Jeff Burdick

Jeff Burdick, a Democrat, will run against U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, in next year’s California 7th District Congressional election.

Bera is seeking re-election to serve a fifth term as the Congressional representative for the district, which includes Elk Grove.

Burdick, an Arden-Arcade resident, has a political background that includes serving as the campaign manager for Brad Westmoreland, a Democrat who planned to challenge Bera in the 2018 election, but withdrew early from the race.

Prior to coming to California in 2013, the Chicago area native assisted a winning campaign of Jan Schakowsky, who has served as the U.S. representative for Illinois’ 9th Congressional district since 1999.

Burdick, who has never run for a political office, explained why he decided to challenge Bera in the upcoming 7th District election.

“I think it comes down to two things and they both start with the word, ‘tired,’” he said. “Like a lot of voters, I’m tired of our campaign finance system. It’s gotten so bad that the only way to change it is (through) a citizens-led Constitutional amendment.

“The other aspect of being tired is I’ve been tired of waiting for someone else to step forward that I can get behind and believes in a lot of issues I do.”

This candidate added that a Constitutional amendment on campaign financing is his top issue.

“If you can force change on how our campaigns are financed, it will undo a lot of the bottleneck on a lot of other issues that don’t get action on,” he said.

Burdick emphasized his concern with the amount of money in politics.

“There is so much money in politics that it has diluted our voice and the ability of our legislative system to even address issues that in many cases exceed what Americans believe in,” he said.

Burdick mentioned that he plans to take a different approach than Bera in regard to accepting campaign contributions.

“I’m limiting where I can raise contributions from,” he said. “It will be only in the district, in contrast to Ami’s campaigns (which have totaled) nearly $20 million overall (from) the different Congressional races. Eighty percent of that came from outside the district.

“I’m not going to be raising money from (Political Action Committees), from corporations and from anyone who would not be a constituent of mine.”

Burdick referred to Universal Health Care as another one of his top issues.

“I’m certainly in the camp that believes quality access and availability in health care should be a human right,” he said. “We’re at the point with Obamacare, in which it was the best step forward to get us there that was possible, and all that’s left is making that last step to making it universal.”

He added that he does not believe Bera is aggressive enough on certain health care issues.

“He’s not very assertive or aggressive on the issues that I think are most important (such as) universal health care, prescription drug reform,” he said. “He says he is for prescription drug reform, but that we have to take a very incremental approach to it. I don’t really agree with that. You don’t negotiate with yourself when you’re trying to reform things.

“You don’t start from a compromising position. (With) prescription drug reform, he wants to start just with, say, insulin, which has tripled in cost in an 11-year period.”

Burdick, who has a wife named Leah and a 6-year-old adopted son, noted that “guaranteeing women’s right to choose” abortion is among his top issues.

“(They are) their decisions about their bodies,” he said. “The number one view on abortion is that most people agree that it should not be banned. There are differences of opinion on where you draw the line on exceptions, and there you can debate endlessly, and I’d rather just leave it to women, their spouses. Their families can make those decisions.”

As for his employment background, Burdick said that he worked as a journalist, and later performed public affairs and communication work for large organizations.

Before moving to California, Burdick was employed by the National Wildlife Federation and Chicago’s Commonwealth Edison, which is Illinois’ largest electric utility company. He later worked with the California Department of Transportation.