Note: This article is for the 5,000 voters in Vista, CA who fall into the 50th Congressional District and must decide whether or not to vote for incumbent Duncan Hunter on November 4th.
Candidate James H. Kimber, looking to un-seat Duncan Hunter in the 50th Congressional District race on November 4th, is a Navy veteran and a retired Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman.
In an interview with Kimber yesterday in the Escondido office where he works as a Physician Assistant in neurosurgery, he seems to be drawing closer scrutiny by voters turned off by much of the federal-level “ineptocracy” and deeply concerned about issues which have festered for decades.
Kimber self-describes as being a former republican who became a “conservative democrat” and now wants to make healthcare, veterans’ issues and immigration reform among his top priorities. He says he is getting into good conversations with Republican and Independent voters who like what he has to say.
He addressed his top priorities, starting with the healthcare issue and rattling off the rest of his ideas in the afternoon after seeing patients as part of a team of medical professionals where he works. “So military and healthcare are two things … those are big issues with me. Others also include reform for immigration, which includes border protection, jobs and the economy, because there are several industries within the district that could use some help or somebody championing them.” He adds later there are people struggling with job insecurities as well.
With thirty years overall in the healthcare field and twenty years in the Navy, he seems to have a “no-more-nonsense” sensibility about him.
California drought; VA scandal
Agricultural and environmental concerns abound in the district he wants to serve, Kimber points out.
The candidate wants to stop the battle over words and just focus on finding answers. No matter what “side” a voter may come down on in regards to the environment, he says, the reality is this:
“We have a serious drought and water shortage. That’s real, there’s no denying that.”
And he follows that statement with another one. “With respect to the VA [Veterans Administration], I think probably what bothers me the most … it’s been a problem that’s been going on for years.”
Kimber adds that two years ago he actually wrote an article about the problems, and lists his concerns from back then and now: “The backlog in the VA system, … mental health care, the lack of support for people who have served, the rise of suicide rates, even things such as job transition. A lot of people train for certain fields in the military and when they get out it doesn’t translate into a civilian position.”
And while President Barack Obama’s plan to funnel more money into the VA system to be used for hiring more doctors and building more facilities may seem great to some in Washington, it strikes Kimber as a real waste of money.
A Veteran’s Medicaid Card?
“What I would like to see,” he said, “is maybe something like a VA or Veterans Medicaid Card. I heard the President wanted to give a lot of money into the VA system, but what I always hear is ‘we don’t want to grow government.’ Now … we cannot turn our back on these veterans. But why build more facilities, why hire more doctors when there are doctors and facilities everywhere?”
Besides, veterans do not stay in one place all the time, Kimber said.
“A lot of these veterans have retired and gone back to their hometowns where there may not be a veterans’ facility in their neighborhood.”
Crediting Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a former Captain in the United States Army who served in Iraq, with the idea and the legislative bill to provide veterans with a card before the Congress went on break recently, Kimber has embraced the idea as a better, faster fix for those lost and forgotten patients suffering for years through the VA System and scandal.
Kimber talks further on the card idea, breaking it down into parts. “And if you’re going to spend the money why not just spend it on healthcare they can get access to right away? I’ve heard arguments that ‘well the veterans really need to be seen by VA doctors, and I would disagree, again having been in healthcare for thirty years. When it comes to issues such as traumatic brain injury, mental health issues, yes I think that’s probably more appropriate for them to go to the VA. But that’s one part. “
The rest of it, he says, would decrease the flood of patients at the VA. “Now if you’re talking a shoulder injury, someone who has GI [gastrointestinal] problems or any other health problem … that can be treated by any other physician.”
He later adds another important thought.
“Stop making the same mistake. Stop pouring money into something that you’re not fixing. Look at other countries. I mean in Israel there are no military hospitals. Everybody goes to the civilian provider.”
Ebola, TB and Public Health
On the issue of public health and recognizing there was an Ebola patient in Texas as well as the influx of thousands across the Southern border, being in “close quarters” is a problem, says Kimber.
“Even onboard a ship we actually had isolation rooms,” he says. He doesn’t like the idea of locking people up as “prisoners in their own home,” and suggests creating an isolation ward separate from the rest of the hospital as a better place to house those people who were exposed but perhaps have not fallen ill for the required number of days. “Because clearly they’re going to want to get out.”
It is a public safety issue though. “If they’re not willing to comply, you have to do what needs to be done. You can’t risk something like that spreading.”
The subject of the Border Patrol agent who has contracted Tuberculosis was also mentioned.
Within our own U.S. prisons the list of numbers for TB, Kimber said, can be seen on the Centers for Disease Control website. Correctional officers are at risk for contracting these things.
“I have not met with border patrol agents, but what I have looked at is what congress has before them.” He does then mention his opponent Duncan Hunter, who sits on the Immigration Reform Caucus. He suggests taking a look at the website of that caucus for voters who want to know more, but adds this: “If you think healthcare.gov was bad, well you should look at their website.”
A border security bill [H.R.2220] came up last year, Kimber says, and it was backed by a number of border state members in congress. “I’ve read the bill. I don’t say I agree with everything, but probably about eighty percent of it I would be for.”
“So what I don’t understand, and this is my whole frustration, … is ‘you guys talk a lot but what are you actually doing?'”
It is not just one party at fault, Kimber adds. “Democrats are guilty of it, too.”
Kimber says there is also “a bipartisan bill” [H.R. 15 – Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act] that includes securing the borders as well as immigration reform. He mentions a Republican, Congressman Jeff Denham, who represents the 10th District of California in the U.S. House. “He is … also retired military [Air Force], very big on securing our border on our country, but he supports immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. And he and Mr. Hunter are colleagues. I know they know each other.”
Kimber says he wonders why it has not been brought to a vote already. “Granted you might not agree on it, but that’s where it starts. Negotiate.”
Asked if he would have what it takes to do whatever negotiating might be required with far right or far left colleagues, Kimber said this: