From Battlefields to the Halls of Congress—Those Who Continue to Serve

From Battlefields to the Halls of Congress—Those Who Continue to Serve

S.E. Williams 

“I will work tirelessly to earn and keep your trust, your vote, and be your true representative in the United States Congress,” promised local Air Force veteran Aja Smith (R) of Moreno Valley in her 2020 campaign literature.

Though her attempt to unseat (D) Mark Takano to represent the 41st Congressional District fell short, her commitment to make a difference in the community of Moreno Valley where she grew up was apparent during a recent interview with the IE Voice and Black Voice News.

Smith was among a few hundred veterans who sought public office this year across the country at the local, state, and federal levels.

Representative Mike Thompson

Late last month military.com reported the number of veterans seeking to serve in Congress outpaced the slate of candidates who sought office in 2018.

Although election results to date show despite the number who ran the House and Senate will actually see very little change in the number who will serve in the coming session. Results the night of the election showed only 74 of the 182 veterans who ran made it across the finish line though votes are still being counted.

On November 5, the Veterans Campaign and the University of San Francisco reporting initial election results noted nine veterans won Senate seats, while six others did not face reelection this year.

Analysis further pointed to a slight decrease in Senate vets next year, compared to the 18 who currently serve and as compared to the 19 elected in 2018 and the 21 in 2016.

Candidate Aja Smith

In California, although there was no Senate race this year there were several House candidates including incumbent Representative Jimmy Panetta, (D – 20th District) and member of the U.S. Navy held his seat against Republican challenger Jeff Gorman.

Incumbent Representative Mike Thompson, (D – 5th District) former Army staff sergeant and Vietnam veteran defeated Republican challenger Scott Gilbin. Thompson currently chairs the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

Another incumbent, Representative Salud Carbajal, (D – 24th District) and Marine Corps Reserve defended his seat against Republican Andy Caldwell. Carbajal is a current member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Several veterans also sought offices this year on city councils, water boards, school boards, etc. in communities across the inland region and around the nation.

Representative Jimmy Panetta

There were winners and losers of both parties at the local, state, and federal level in 2020 among this year’s slate of veteran candidates. Win or lose however, supporters regardless of party affiliation agree these veterans’ desire to serve their country whether in uniform, city council chambers or in the halls of Congress, this year as every year, should be honored for their ongoing commitment to the nation.

For a complete list of veteran candidates in California who sought Congressional office visit 2020-veterans-candidates.

Header Photo: Representative Salud Carbajal

About The Author

S.E. Williams

Stephanie E. Williams is an award winning investigative reporter, editor and activist who has contributed to several Inland Empire publications. Williams spent more than thirty years as a middle-manager in the telecommunications industry before retiring to pursue her passion as a reporter and non-fiction writer. Beyond writing, Williams’ personal interests include stone-carving, drumming and sculpting.

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