The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 15, 2010

U.S. Rep candidates answer questions

The four candidates running for the position of U.S. Representative from the Fifth Massachusetts District have all submitted statements responding to a series of questions posed by the Mosquito. The election will be held on Tuesday, November 2. They have also been invited to participate in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters on Saturday, October 16. The event will be held at the Alcott Elementary School at 93 Laurel Street in Concord.

Questions answered by the candidates

  • Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and experience.
  • Why did you decide to run for public office?
  • What are the top three priorities for the U.S. legislature today?
  • What steps would you take to improve the economy, with specifics for their impact on Carlisle?
  • Are you concerned about climate change? If so, what steps will you take?
  • Will you support continued U.S. military involvement in Iraq/Afghanistan?
  • Does U.S. immigration policy need changes? If so, what?
  • What are your views of the recent healthcare legislation?
  • How would you increase bipartisan cooperation among legislators?
  • If a bill were favored by a majority of your constituents, but did not align with your partys position, how would you vote? (Only Democrat and Republican candidates were asked this question.)

 

Tsongas Golnik Brown Clark

Niki Tsongas
(Incumbent)
Democrat, Lowell


Background

I grew up in a military family; my father was a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. I moved to Lowell after college and married Paul Tsongas. I raised my family in the Merrimack Valley, worked as a social worker at Catholic Charities in Lowell, as an attorney and as a Dean at Middlesex Community College. I was elected to Congress in 2007 where I serve on the Budget, Armed Forces and Natural Resources Committees.

I ran for Congress in 2007 because I was motivated by a lifelong commitment to public service and a desire to change people’s lives for the better. When Marty Meehan resigned in 2007 – and after my own work in community service, law and education – I felt that I could have a real impact on the quality of life for those in the Fifth Congressional District and beyond.

Priorities

We must continue to rebuild our economy and get people back to work by creating jobs and supporting small businesses. We also must keep our nation secure, and protect and provide for those who are defending it. And, we must improve the quality of the lives of the people living here by strengthening Social Security and protecting it from those who wish to privatize it, and holding health insurance, Wall Street, banks and credit card companies accountable.

Economy

I have taken a number of steps to stabilize our economy, and it’s clear small businesses are key to our recovery. That’s why I pushed for the repeal of burdensome administrative requirements, supported tax credits for companies that hire new employees, and why, when a Carlisle resident brought me the idea, I introduced legislation that would provide immediate tax relief to small businesses. I also have a small business liaison in my district office, and have held grant forums around the district to help small businesses.

Climate change

Yes, we have a generational responsibility to address global warming and our addiction to foreign oil and fossil fuels puts our economy, national security and environment at risk. But addressing climate change is not just about solving the global warming problem facing the next generation – it also creates high paying job opportunities if we invest now. The nation that harnesses the power of renewable energy now will be the nation that leads the world in the 21st century.

Military

I have opposed sending a larger commitment of U.S. servicemen and women to Afghanistan because I’ve seen firsthand, after three trips to study the situation there, that we have no clear exit strategy and the Afghan government is too corrupt to be an effective partner. It’s time for Afghans to assume responsibility for their own defense and for the U.S. to direct more resources toward our needs here at home.

Immigration

Our system of immigration is broken and we need to find a tough and practical solution. We need to secure the border, crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers, and require those here illegally to become legal by paying back taxes, learning English, paying a fine and going to the back of the line.

Health care

I supported health care reform because it will bring down health care costs for Massachusetts residents and small businesses, prohibit unfair insurance company practices such as charging a woman more than a man and denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. The bill takes an important step to help make our health care system more affordable, accessible and sustainable, but we still have more work to do.

Bipartisan cooperation

I ran for Congress because I wanted to change the tone in Washington. I have been able to gain bipartisan support for the legislation I have introduced, such as my bill to develop more protective, lighter weight body armor for our troops, and the initiatives I lead, such as reauthorizing the Renewal Communities tax incentives, which are critical to economic development in Lowell and Lawrence.

Constituents versus party

No one in Congress tells me how to vote – not my party or House leadership. I can better serve my constituents when I have their input, which I seek out in a variety of ways – by coming back to the District every weekend, by holding Congress on Your Corner meetings in every town, by holding office hours in each of my offices in Lawrence, Lowell and Acton, and by convening town hall meetings – both in person and with thousands of people by phone. ∆


Tsongas Golnik Brown Clark


John Golnik
Republican, Carlisle

 

Background

I live with my wife Phyllis, son Zeke and daughter Tillie in Carlisle and am a licensed reseller of Boston College Merchandise. As a small business owner, I understand the struggles of this economy and how we need to improve the business climate so employers can begin to hire again.

I want my kids to have every opportunity I had growing up and without our voice in Washington, I’m not sure they will have it. The people spoke loudly against massive spending measures, the healthcare bill and Cap and Trade. One only has to look to the election of Scott Brown to realize how the people felt. Yet, Congresswoman Tsongas voted for these things and with Nancy Pelosi 98% of the time.

