Welcome to my 2020 Campaign page for District 20 State Representative Seat B! I’m so glad you’ve chosen to take a further look at my campaign’s goals and focus! On this page, you’ll find content about who I am as a person, what I’m doing running with no experience, and why it matters to our beautiful state. Along with that, I’ve added some other awesome campaign content from videos and social media all the way to ways you can help me further this campaign’s statement below as well! With all of that being said, have a super rad day and remember — Why Not?
Who I Am
My name is Sammy Hager and I am 24 years old. I’ve been a journalist, political activist, poet, artist, and musician since I was 8 years old. It all started when I was the lead singer of a Los Angeles-based punk band, Temper Tantrum, at age 8. With that band, I travelled across the country, played some of the most famous venues in every state, and made political statements through my lyrics.
After leaving that band at age 13, I went on to create poetry and spoken word through the spoken word group, Lionlike MindState. I also was one of the youngest members of the Los Angeles Blues Society and a youth coordinator for PETA. I spent my teenage years making political statements both in and out of high school and wrote for several music magazines in the Los Angeles area.
I attended Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) as well as Charter Oak High where I was the winner of the Drama Teachers Association of Southern California (DTASC) Shakespeare Festival.
At the age of 16, like many other Californians tired of the hustle and bustle, my parents decided to move to Idaho for a chance at a quieter life that also came with the ability to finally own a family home. This is one subject I seek to actively address because we didn’t move here in 2012 to destroy your beautiful state but rather to finally have a chance to not struggle every single day with finances.
Growing up, my family was incredibly poor quite often and we resorted to food banks, WIC, selling our prized possessions, receiving loans on almost everything we owned, getting assistance from family members or the government, and pawning our valuables just to get by to the next paycheck. As a child, I was constantly worried that my younger brother would suffer so I often sacrificed my own presents and birthday parties to ensure he had everything he wanted and wouldn’t realize just how bad off we truly were.
My mother worked hard to provide for us by putting herself through college to become a pharmacy tech all while still working a job as a waitress at Denny’s. She then moved here and put herself through school again to become a Registered Nurse. Her hard work has influenced me greatly and has made me the determined person I am today. She now works at Valor Health in Emmett, Idaho.
My father is an old school punk musician that taught me what it meant to be a political activist, introduced me to both Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins (my idols), and helped me find music when I was often teased as a child for being an ‘old soul’ and loving to read and write. He now is like countless Americans across the state of Idaho that are on disability and require medical assistance in order to function. Although he has recovered from this particular issue recently, he was also an opioid addict that abused his medication out of sheer pain and misery.
One thing I am very proud of is the fact that they do own a home in Kuna now and my now 15-year-old brother doesn’t have to face the struggles I once faced.
When we moved here, I began to work for a music magazine, The Exposition, writing about countless bands in the Idaho area and covering the Treefort Music Festival yearly. Over time, that magazine split into two and I chose to focus on creating my own magazine instead.
A lot of things became clear to me at this time as I lost my best friend to a medical insurance problem which led to his Type 1 Diabetes being the death of him. Shortly after he passed, I met my future husband, Joel Hager, and began to formulate Idaho’s largest music magazine, Boise Pulse Music.
From the age of 18 to 21, I successfully ran the magazine alongside Joel and also published multiple novels as well. After choosing to shut down the magazine and pursue a career in journalism, environmental activism, and tech for the greater good, I went on to write for major publications like Politico, Eco Magazine, Her Money, PopSugar, BuzzFeed, Red Hat Developers, The Hollywood Reporter, and Business.
Now, I focus most of my efforts on helping my amazing husband raise his adorable and incredibly sarcastic nine-year-old (my stepson), Josh, running my marketing business, working alongside the Sunrise Movement to raise awareness of climate change issues, serving as an ambassador for the natural disaster relief organization, FIT, and running a 5K every month to lose weight and honor my best friend that passed so unexpectedly.
Now that you know a bit more about who I am and some of my credentials for running such a unique campaign, let’s get into what this campaign actually is not only to me but to Democrats across the entire state of Idaho.
