I’m Laura Oatman, an architect and business owner, married for 33 years, and the mother of five adult children and two daughters-in-law. I’ve lived in Newport Beach, California since 1976, and I am running for US Congress CA48 against Dana Rohrabacher. Our primary election is June 5, and general election is Nov 6, 2018.
Why am I running for Congress? It starts with my story. I’m a UC Irvine & UCLA SoCal native, a licensed architect who achieved LEED-accreditation so I could design environmentally-friendly buildings, and I worked for years for a large firm designing sustainable hotels & communities around the world. In 2008, during the Great Recession, my architect husband & I both lost our jobs, with 3 kids in college and 2 in high school. We had no choice but to build our own small business, Oatman Architects, together, from the ground up, during a very difficult recession. Those first couple years were rough, for a couple years we had no health insurance nor heat in the home, but somehow we made it through.
As the economy steadily improved, Oatman Architects also grew, expanded and became a successful architectural practice. Our 5 kids were all successfully completed their college degrees, and a couple of them got married. Everything was moving in the right direction. Our country, our community, our business and our family was moving forward.
Then came the elections of November 2016. Over the last 8 years, we had lived through a slow but steady climb back up to economic stability. After the election, I feared going backwards again - back to the same unrestrained Wall Street greed that would lead to another economic collapse. I worried about climate change going unchecked, money being taken away from education when we most need education, and health care taken away from those who need it most. I worried about the impact on women’s rights, and civil rights for all of us. I worried about bullying and hate speech now being normalized. And to make matters worse, I felt like the soul of our country was impossibly divided, as some celebrated while others grieved the exact same election results.
I feared the 2016 election results would take us backwards, and I was right. More than anything else, I now worry about the future of our country as income inequality spirals out of control, and the future of our planet as climate change and extreme weather spirals out of control… I’m not worried about myself. I am worried about my children, my future grandchildren. All of our children.
My daughter and I had participated in the Women’s March in Washington DC in 2017; it was at the Women’s March that I had regained hope and decided to run for office. I decided to go into public service and hopefully become the representative that I felt we never had – not a career politician, not a billionaire, just a hard-working, middle-class small business owner and a mother, concerned about the future for her kids and her future grandkids.
As an architect, I have been trained to take a dream, put together a team, draw up some plans, build it, and make the dream a reality. I would like to take those same skills and apply them for the good of our country, with a master plan for America 2050 – a vision of our country with 100% carbon free energy – wind, solar, geothermal farms - high speed rail connecting all major cities, brand new sustainable communities, expanded natural parks for wildlife. Break this plan down into a realistic timeline, and break it down further into our local communities, and make the dream of a clean, healthy, peaceful, prosperous future for our kids - a reality.
The story has come full circle as my daughter came down from San Francisco and participated in our local Santa Ana Women’s March this last weekend. Last year, we were marching in a state of shock; this year, the mood was very different. We were marching full of hope, courage, inspiration, so many women now running for office for the first time! We were marching behind an “Oatman For Congress” banner, alongside many of my amazing supporters. What a difference a year makes!
Let’s make America kind again, and wise again, and honorable again, and truly great again... for the kids.
Why am I running? Because we desperately need someone to fight the massive income inequality and money in politics, not because they feel badly about it, but because they are living it every single day. We need someone to fight the existential threat of climate change, not because they’ve read about it, but because they’ve been fighting for the environment their entire lives. I wake up every morning knowing that the clock is ticking under this current administration; every day our planet is at greater risk to becoming unlivable. I am the only one who will fight fiercely to defend working and middle class families, fight fiercely for the planet, because I am fighting for my children, for our children. I am THE progressive fighter in the race, and I am the only one who can defeat Dana Rohrabacher.
What am I fighting for? Single-payer healthcare, free college tuition, a living wage, affordable housing, good paying jobs, free speech, fair elections, money out of politics, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, social security, medicare, net neutrality, common-sense gun safety, addressing homelessness and climate change, clean air, clean water, clean oceans. A true democracy again, and a healthy, peaceful planet for our kids.
What Are My Plans?
#1 - I will work to Create Jobs under a Bold Progressive Economy. I have lived through what happens when all the breaks go to Wall Street instead of Main Street, when the economy plummets and we struggle to survive while the fat cats simply note a dip in their stock portfolio….I know what it’s like to be suddenly unemployed, to have to choose between making house payments or paying for UNAFFORDABLE health care, and I don’t want us to have to go through that again! We need a stable economy that supports working & middle class families, that works to reduce outrageous income inequality, that allows all of us a chance at the American dream. You deserve a representative that will always put people and planet over profit and politics.
- When I get to DC: I will fight to subsidize sustainable industries that provide good paying jobs; fight to increase minimum wage to $15/hour; and fight to protect our labor unions against “Right To Work” laws.
- Locally: We will work together to provide federal tax incentives to draw in sustainable industries, to make OC the Silicon Valley of the South, for “green collar” jobs in technology, green construction, wind & solar; Tuition-Free College & Job Training Programs preparing us for those jobs; Medicare-for-all to keep us healthy & working, & Affordable Housing so we can live close to our jobs.
