McDonald Talks Health Care in 4th Congressional District Race | News, Sports, Jobs

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Darlene McDonald sits for an interview at the Daily Herald office Friday, July 15, 2022. McDonald is the Democratic candidate for Utah’s 4th Congressional District.

Darlene McDonald moved to Utah in 2002 with a dream and desire to provide a better life for her children.

“When I got off the plane and saw the mountains, I was hooked. I was hooked. I was like, ‘This is the place,'” McDonald said.

As the Democratic candidate running in the 4th Congressional District race against Republican incumbent Burgess Owens, McDonald wants to be a voice for everyone, including people of color.

McDonald acknowledged that living in Utah is not the easiest thing for many people of color. She knows many who either grew up here or moved here and left. Utah’s population is approximately 90% white, 3% Asian, and 1.5% Native American and African American, according to the US Census Bureau.

“I got lucky,” McDonald said. “I was really lucky. I happened to move into a fabulous community. … This is not everyone’s experience. I have some African-American friends who came here and didn’t see representation and couldn’t build that community, so they left.”

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Darlene McDonald sits for an interview at the Daily Herald office Friday, July 15, 2022. McDonald is the Democratic candidate for Utah’s 4th Congressional District.

This is not McDonald’s first time as a candidate for the 4th District. In 2018, she lost at the state Democratic convention to Ben McAdams, then mayor of Salt Lake County, for the party’s nomination. McAdams won the 2018 race before ultimately being beaten by Owens in 2020.

Thanks to this experience, McDonald has a new understanding of what representation is.

“If you’re representing the district, you have to do it for everybody,” she said. “It means your core supporters won’t get everything they want and shouldn’t get. This is not compromise. This is not sitting at the table and figuring out the best deal for everybody, and that’s what it stands for.”

McDonald argues that there is no representation at all from Owens, especially for the African-American community. Both McDonald and Owens are black.

On Friday, Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, reopened two months after the shooting that killed 10 African-American shoppers. According to ABC News, the killer was Peyton Gendron, a white male who was charged with hate crimes.

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Darlene McDonald sits for an interview at the Daily Herald office Friday, July 15, 2022. McDonald is the Democratic candidate for Utah’s 4th Congressional District.

“They’re reopening the Tops Grocery store, and [Owens] hasn’t said a word about it yet,” McDonald said. “It’s not right because he was one of the people pushing the big replacement theory. There’s a responsibility here, and you’re putting people’s lives at risk. It’s true and it must be stopped. He must be held accountable and called out.”

McDonald’s campaign page points out that the 4th District is one of the tightest districts in the country, having taken in more of central Utah and southern Utah County after legislative redistricting.

“When things are set up like this, where the representative feels so protected, they’re not representing you either,” she said. “Burgess Owens, and yes, I’m calling him by name, didn’t even debate in the election because he didn’t have to. This should not be okay. Republicans shouldn’t be okay with that.”

Education, health care and women’s care are some of McDonald’s top priorities.

McDonald hopes to address bullying in schools, especially racially motivated bullying.

“For kids to know they’re not alone and that someone has their back is so important … especially after the death of Izzy Tichenor,” she said. “We cannot lose any more of our children. We need to let them know that there are people who have their backs – they will listen and take care of them.”

Addressing health care issues was the first issue that made McDonald want to run for Congress.

Before coming to Utah, McDonald gave birth to twins. One of them died at the age of three from serious health complications.

“You have to understand, at the time I was a healthy 22-year-old who was supposed to have a normal pregnancy, but it didn’t happen. I had to quickly navigate Medicaid and all the insurance issues very quickly. Marcus was a very happy child, but what supported us were the services he received. He needed a lot of care,” she said.

McDonald explained that the threat of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act during President Donald Trump’s administration was the tipping point for her, that she could no longer sit “on the sidelines.”

She sees maternity health as a separate issue, but one that needs to be addressed. According to the CDC, the maternal mortality rate for African American women was 2.9 times that of Caucasian women in 2020.

“We spend more on health care than any other nation and without better benefits. African American and Hispanic women are three to four times more likely to die during or shortly after childbirth. Racial inequality, racism, not listening to the mother and not having an advocate with them when they go to the hospital has a lot to do with it.”

To increase better health outcomes, McDonald would provide funding for doulas and midwives to give people more advocates during pregnancies.

In the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Mike Lee and independent Evan McMullin, McDonald said she would have preferred to have a Democratic candidate to support her — but told the Daily Herald her vote would be for McMullin and encouraged others to do the same.

“It’s not okay what Mike Lee did,” McDonald said. “I have no problem with Evan McMullin. Would I have preferred a Democrat who had a real shot at running? Of course, I’m a Democrat. Evan McMullin is 100% correct. Mike Lee cannot be trusted to preserve and protect American Democracy because he tried to insult it.”

McDonald, Owens and United Utah Party candidate January Walker will be on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election.


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