CA Congressional candidate Marie Panec puts priority on education - by Robert Cuthbert
Candidate for the California 24th Congressional District seat Marie Panec sees education, job creation, and the environment as intertwined issues. Panec believes a “damaged educational system” is putting American values at risk. “We need to refocus on the foundation of our American prosperity: our uniquely diverse, creative and hard working American population.”
Panec is taking on politics-as-usual. In the Democratic Primary she is facing a formable campaign against Tim Allison, an established party activist. But for Panec campaign manager Daniel Tamm his candidate is “not looking to start a political career.” “She is looking to go to Congress to expand on the work that she has already been engaged in, whether working with students as a college professor, serving on a local school board of education, volunteering in the Peace Corps, or working for Community Action of Ventura County.”
“She sees the direct connection between education and restoring American prosperity. She has the substantial credentials and personal integrity to back it up,” says Tamm.
“The top three issues of my campaign are education, job creation and the environment,” says Panec. “I see all three as related. We need to make significant changes in education. In particular, I would like to see more vocational education at the secondary level. We must fund education appropriately.”
“Much has been made in recent years of our educational failures, and they are real, but the system isn't broken, it is woefully under-funded and crippled by top-down regulations. Our communities need the resources and the control so that decisions can be made locally, tailored to local challenges and local opportunities,” said Panec.
The candidate looks to “invest” in education from kindergarten to college. Rather than looking to government for a “fix” she sees creating opportunity for students who can “choose their own path.” Citing historical economic trends, as when the electronics industry boomed in the 1950s with a subsequent record number of new engineers graduating, or how in the computer revolution students joined in un-preceded numbers, Panec says, “Supply and demand works for education if we are willing to trust in local control.”
“With job creation you need a two-prong approach,” according to Panec. Seeing that most new jobs are being created by small businesses today, "first we need to create a conducive economic climate” and then provide vocational training to fill jobs in the growth industries. “People get laid off; they lose their jobs, and ask themselves, ‘What can I do?’ They begin to think, ‘What do I want to do?’” She believes economic declines foster new innovative small businesses, and a need for new skilled workers for economic expansion.
“As a biologist I am very concerned about environmental sustainability and what we are handing on to our kids. We are seeing a time in our history when we have the political will to move into a direction of taking control of the environment,” said Panec. “Green jobs and alternative energy will see significant growth. I see job creation in these areas as the wave of the future.”
“Education is the critical link between opportunity and enterprise. Americans are innovators. They will answer the challenges, identify the opportunities and forge the enterprises. Government has a role, accountability is essential, but regulations don't solve problems or move the nation forward,” concludes Panec. “Government needs to provide the tools, clear the path and get out of the way.”
As the days count down to Election Day, readers should recall the 24th Congressional District’s last democratic primary. Marta Jorgensen, an educator and novice candidate, won by a good margin. Jorgensen faced a candidate similar to Tim Allison. In the case of two years ago the well known, funded, and connected candidate lost to the newcomer. For the Panec campaign hope runs high for a similar upset.
Daniel Tamm calls it the “main story of this race.” “Marie Panec has been dedicated to serving this community for over 20 years. She has earned the respect of people throughout the area because of it.” Calling her an “authentic public servant” he said, “She is a political outsider. Her focus has been on public service, not political advancement. Her core values of justice, equality for all and devotion to the common good are strongly democratic.”