After 4,000 handshakes, you learn a thing or two about the needs of people from all walks of life in District 10 and the issues/challenges with which they are grappling. Here are the biggest questions I have been asked and my thoughts and feelings on how we address them as a community. I hope this aids in helping voters to understand how I – as an Independent – can more clearly see the specific needs of our community, without the tainted lenses of demands from special interests or the political establishment.
Why are you running for US Congress?
I’m running for Congress because I want to help move Michigan and America forward. I’ve been advising global tech companies for 20+ years. After coming back home and spending a lot of time over the past couple of years here in Michigan, I see our political system failing us, while the rest of the world is rushing forward at lightning speed. I’ve watched as our current elected officials want to argue daily about this morning’s tweets or some other distracting point instead of important legislation that strengthens America’s long-term economic stability. They argue, “I’m right” and “you’re wrong” daily. Where has this yelling, anger and stagnation gotten us? Basically nowhere. That’s why my website has a Priorities page which lays out my core focus for getting America and specifically our community, to move forward again. Without a solid economic foundation to sustain our region and our nation’s future (our children’s future), I’m afraid we will look back in 10-20 years and think, “while we were arguing about these issues, the rest of the world rushed forward and we lost focus on our economy, our children’s education and our leadership in the world.”
Why as an Independant?
I’m running as an Independent because I don’t exclusively subscribe to the talking points of either of the two parties. Both only force talking points on their candidates, instead of our candidates representing our communities as they are supposed to. Both the Democrats and Republicans are using emotional social issues to divide us and push us further away from one another. It is often used as an excuse to manipulate or drag their feet on fixing real issues like our continued explosion of debt, creating skilled jobs/labor force, stabilizing our economy, infrastructure investments, etc., which we need to focus on in order to ensure we have a strong foundation and future for our families and children.
My platform is truly common sense solutions, not party talking points. It is about moving America forward not just talking about it. It spans both Republican and Democratic ideas that a majority of us can agree with, instead of arguments that only get 50% of the population to agree with at best at any given point in time. Regarding Independents, the sentiment around this election is unlike any election we have experienced before. The number of Independents running around the country is unprecedented. Almost every single person I have spoken with feels they need/want another option. They don’t want to waste their votes again on the same two parties that have put us in this gridlock system today. Only with support from everyone who really wants their voice represented again, and to be heard over the two parties’ agendas, #WeCanFixThis!
What do you think of Trump?
Trump, Bernie and even Obama in 2008 under his “Change” campaign, all represented the anger and disenfranchisement voters feel about the political establishment, which no longer represents us, the voters! Trump’s surprise election was America’s deepest plea to blow this system up and try to “drain the swamp.” Trump has done exactly what he promised in his campaign: Sow chaos by shaking up the political norms. Norms that have been failing the vast majority of us. But as my uncle, who’s an ardent Trump-supporter, very eloquently stated, “He needs to stop acting like a teenager with a new cell phone and focus on getting things done, not insulting everyone.” Personally, I want to see every President succeed in making America learn from her mistakes and become stronger. We needed this shake up, but real, lasting changing begins at the bottom, with those aligned with their communities, not political parties. That’s why I’ve chosen to run as an Independent. As you will see in my profile, my priorities are about helping our community, Michigan and America all move forward. I hold no allegiance with one issue, parties, individuals or big money donors. My only allegiance is with us, the voters. Our voices have been taken from us and given to the highest bidder. I aim to change that.
What are your priorities for our community?
As a fiscal conservative, my top priority is to ensure that America’s economy is stable and sustainable for the long-term. If unemployment goes above 15% again, like 2010, these other issues all become noise in the background and families just worry about putting food on the table. Both parties have lost ALL credibility when it comes to fiscal matters and both believe America is a bottomless piggy bank for their donors. With national debt exceeding $21 trillion and adding over $1 trillion in annualized deficit spending beginning next year, we are toying with disaster at our future’s expense. Adding debt when China is our biggest international lender doesn’t make sense. This is the exact opposite of ‘stable’ and we should all be gravely concerned. Solutions begin with fixing our debt issue by going after the clear and easy ideas we all agree upon, namely, close all loopholes, simplify and extend personal tax rates. #WeCanFixThis
Secondly, we must make the American Dream affordable again. We must control healthcare costs. I have spoken to hundreds of families throughout our district who make decent middle-class income, but are afraid that one serious illness will bankrupt them. It shouldn’t be this way. The easy solutions that we, as voters, all agree upon are that we must put caps on pharmaceutical prices and hospital costs that have gone out of control because of monopolies on drugs and incentives to drive services instead of improving patient health. We must separate the financial incentives that encourage doctors to prescribe drugs and services instead of prescribing what is right and needed for the patient. #WeCanFixThis
We must fix our K-12 education system and costs associated with higher education. We must get back to teaching our kids skills, not teaching to a test. We know that college isn’t the right choice for every single kid. We need to be providing all of our kids the right options for their futures once they leave school and enter the world. This will enable them to become strong members of society and the workforce with the necessary foundational skills to succeed at whatever profession and direction they choose. #WeCanFixThis
