‘At this crucial moment in our history, America needs to elect a new generation of leaders … — Will Rollins

In what has been characterized as one of California’s most competitive races for Congress this year, political newcomer Will Rollins, a Democrat, is challenging Rep. Ken Calvert, a Republican who has served in Congress for 30 years.

He has long represented the conservative stretch of the Inland Empire, which has been transformed with redistricting.

Each is vying for a seat in the newly created 41st Congressional District, which includes several Coachella Valley cities — Palm Springs, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and Indian Wells — along with Corona, Menifee and other parts of western Riverside County.

Rollins, a former federal prosecutor who moved to Palm Springs earlier this year, finished second in the June Primary to qualify for the general election.

On Tuesday, Oct. 25, starting at 5:30 p.m., Will Rollins will headline an Evening Rally of Action in Palm Springs at the historic William Holden Estate. At his side will be the Honorable Barbara Boxer and Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

The Los Angeles Times recently endorsed Collins saying, “He brings new ideas and vigor to a district that has been represented by Republican Rep. Ken Calvert for three decades.”

Uken Report (UR) reached out to both Rollins and Calvert with a series of identical questions and deadline. Calvert did not respond.

Following are the questions and Rollins’ answers.

UR: If elected, what issues will receive your attention, another way of asking where your priorities lie?

Will Rollins: My legislative priorities would be lowering costs on working families; bringing good jobs to this district; expanding access to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare, and lowering prescription costs; fixing our broken information system; reducing violence in our communities; and protecting the planet from the devastating effects of climate change.

UR: Is there any decision or vote you have made that you wish you could take back? If so, what was it and why?

Will Rollins: I spent the last five years as a federal prosecutor and have never held elected office before – so I haven’t had a chance to vote on legislation yet. But on a personal level, I wish I’d come out sooner. Accepting myself earlier in life would’ve been better for my mental health.

UR: Do you support an individual’s right to access abortion, regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status? Why or why not?

Will Rollins: I believe in equality and reproductive freedom for everyone, and I stand with women in the fight to make sure they always have the right to control their own bodies. I’m proud to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Action Fund; NARAL Pro-Choice America; and CA-NOW.

And while I’m proud that California remains a safe haven for those seeking reproductive health care, in order to ensure equal access for everyone, we need federal protections. People shouldn’t have to cross state lines for safe access to abortions. And this attack on reproductive rights will not end with the Supreme Court’s decision. Republicans wasted no time in plotting the implementation of a nationwide abortion ban if they retake Congress this fall. We must work together to protect everyone’s freedom to control their own bodies.

UR: What makes you a better fit for this position than your opponent?

Will Rollins: If we truly care about our democracy – if we truly care about something as fundamental as the freedom to choose our leaders – we cannot stop fighting against the forces and broken information system that are encouraging more extremism and attacks. When we can cut through the noise and agree on the basic facts, we all – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – have more in common than what divides us.

My campaign is about stopping extremism. We need a legal framework to end profit-driven lies and division, so Americans can start to agree on basic facts again. This is a systemic problem: Extremists, Big Tech and media outlets are profiting from spreading division based on lies, even as they erode our democracy and make it easier for adversaries like China and Russia to exploit us. We need to end this cycle of division-for-profit by updating our laws to break down information bubbles and propaganda networks, to require transparency in advertising, and to create a modern Fairness Doctrine that protects the public’s right to be informed.

At this crucial moment in our history, America needs to elect a new generation of leaders with modern outlooks and specific plans that will put an end to the toxic divisions that threaten our democracy and prevent us from solving problems together. I aim to be one of those leaders.

UR: What are your budget priorities and how would they impact women and families in communities across California?

Will Rollins: We need leaders who care more about delivering for working families and small business owners in Riverside County – all of whom are feeling inflation – than for multinational corporations. Only 38% of jobs in the Inland Empire provide a living wage. Nurses, teachers, firefighters and police officers should not be paying higher federal income tax rates than billionaires. Small business owners shouldn’t have higher tax bills than Amazon, which often pays no federal income taxes. I’ll fight for them.

