By MATT JOHNSON
This article was originally published in the Mariposa Gazette
When Brynne Kennedy, a Democrat candidate for Congress in California’s 4th District, “heard an outcry” about healthcare workers not having enough personal protection equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic, she decided to do something about it.
“I was able, through some of my prior relationships in the business world, to source a few thousand surgical masks from a factory so I could make a contribution to hospitals across our counties,” said Kennedy.
On Friday, Kennedy was in Mariposa to donate 200 masks to John C. Fremont Hospital, which certainly helps. That amount is enough to last the JCF skilled nursing facility about eight days, or to be used wherever else the hospital has a need.
“It’s a tiny little bit. You guys are the real heroes, but I’m happy to do something,” Kennedy told hospital officials.
In total, Kennedy donated close to 3,000 masks to hospitals around the 4th District.
“It was a good opportunity to check in on people and the leadership teams,” Kennedy said. “We just appreciate all the work of our front line healthcare workers so much, from me, my staff and the whole community. I hear it all the time: there are incredible stories of the heroics of our healthcare workers and front line healthcare workers.”
Kennedy, who is running against incumbent Tom McClintock, explained how the pandemic has changed the dynamics of her campaign.
“We’ve moved a lot of my campaign right now to be about supporting the community through the pandemic. We’ve done tele-town halls with tens of thousands of people convening, and (featuring) public health experts and small business leaders — like Dr. Eric Sergienko (of Mariposa County),” Kennedy said. “We’ve also built out a comprehensive Covid-19 resource hub on our website. My team is available and helping people do things like hunt down their stimulus checks, buying groceries for the elderly and those types of things.”
Kennedy also took aim at the Paycheck Protection Program, a massive program implemented by the federal government with the intention of aiding small businesses around the nation. Funding for that program dried up quickly, and there was outrage due to several larger companies receiving massive payouts, instead of the traditional “mom and pop” small businesses.
“I think it’s unconscionable. (But) I applaud the fact there was legislation passed in a bipartisan way,” said Kennedy. “It was completely flawed in design and execution and left our small business owners, who are the backbone of our communities, out in the cold. I’ve heard incredible frustration from our local elected officials, our small business owners, the workers who work there, that they were not able to access the loans. I think it’s another example of Washington and Congress being so detached from the real world and what people are dealing with.”
Kennedy also couldn’t resist taking a shot at McClintock, and she didn’t mince words. She called out McClintock for his response to the pandemic.
“Tom McClintock, as I’m sure everyone knows, was the lone Congressman from California and one of 40 nationally to vote against the first one (aid package), the funding for testing and sick leave, and was actually one of the lone Congressmen to not wear a mask yesterday on the House floor,” Kennedy said.
She said “what is incredibly angering” is how “our Congressman is not on the team of our community and of everyone coming together. It’s my hope and belief that we as a community and a country will come out of this more unified and compassionate for one another.”
Despite the uncertain times and her frustration toward McClintock, Kennedy did have encouragement for Californians.
“We as Americans throughout history, have been through a lot of difficult times,” Kennedy said. “And one of the incredible things about our nation and our communities up and down the Sierra is that we come together in hard times to confront common enemies, whether it’s a war or pandemic. It’s been incredibly inspiring to see us come together against this common enemy.”
Kennedy’s website can be found at www.brynneforcongress.com.