Overview:Voter Guide: 9th Congressional District
An in-depth analysis of the candidates running for the ocal congressional seat
The June 7 Primary Election is fast approaching, with many voters choosing elected representatives for newly-formed and/or redrawn state, congressional and local districts.
As San Joaquin County heads into election weekend, Stocktonia News Service spoke with candidates running for the new 9th Congressional District to give them the opportunity to speak to voters directly one more time before election day.
There are four Democrats and three Republicans, as well as one registered “no party preference” candidate, on the district’s ticket.
Here’s what the candidates had to say:
Tom Patti – Republican
Patti, a former boxer and local businessman who owns Stockton crane service company Delta Cranes, is currently serving his second term representing San Joaquin County’s District 3 on the Board of Supervisors.
He chose to run for Congress because there’s too much polarity and acrimony “across the board” and the country deserves better leadership than it’s getting, Patti said.
“There’s too much deviation from, I think, our values, from the appreciation of America, our virtues, our equality, our diversity and the opportunity that America offers,” Patti said. “I’m compelled to be a loud, proud representative of this great country of ours.”
He also has “deep roots” in San Joaquin County, graduating from Stagg High School, attending San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. It’s the community where he’s chosen to raise his daughter, Patti said.
According to his campaign website, Patti has been endorsed by the Central Valley Impact Republicans, Central Valley Taxpayers Association, Stockton Police Officers’ Association, Stockton Professional Firefighters Local 456 and San Joaquin Deputy Sheriffs Association. Myriad local and state elected officials have also given Patti their endorsements, as well as former 9th District Congressman Jeff Denham.
The supervisor highlighted the collective work the board has accomplished in the last six years as what sets him apart from other candidates, as well as what he describes as a track record of working with both Republicans and Democrats and other numerous departments, agencies, individuals, organizations and nonprofits.
If elected, Patti says he will focus on such issues as cost of living, energy security, creating a stable supply chain so that jobs are not distributed and tackling homelessness.
“If you’re satisfied with what you’re seeing … in Washington and the leadership and the ruling class, then you may want to consider voting for one of my opponents,” Patti said. “If you would like to see some meaningful change, if you’d like to see the issues that are affecting our quality of life, then you’re gonna want to vote for me.”
When you ask Shoemaker why he wants to represent the 9th District, he gives you a surprising answer:
But Shoemaker said, in spite of his efforts, that no one else was stepping up to run for the job. So it had to be him.
Originally from Southern California, according to his website Shoemaker attended Harbor College in Los Angeles and El Camino College in Torrance. He moved to the Lodi area about three decades ago, raised his family here and has been politically active as a volunteer in campaigns over the years.
Shoemaker said he’s always been hardworking, from selling popcorn to neighbors as a young boy to working on his uncle’s 3,000-acre farm in South Dakota to opening trucking and construction businesses in San Joaquin County. He also says he knows this region very well and what it needs.
“What the 9th Congressional District makes up, I’ve been in every part of it,” Shoemaker said.
Shoemaker doesn’t like the direction the government is heading, both locally and nationally, as well as the divisiveness that’s happening and the influence of special interests groups. He said the lack of support for “our mom-and-pop businesses or local economy” during the COVID-19 pandemic particularly “enraged” him.
“We allowed Walmart and Costco and bars … to stay open at the detriment of the small businesses,” Shoemaker said. “And that was a travesty.”
He also cited issues such as rising gas prices, deficits across the nation in rural areas highlighted by COVID-19, local water issues and sending money to foreign governments as reasons for a need for a change in leadership.
Shoemaker also supports a constitutional viewpoint and a family values direction in governance. He also serves as the president of the local chapter of the California Republican Assembly and also has the organization’s endorsement.
“We need to get back to the roots that made our nation great. And that is allowing the people, each individual, to rise to the greatness that they can do without government interference,” Shoemaker said. “And without governments in its overreach of trying to tell us from a glass-enclosed office somewhere that they know what’s best for us.”
Jonathan Madison – Republican
Madison was not immediately available for comment.
According to his campaign website, Madison is a Northern California native, local small business owner, attorney and columnist. He has the endorsement of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association PAC and the California Congress of Republicans.
He went to Pentecost Academy in High School in San Francisco and graduated from Howard University, where he interned with several U.S. Senate and House representatives. Eventually, he became a policy staffer for the House Committee on Financial Services.
Madison also graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law and worked for two law firms before founding the Madison Firm. He also founded the nonprofit Mercy Seat, “created out of a six-year prison ministry that serves and feeds inmates in local county jails.”
Check here for Madison’s position on an array of issues, including homelessness, foreign policy and inflation.
K. Jeffrey Jafri-Democrat
Why did Jafri decide to run for the 9th District?
“To be the voice of our people here,” he said.
A former Republican, Jafri says that he’s now running as a Democrat because he feels the party better represents the values and makeup of the district, specifically when it comes to undocumented agricultural workers.