I support:

  • Tax relief for middle- and working-class families and small business by reforming our tax structure to ensure that multinational corporations pay their fair share of taxes;
  • An end to the price-gouging inflicted on average Americans by massive corporate monopolies, and a stronger antitrust division at DOJ;
  • Action to combat inflation and economic pressures resulting from the pandemic and breakdowns in supply chains;
  • Elimination of incentives corporations use to outsource jobs and profits overseas, and ensure that they pay the same tax rate on their offshore profits as they pay on U.S. profits.

UR: Do you support making abortion available in the case of rape and incest and threats to a mother’s life?

Will Rollins: Yes, I stand with women, unequivocally, in the fight to make sure they always have the right to control their own bodies. Healthcare decisions – including reproductive healthcare decisions – should be made between an individual and their doctor.

UR:  What are your budget priorities and how would they impact women and families in communities across California?

Will Rollins: (See above)

UR: Give readers one example of when you worked with leaders of the opposite party to get something done. What was the issue? When did this occur and what was the outcome?

Will Rollins: Although I’ve been a lifelong Democrat, I was honored to work in Governor Schwarzenegger’s administration. The governor, a Republican, always appreciated having a diverse team, and I always respected his leadership style, which included bipartisanship — by hiring a Democrat like me – and cooperation. I believe constructive debate makes America stronger, and so did the governor. He was willing to have a staff that often disagreed with each other, but in a good-spirited, productive way, because he knew that those kinds of constructive disagreements led to better solutions. He had a vision for America that was optimistic and hopeful, and as he traveled around the state and the country, all kinds of people responded to that vision. It was both a fun and rewarding experience, and it inspired and shaped my own belief in bipartisanship, and in reaching out to folks across the political spectrum.

I come from a family of Republicans and Democrats, and I truly believe that if we can get past the partisan nonsense, and agree on basic facts, we have more in common than what divides us. I believe that’s why I’ve gotten endorsements from folks like CA State Assemblymember Chad Mayes, Riverside County Sheriff (Ret.) Stan Sniff, and other Republicans and Independents, in addition to Democrats.

UR: Will you speak up for and defend equal rights for LGBTQ+ Americans? Why or why not? What specifically will you do?

Will Rollins: My partner Paolo and I came of age when being gay was still a crime in many states, homophobia was pervasive, same-sex marriage was illegal and LGBTQ people were not allowed to serve openly in the military. When elected to Congress, I will be a strong champion of equality and LGBTQ rights for all Americans.

My Equality and LGBTQ Commitments:

  • Support passage of the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, healthcare, education and public accommodations;
  • Protect the right to same-sex marriage that is under threat from a conservative Supreme Court that recently stripped women of the reproductive rights;
  • Support increased funding for HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and research;
  • Support a comprehensive federal response to address anti-transgender discrimination; and
    Oppose efforts that allow individuals to use private religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBTQ people in the public sphere.

I’ve been endorsed by: Equality California; Victory Fund; Equality PAC; LA Stonewall Democrats; Desert Stonewall Democrats; Planned Parenthood Action Fund; NARAL; and Congressman Mark Takano, co-chair of the Equality Caucus.

It is time for Riverside County to have a congressional representative who will work to secure full LGBTQ rights and protections. Our country, economy, military and society are strongest when all of our citizens are protected from discrimination and have an equal opportunity to contribute, succeed and thrive.

UR: What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent?

Will Rollins: People deserve a congressperson with integrity who will fight passionately for their interests.

I became a federal prosecutor to fight terrorism and make our nation stronger, and I will always stand up for truth and justice. At the DOJ, I focused on counterterrorism and counterintelligence cases in Southern California, and I’ve spent the last five years working to keep the people of Riverside County safe, prosecuting gangs like MS-13 and the Sinaloa cartel, child predators, and drug dealers. It will be clear to voters which of us acts with integrity and has the best interest of the country at heart.

My opponent has been named one of the most corrupt members of Congress, even being labeled corrupt by Fox News*. He’s increased his net worth up to $20 million while in office. He voted against certifying the 2020 election results; called for charges to be dropped against the January 6th attackers, and has voted against all measures aimed to curb price-gouging and provide cost relief for consumers.

When I’m elected, I want to ban all members of Congress from trading stocks, ban corporate contributions, and take on anyone who rips us off.

*Fox News Documentary: “Porked: Earmarks for Profit,” hosted by Chris Wallace




Image Sources

  • Will Rollins: Will Rollins campaign