U.S. House of Representatives 36th District candidates


The following is an introduction to the March 3 primary election candidates and incumbent running for the California 36th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Valley News invited all four candidates listed in the Consolidated Presidential Primary Election Riverside County Information Guide for the U.S. to give a biography and the answers to three pressing issues in our coverage area for publication. The following is their responses. While every attempt was made to ask candidate Stephen Wollisted, listed as a 36th Congressional District candidate in the voter primary guide, he could not be reached through telephone or email by deadline.

Dr. Raul Ruiz

36th U.S. House of Representatives incumbent (Democrat)


The son of hardworking farmworkers, Dr. Raul Ruiz grew up in Coachella and learned at an early age that the key to attaining the American Dream is hard work and a great education. In the summer 1990, Ruiz walked in the desert heat from business to business in the Coachella Valley asking them to invest in their community – by contributing to his education. With each investment for college, he made a promise to come back home and serve his community as a physician.

During and after his education at Harvard, Ruiz also volunteered and worked abroad. He spent a year as a medical student with Partners in Health, bringing health care to the poor in Mexico. In El Salvador and Serbia, he served as a consultant to the ministers of health on emergency health care reform and in 2010, Ruiz was one of the first people on the ground in Haiti after the devastating earthquake.

As promised, after earning a medical degree and two graduate degrees from Harvard University, Ruiz returned to the Coachella Valley, where he utilized his education and experience to not only become a leader in his community but to serve as an emergency physician. As the founder and director of the Coachella Valley Healthcare Initiative, he brought together stakeholders to improve public health and health care access in this badly underserved community.

And, as an emergency physician – not a career politician – Ruiz has spent his time in Congress fighting to protect Medicare and Social Security, standing up for veterans, opposing Washington-insider perks and privileges and always remembering where he came from.

In January 2017, Ruiz was appointed by his fellow Democratic colleagues to serve on the prestigious Energy and Commerce Committee. As the only Democratic physician on the committee, his unique perspective was invaluable during last summer’s debate over health care.

Ruiz continues to represent the people of California’s 36th District with pride and a determination to improve the lives of his constituents and the American people by never forgetting the promise he made to serve his community all those years ago. He lives in La Quinta with his wife, Monica, and 3-year-old twins, Sky and Sage.

Campaign questions

Ruiz said he could not respond to specific questions about his campaign asked by the Valley News because of his status as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

He said, “All members of Congress and staff are prohibited by both House ethics rules and federal law which mandates all members of Congress and staff are prohibited by both House ethics rules and federal law, which mandate that no congressional resources can be used for campaign or political purposes. This includes funds appropriated for member, committee and other House offices, as well as the goods and services purchased with those funds, such as congressional office equipment, office supplies and congressional staff time. Examples of activities that are clearly prohibited in a congressional office or using congressional resources include: the solicitation of contributions; the drafting of campaign speeches, statements, press releases or literature; the creation or issuance of a campaign mailing; and the holding of a meeting on campaign business.”

Erin Cruz

36th District Candidate for Congress (Republican)


Erin Cruz is a strong conservative whose priorities include a strong national defense; enhanced border security, economic growth, fiscal accountability and transparency and protecting taxpayer interests.

She is a mother and widow of internationally renowned scientist, Rene Cruz, Ph.D. Erin Cruz is a native Southern California, born and raised. She is an entrepreneur and savvy business woman who is fed up with the political status quo of politicians putting politics before the needs and will of the people.

For Cruz, watching California deteriorate is deeply concerning. From crumbling infrastructure to rising homelessness, rising crime to out of control spending, the constant barrage of tax burden placed on the people is out of control. We need a solution to the division among social and political groups to get the work done.

Cruz knows communication is key to solving the issues of our communities, the state, and the nation. Her passion for the people led her to author “Revolution America,” a political and business communication book geared toward women. She is also author of the book “Crushing Corruption,” producer and host of “The Erin Cruz Show;” she is founder and CEO of the All-American community advocacy and humanitarian organization, Restoring America Now Inc. and founder and CEO of RAN Action Fund Inc., which is geared toward realizing change within our communities and across the nation, for all residents.

