- Q&A: Tammy Silver. Heat Wave Retail Politics
- Q&A: Sasha Renée Pérez. Looking At and Beyond the Immediate
- Q&A: Rick Cole. Aspiration / Inspiration
- Q&A: Ryan Liu. From PCC to Yale, Oxford & Back Again
- Q&A: Kathryn Barger. Making Progress on Homelessness Despite Legal Handcuffs
- Q&A: Elizabeth Wong Ahlers. Sacramento can Keep Families in California
- Q&A: Judy Chu. Best Intentions, Meet Political Reality
- Q&A: John Doyle. Energy, Housing & the PPD
- Q&A: Ben Savage. Real Consequences, Close to Home
- Q&A: Jonathan Horton. All About Community
- Q&A: Jed Leano. Social Change, at Scale
- Q&A: Phlunté Riddle. Perspective is Everything
- Q&A: Brandon Lamar. Build-in Diversity Through City Processes
- Q&A: Felicia Williams. Continuing a Community Mandate
- Q&A: Chris Holden. Keeping Voters Engaged
- Q&A: Debra Archuleta. Crime, Bail and Punishment in LA County
- Q&A: Marlon Marroquin. Embracing the Unexpected
- Q&A: Konstantine Anthony. Champion Working People
- Q&A: Laura Friedman. Reject Polarization, Hold Government Accountable
- Q&A: Sandra Armenta. Moderate and Centrist
- Q&A: Alex Balekian. Meaningful Community Change
- Q&A: Michael Feuer. Macro-Vision
- Q&A: Anthony Portantino. Community Guy
Q – What drives your focus?
A – A balanced budget and term limits are big personal goals of mine. Then, I focus on what matters to constituents.
Firstly, the quality of education, local education, and public schools where children are being taught social justice rather than basic reading, writing, and arithmetic is a concern. They’re not getting marketable job skills.
Secondly is the crime and homelessness that really is wearing on them – the smash and grabs that are happening. We need to fund the police and punish the criminals. Pretty simple. Cities like La Canada, Lancaster, and Palmdale are unincorporated cities. They don’t have their own police departments, so they have to rely on the Sheriff’s Department, which is underfunded, underappreciated and also denigrated from the defund-the-police movements.
What I would do in Congress is earmark funds for small to medium-sized cities up to 200,000 people who want to start their own police departments. When Lancaster envisions starting its own police department, it hires eight to 10 police officers so they don’t have to rely on the overstretched, underfunded LA County Sheriff’s Department. I would earmark funds for them to make their own police department to make their city safe.
“The police can catch the thieves, but you have to have the district attorneys fulfill their duties.“Alex Balekian
More importantly, the police can catch the thieves, but you have to have the district attorneys fulfill their duties. An easy fix is making it a federal crime to steal from a small business owner with 50 employees or less. The big chain stores can afford to lose things to thievery, can afford to hire security guards and keep things under lock and key. But in a mom-and-pop liquor store, a florist, or any small business where they just smash and grab and go, those thieves are not being prosecuted. There is no disincentive when they misbehave.
What I could easily do in Congress is make it a federal crime to steal from a small business owner with fewer than 50 employees. So, if the local DAs aren’t doing their jobs, then you can say this is now a federal offense. We will have the Department of Justice and the FBI deal with it if you guys aren’t going to deal with it.
A lot of people don’t realize, for example, that aggravated assault is both a state crime and a federal crime. But the Feds don’t prosecute it because the state prosecutes. But if the state didn’t prosecute it, the Feds could say, okay, we’ll go and pick this one up. There are a lot of crimes that have dual coverage like that. And the ones that matter most to people are the home invasion robberies and the smash and grabs that are going unpunished.
Glendale has a Superior Court that is shuttered. But if the Glendale City Attorney wanted to prosecute a crime that George Gascón hasn’t or won’t prosecute, they would have to get permission from Gascón to do so. So he’s actively blocking other smaller cities within the county from prosecuting. That’s why a higher level of federal law would be necessary until the DA actually starts doing his job again.