“They (Republican policies) have not been very supportive of immigrants,” Jafri said.
Jafri attended Delta College and graduated with an engineering degree from San Jose State University. He is a retired engineer who worked for the California’s Department of Water Resources and a San Joaquin County farmer since 1982, with experience growing such agricultural crops as walnuts, cherries and grapes.
He has also previously run, though unsuccessfully, for local office, including for Stockton mayor in 1992 and as a write-in candidate for State Assembly in 2012.
“I have an agenda to bring the county to the point where it’s prosperous (and) the value of real estate goes up,” Jafri said.
Some of Jafri’s other goals include improving access to health care, regaining local control over the region’s water, supporting local agriculture and bringing in more high-paying jobs, especially from tech companies like those found in the Bay Area.
“We want to bring the industry here rather than these people going and working in the Bay Area,” Jafri said.
He also wants the fate of San Joaquin County to be in the hands of the community, rather than developers.
Jafri says his work experience, as well as the fact that he and his wife have lived in San Joaquin County for decades, make him the best candidate to represent the 9th District.
“People know us, because we are part of the community,” Jafri said.
Josh Harder- Democrat
Harder, the incumbent congressman of the 10th District, running for Congress because he says the region often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
“I’m so frustrated that the folks in D.C., and even Sacramento, don’t always realize that California is more than San Francisco and Los Angeles,” Harder said. “We have a history of being almost second class citizens in California. And that leads to being overlooked on a number of our priorities.”
Originally from Turlock, Harder moved to Tracy with his wife and baby daughter this year.
He says his family has lived in and around San Joaquin County for the past 170 years.
Harder received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford in political science and graduated from Harvard with a master’s degree in public policy and business. He has also taught business at Modesto Junior College.
Many of the things he’s done for District 10 residents, many of whom are now part of District 9, are relevant to this expanded congressional district, Harder said. He emphasized his work on helping veterans in French Camp, such as coverage for the effects of Agent Orange being included in medical benefits, working on water issues in agricultural areas, trade, immigration and cutting healthcare costs.
District 9 residents are concerned about things like skyrocketing housing prices, paying $6 at the gas pump and cost of living, Harder said. And, if elected, these are the kinds of issues he will be working on in Congress.
Harder says that San Joaquin County, which he describes as often times had a history of ineffective, incompetent and sometimes corrupt leadership, also needs an effective leader. His track record shows that he can work across party lines and get things done, Harder said.
“We are focused on the local everyday concerns of folks in this area, because if we don’t do it then nobody else will,” Harder said.
Harpreet Singh Chima-Democrat
Chima chose to run for the 9th Congressional District to represent where he grew up and to be the outspoken politician he says the district has been lacking. For example, Chima stated that Rep. Jerry McNerney votes the right way on many issues, but hasn’t been vocal enough on those issues.
According to his website, Chima is the son of immigrants who worked hard to achieve the American dream, eventually starting their own business. Chima, who has spent most of his life in Stockton and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from U.C. Davis in 2011, where he is currently on leave from his job as a research assistant while campaigning.
What sets him apart from other candidates is that he’s not taking any contributions from lobbyists or corporate PACs, Chima says. Large donors’ needs are taking priority in Washington D.C. over those of voters, he said, often creating a system that puts undue burdens on everyday Americans.
Chima also emphasizes his experience as a union labor organizer, previous work on progressive campaigns and years of progressive activism.
“I’m running to make sure that working people actually have decision making power in our government,” Chima said, even if that means questioning his own party’s leadership.
If elected, one of his primary focuses will be on creating affordable, innovative public housing initiatives that give control back to cities, residents and the community.
“Focus on the things that actually people stay up at night worrying about,” Chima said. “And if you do that, they’ll trust you. And you can actually bring people together. And maybe we can actually get something done Congress.”
Karena Apple Feng – Democrat
Feng was born in Taiwan and, though she didn’t list a ballot designation, describes herself as a political and real estate consultant who has worked in those industries for more than 20 years. She is also an advocate for greater access to traditional Chinese medicine in California.
According to her website, Feng graduated from Thomas Jefferson School of Law with a JD and a master’s degree in tax law. She also received a graduate degree in political governance from George Washington University.
“My primary focus is working with advocates who stand with children, families, and justice,” Feng said via text. “(To) promote healing, increases resilience, and to provide housing for the low– or no-income people in our community, especially for seniors and single parents.”
On her website, Feng boasts a hosts of causes she says she’s helped further, as well as her views on various issues, such as abortion, healthcare, criminal justice and gun rights.
“I continue to expand on doing whatever I can in helping promote love, peace, prosperity, and unity for the American people,” Feng said.
Mark Andrews – No Party Preference
Andrews did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
He is running without a party affiliation and provided the designation of business owner for the primary ballot.