We must get college costs under control by ensuring that degrees can be paid off in a reasonable amount of time based on the respective job, not an entire lifetime. My sister has been a teacher and administrator for special needs children for almost 30 years and at 49, she still is paying off her college debt. This isn’t right for any of us. I have heard dozens of stories of 20- and 30-somethings prolonging buying homes, having kids or even moving out from their parent’s home because of the overwhelming debt they had to accumulate in order to achieve their American Dream. #WeCanFixThis
Lastly, rebuild our local and rural communities. As much as I believe we must leverage our expertise in manufacturing to attract other manufacturing industries besides auto, I also believe that we need to evolve with the rest of world and look past ‘what we’ve known’ to ‘what is possible.’ What I mean by this is that the largest driver of the global economy is technology. I’ve been working with tech companies for over 20 years and whether you are a factory worker, farmer or computer programmer, technology is impacting each and every single one of us in various degrees. We need to embrace that, not fear it. How? We must make broadband fast, stable and universal – exactly the same way electricity is provided – because broadband has become just as important for a business’ success as stable electricity is. I have heard time and again about kids who want to move back to their hometowns in Michigan’s 10th District, but can’t because their jobs are dependent on fast and stable Internet connections. I was the perfect example of this. For years, I would come home and spend 3 or 4 weeks at a time with my parents in Deckerville, but it was difficult to do so because either their Internet was slow or wasn’t working. We can have our small towns thriving again with remote workers, entrepreneurs and mobile technology employees who only need a fast and stable Internet connection to make a solid income. #WeCanFixThis
Where do you stand on the hot-button issues of today?
I believe all the labels, name-calling and angry rhetoric is meant to divide us and entrench the two parties’ arguing points rather than finding common sense solutions to hot-button issues. I’ve spent my career negotiating. It is rarely easy and takes someone who knows how to give and take on various aspects. Only then can a compromise/deal be achieved. No one should ever walk away getting 100% of what they wanted, because that would not represent what is best for a majority of Americans. #WeCanFixThis but it will take common sense politicians who go straight to the heart of these issues, examining their origins and trying to solve them while adhering to their core principles.
It’s been 45 years since the Supreme Court legalized abortion and this issue continues to divide our country. Abortion should never be viewed as a routine form of birth control and we should strive to significantly reduce the number of abortions. Endless legislative and court battles have only widened the divide without addressing the underlying problem of unwanted pregnancies. I believe we should undertake a national effort to reduce unwanted pregnancies through more effective and comprehensive health education, availability of birth control, and school counseling that emphasizes responsible decision making by young people.
Immigration is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive approach and an understanding of a lot of details about what works at economically feasible levels. Clearly, this must include, strengthening our borders, addressing the 11 million undocumented immigrants already here, accounting for the jobs gap that exists in America, as well as looking at the root causes of why people are leaving their home countries in the first place. Strengthening our borders is a must. But this also requires a realistic ability to secure our borders with economically feasible costs.
- Addressing the 11 million undocumented immigrants here is a key priority for all of us to solving this issue. We must have a cost-effective and humane way of addressing this issue by identifying these individuals and bringing them out of the dark. We need to provide some legitimate status in the US. Whether it be ‘temporary work permits’ for those helping on farms around the nation, including those here in Michigan’s District 10, or addressing those who were brought here as a child by devising a path to citizenship for such individuals. This doesn’t mean we need to give voting rights to everyone, but we must think about it holistically.
- Solving the jobs gap is hugely important in order to maintain local crop production as well as fill important roles in our tech and healthcare industries. Without immigrants—who come here legally—we just don’t have enough people here to keep our economy on track or have companies like Google, Yahoo or any of the 40% of the Fortune 500 companies founded in America by immigrants. Locally, we know the need for many of the temporary farm hands our farmers employ every year since I can remember. All the way back to when I was in elementary (in the 1970’s and 80’s) temporary workers were here in Deckerville to help on farms because there weren’t enough local workers.
- Looking at the root of the issue – why are these people leaving their home countries in the first place? We need to play a role in helping our neighboring countries address the issues grappling their populations like poverty and violence—that lead people to literally risking their lives to come to America. People rarely pick up and leave their countries, their homes and their families unless they don’t have other options. Some are looking for opportunity, but the majority are looking for safety for their families, by fleeing violence and poverty. By ignoring the root of this issue, we will never be able to fully address and eliminate such major issues. Many report that the $25 billion wall would only reroute those crossing the border, and it wouldn’t address the 40% of immigrants that fly into the US. I’m not convinced a $25 billion wall is the best use of taxpayer money if we consider that the same amount could employ 10,000 security personnel earning $50,000/person/year for the next 50 years. Personally, I would prefer to pay security guards instead of outsourced contractors for a wall, but it is all certainly negotiable. Generally speaking though, this isn’t a solution on its own. It’s another detail within this complex issue.
In terms of potential solutions, I thought George Bush’s plan in 2006 was a solid combination of stronger borders and humane resolutions for the 11 million people already in the US illegally. But even Bush’s Republican-led, bipartisan solution was shot down, it makes me question if either party really wants to even try and solve this issue, or if they just want keep this hot-button issue going and increase our divisions as a nation. As an Independent, I’m not beholden to voting with one party on this issue. I have the ability to navigate and consider nuance in the details.
