This month, we sat down with Sandra Fluke, a young progressive running for State Senate in California’s 26th District. While you may remember her as the target of controversy a few years ago when, as a Georgetown Law student, she gave testimony before Congress on the topic of comprehensive insurance coverage for reproductive health, Sandra has turned her political convictions to a new arena.
Sandra Fluke is a young progressive who brings a fresh perspective to her race for California State Senate. Sandra wants to use her platform to lend a voice to the problems millennials face.“Right now, there are staggering economic insecurities that my generations is facing,” she said, citing crippling student loan debt that could impact the entire economy, record high young adult unemployment, and a lack of career opportunities for recent graduates. “When the stakes are that high, [millennials] must have a seat at the table to determine solutions,” Sandra says. Also on the agenda is protecting the environment by calling for a moratorium on fracking, by addressing California's water crisis, by investing in sustainable transportation alternatives, and by protecting the coast from over-development.
She’s also calling for a number of solutions to the job crisis in California, including investing in tech and green jobs. “Like anywhere in the country, we’re concerned with jobs and economic opportunity”. She talks about businesses leaving her district--and taking viable jobs with them--as a result of tried and unsuccessful ways of thinking. “It was extremely distressing to see an automobile plant recently leave Torrance, California,” Sandra continues, “I want to explore ways to improve our tax code to encourage hiring and job development,” all of which would ultimately help to expand the middle class.
Sandra has an extensive 10-year curriculum vitae of fighting for gender equality, LGBTQ rights, economic justice, and representing victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. She also has experience speaking out on these issues at the national level. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee initially refused testimony from Sandra, a Georgetown University Law student at the time and the only woman scheduled to testify at a public hearing regarding women’s reproductive health care. “The initial denial of my testimony before Congress is a perfect example of the importance of all voices being heard and represented in our government,” Sandra says, “There is little doubt that a young woman chairing the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee would not have convened a panel of only older men to testify on contraception policy.”
Sandra saw the aftermath of the controversy as a way to bring fundamental issues that strike at the heart of choice, opportunity, and prosperity in our country to the forefront. “As the media attention and the personal attacks grew,” Sandra says, “I knew I could retreat and wait for it to pass, but I believed it was my responsibility to stand up and use the microphone I was given to advance the policies I’ve always fought for.”
With her unanticipated “celebrity” status, we asked Sandra why she chose to run for State Senate, instead of a U.S. Representative seat, where supporters believed she could have helped diversify a Congress in which only 8% of its members are under 40 and the majority of members are men. But Sandra let us know that she preferred the progressive spirit of California and the residents of its 26th district over the gridlock of the United States Congress. “I wanted to go to work somewhere that real progress can be made and important work can be done, and I knew that the California State Senate was the place to do that,” Sandra said. “California is a place where real progressive change can happen. Other states, and the country at large, look to California to set the progressive agenda.”