I just had a nice, long conversation with Mary Hayashi, who is running for state assembly for this district. I was unprepared when she called, in fact I was nursing, and I didn't have a list of questions I wanted to ask her. So I asked about my pet topic (prisons) and some of the issues brought up on this list.
Mary seems to be fully devoted to the issue of health, and mental health in particular, so most of what she had to say concerned the health and mental health implications of other issues. For example, she emphasized that many people end up in prison because their mental health issues are not addressed, so her emphasis would be on tackling that problem. She is particularly concerned about how difficult it is to find people to work at mental health facilities, even when they exist. She clearly would like to see more attention and money going that way.
She also showed interest on the issue of child health and in particular the obessity epidemic. She'd like to see junk food banned from schools, as well as more systemic changes.
She seems very concerned about education (she said she worked to pass Measure A), would like to increase funding for education, close the loopholes on taxes for corporations, provide equitable funding to schools but also return local control of school finances.
I asked her about Stephen's point she had endorsed the law which caps punitive damages in the case of death through malpractice (forgive my bad phrasing) and she said she indeed supported this law as a way of keeping insurance rates at a manegeable rate. She says most of the members of the assembly support it. I have to say that I'm not sure what I think about that particular issue so I won't editorialize.
I also asked her about Stephen's question of whether she had two jobs at the same time, and she told me that both the foundations she funded have consolidated into one, for which she works drawing one salary. In the past she has worked as a consultant for several organizations.
All in all I got a very good impression of Mary. She sounded like a real person, very enthusiastic and very passionate about the issue of mental illness. She sounds like someone who is not going to be just warming a seat at the assembly but actually going and doing something. Of course, as an activist myself I am quite biased in favor of other activists, I want to see people in politics who want to make the world a better place.