What I'm Doing
Make no mistake; this is NOT your ordinary campaign. Why? Well, first of all, I don’t necessarily care about winning. Although it would be pretty hilarious to be the first person to contest my opponent AND then win, I’m not putting my name in the race to be another politician smiling for the cameras, kissing babies, and shaking hands.
Instead, my main focus is making a very clear and very powerful statement to the out-of-touch politicians of Idaho: You are not untouchable and your seats aren’t permanent.
In a heavily red state, the Democratic and Progressive candidates are all too often ignored or forgotten. Sure, their ideas actually stem from caring about the residents in their district and their goals are genuine and rooted in the community. However, because of the well-off and often corrupt individuals that hit the voting booths and never miss a meeting or town event, their voices go unheard in the unsettling ‘corporate interests’ cacophony.
This is where I come in. I’m not a squeaky clean politician with a shiny smile and a suit. I don’t take money from major corporations and always vote for my party interests even if I don’t fully agree with them. I’m just your average American with absurd decorations for every Holiday that brings banana bread to my neighbors and always pets every dog as I run on the green belt. While some people see this as a disadvantage, I see it as an opportunity to make a difference from a position that few other politicians can claim.
Instead of simply creating articles that detail candidates’ voting records or explain why they truly aren’t for the people they claim to care about most, I contacted my local Democratic Party Committee. After talking on the phone briefly, I opted to sign up for a race I didn’t know existed until I called against a candidate that has never been contested simply to let him know he’s not invincible no matter how many people are beguiled by his charm or how many companies fund his re-election.
After years of watching the comedy routine that is politics on every level, I decided to do something unique and see what comes of it. Throughout this campaign, I will make a series of political statements ranging from the media appearances I make, the endorsements I receive, the way I fundraise, the content I release, and the ways that I connect with the people in my district and beyond.
So, now, the big question is why I am doing it to begin with. For that, we have to go back to my roots.
Why I'm Doing It
Let me take you back for a moment to 2007 in the relatively small town of Covina, California. I’m 12 years old and I have time after school to go on YouTube and find out more about my icon, Jello Biafra. It’s my favorite pastime at this point. Although he’s mostly known for his work as the lead singer and songwriter of The Dead Kennedy’s, he’s also a political activist, spoken word artist, and the reason I continue to stay strong even when I’m made fun of for being the ‘smart kid’ in school.
On this particular day, I find an old video of my idol from 1979—and my worldview is completely changed. In the video, a story is outlined of a young Jello Biafra standing up to the corporate government and running for Mayor of San Francisco against Diane Feinstein. With almost no chance of winning, Biafra makes a statement that lasts for decades and motivates me to become a political activist from that day on.
While my political statements back then were mostly against how my middle school handled bullying allegations, this one moment slowly shaped the person I am today and the campaign I am running as of now. Having said that, the reason why I am running this campaign is not to have a career in politics or to lie in order to get a position of power. I don’t plan on schmoozing with industry leaders and making deals behind closed doors. Instead, my reason for doing this has everything to do with one quote from Jello Biafra’s 1979 run for Mayor of San Francisco:
“For those of them who have seen my candidacy as a publicity stunt or a joke, they should keep in mind that it is no more of a joke and no less of a joke than anyone else they care to name.”
What I Need From You
Through this campaign, I have three main goals. 1) To make a political statement that stretches far beyond this position and resonates with hard-working individuals unsure if they can truly run a campaign or not. 2) To make it crystal clear that positions of power that represent the people belong to the people and not whoever pads the campaign bank account most. 3) To hopefully raise awareness of major political and social issues that are all too often given the cold shoulder in Idaho so others can walk the path I’ve paved and win with ease.
So, what do I need from you? Well, whether you’re a hard-working Meridian resident that is tired of politicians pretending to stand up for you but really fulfilling the interests of their donors, an Idahoan that is so incredibly ready to see someone be unabashedly honest for once during a campaign, or simply a person that has no ties to Idaho but likes what I’m doing, I want you to share this message with your friends and family.