Campaign questions

What do you believe is the most pressing issue facing the district you are running to represent and how would you work to correct that issue?

Quality of life issues are notably the most pressing when I have met with residents of the 36th Congressional District. High gas prices, roads with potholes for those who commute, high taxes, and the overall cost of living, day-to-day. I will equally represent the district on these issues, pushing for refining regulations, reducing tax burdens, especially regarding housing, ensuring our community gets the funding it needs for our roads.

Do you support the impeachment of President Donald Trump, why or why not?

No. Impeachment is not warranted, constitutionally.

According to the California Budget and Policy Center, in the 36th District between one-fifth and one-quarter of all residents live in poverty. If elected, how would you prioritize policies that give all people the opportunity to thrive and move up the economic ladder?

Again, equal representation in Congress is essential, cutting waste and fraud, easing regulations, ensuring programs for our most vulnerable and those who are struggling just to make it is essential. Many years ago, I was a single mother; I know the struggle of working parents and single income homes. I look forward to working with the people to help create a climate for opportunity at the federal level for all of our residents striving for greatness so they can thrive.

Patrice Kimbler

36th District Candidate for Congress (Republican)


I’m a wife of 31 years, mother and grandmother and a Christian. Life-long Republican, I love my country and have respect and honor for our military and law enforcement. I know we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our veterans; we wouldn’t be here if not for those that have served. I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and I’m pro-life. I am Middle America, and I understand how the laws effect families.

I’ve spent my entire working career helping others and the last 20 years in faith-based ministry. I was the founder and director of Hands of Christ Ministries, a nonprofit.

I’m running for Congress for the people, all people in my district. I am afraid of the direction our country is going. Socialism and leftism are real, and they’re infiltrating our government and must be stopped. California is a great example. We all want the same things; less government, less tax, higher wages, good jobs, good roads, better safer schools and affordable, good-quality health care. These are the things I will work on for us all.

Campaign questions

What do you believe is the most pressing issue facing the district you are running to represent and how would you work to correct that issue?

We have many issues, all of which could be priority: the Salton Sea, better funding for our police departments, keeping schools safe, more help for our veterans and the homeless situation.

At the end of the day, what most people care about is making ends meet. Enter health care. It’s the biggest expense to most families with the exception of their mortgage or rent. We need to lower costs. 49% of all Americans get their insurance from their employers. If we could allow smaller businesses to participate in buying pools to purchase coverage in a much larger group, it would drive costs down. Allowing insurance companies to be competitive by opening the market across state lines.

Provide federal funding for 24-hour clinics to cut down on wasted money spent on non- emergency visits. These are just some of the things I will work on to lower health care costs for everyone.

Do you support the impeachment of President Trump, why or why not?

I do not support this impeachment. The leadership in the House has been after this president since before he took his oath of office, and they have been relentless in baseless accusations ever since He did absolutely nothing wrong, period. The House should be ashamed of itself, and it is another reason why I’m running.

According to the California Budget and Policy Center, in the 36th District between one-fifth and one-quarter of all residents live in poverty. If elected, how would you prioritize policies that give all people the opportunity to thrive and move up the economic ladder?

Something I that feel is unique to our area is the fact that a large portion of the district is very hospitality driven. While a lot of those jobs pay well, they should be primarily occupied by teens and young adults working their way through school or maybe part time work as a second job. We need to open up a whole new area of jobs. We have many students graduating with degrees that have to move out of the area to find work.

More manufacturing jobs, research facility for renewable energy sources or stem cell research. An inspection and distribution center to help with the overflow from the Port of Los Angeles.

The possibilities are endless.

Offering additional tax breaks for tuition reimbursement to employers can also help provide skills to those that may not otherwise have an opportunity to get an education.

Federal grants for those within low income brackets to attend trade schools and nursing programs.

More jobs equal more opportunity. It also increases wages as demand for workers goes.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.