Q – There are 26 medical professionals in the 118th Congress. What unique insight do you bring to national medical issues and healthcare as a medical doctor?
A – As a practicing physician with a solo practice, I have a small business with employees. So yes, I have a unique perspective, not only as a physician who is abiding by current insurance rates, reimbursements, etc., but I can also identify areas of waste and inefficiency in healthcare.
Over the last year, my malpractice insurance rates have gone up by 10 percent, and my health insurance premiums for my employees have gone up by 10 percent. However, Medicare has cut physician reimbursements by four and a half percent. So these are real problems that small business owners, myself included, are dealing with.
“I am not afraid to stand up to the big lobbyists, namely pharma and private insurers…”Alex Balekian
I am not afraid to stand up to the big lobbyists, namely pharma and private insurers, who are dominating the conversation and making physicians take pay cuts when budget shortfalls are to be addressed. They are not decreasing their share of the pie.
This whole California move that we’re now going to cover all of the illegal immigrants with MediCal is a disaster waiting to happen. It will translate into longer wait times for people on MediCal, who tend to be older people, and also legal immigrants who come here but are low-income. Those people’s wait times to see their doctor will be increased, and some may even lose access to their doctor because California will be forced to cut MediCal reimbursements to doctors to overcome the shortfall.
Q – How does your medical profession influence your perspective on transgender issues?
A – I am not only a physician, but I’m also a health services researcher. I have organized and published clinical practice guidelines. There is a very clearly outlined method of how to look at available data. You must decide if it’s high-quality data to make a recommendation on certain clinical questions.
“This whole movement for gender-affirming care…has zero data…“Alex Balekian
This whole movement for gender-affirming care, where we are putting children through irreversible puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, surgery, etc., has zero data, repeat zero data, to show that those irreversible procedures are actually helpful when compared to intensive counseling with the parents involved.
We have medical activists; I’m not even going to call them physicians, who are proselytizing these confused children and their anxious parents, telling them to go down a treatment path that has zero data. That is not what we signed up to do as far as “do no harm” with respect to patient autonomy.
Q – What proposals will you implement for the homelessness/unhoused issue?
A – The reason we haven’t fixed the homelessness problem is that we are not treating it like the mental health and drug addiction crisis that it is. It’s not a matter of people having a roof over their heads. When you put them in homes, they’re trashing the homes because they prioritize their substance abuse over keeping that home.
My plan would be to open federal institutions where these very severely mentally ill people can be hospitalized, treated, and given their medication until they are better and can be released for outpatient follow-up. It would also include sober living spaces, not just putting a roof over people’s heads but pairing intensive counseling with case management follow-up.
A lot of people don’t realize the number one predictor of sobriety is family support. Upwards of 40 percent of California’s homeless are from out of state. They live here, but their families, their support network who can keep them sober, are out of state. I propose that we transport people back to their home states and give them federal monies so their home states can take them back. We redistribute this lopsided homelessness back to where their families can support them and make sure they stay sober. That is the most surefire way.
Q – So, any further comments about homelessness?
A – Young people can’t afford to own a house in Pasadena, and parents cannot hand back the home to their children because of the tax grab that the Democrats passed that sidesteps Prop 13.
People like Laura Friedman are precisely why this cost-of-living problem has occurred. There is a deluded idea of environmentalism, this pie-in-the-sky idea of the ocean temperatures changing by 0.5 degrees 20 years from now on the other side of the world. But they are creating real-time increases in what we’re paying for everything. I support reasonable environmental policies with measurable, tangible outcomes, either in survival or quality of life, that do not increase prices or burden the economy.
“The blame for this expensive housing lies squarely on the shoulders of somebody like Laura Friedman.“Alex Balekian
You have the Laura Friedmans of the world, who want to ban gas stoves and make everything electric because of indoor air pollution. I’m a lung physician. There is not an epidemic of children dying from asthma in California because of indoor air pollution. But when you mandate everything be all-electric, and the existing power grid, which is overburdened, has an increased demand without increasing the supply, what will happen to the price? It’s going to increase. The cost of living here is high because the utilities have increased because of misguided extremist environmental policies that have no demonstrable benefits on survival or quality of life.