I also would love it if you would donate to the campaign so I can take this as far as humanly possible for as long as I’m allowed. If you can help me in these two ways, together, we can create a campaign that is the antithesis of modern politics and prove once and for all that the people have a voice and these candidates are crazy for not listening to it!
The Issues I Care About
Living off Pine, it takes me roughly five minutes just to back out of my driveway and hit the road. Traffic is becoming a major issue in Meridian—and Idaho as a whole—but people like my opponent serve on the Transportation and Defense Committee yet make no apparent changes to our infrastructure to fix this. When elected, I will ensure that I too will serve on this committee, do the research, and don't just sit around hoping someone else will come up with a solution. I will actively fight for a solution that helps our residents and still ensures that our city remains similar to its younger self. I will also provide countless construction workers with jobs as these changes will likely take time to complete. Lastly, I will work to also have sidewalks and bike paths on every city street in our district so our children can ride their bikes safely and pedestrians don't have to walk in the gutter to get by.
I rent my home right off Pine but, like many Meridian residents, my rent increases every year because of property tax increases that my opponent whole-heartedly supported. This simply shouldn’t be the case when companies are getting property tax and other tax breaks regularly in our state. That’s why I support property tax revisions and rent control plans in Idaho to ensure that prices don’t go up simply because new people come into The Gem State. I also support temporary housing for the homeless and immigrants so they can get on their feet without being on the streets. Furthermore, I don't agree that people with criminal records should immediately be denied access to public housing and I also feel that housing discrimination is absolutely abhorrent. This is why I support laws that reduce these harsh rulings on felons and support racial equality protection in every aspect of our society. No one should be denied adequate housing simply because of their past, the color of their skin, or their age, for that matter.
My father is a Type 2 Diabetic with bone spurs in his knees, severe depression, and a past of opioid abuse and addiction to ease his pain. He is also a veteran and a Republican. Despite how much he relies on his government to help him, they consider his knee replacements 'elective surgeries' and so, he lives in pain each and every day. My best friend died in 2013 from a faulty insulin pump as a Type 1 Diabetic simply because his medical insurance didn’t cover his usual pump brand. He went out with friends, did not realize his pump was no longer working, came home, and immediately suffered a diabetic seizure that led to a 3 month coma. His sister pulled the plug on him the day our favorite band came out with their new album. I have a tattoo of the album cover on my forearms to remember him. My mother is a nurse that cries almost every day because she doesn’t feel she can give her patients the care they deserve simply based on the coverage they have. She has watched many of her patients die or be sent home to die with nothing she can do about it. My mother also used to work at South Boise Women's Correctional Center (SBWCC) as the head pharmacist and nurse. She often tells me stories of the stress and pain a lot of these women faced despite marijuana charges and other menial charges of that sort as they often can't receive the medical attention they deserve and desperately need. A woman died of cancer in her jail cell because they considered her tumor removal to be an 'elective surgery'. In the greatest country in the world, people like them shouldn’t have to suffer based on the coverage they receive or the vital care they need. This is why I support Medicare for All no matter how questionable it may seem to some.
My stepson has ADHD and struggles with paying attention in class. He often trails off, has a hard time with topics he doesn’t fully enjoy, and forgets what he’s supposed to be doing. From the first day he attended Meridian Elementary up until now, the entire staff have done everything in their power to make him still succeed and feel loved and understood. This is why I support not only educators and raising their income nationwide but also support special education programs, STEM programs, after-school programs, and school funding increases without fail. I also feel that there should be more systems put in place to reduce schools' dependence on fundraisers for survival. This is quite literally the foundation of our future and it is far too often treated as an oversight by corporate politicians and big business leaders. Furthermore, I feel that Germany's school system has much to learn from and that a certain level of separation in high school by trade is essential. Young adults that are not planning on pursuing a career which requires higher level math or science would benefit far more from courses related to their career path rather than physics or trigonometry courses. This is how we keep young minds engaged and prepare students for the bright futures ahead of them instead of expecting them to flourish in topics they have no interest in to graduate. Lastly, I feel that basic 'adult skills' courses should be mandatory in every school across the nation as far too many young adults have no idea how to file for their taxes, register to vote, repair a popped tire, or even make a proper resumé.