I’ve always been a Second Amendment supporter and continue to be. I’ve gone hunting with my family almost every year since I was 12. But we must address the increasing levels of gun violence and mass shootings plaguing our nation. I believe in common sense measures that can help increase the protection against gun violence. These common sense measures could include:
- Addressing one’s mental health and determining whether they are stable and competent enough to own or handle guns. I feel mental health issues are at the heart of these mass shootings and are not being addressed via policy and action. This doesn’t even begin to address other mental health issues like the explosion in opioid addiction, record levels of teen suicide and depression, all of which are mental health issues that need to be addressed proactively, directly and immediately.
- Prevent laws and policies that further endanger our children, police and communities at large. This would include preventing the legalization of gun accessories like bump stocks, silencers, and other such accessories that only increase the potency of weapons and mask their users. Additionally, prevent laws that only increase gun ownership by criminals like the popularized laws in Wisconsin which allow ‘habitual criminals’ to legally own conceal weapons.
We must protect our right to own guns, and not fall victim to knee-jerking reactions that can infringe upon our second amendment rights, but that does not mean advocating for policies that force people to have guns when they are not comfortable with them or simply don’t want them. This is especially true for our teachers who are trained to inspire our children, not in military survival tactics. Such policies would only turn our schools into a war zones. This is a delicate issue that needs to be treated as such, but I truly believe that we can fix this issue and once again, be able to ensure our families’ and communities’ safety.
- Social Security is not welfare or an entitlement. It is our money that we have all paid into the system and is one of the best run government programs in the world. My mom is on it, my grandparents were on it. We need to make slight tweaks to the model to ensure long-term sustainability, but certainly not privatization as some have advocated. More importantly, Congress must stop raiding Social Security to mask the true costs of many of their special interest priorities. Just because there’s a pot of money there, doesn’t mean it’s theirs to spend. Our workers pay into the system and that’s THEIR money, not Congress’.
- Medicare must be given the legal ability to negotiate drug prices. It is absurd that the largest buyer of drugs in the world cannot negotiate its prices. All developed countries around the world already have caps on pharmaceuticals and services, why doesn’t the US? We ALL agree that these prices are ridiculous. This is the very first step we must take to control costs. Secondly, when referring to healthcare, it should be an all-encompassing term. There shouldn’t be a Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D. Healthcare should and must be all-inclusive. If our eyes have problems, teeth, or heaven forbid we get cancer, it should not be necessary to have multiple insurances to ensure full coverage of our bodies and minds. This is absurd and overly complex for the vast majority of elderly to contend with while they or a loved one are sick and this must be fixed!
- Medicaid needs to be reformed, not eliminated. We are not a cruel nation. We must help those who fall on tough times. Are there some businesses and people who take advantage of this system, yes, but these numbers have been proven to be very low. Examples exists, whether it is out in the countryside or in our cities. This needs to be addressed and policed at both ends. The bigger issue is with the working poor, who, once they reach a certain threshold of earnings will see all of their welfare benefits immediately disappear. This creates a negative incentive for able people to work. This must be fixed. We need to remember that many people who are either let go from their jobs, as I was once, often need help and assistance to get going again, both professionally and emotionally. If they remain out of employment for too long, it can create depression and anxiety as they try to find new work. If they don’t find it after 6 to 12 months, often people begin to give up hope. We need a carrot and stick approach to fix this. Also, a real issue here in MI-10 is that many unemployed people simply lack the skills for today’s advanced manufacturing jobs and the money/resources to get training. All of these barriers to employment must be addressed to make sure we are giving our fellow Americans the ability and desire to work and improve their lives.
The climate is always changing. We need to address these changes to ensure our nation is protected. Even the Department of Defense states that climate change is one of the biggest security risks to the United States. When it comes to this, I believe we need to address three major issues:
- Energy Independence– We must get off our dependence of unstable international countries that only stand to destabilize our economy. Renewable energy creates that independence as well as solid advanced manufacturing jobs right here. Let’s invest in that instead of drilling for more international oil.
- Address its increasing impact on domestic land and infrastructure– We know that storms are becoming fiercer, fires more pervasive and sea levels are rising. All will impact our nation from Florida to Iowa to California. We must preventatively address these issues in a holistic way instead of reactive crisis management as we currently do. States are going to require hurricane relief, California is going to require wildfire relief, along the Mississippi River flooding relief will be required. We need a holistic plan to plan for these eventualities and to properly prepare and fund them. No matter where these events occur, each instance costs our country as a whole – no matter where we live – too much economically.
- Understanding and protecting our environmental foundation– We have all become keenly aware of how quickly man’s impact can devastate environments. We know the impact of coal usage back in the early part of the last century and see it repeated again in China and India today. We see the impact that the rapidly declining bee population is having on our nation’s ability to pollinate and grow crops. If we don’t research, address, invest and solve these big and small issues today, we may soon find we won’t be able to simply feed ourselves. We must understand our impact on our environment overall and address these issues to ensure our long-term survival.