Priorities

Jobs, jobs, jobs in no particular order. The spending, bailouts, tax increases and growing bureaucracies have created a climate of uncertainty. When a business owner doesn’t know what the cost of business will be next year, you’re afraid to hire. We need to kick start this economy. It is simply too expensive to do business here. Let’s lower the corporate tax rate, reduce over-regulation and repeal and replace the healthcare legislation – it’s a job killer.

Economy

We can improve the economy by lifting the cloud of uncertainty as I discussed above. Whether it is Carlisle or Lowell, small businesses need to know that it’s safe for them to grow and hire. I simply don’t understand legislation that keeps increasing the costs on small businesses – how can you be pro-jobs but anti-business? It’s like being pro-chicken but anti-egg; it doesn’t make any sense.

Climate change

We need to take seriously the concerns of our environment, while balancing the financial abilities and responsibilities of the families in our district. We have become a great country by continually improving what we have. Cap and Trade is an energy tax that will cost each Massachusetts family $2,000. We cannot afford it.

Let’s look at tax incentives for renewable energy creation. People will naturally begin to produce and use cleaner fuels when they are cost effective and market ready.

Military

Stability at home begins with stability abroad. I believe we must stay in Afghanistan in some capacity to ensure its stabilization and we should not tell our enemy our timeline for withdrawal. This is a breeding ground for terrorists. I know people are concerned with having our troops in harm’s way. However, I do foresee U.S. military involvement evolving to post-combat roles similar to involvement in Iraq. We still have troops stationed in Korea, Japan and Germany.

Immigration

Illegal immigrants are attracted to our country by magnets: education, healthcare and jobs. Amnesty would be the biggest magnet. We must secure our borders. Let’s enforce the existing immigration laws and if the federal government won’t do it, then let the states. This issue cuts across all of our other challenging issues like health care, education and national security.

Health care

It’s a bad bill and a job killer. It should be replaced with solutions that actually drive down costs and increase access. This bill cut Medicare reimbursements by 22%. Twenty-nine companies just requested a waiver because they can’t afford it. It includes a 2.3% excise tax on medical device manufacturers.

Let’s allow people to buy insurance across state lines increasing competition and driving down costs. Allow small businesses to pool together to buy cheaper insurance. With tort reform, not only will we see immediate cost decreases but doctors will stop practicing defensive medicine to protect against frivolous lawsuits.

Bipartisan cooperation

By being practical; part of the problem is one side goes too far, too fast and it becomes impossible for the opposing party to join in debate. Take the corporate tax rate. It’s the second highest in the world. While I would like to see it significantly lowered, let’s start by lowering it from 35% to 30%. If I go across the aisle and say, ‘Let’s drop the rate to 20%,” I’m not going to find any support for that. Measured steps and practical solutions are how you increase bipartisanship.

Constituents versus party

This question comes up more frequently now because we know we have not been listened to. I will be a voice of the people. You cannot be a Representative if you fail to LISTEN. I would not be a Congressman out of tune with my constituency. I would come back to this district whenever Congress is not in session and I would be accessible to everyone to make sure I know the concerns of people and what is going on in the cities and towns of the fifth district. ∆

Tsongas Golnik Brown Clark


Dale E. Brown
Liberty, Chelmsford

 

Background

After an early background in the rural Midwest, I earned degrees in mathematics (BS) and Computer Science (MS) with several undergraduate certificates.

My 40 years service to America included 14 years in the US Navy (Naval Intelligence) during the Vietnam and Cold War eras. Assignments included special assignment to the Officer in Charge of National Security Agency Pacific and special assignment for Chief of Naval Operations. After the Navy, I entered the national defense industry in radar and digital communications as a combat systems engineer with Sperry Gyroscope/Unisys/ Loral/Lockheed Martin and Raytheon as a senior technical support and software engineer. I am presently retired from both, managing my retirement funds.

I have not been able to find any candidate that I feel that I can trust to represent, support and protect the valuable assets (most of my life) that I have invested in this republic. If you want something done right, you might consider doing it yourself. I know that I don’t trust my present representatives and from what I have seen of current candidates, I feel that I could do a much better job myself.

Priorities

National security is always the number one priority for the federal government. Included in the national security envelope is: (1) national economic security, and (2) national sovereignty (borders, internal security) and safety (terrorism). In providing for the national security, care must be taken to (3) preserve constitutional guarantees and values of the founders.

Economy

No one area can be targeted specifically. The entire economy must be rekindled and unfortunately nothing will work immediately.

The greatest impact to rekindle the economy would be to stabilize taxes (renew Bush tax cuts) and ease regulations. Continuous change in the business environment keeps it in turmoil. Business will not expand if uncertainty exists in the business environment. Once the environment is stabilized, it will take a while for business to gain the confidence to begin to expand.