Although my stepson is not my biological child, I know far too many mothers that not only struggle with finances but also struggle with how short maternity leave is. Furthermore, I know many fathers that also didn’t receive any paternity leave whatsoever. This should not be the case. A child’s life is more important than a few weeks of work. That is why I support paid maternity and paternity leave as well as financial support for struggling families statewide. On top of this, daycare programs should be accessible for far less than they are now so working parents can put food on their tables and not worry about when their next paycheck will arrive. Lastly, I believe that all new parents should be given the ability to take parental training courses free of charge. If a family is not fit to raise a child due to drug abuse, domestic violence, or pedophilia (to name a few), they should be forced to either actively prove their changed behaviors (primarily in drug use cases) or give up parental rights so less children are abused, neglected, sexually assaulted, or murdered simply because the abuse is not recognized in time.
The Right To Choose
Before I met my husband, he was engaged to the mother of his son. They were expecting a second child when they found out that the little girl would effectively be born without a brain. Unfortunately, the doctors discovered this too far along the line so they were forced to induce labor and then let their newborn child live briefly before passing. The worst part? Many of the doctors and nurses refused to work with my husband and his fiancé because it went against their religious beliefs. The worst day in their lives was met with silence and smirks by staff that didn't even begin to try to understand the situation. The reason this matters is because situations like this happen every day. Additionally, women are sexually assaulted, children are molested by adults, and teenagers make lasting mistakes. I don’t feel that they should suffer and welcome an unwanted child into this world to be cast into an unforgiving adoption system when the choice should rather be their own from the start. Although I am not pro-abortion, I am most certainly pro-choice. There are far too many circumstances I couldn’t even begin to fathom that deserve a freedom of choice and I stand by that decision without fail. I would rather have multiple women abuse this choice than have a single child born into this world feeling unwanted and unloved from day one. For those that are pro-life, I implore you to think about what that truly means. Are you pro-life or simply pro-birth? If you truly feel that you are pro-life, wouldn't you want children to be born into homes that provide them with healthy and happy lives instead of abusive violence, sexual violence, and neglect? Having said this, when thinking about how many children are immediately cast into the foster system or don't have a chance from day one because of horrendous living situations, do you truly feel that it was better to allow this person to give birth to their inevitable 'victim'? Just think about next time you immediately reject pro-choice policies. That's all that I ask.
Sensible Gun Reform
In June of last year, my husband and I hadn’t noticed the light had turned green right at the intersection of Pine and Meridian. A man behind us honked aggressively. In our car was my stepson and my 14-year-old brother. Once we turned, the man pulled up to us and proceeded to point a fully-loaded .38 Revolver at my husband’s head with his finger on the trigger. He had to reach over his own child to do so. When we reported this incident to the police, the man was arrested and they later found drug paraphernalia in his car, alcohol in his system, and the gun in his glove box. This is what it means to be unfit to own a gun. As someone that respects gun owners, has absolutely no problem with hunting, wouldn’t be opposed to owning a gun myself, and doesn’t see why an American can’t own an AR-15 if they are trained properly, my only goal with gun reform is to simply ensure lunatics like this man are unable to own a gun and put countless lives at risk in doing so. In this same vein, I believe domestic abuse victims should be able to receive training in gun use and the right to own a gun as well as protection in the form of removing guns from the homes of their abusers for a certain period of time.
