“From the cradle to the grave.”  This is the message of Darlene McDonald, who is running to represent Utah’s 4th Congressional District in Washington, D.C. You’ll notice these words on her website, her campaign literature and when she speaks. McDonald is running to improve the well-being of all people — at every stage of life.

Health care is one of her core issues, and maternity health is front and center. A young mother and wife, McDonald’s life took an unexpected turn when she gave birth to twin boys, born 11 weeks premature. McDonald often speaks of this experience, which taught her the value of quality health care and support. 

She is an advocate for family planning. Supporting women at every stage from pre-pregnancy to postpartum is the only way to improve maternal health in America. The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries and pregnancy-related deaths in Utah have been steadily rising.

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Another one of her core issues is public education. McDonald believes access to quality public education is essential. She sees how our education system falls short for adult learners and especially adults with disabilities when they turn 22 years old. Funding adult education is the only way to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. 

McDonald believes we must support our veterans with actions, not just words. The current congressman, Rep. Burgess Owens, turned his back on our veterans when he voted against the PACT Act that would expand health care benefits for those exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. 

Owens also turned his back on our retirees by voting against the Inflation Reduction Act.

More than 180,000 adult Utahns have diabetes. The Inflation Reduction Act not only caps the cost of insulin for those on Medicare at $35, it also ensures they will pay no more than $2,000 annually for prescriptions.

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This is life changing for many struggling senior citizens.

The Inflation Reduction Act will also allow Medicare to negotiate the costs of certain drugs, potentially bringing prices down for everyone. McDonald not only supports the legislation, but wants to bring costs down for all Americans while improving the quality of care. Owens may have disagreed with aspects of the bill, but compromise is essential in Congress to get things done.

McDonald’s life has been spent finding solutions to problems, and it shows in her actions.

McDonald has served as chairwoman of the Utah Black Roundtable and was appointed to the Salt Lake City Racial Equity in Policing Commission. When racial incidents surface here in Utah, as they do much too frequently, she is often a go-to expert by our local news stations to interview. She welcomes the opportunity to speak, clarify, and educate, even though these incidents must cut her to the core in a way I cannot imagine.

Fighting racism is an ongoing battle and she continues to do so in every way possible. 

McDonald’s advocacy doesn’t stop there. She has spent years working for equity and inclusion for everyone — women, the LGBTQ community, those with special needs, the poor, the elderly, the sick, the uninsured and people of all colors. Now, she wants to continue that advocacy as our representative in Washington, D.C, where she can influence laws to better the lives of every adult and child in the country.

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I have worked with Darlene McDonald on volunteer projects. In the midst of a full-time job, managing a family with a special needs child and serving on varying volunteer positions to better our community, Darlene always meets the moment. She will advocate for freedoms for all — freedom for affordable and quality healthcare, freedom for family planning, freedom for our students to receive a quality education, freedom to have safe and secure access to voting so as to preserve democracy, freedom for hard working people in our rural communities to thrive, and the basic freedom to have clean air and clean and ample water. 

In November, use your voice and your vote to support Darlene McDonald. In Congress, she will use her voice and her vote to champion these freedoms and to truly represent you.

Charlotte Maloney writes social and political commentary. Her work has been published in newspapers throughout Utah and Colorado and in The New York Times.