A business woman and diplomat, Eleni Kounalakis voiced rural health care concerns and pointed to economic development and affordable, quality vocational training and higher education as top priorities.

Lt. Governor candidate Eleni Kounalakis visited with Siskiyou County residents Thursday at both the home of Kevin and Alice Rogers and Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta.

It was part of a summer road trip to the State of Jefferson and other parts of far Northern California for Kounalakis, a business woman and diplomat who was appointed by President Obama as Ambassador to Hungary in 2010 – the first Greek American woman ambassador in US history.

Day 3 of her road trip included stops in Glenn, Tehama, Shasta and Siskiyou counties and was followed the next two days by visits in Modoc, Lassen, Plumas, Sierra and Nevada counties.

Kounalakis received a briefing on rural health care issues at Mercy Mt. Shasta, according to a release, and stated her concerns about potential cuts to MediCal: “The impact of potential cuts to MediCal from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act could be devastating to families in rural California. Hospitals like Mercy Medical Center and the families who use rural health care facilities need to be listened to when it comes to understanding the way forward on health care.”

Tim Stearns, one of the group that met with Kounalakis in Mount Shasta, wrote that she stated two of her top priorities are economic development and affordable, quality vocational training and higher education.

“Eleni stresses the need to create good-paying jobs in every part of the state – including in Siskiyou County, and says she will actively work to help make that happen,” according to Stearns. “She discussed the importance of good internet access for rural California.”

As described in her release, Kounalakis is a life-long Democrat and five-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She worked as an advocate for early childhood education as a member of California's First 5 Commission, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

She was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to lead the California International Trade and Investment Advisory Council and served as a member of the San Francisco Port Commission. Prior to serving in the country’s diplomatic corps, she was president of AKT Development Corporation in Sacramento, where she grew up. She is a graduate of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and Dartmouth College.

She and her husband, Markos, live in San Francisco where they are raising their two sons.

On her campaign website, www.eleniforca.com, she is described as “the proud daughter of an immigrant father who came to California from Greece at 14 years old, alone and penniless. Her mother was an elementary school teacher who hand-sewed matching outfits for Eleni and her three siblings. Her father started out as a farm worker outside of Sacramento, and he used the values of hard work, education, and determination to realize the American Dream.”

In 2015, Eleni published her biography, “Madam Ambassador: Three Years of Diplomacy, Dinner Parties, and Democracy in Budapest.”

She states that, as Lt. Governor, she will advocate to reduce costs and increase access to California schools, stand up for a woman’s right choose and for equal rights for all Californians.

She supports a woman’s right to choose and equal rights for all Californians. She believes “our economy thrives when we create good paying jobs and affordable health care for all and that means making higher education and vocational training more affordable for all Californians.”