Student Debt/ Tuition
One of our close friends is an alumni of BSU that graduated and now works for an amazing company in downtown Boise. Despite how much she makes and how successful she is, the student loan debt of going to college looms over her daily. She’s now considering postponing her wedding until she pays off her debt even though she knows she’s with the man of her dreams. In a competitive market that requires higher education to succeed, my friend shouldn’t have to put her future on hold just to pay off her outrageous debt. This is why I support making higher education a right and not a privilege for all. Parents shouldn’t rely on their children to become superstar athletes or valedictorians to have a chance at a full-ride scholarship. Instead, we provide higher education just as we do K-12 and watch our society flourish in doing so. I also encourage daycare programs for college students that are also parents so they can receive a higher education no matter what their busy lives consist of. Lastly, I feel that there should be more protection plans for college students that are straight lied to by colleges about the likelihood that they will receive a position in their dream career after they graduate. Far too many career colleges—such as Corinthian—claim success rates that are nowhere near the truth and lead hardworking Americans down a debt-ridden rabbit hole with no end in sight. This is unacceptable given the current price of college courses and the state of our job industry as a whole.
Fair Wages/Homeless Aid
Before I started my business officially, I chose to focus on setting up the infrastructure whilst working as a server and bartender. During this time, my lease expired and I could not find another place to live for the life of me. Because I never truly made enough as a server even with my husband’s income as a part-time developer, I found myself living in my car with my husband. We were fortunate to have not received custody of my stepson yet but during this time, we slept in a WalMart parking lot, I showered at a Planet Fitness, and every penny I made went towards bills and debt. Also, because I worked in the food serve industry, sick days or days to try and meet with property managers were out of the picture. I quickly learned what it felt like to be disposable and displaced. I relied on food banks to survive and the generosity of friends and coworkers. With time and dedication, I turned one client into five and five into ten until we finally had enough to rent a home and still pay our bills on time. I remember the first time I took a shower in my new home and the first time I slept on a mattress again. These are not luxuries. These are basic human rights that far too many Americans go without daily. Now that I own my own business, when I am sick, I can take a day off. That is also not a luxury. This is why I not only support an increased minimum wage but also support assistance for those in need and temporary housing programs for the displaced, immigrants, and homeless so they can get back on their feet without losing their basic human rights. I also support mandatory sick days for full-time employees as human life and well-being should always come before working at Red Lobster or some other job capable of doing fine without you for one shift. Meanwhile, my opponent voted to decrease health and welfare supplementation even in the child division. In fact, his property tax increases could very well be the reason for some of the displacement we are seeing in our district this very minute.
Marijuana & Hemp
Growing up on the beach, there was nothing better than some Sublime and 311 music, playing volleyball in the sand, riding our longboards all day, and then ending the fun sitting around a bonfire and smoking a joint. Yeah, I said it. I’ve smoked weed. In fact, I happened to like it quite a bit. I also happened to see the positive effects both marijuana and CBD have had on people with countless ailments ranging from Parkinson’s all the way to Epilepsy. You see, I don’t think it’s too progressive to be like the various states surrounding us and legalize the ‘drug’ that’s led to countless unnecessary incarcerations in our state. Marijuana has helped many states to pay for so many major improvements across the board and continues to be a highly profitable business. In fact, I also support the growing and manufacturing of hemp and hemp products in Idaho as well. Not only are they environmentally friendly plants but they are proven to help agriculture and support farmers even during the worst of times in our country. Hemp can also be used in lieu of cotton and concrete making it a highly sustainable resource for multiple industries worldwide.
Another major reason my family moved to Idaho is because our family all stems from the Basque country and Italy. Basque culture is prevalent in our state but the rest of Hispanic culture often gets ignored. As someone that respects cultural diversity and comes from one of the most culturally diverse cities in America (Los Angeles), I strongly support the funding of cultural programs and groups across the state. While I don’t claim to be a POC, I understand the value in supporting these individuals and showing them that they are both welcomed and appreciated in Meridian and beyond. I also spoke with an amazing student at Boise State University recently named Ryann Banks that is fighting for inclusivity on campus. After hearing what she said, I truly feel that there should be more efforts made to denounce systemic racism, stereotyping, ableism, and delegitimizing both individuals with disabilities as well as individuals that are not caucasian in our society as a whole.
