Jerry McNerney is serving his third two-year term in Congress after defeating Republican incumbent Richard Pombo in 2006. What's new this year is that the Democrat has had his district carved in half.
Faced with keeping his Pleasanton home and seeking re-election in the East Bay or running in a separate San Joaquin County district, McNerney decided to center on the Central Valley district, which includes most of the county plus Galt.
"I really worked hard and made a lot of long-term relationships," McNerney said, explaining why he chose to run in the newly formed 9th Congressional District.
McNerney is used to close races against popular Republicans after his three congressional election campaigns.
"I think it's made me a better congressman," he said. "I have to be more moderate. If I alienate Republicans, I can't win. If I alienate Democrats, I can't win."
McNerney lists his major priorities as energy efficiency, air and water quality, improving infrastructure to stimulate the economy, tax breaks to discourage outsourcing and veterans' rights.
One of his most recent efforts is to eliminate what he describes as a severe backlog of addressing claims from the Veterans Administration Office in Oakland, which serves all of California north of Bakersfield. McNerney said that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is working diligently to address the problem. He says he's received a lot of complaints from Lodi veterans about the backlog.
To reduce the unemployment and home foreclosure in San Joaquin County, McNerney said he will pursue investing in infrastructure such as Highway 99, Interstate 5, the Port of Stockton, Stockton Metropolitan Airport and local railroads, which will enhance the county as a transportation hub. He also wants to end outsourcing jobs to foreign countries. He has introduced legislation to provide tax breaks to discourage outsourcing.
Although he acknowledges that the national debt is excessive, McNerney said that Congress and the White House must be careful not to gut essential services.
"They key is to increase productivity," he said. "We don't want to 'cut back' into prosperity."
If there are any government programs that are wasteful, Congress needs to address it, McNerney said. He added that next year, he will have more time to focus on government oversight and curbing waste.
McNerney said the new health care plan has "plenty of room for improvement," but repealing it as his two opponents advocate would harm a lot of people. The quality of medical service is more important than the quantity of service, he said.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.