Secondly, all of these regulations for building new homes or repairing existing homes where you have to use a certain type of energy-conserving window or certain types of fire-resistant shingles – what happens? Those drive up costs, which is why insurers have left the state; it’s too expensive now to rebuild a home based on the restrictive regulations the California Legislature has put into place.
The blame for this expensive housing lies squarely on the shoulders of somebody like Laura Friedman. And they want to do another tax grab where they actually try to get taxes when the house changes hands. So, people like Laura Friedman have a spending addiction that they refuse to kick.
Q – What do you want the voters to know about you?
A – I call myself a proud Deukmejian Republican. George Deukmejian balanced the California budget. He built prisons, and he put criminals in jail. So, if I were to summarize my platform, it would be keeping the streets clean and the neighborhood safe. Stay out of my bank account. Stay out of my family life. That is how I would summarize myself.
This is not the National Republican platform. This is the California Republican platform. So, I’m fiscally conservative but socially moderate. That is how I differ from the National Republican Party, and I’m happy to say that because that is how my constituents are. They tend to be immigrants who have come from very oppressive or authoritarian countries, and they arrive here wanting the government not to be involved in their daily lives. They want to work hard to make something of themselves. They want to pinch every penny and pass it on to their children. And so my platform reflects the immigrant American Dream. It is now so much harder for people to achieve it because of the unreasonable rules and regulations put on us by big government.
Q – Is there any Armenian issue you want to talk about?
A – The biggest Armenian issue right now is the indoctrination that’s going on in the schools. The Armenian parents from Saticoy Elementary and the Glendale Unified parents have been my biggest supporters, and I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. They are concerned about what their children are being taught in school.
Parents are being shut out from voicing their concerns. Anthony Portantino wrote SB 596 that criminalizes parents speaking at a school board meeting with a $1,000 misdemeanor fine if that parents’ comments cause, and I quote, “alarm, annoyance or emotional distress.”
“I’m not a homophobe, and neither is my husband.“Alex Balekian
It sucks that these Armenian immigrant parents are being called racists, white nationalists and homophobes. I’m not a racist or white nationalist. I’m a son of immigrants, and I’m not a homophobe, and neither is my husband. So that is probably my unique quality is this whole notion of identity politics that the Democrats like to play, where they call somebody a racist and a homophobe. They can’t do that with me. I guess that’s my unique characteristic, my superpower.
Q – Can you speak about my favorite subject, saving local news?
A – One of the biggest things we need to do is roll back this whole notion of disinformation and fake news. Having fact checkers increases the pressure on the minimal resources that a news outlet is supposed to have, which definitely will stifle smaller operations like yours.
Because my campaign has a presence on Google, I just got a notice from Google ads that starting in February, and they will be arbiters of truth as to whether things are potentially inflammatory. These large tech platforms are going to actively censor things that they deem not to be true because they are the arbiters of truth.
There are so many other repressive moves going on right now that I think they are going to kill the small guys. And high insurance rates for local news are intentional. I tend to be more of a libertarian. There used to be a law that news outlets had to report both sides fairly in a fair and balanced fashion. Then, when that got rolled back, partisan news corporations like CNN and FOX popped up. I don’t know how I feel about bringing that back, but I long for the days of Walter Cronkite and Peter Jennings.
Rachel Maddow says MSNBC is not going to televise Trump’s victory speech from Iowa because he’s going to speak falsehoods. But that’s Big Brother right there. The Democratic Party says we want democratic elections. We want to save democracy, but there’s a candidate they are trying to get off the ballot. I’m not a big Trump fan, but the man deserves due process. This is a farce from what’s going on.
The problem is that the freedom to think and to say what you want just somehow turned in on itself.