McDonald speaks about healthcare in 4th congressional district race | News, Sports, Jobs





Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Darlene McDonald is seated for an interview at the Daily Herald bureau on Friday 15 July 2022. McDonald is the Democratic nominee for Utah’s 4th congressional district.

Darlene McDonald moved to Utah in 2002 with a dream and a desire to give her children a better life.

“When I went off plan and saw the mountains, I was hooked. I was hooked. I was like, ‘This is the right place,'” McDonald said.

As the Democratic nominee running against incumbent Rep. Burgess Owens in the 4th congressional district race, McDonald wants to be a voice for everyone, including people of color.

McDonald acknowledged that life in Utah isn’t easy for many people of color. She knows many who either grew up here or moved here and left. According to the US Census Bureau, Utah’s population is approximately 90% White, 3% Asian, and 1.5% Native American and African American.

“I got lucky,” McDonald said. “I was really lucky. I just happened to move into a fabulous community. … That’s not everyone’s experience. I have some African American friends who came here and didn’t see representation and couldn’t build that community, so they left.”

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Darlene McDonald is seated for an interview at the Daily Herald bureau on Friday 15 July 2022. McDonald is the Democratic nominee for Utah’s 4th congressional district.

McDonald’s isn’t running for the 4th Circuit for the first time. In 2018, she lost to Ben McAdams, then Mayor of Salt Lake County, for the party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention. McAdams won the race in 2018 before finally being defeated by Owens in 2020.

Thanks to this experience, McDonald has a new understanding of what representation is.

“If you represent the district, you have to do it for everyone,” she said. “That means your key supporters aren’t getting everything they want, and they shouldn’t be. This is not a compromise. That’s not sitting around a table and negotiating the best deal for everyone, and that’s representation.”

McDonald argues that there is no representation at all of Owens, particularly for the African American community. Both McDonald and Owens are black.

On Friday, Tops Friendly Market reopened in Buffalo, New York, two months after the shooting that killed 10 African American shoppers. According to ABC News, the shooter was Peyton Gendron, a white man charged with hate crimes.

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Darlene McDonald is seated for an interview at the Daily Herald bureau on Friday 15 July 2022. McDonald is the Democratic nominee for Utah’s 4th congressional district.

“They are reopening Tops Grocery Store and [Owens] I have to say a word about that,” McDonald said. “That’s not okay because he was one of the people who pushed the theory of the great replacement. There is accountability here and you are putting people’s lives at risk. It’s real and it has to stop. He must be held accountable and called out.”

McDonald’s campaign page notes that the 4th Circuit is one of the most manipulated counties in the country, having taken up a larger portion of Central Utah and Southern Utah Counties following the legislative reallocation.

“When things are handled that way and the representative feels that protected, he doesn’t represent you either,” she said. “Burgess Owens, and yes I call him by his name, didn’t even debate in the primary because he didn’t have to. That shouldn’t be okay. Republicans shouldn’t agree with that.”

Education, health care and maternal care for women are some of McDonald’s top priorities.

McDonald hopes to tackle bullying in schools, particularly racial bullying.

“It’s so important for the kids to know they’re not alone and that someone has their back…especially after the death of Izzy Tichenor,” she said. “We cannot lose any more of our children. We need to let them know that there are people behind them – listening to them and caring about them.”

Addressing health issues was the first issue that prompted McDonald to run for Congress.

Before she came to Utah, McDonald gave birth to twins. One of them died at the age of three from serious health complications.

“You have to understand that I was a healthy 22-year-old at the time who should have had a normal pregnancy, but that didn’t happen. I had to navigate Medicaid and all insurance issues very quickly. Marcus was a very happy baby but what helped us was the services he received. He needed a lot of care,” she said.

McDonald explained that the threat of Medicaid and the Affordable Cares Act during President Donald Trump’s administration was the turning point for her that she could no longer “sit on the sidelines.”

She views maternal health as a separate issue, but one that needs to be addressed. According to the CDC, the maternal mortality rate for African American women was 2.9 times that for Caucasian women in 2020.

“We spend more on health care than any other nation and without better services. African and Hispanic women are three to four times more likely to die during or immediately after childbirth. Racial differences, racism, not listening to your mother and not having a lawyer with you when you go to the hospital has a lot to do with it.”

To achieve better health outcomes, McDonald would fund doulas and midwives to provide more advocates for people during pregnancy.

In the US Senate race between incumbent Senator Mike Lee and independent Evan McMullin, McDonald said she would have preferred to back a Democratic nominee – but told the Daily Herald her vote will be for McMullin and encouraged others to do the same to do.

“It’s not okay what Mike Lee did,” McDonald said. “I have no problem with Evan McMullin. Would I have preferred a Democrat who had a real running chance? Of course I’m a Democrat. Evan McMullin is 100% right. Mike Lee cannot be trusted to uphold and protect American democracy because he tried to insult it.”

McDonald, Owens and United Utah Party candidate January Walker will be on the ballot for the November 8 general election.



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