I am proud to say that I am a sapiosexual, or bisexual individual under the right circumstances. However, it took me over 20 years to accept this about myself and it was only when I met my husband that I finally felt comfortable stating that intelligent people of any sex grab my attention without fail. I grew up in the punk scene in Los Angeles and was taught everything I know about being a badass, standing strong in the face of adversity, and doing the best cat eye makeup without a stencil by some of the fiercest drag queens and LGBTQ+ advocates on the planet. As such, I have never once thought of any member of this community as an outcast or someone that doesn’t deserve the very same rights I am privileged to have on a daily basis. I never felt the sting of being an LGBTQ+ individual because I never actually felt the need to share this part of myself with anyone. Despite this, I have witnessed the discrimination, bullying, and hatred on multiple occasions throughout my life—and it is disgusting. This is why I support gay marriage, LGBTQ+ rights and protections in the workplace, Trans athletes’ rights, LGBTQ+ adoptions, and multiple other major reforms in the name of equality in Idaho. I also support LGBTQ+ education in high school settings so we can nip this discrimination in the bud and feel that support resources should be found in every school and setting where young adults are found in case they don't have support from their friends and family members and need help understanding their feelings or identity. Oh, and in case you need it completely spelled out for you, I have never and WILL never support the 'Trans/Gay Panic Act' and the horrendous individuals that use it as an excuse to murder or hurt innocent people they don't 'understand'.
My grandfather is a veteran that actually served in the same army battalion as Elvis Presley. Although he was fortunate enough to not come home with any kind of major injury or lasting mental health condition, he knows countless other friends of his that served by his side which weren’t so fortunate. These veterans are all too often forgotten by our government and it’s simply not okay. I will commend my opponent for his service as I support our troops but also feel that our children should not be sent to fight in wars solely based on greed and power. This is why I support VA funding and mental health programs for veterans as well as government assistance for those injured during their service. I also agree with countless veterans that state that the wars we are currently involved in are worthless and lead to the deaths of brave young men and women nationwide unnecessarily. This is why I feel that our veterans should be honored and our children should be spared from the lasting scars that war leaves behind.
One of the big reasons I began this journey is because my opponent is someone that has never been contested by a Democrat in all 8 years of his service for our community. This isn’t because he’s the best choice for our district. Instead, it’s because there was no one willing to run against him. I find this to be unacceptable given how many people live in our district and could absolutely run a successful campaign. During this election, I’m sure my credentials will be questioned often. My response to this is while I may not know everything, you don’t need a degree in political science to recognize that there should never be an uncontested election. It’s sad that, despite my lack of experience, I still have more qualifications based on compassion and human decency alone. This is why I support down-ballot voting initiatives, teaching young adults about how to run for political positions in their local government, and enacting term limits on government officials from the bottom up. I also support making voting days paid holidays in every state, making polling locations more accessible, keeping a close eye on voter suppression and considering it to be a felony offense, eliminating open primaries so 'trolls' can't interfere in our elections, and reducing the legal age to vote to 16 so young adults beginning their careers have a say in their government from the start.
As an environmental activist and ambassador for the Natural Disaster Relief organization, FIT, I understand just how dangerous treating climate change as a hoax truly is. My opponent is backed by Altria, one of the largest tobacco companies in America. Every year, tobacco smoking leads directly to the emission of 2,600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and about 5,200,000 tonnes of methane. Senator Jim Risch is also backed by what he calls ‘clean coal’ companies, oil companies, and mining companies that also degrade our beautiful state. As such, I want to openly state that I will never take donations from companies in these fields and will also openly endorse climate change reform and the Green New Deal. I implore anyone that has not read the Green New Deal to do so as it is only 14 pages and details exactly how this plan would create jobs—not cut them, allow us to work with foreign leaders towards a GND plan in every country, assist in homelessness and poverty, ensure that corrupt companies are held accountable for their actions, and create a livable future for the youth of tomorrow. It is through these open endorsements of these initiatives that I truly hope these issues will become more prevalent in down-ballot elections across the state to keep Idaho as naturally beautiful as it was when I first moved here in 2012.