The Sacramento Bee: Endorsement for the big 3rd congressional district centers on the Sierra 


California’s 3rd congressional district begins at its west with suburban foothill populations in Placer and Sacramento counties and then spans the Sierra Nevada north to Lake Almanor in Plumas County and south to the mining town of Trona in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County. 

This district’s representative faces a huge challenge to both visit its communities and represent them with a unified voice. 

Voters need a leader who prioritizes communities over partisan considerations. Its biggest issue is its backbone, a Sierra Nevada range unprepared for worsening cycles of droughts and flooding. 

Democrat Jessica Morse would be Congress’ resident expert in fire management on her first day in office. She served in the Newsom administration as its deputy secretary for forest and wildland resilience at the California Natural Resources Agency. This job placed her on the front lines of developing state wildfire strategy, and she helped oversee a $3 billion resilience program over three years to strategically reduce fuels that contributed to the explosive fires in recent years. 

Morse correctly identifies how natural resource issues are what ties this sprawling district together. Watershed management is as nonpartisan as it gets. Morse sees funding needs to harden Sierra homes with defensible spaces, fuel breaks around communities and forest thinning to remove a century of forests that have grown artificially dense due to fire suppression. 

Before her years in Sacramento, Morse spent almost a decade in national security and support roles for the Defense Department, State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Her years included duty of more than a year in Iraq as well as India. While she has considerable background in international affairs, Morse hopes to focus primarily on district issues.

“I am a problem solver,” she said. “I care a lot less about the label.”

As a fifth-generation Californian, Morse is running against the hyper-partisan atmosphere that has taken over Congress. It is unfortunate that her opponent, Republican incumbent Kevin Kiley of Placer County, has chosen to focus on the political wars in Washington and cultural wars back home. The misdirection of Kiley’s clear talents is in direct conflict with what his district needs. 

Kiley has voted to support abortion restrictions. Locally, he has supported candidates for school district races who have antagonized transgender students. He has also placed Donald Trump’s interests over the national interest to financially support Ukraine in its war against Russia which has global implications. 

Morse has not served in public office before. But this is not a disqualifier: She has intimate familiarity with government, having worked for state and federal governments, and she has demonstrated an impressive command of a breadth of subject areas from her years in government and public affairs studies at Princeton University. 

She has no plans to engage in local curriculum wars. Her Sierra resource strategy could help address one of her district’s greatest problems: the property insurance crisis that is gripping fire-prone portions of the state. A strategy to reduce the physical risks of wildfire is the only long-term way to lower the cost of insurance that inevitably has to cover the real risks. She has the pocketbook interests of her district truly at heart. 

This district was redrawn substantially in the latest remapping process. This is both new physical and political territory. Districts like this are crying out for champions of their needs with a bipartisan mindset that rejects a polarized approach to politics. Jessica Morse represents the kind of candidate that both major parties need to advance in far greater numbers. Morse can put out every type of fire.

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