Note: This Op-Ed originally ran in the Union-Tribune.
As regional leaders, we face unprecedented challenges. The decisions we make today to address those challenges will be felt by those we serve long after we leave office. This moment of crisis presents us with a choice: what kind of region, state and country do we want to be? The choice begins with our state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an April commentary, I encouraged readers to remember it is up to “We the People” to ensure the governor’s unilateral infringements on our precious liberties were temporary, narrowly tailored and the least restrictive means to achieving the state’s goal of ending the pandemic.
Sadly, while our knowledge of the disease has evolved dramatically, the state’s clamping down on our liberties has not let up. Businesses have been irreversibly damaged, houses of worship have been shuttered and the mental health of countless Californians continues to decline. It didn’t need to be this way.
It’s time that leaders at all levels of government recognize the social and economic havoc wreaked by lockdowns and take a more thoughtful approach to addressing the pandemic. We must allow businesses to implement safe protocols and trust they will enforce them. We must reopen our schools immediately, especially in light of the overwhelming evidence that the disease isn’t spreading in schools. We must restore the God-given right to worship and allow Californians to access the social care and community they desperately need, by fully and safely opening churches.
Our leaders at the federal level — which I am glad will include Rep. Darrell Issa — must commit to a significant investment in our transportation infrastructure and regional priorities such as the Tijuana River Valley restoration. It’s time for leadership on these issues, and I know our next congressman is committed to these efforts. I am also pleased that East County appears to have joined me in voting for Joel Anderson to represent us on the Board of Supervisors. Joel made a campaign pledge to streamline housing approval so that all San Diegans could attain the dream of home ownership and afford to raise their families here in our beautiful region. If his lead holds, Supervisor-elect Anderson will have my partnership.
Finally, I strongly encourage the Legislature to reconsider my homelessness package that presented an alternative to the unworkable solutions proposed by Sacramento politicians thus far. The package included five measures aimed at moving Californians currently homeless into temporary, transitional housing. It also emphasized a compassionate assessment of each homeless person’s behavior, mental health and substance issues before placing that person in temporary housing. Finally, the measures emphasized utilization of existing nonprofits, charities and faith-based housing programs, rather than setting up new bureaucracies. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but we have to act now.
I am ready to work with anyone from any party on these priorities. The question is whether others are willing to do the same. This is the time for choosing — and action.
Brian Jones, California Senate Republican Caucus chair, Santee
Senator Brian W. Jones is Chair of the Senate Republican Caucus and was elected to the California State Senate in 2018 representing the 38th Senate District which includes Alpine, Escondido, Lemon Grove, El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee, Poway, San Marcos, Lakeside, Valley Center, Rancho Santa Fe, Julian, Ramona, Rancho San Diego, Bonsall, Fallbrook, Borrego Springs, and parts of the City of San Diego.