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Marin, Sonoma County, CA November 7, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

Mike Halliwell: Challenging political status quo

By Michael Halliwell

Candidate for United States Representative; District 6

This information is provided by the candidate
This position paper contains the portions of my May 4, 2006 Marin Voice article in the Marin Independent Journal that fit the requirements of References to any other 6th candidate have been eliminated and replaced by references to general tendencies which I would try to combat as a member of Congress. Of course I would not encounter any other candidate in the 6th CD there, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss what I would do AFTER defeating my opponents.
THE GERRYMANDERED drawing of district boundaries has made a sham of nearly all congressional elections in this country. What the framers of our Constitution designed as "the people's house" has become immune to election challenges in California, as result of a backroom deal in 1991 that was supported by all incumbents except the one most dedicated to civil rights (a former member of the U S Civil Rights Commission, Steve Horn), who were given safe districts.

The driving force behind this power grab was an alliance between the "progressive" wing of the Democratic Party and Republicans more interested in ideological purity than enlarging Republican representation. Prominent among incumbents who agreed to a deal that gave the GOP a much smaller proportion of the total vote for Congress were John Doolittle and Richard Pombo (who also lead the smear campaign against Gov Schwarzenegger's Proposition 77 reform that tried to give California voters the final say on district boundaries).

In an effort to make legislators truly accountable to the voters at election time, I began fighting gerrymandering in 1969. I was an amicus curiae in 1973 and 1982 state Supreme Court cases. In 1980, California voters adopted restrictions such as I had advocated in 1969, limiting the fragmentation of cities and counties in Article XXI of the State Constitution. Districts that ignored these restrictions were illegally imposed and in 1982, the voters overwhelmingly rejected them in Propositions 10, 11 and 12. I then fought these districts until 1987, going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

When my wife, Dr. Betty Halliwell, was diagnosed with a particularly deadly form of breast cancer in 1991, I became deeply involved in researching the available treatments. I found that malpractice lawyers have made defensive medicine the top priority in breast cancer treatment, and as a result it takes decades for treatment standards to change.

Because Marin has one of the highest rates of breast cancer, the research on this disease inspired by Marin Breast Cancer Watch and led by the Marin County Department of Public Health has made this the best place for me to fight for better treatment of breast cancer. I have become convinced that there is much room for improvement in the treatment of this disease, and congressional intitiatives are needed. (For more information, see All local Democrats who have recently served Marin or Sonoma County in state or federal legislative office supported President Clinton's health care restructuring, which denied mammograms to women in their 40s, and they have dragged their feet on providing state-of-the-art digital mammography locally (See August 13, 2004 letter to the Marin Independent Journal by Paul Erickson). Under the one-size-fits-all single-payer health care system that all local Democrat leaders favor, the greatly extended chemotherapy and hormonal therapy which have prevented any recurrence of Betty's cancer would not have been available. My wife now runs Books for Peace, the charity we established to ship donated books overseas to support Peace Corps projects.

In spite of the staggering breast cancer rate in our area, the "progressive" wing of the Democratic Party in both Sonoma and Marin Counties has given a much higher priority to a crusade against genetically modified organisms. Several leaders of the "Progressive Caucus" in Congress sponsored an amendment to divert $35 in funds for the National Science Foundation to research on topics such as the threat to our food supply posed by genetically modified salmon. During this debate one of these "progressives" cried out, "the Monarch butterflies are dying, they can't adapt" (to the fact that genetically modified corn is being reserved for human consumption by making it indigestible by caterpillars).

If I were in Congress I would have said, "The women of Marin and Sonoma Counties are dying of breast cancer at a staggering rate. They can't adapt to the lack of protection that most women in Third World countries enjoy from being 'barefoot and pregnant' during much of their time before menopause. We need this $35 million to provide earlier diagnosis and more aggressive treatment for this deadly disease, since we are certainly not going back to an era where the survival of women didn't matter, if they didn't contribute to the high birth rates necessary to counteract deaths from diseases which are now preventable."

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