of this vital tool. In addition to more funding, we need to improve training of public safety officers to appropriately handle cases of violence against women. As a human resources professional, I have, and continue to provide, sexual harassment prevention training to ensure working women and the LGBTQ community can be productive in a safe working environment.

Sexual assault also affects our women in uniform. Brave women risk their lives in the military fighting adversaries abroad only to be assaulted by their allies at home. In 2014, a survey showed that 20,000 service members said they had experienced at least one incident of unwanted sexual contact in the past year, representing nearly 5 percent of all active-duty women. We need to protect our brave military women by increasing enforcement and ensuring violators are prosecuted. In Congress, I will fight to provide increased counseling and psychiatric services to victims of sexual assault to ensure their wellbeing and safety during and after military service.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a very serious issue, affecting women of all ages. One in three homicide victims is killed by an intimate partner and 24% of adult women have been physically assaulted by a partner at some time in their lives. Congress needs to do its part to address this issue. We need to bring awareness of this growing problem and do our part to stop domestic violence. In Congress, I will work to bring the issue of domestic violence to the public, work to increase funding to women’s shelters, and empower victims to escape violent situations. With greater knowledge and awareness about the issue, we can truly begin to address the problem of domestic violence and bring it to an end.

The Treatment of Women in Prison

Women in prisons are often treated unfairly and subject to sexual assault. In recent years, there have been increasing reports of correctional officers subjecting female inmates to rape, sexual assault, sexual extortion, and abuse during body searches. Women in prison need to be treated in a just and humane manner. In Congress, I will work on improving the screening process of correctional officers so we can ensure that correctional guards will protect rather than harm women inmates.

Human Trafficking/Sex Slavery

Adult women make up the largest group of human trafficking victims, followed by female children. Sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that affects women all over the country and the world. We need to do more to stop human trafficking in the United States. In Congress I will work to increase efforts to prevent women from being sold into this horrendous industry.

Videos (5)

— May 31, 2016 Campaign

Helene Schneider's support of Equal Pay Day. 

— May 31, 2016 Campaign

All across the 24th Congressional district, local governments and community leaders do what they can to be more sustainable and resilient. For me as a member of Congress, I want to take those best practices and ideas and transfer that onto a national stage. 

— May 31, 2016 Campaign

Planned Parenthood should always be there for women and girls in need regardless of their ability to pay for healthcare. It's time that we say enough to the war on Planned Parenthood. 

— May 31, 2016 Campaign

It's important that you have a representative that is willing to work with local community leaders and public officials to get the job done. 

— May 31, 2016 Campaign

The issue about getting access to an affordable higher education system is a top priority for people. We have a system in this country where students are leaving their higher education institutions with so much debt that they can't even think about getting a career and contrubuting to local economy. As a member of congress, I will make sure that students are able to refinance their loans. 

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