Longtime incumbent Jim Costa is taking on newcomer Kevin Cookingham

Election

FRESNO, California (KSEE) — The race is on for the District 16 Congressional seat.

Longtime incumbent Jim Costa is taking on newcomer Kevin Cookingham. 

We sat down with Costa on why he believes he’s still the man for the job. Costa has held the District 16 seat since 2013.

The Fresno native says his record of getting things done speaks for itself. 

“My ability to work on a bipartisan basis has been proven over the years and it’s those skill sets that I bring to this job every day helping people and trying to make a difference,” Costa said.

But this election is not like any other. The country is sitting in the middle of a pandemic. Costa says he’s been fighting for local businesses and is even working on a fifth bipartisan stimulus package.

“Federal Reserve Chairman Powell says we need to have this to stabilize the economy into next year, we went from a 3.4 trillion to a 2.2 trillion, the Senate hasn’t moved off of 1 trillion, we need that for small businesses, we need that for workers, we need that for school, we need for healthcare systems, we need it across the board,” he said.

Costa says healthcare is a top priority and that Republicans lack a cohesive plan.

He says Valley residents need help right now. “We need to fix and improve the Affordable Healthcare Act, I’d be the first to tell you but I voted for it 10 years ago, 24% of my constituents had no insurance whatsoever, 17% were underinsured, today, only 10% of the people in the 16th district do not have insurance so it’s been cut in half,” Costa said.

The lack of physicians in the Valley, Costa says is another one of his concerns. He says he’s working on securing funds in the Heroes Act. 

“In the Heroes Act, I’ve got a billion-dollar funding authorization for regions of the country that are short physicians, like our Valley that would allow access to that funding to put in a medical school,” he said.

Immigration was a hot button issue in 2016. Costa says he’s been a big believer in Dreamers. “I believe we ought to have comprehensive immigration reform and I’ve supported that for 16 years and unfortunately many of my Republican colleagues don’t share that view,” Costa said.

Costa is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus where 25 are Democrats and 25 are Republican.

He says he’s dedicated to securing new COVID stimulus funding. “Every day we’re striving to bridge the gap against this deep partisan divide and sadly the president plays on almost daily,” Costa said.

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