Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) did not take COVID-19 seriously until he had to.
While his office should get credit for helping residents secure their unemployment benefits during the pandemic, Cunningham called for a reopening of our county in April, just one month into the pandemic. When other cities and counties reopened throughout the state, they were hit with a wave of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. We would eventually be hit with several waves. And with mounting pressure from politicians like Cunningham, Gov. Gavin Newsom modified the state's phased reopening approach and ultimately developed conditions that resulted in a significant surge of cases and hospitals over capacity last fall. The circumstances led to our state establishing a mutual aid system for our hospitals to accept patients who couldn't be cared for in overburdened hospitals located in other counties.
In a way, Cunningham helped create the kind of economic conditions that led to his constituents having to collect unemployment benefits longer. When front-line workers faced a shortage in personal protective equipment and ventilators because of these surges, Cunningham stepped in. Just because he stepped in to help doesn't absolve him from not having the foresight to address these critical issues early on.
Cunningham likes to complain about public health edicts that are "illogical" and not "science-based" ("Achieving sound public policy," April 15). He insists his complaining is somehow an important part of his job as the community's representative in the legislative branch. In reality, he acts like an angry spectator more than an Assembly member, complaining bitterly on Facebook about state orders that he could effectively and constructively address with bipartisan cooperation. Instead of being productive on that front, he represents clients as part of his law practice who defy common-sense COVID-19 guidelines and actual science that justifies those guidelines. He will support the compromising of our public health and safety as long as he can financially enrich himself.
Cunningham will complain about COVID-19 guidelines, but by unlawfully blocking his critics on social media, he refuses to have any sort of debate or dialogue with his constituents. A responsible Assembly member and public servant doesn't shy away from inconvenient facts. Elected representatives need to be mature, accept bitter truths, work with people on both sides of the political aisle, and make hard choices that best support their constituency.
Central Coast families and businesses cannot be fully supported by someone who chooses to govern by passive-aggressive tweets and brazen conflicts of interest. It's time for new leadership.