While some pessimists have been known to refer to the U.S. Congress as “raw sewage,” Renee Hoyos has been all about cleaning up such a disgusting mess — literally.
A registered Democrat and candidate for the 2nd District Congressional House seat, this Knox County resident said she is proud of her record as executive director of Tennessee Clean Water Network since 2003.
“We estimate we’ve probably removed from 7 to 11 billion gallons of sewage from the Tennessee and Mississippi rivers,” said Hoyos, in her first bid for elected office, during an interview Friday, Oct. 27.
However, “I am politically moderate; I’m fiscally conservative,” she said, hoping to find middle ground politically with moderate and some conservative voters. “I recognize that this is a country that is not tolerant of taxation. And if you don’t want to be taxed, then we have a finite amount of money.
“And furthermore, if we’re not willing to be taxed more, we have to understand we really can’t have nice things,” Hoyos added. “So, what we have to do is decide how we’re going to use this limited pot of money ... to stretch it as long as we can.”
As for promoting budget cuts, “This Trump Administration, they’re cutting everything,” she said. “… But they’re not going to help the middle and lower class. We want the middle and lower income people to have more money in their pockets so they can spend their money.
“We could look at doing something progressive with payroll tax. We could look at maybe raising the cap of payroll tax,” Hoyos added. “… If it goes up, we’ll have more money to fund Social Security.”
Despite these cuts, “I think there is money there, but I don’t know that we’re spending it adequately,” Hoyos said.
The second Democrat to announce a 2nd District candidacy, which Hoyos did in mid-September, “I’m not tied to a party. I’m more interested in putting people over party,” Hoyos said. “I’m tired of seeing what’s going on in [Washington] D.C. People have become so polarized, on both sides, we’re getting nothing done.”
Everywhere she’s campaigned more than one month after entering the race, Hoyos said, “Folks are concerned about education. They’re concerned about tax dollars being taken from the public school system into a charter-school, partner-school system. I’m in agreement — I’m a product of public schools.”
Overall, “I’m still learning about the district; I’m still going around trying to figure out who’s doing what in each county,” Hoyos said.
Campaigning in and near Farragut recently, Hoyos was featured speaker during 5th District Democrats meeting Thursday, Oct. 19.
“I have 17 years of public policy experience,” Hoyos said.
“When I came to Clean Water Network it was on its last gasp, quite honestly,” she added. “I hopped to it and have created a successful organization now that has a statewide scope and is quite well-known and quite well-respected throughout the state.”
At both the state and federal legislative level, “… I’ve lobbied on behalf of clean water,” Hoyos said. “I understand the process.”
As for health care, “I don’t think the [Affordable Care Act] is broken. I think we have the ability to fix it,” she said. “Insurance commissioners have said repeatedly that they would like to see … cost-share reductions get funded over a long period of time. These cost-share reductions will help offset the cost of deductibles and co-pays.
“That way the insurance companies say, ‘I know these monies are going to be met by the federal government and we can lower our prices because we don’t have to worry about charging large co-pays and large deductibles,’” she added.
A native of Northern California who was “a special assistant to a secretary” for former California Gov. Gray Davis, Hoyos is “One of the founding members of the Community Health Alliance, which was Tennessee’s cooperative non-profit health insurance company,” she said.