Q&A with Congresswoman Doris Matsui
What does it mean to you to have played a part in helping to keep the Kings in Sacramento?
Keeping the Kings in Sacramento was really a team effort. It was important to me because I knew how important it was for our very loyal fan base and the future of our city. The Kings will always be a part of our identity here.
In the midst of a revitalization of downtown Sacramento, how optimistic are you of the city’s future?
I’m extremely optimistic. We are becoming a center for innovation across every sector, whether that is in the tech industry or the arts. I think the people of Sacramento are driving that. We’re a diverse city with residents who are open to change and ready to embrace the future.
As part of the group who revealed the city’s bid to bring NBA All-Star Weekend to Sacramento, what impact do you think the event could have on the region?
It would have a tremendous impact on the region. It’s a chance for us to show the world what we already know, that Sacramento is the place to be right now!
As someone leaving her own footprint in history, what does Women’s History Month mean to you?
It’s a time of celebration, as well an opportunity to renew our dedication to supporting women everywhere. The first woman elected to the House of Representatives, Jeannette Rankin, was elected in 1916, before women even had the right to vote. In 100 years, women in the United States have made great strides. However, we can all acknowledge there is still progress to be made.
You have previously co-chaired the Bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues and the Democratic Women’s Working Group – which work to empower women in the workplace. Women have made strides toward equality at work over the decades, but what are the greatest opportunities ahead?
While we’ve made great strides, we have to improve equality in the workplace. The brave leaders of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement are bringing needed awareness to sexual harassment in the workplace, and, I think all men and women have an opportunity, and an obligation, to support this movement. We also need to better acknowledge the disparities that women continue to face in the workplace, particularly with the wage gap. Making childcare affordable for working families and ensuring men and women have paid family leave is also very important.
You work to ensure the Sacramento region is represented in Congress, what does it mean to you to also be a voice in the nation’s capital ensuring women are heard?
I take that responsibility very seriously. For so long, women didn’t have a seat at the table. I know how important it is for me to use the voice that I have as a member of Congress to speak up. Recently, we’ve seen women get more and more involved in politics, which has been so exciting because it just adds to the chorus of voices.
Among your many career accomplishments, is there one for which you’re especially proud?
Sacramento’s position at the confluence of two major rivers makes it extremely important that we stay vigilant about minimizing our risk of flooding. That’s why strengthening our region’s flood protection by securing federal funding for major infrastructure initiatives like the Joint Federal Project at the Folsom Dam has been a major focus of my career. On the national level, I’m also very passionate about increasing access to mental health care. We all know someone who is struggling with mental illness or substance abuse issues, and yet, the system is extremely underfunded and needs significant reform. In addition to advocating for more resources for mental health care, I’ve also looked for ways we can make structural improvements to the system. My Excellence in Mental Health Act that passed into law in 2014 supported community behavioral health clinics that integrate behavioral healthcare with physical healthcare, so there is more parity between the two. I’m working in Congress now to expand on that law so that more people have access to care in their communities.
Who have been your biggest female role models?
My mother, Katherine Graham, and Nancy Pelosi.
What advice would you give to young women with political career aspirations?
The most important advice I have is to be authentically and unapologetically yourself. And, to always remember that you have a responsibility and a great privilege to lift other women up with you.