Marisa Mendosa, Art Director
November 2, 2020
Congressman Jared Huffman—the Representative of the 2nd Congressional District from the Golden Gate Bridge to Oregon Border—spoke to Humboldt County students through a Zoom presentation on Friday, October 16th to answer student questions about local and national issues. Seven schools were in attendance, including McKinleyville High, Arcata High, South Fork High, Eureka High, and Redwood Coast Montessori.
Zooming in from San Rafael, Congressman Huffman opened with information regarding various student opportunities sponsored by the Members of the House of Representatives. Students can participate in the Congressional Art Contest, the Veterans History Project, as well as the Congressional App Challenge. Students who are interested in seeking a military academy nomination can email the Congressman’s local Field Representative, Caira Emery, at Ciara.email@example.com.
Student questions were moderated by Jim Ritter and co-host Adam Pinkerton for just under an hour; questions ranged from COVID-19 to healthcare and racism, with many more in between.
One topic specifically relating to the pandemic was the topic of school reopenings. Congressman Huffman stated that, “We don’t have any good choices,” on whether schools should remain closed or begin the reopening process because of “downsides” existing on either side of the issue. He acknowledged that schooling is suffering with distanced learning especially with weak connections, but also issued a warning that the pandemic could still worsen.
Congressman Huffman noted, “The United States had one of the worst national responses to this pandemic,” in reference to no uniform national strategy with inconsistent and counterproductive information regarding testing and masks.
Despite the fast-tracked vaccine process, he explained that, “A vaccine is not a silver bullet,” since for many average Americans, a vaccine will potentially not be available for another year. He ended by recognizing that the local school leaders have to make the tough calls and deal with risk management.
Other students had questions addressing both local racism and racial discrimination throughout the nation. Students posed questions about anti-Asian racism and Black Lives Matter, and he recognized both as the “dark side of our country and history.” Addressing the issue of systemic racism, Congressman Huffman recognized that “inherent bias is a real thing” against black individuals, and that “[bias] has been with us all along, it’s not like it just sprung up.”
In terms of legislative action, Congressman Huffman discussed the House’s George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which includes a ban on chokeholds, sensitivity training, accountability, and doctrines of immunity. A question was also posed regarding the House bill to combat anti-Asian racism, H.Res.908, which he believed was an attempt to push back against xenophobia. He referenced what he called “the search for a scapegoat” for the reason of the exponentially increasing xenophobia against Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic.
Congressman Huffman took a stance against the terminology of defunding the police stating it as “the wrong way to phrase it.” He was not against the idea of suggested rethinking institutions in which police officers would not have to take on so many responsibilities, in turn leading to less resources needing to be spent on policing services if their responsibilities were divided among other services.
For more information about Congressman Jared Huffman’s policies and ways to reach out to him and his team, visit https://huffman.house.gov/.