State Senate District 23 candidate Abigail Rosales-Medina believes her values, background and experience serving on the San Bernardino City Unified School District Board of Education make her an excellent candidate to fight for issues of education, healthcare and environmental justice.
Medina has served on the school board since 2013 and has helped lead the district to improved graduation rates and other measures of academic achievement.
“I was a PTA mom involved in my children’s schools and felt there was a huge disparity in getting our children to not only graduate high school but to attend college and getting higher education,” Medina said of her decision to run for the board of education.
Prior to being elected to the board, Medina worked for Congregation Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), a non-profit community organization that focuses on closing the achievement gap for students of color and eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline.
On the board, Medina pushed for the district to place a greater focus on using A-G college admission standards completion rates as the better indicator of student success, rather than the A-G enrollment numbers previously analyzed.
While her term continues until 2022, Medina, encouraged by others, decided to run for State Senate as she felt the other candidates either did not have the experience necessary for the office or were not going to push the issues she would push for.
As a numbers person, Medina looked at the district’s voting statistics and demographics before deciding to run to ensure she could well represent the District 23 communities and that she had a chance at winning.
SBCUSD gave her experience and a proven record in advancing her issues and building relationships with legislators and finding those common goals to work for in spite of political differences.
“That’s why our school district has been so successful, the collaboration and the work we’ve been able to do,” Medina said. “That experience has set me up so when I go to Sacramento we are able to have those conversations with legislators, regardless of political party, doing what’s best for our communities here.”
“I felt this was a great chance to finally have a voice in Sacramento and make sure our communities are represented and we’re bringing resources down,” Medina said.
Although Medina ran in primary without being the endorsed candidate of the Democratic Party and with a small budget, she ended up the front-runner with 28.1 percent of the vote. She led the runner-up and second run-off candidate Republican Rosilicie Ochoa-Bogh, who had 24.8 percent of the vote, and the Democratic Party endorsed candidate, Kris Goodfellow, 17.4 percent. Medina is now the Democratic Party endorsed candidate.
Medina feels the state’s budget will be the biggest challenge faced by the State Senate in the upcoming years as it will affect every other issue, particularly housing and unemployment. Medina says facing those challenges will be a matter to analyzing the budget line-by-line to maneuver funds and find areas for savings.
“It’s accountability, transparency and maneuvering our finances and not approving certain budgets when we really have to look at our resources,” Medina said. “One of the things I’m planning on doing in Sacramento is analyzing all the budget lines and making sure that the money we are spending has positive outcomes in supporting our communities. We have to make sure we’re not spending excessive money in programs that are not working or are for special interests.”
Key focuses she plans to champion are healthcare for all, increased affordability for higher education and protecting low-income families from predatory lending.
“Education is the true pathway out of poverty and it’s something we’re improving upon but we’re not there,” she said. “It’s also about higher education ⎯ the affordability of it. I am pushing for free community college for our residents in California and ensuring that more students are transitioning to four-year college.”
Medina pointed out that she grew up without healthcare and plans to work to make more healthcare resources available to all. She also pointed out that having healthcare and preventative care is actually cheaper than waiting until people need hospital treatment.
As a candidate who also focuses on environmental justice, Medina also wants to increase restrictions on commercial development based on environmental and community concerns.
“Here in our region we are seeing local elected officials passing or approving commercial construction within the backyards of our communities,” she said. “There has to be more common sense in making sure that, at the state level, we’re setting a buffer zone, or at least limitations, of where they can build within communities.”