Climate change

Yes, as should everyone. I don’t necessarily believe that the entire problem is man made and can be cured by man. I believe that most of the problems are due to natural cycles in climate. I also believe that we should be researching and encouraging the development of “Green Energy” but not to the exclusion of our current energy technologies. We should be supporting our own energy needs with our own resources as we pursue newer and/or greener technologies.

Military

I will support our troops wherever they are sent, even though I do not always support some of the government policies that require us to send those troops into harm’s way. We cannot afford to carry our present involvement over the several generations that it will take to indoctrinate the Afghanis into acceptance of a central government which they have never had. Our stated reasons for entry into both Iraq and Afghanistan were accomplished successfully many years ago.

Immigration

The existing immigration policy needs to be enforced, including the “Illegal Immigration Act of 1996” which has been ignored since its passage. The situation along the Mexican border is more of a threat to our National Security than the phantom WMDs in Iraq ever were. I would support deploying the 101st airborne along the border on the Mexican side to eliminate the drug cartels and set up a 50 to 100 mile safe zone where the Navy Seabees could use indigenous labor and aid money slated for Mexico to build schools and clinics that would be the pride of Mexico. The illegal flow would probably reverse with U.S. citizens going illegal in Mexico to earn money to send back to the U.S. We would maintain this aid mission until Mexican authorities could prove that they can maintain safety in the areas.

Health care

Besides being terrible legislation that will weaken the economy, overall health care and well being of the population, and severely weaken the republic, I consider it unconstitutional. I know that this legislation was not written by our elected legislators, but by special interest groups over a period of several years. A 2,400 page piece of legislation could not be read in just a few weeks, much less be researched and written by Congress in a couple of weeks. This had to have been in the works for probably several years just waiting to be delivered.

Bipartisan cooperation

Bipartisanship in today’s two-party struggle for control of the nation is not possible. The ideological differences that have developed will not allow for bipartisan cooperation in Congress. The only solution is to elect the moderate candidates (centrists) in either party or members that are more interested in the founding principles and preserving the Constitution than their love of party. ∆


Tsongas Golnik Brown Clark


Robert Clark
Citizen Legislator, Berlin

 

Background

I have lived in Massachusetts about 30 years, during which time I’ve raised two children, who now live on their own. I’ve had a 30-year career as a computer engineer, and have worked for several small and medium-sized Massachusetts companies.

This is my first experience in politics, but I believe that’s a good thing for the voters. In my opinion, politicians lose touch with the people as they gain experience.

Very simply, I chose to run for office because I feel I’m not being represented in Washington. And one election cycle after another feels like choosing between the lesser of two evils. For others who feel this way, I wanted to give them another choice.

Priorities

Cutting spending and reducing the debt would be my top priority. Spending and borrowing are out of control with this congress, and it’s going to cause pain for our generation, and future generations. Next would be jobs. Our government must relieve the burden on the private companies who create jobs. There is a longer term problem of job exportation, which I believe can be blamed on our monetary system. The third priority is our continued occupation of countries in the Middle East. We are paying a tremendous price for this policy, and I believe it must be stopped.

Economy

Getting the national economy stabilized and reducing unemployment will provide the greatest benefit to communities like Carlisle. To do that, we need to get the U.S. government out of the banking business, out of the automotive business and out of the housing markets. If we can do this, there will be a period of adjustment, but after that we should have a healthy, thriving economy.

Climate change

I believe climate change is real, and I am concerned. There are many things that we, as individuals or corporations, can do to reduce our impact on the environment. But the question is: how can the government encourage us to do those things? First would be to remove any incentives which increase our impact on the environment. There should be a review of legislation as to its impact on the environment, and as a result, legislation should be changed or eliminated accordingly. Next, the government can help educate the public on methods of reducing their impact. Finally, incentives for alternative energy production should be increased.

Military

No. I am against the occupation of countries in the Middle East, and I would not approve funding for those efforts under the current circumstances. Although, as we leave those countries and turn them back over to the indigenous people, I would extend an offer for any assistance in forming a peaceful and prosperous society.

Immigration

I believe the current policy, which places a numerical limit on immigrants and establishes the procedures for becoming a legal citizen, are largely appropriate. However, enforcement of these policies has been lacking. I support strengthening the borders, removing the incentives to enter the country illegally, and prosecuting offenders.

Health Care

Any time you insert the federal government and insurance companies into the management of something like health care, you are guaranteed to reduce care and increase costs. I believe we need more flexibility in how we provide health care, not less. Therefore, I support repealing the recently introduced legislation and I will support future proposals which reduce government and insurance company involvement and provide more choices for consumers and fair competition among providers.

Bipartisan cooperation

By encouraging voters to support independent candidates! Truly, I believe the major party system is broken beyond repair, and this is why I’ve un-enrolled from the major parties, and am running as an independent. ∆

 


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