#2 - I will Fight Climate Change; the good news is - fighting climate change & growing economy is the same thing. Before Oatman Architects, I worked on green hotels and communities around the world. I will take this experience, and as the ONLY architect in congress, will use for all of our benefit.
- When I get to DC, my primary focus will be promoting Envision:America 2050 - a detailed 30-year master plan for our America of the future, with 100% renewable energy, with solar, wind & geothermal farms, high-speed rail connecting all major cities, new sustainable communities, and an expanded national park system. As architects, we take a dream, put together a team, make a plan & create reality. We start with the big 30-yr vision for America, then break it down into shorter time periods & into local communities.
- Locally, we’ll start with design charettes, bringing in stakeholders to participate in the “green renovation” of our district - architects, elected officials, business owners and community leaders - to create our own visionary 30-yr plan for our district. We can start now with Climate Action Plans & Community Choice Energy plans for our cities. Work with OCTA to add electric buses to reduce traffic & pollution. And I will fight to protect our ocean, and will fight new offshore drilling.
#3 - I will Fight for Women: As a woman who’s worked in a male-dominated field all her life, no one is better suited to go to male-dominated DC and fight for women. But I will also be the voice for everyone who feels left out & at risk under Trump - women, but also immigrants, Muslims, Dreamers & our LGBTQ community.
- When I get to DC, I will fight for Equal Pay for Equal Work, for Paid Family Leave, and for a Woman’s right to choose! I will also fight to extend DACA, for equal rights for LGBT community & to reverse the Muslim travel ban!
- Locally, I will continue my activism and involvement with my womens groups (NAWBO, eWomen Network, NWPC-OC, Women in Leadership), and other groups that I have been actively supporting for years - Newport-Mesa-Irvine Interfaith Council, The LGBT Center of Orange County, Amnesty International, the ACLU, and other non-profits that support the marginalized in our society
#4 - I will Fight for Common-Sense Gun Safety: As a mother who has watched the horrific mass shootings in high schools across the nation increase under this current administration, and watched Congress sit on their hands and do nothing, I am fired up and ready to get to Washington and stop this madness. I do not take corporate money or PAC money, and certainly would never touch the blood money from the NRA.
- When I get to DC, I will fight for a nationwide ban on assault rifles & high-capacity magazines, background checks on ALL gun sales including sellers online or at gun shows, and prevent guns from getting into hands of felons, terrorists, and mentally ill. Since 23% of perpetrators suffer mental illness, I will fight to expand mental health with any health care plan.
- Locally, my personal mission will be to protect women from abuse & violence. #MeToo has been shocking, but even worse is the number of women KILLED by men with guns - 3 every day - typically by abusive partners. I’ll work with Gabby Giffords in DC, and Moms Demand Action here in OC, to pass common sense gun laws, starting with closing the “boyfriend loophole” to keep guns away from abusive domestic partners.
Why I Can Win:
If 2016 elections taught us nothing else, it’s that this is no longer politics-as-usual, and we can’t expect to run a politics-as-usual candidate, and win. We need to come together to support a non-traditional candidate, a hard-working, middle class mother, and expect the unexpected!
A women - The way to generate enthusiasm and support from the marginalized people of color, the working & middle class, the Latinos and Asians in an off-year primary, is to prove that, in our more progressive, more diverse district, you don’t have to be the wealthy white businessman to get to Congress, if you work hard enough and believe in yourself.
The only progressive - I am proud to have received national endorsements from Democracy for America, founded by Howard Dean, and Justice Democrats, both organizations who support candidates that won’t cater to corporate donors and will fight for the average American.
The only local - I’ve lived in Newport Beach since 1976, in the same old tract home where my husband and I raised our 5 kids. I didn’t just move here. I totally embrace our unique OC surf/Latino/Asian-fusion local culture. This matters to the voters of our district.
Most local donors - Though others may claim to be, I am the only TRUE grassroots candidate, with the most local, in-district, small dollar support. Money doesn’t win elections; people who live and vote in the district, do.
The best team - I have an amazing blend of paid political professionals and seriously dedicated volunteers from the local business community. We also have a much larger group of hundreds of volunteers ready to start knocking on doors with us (please sign up if you are interested!).
Money - I can’t compete with the big boys, but I have raised an incredible amount of money from friends, family, and new supporters like you. I have raised just enough to win this election, through a dual-pronged approach of old-school ground game and high-tech social media blitz. Get ready, I’m about to prove that money raised isn’t the only indicator of viability or success!
A real representative - When you are choosing a REPRESENTATIVE, pay attention to what that word means. Shouldn’t you choose the person who will best be YOUR VOICE from OC to DC next year? Choose to support the person who knows you, who gets you, who knows your struggle not just in her head, but also in her heart. Who will FIGHT MOST FIERCELY for you in Washington next year as your Congresswoman.