Responses are from the candidates and have not been edited.
International trade and business professional; M.A. in International Relations & Economics, Johns Hopkins School of International Studies; B.A. in Political Science & International Studies, University of Kansas; Consultant at The Cohen Group; Founder & Executive Director, the Middle East & North Africa Consultants Association; CEO, ImEpik; Development Director, Clean Energy Business Council; Board of Wichita Area Sister Cities
I have a one-year-old son.
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Video Extra: From the Candidate
What is your response to the Black Lives Matter movement?
Black lives matter, period. I support the peaceful protests demanding change to our policing and judicial systems to finally deal with structural racism in this country. We must recognize that people of color experience a very different reality in this country. It is more than past time for us to review and reform where structural racism is causing our communities of color harm. To that end, our campaign created a Civil Rights Advisory Board to discuss and create a set of policies to deal with structural racism in this country.
What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?
We must first acknowledge there is a problem with structural racism in our country and understand our nation’s long struggle with racial inequality. We can work toward creating a system where everyone truly is on equal footing through reforms of our educational system, electoral rights, and economic programs. In addition, we need to address inequality in sentencing, abolish private prisons, reform civil asset forfeiture laws, and eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing. Legalizing marijuana and expunging past marijuana-related criminal records will greatly help lower incarceration rates as well.
Are you in favor of police reform? If so, what should it look like?
Wichita is becoming an example of what good police reform can look like. Wichita has acknowledged it had a problem and is taking concrete steps toward fixing it. In response to calls for police reform, even before the death of George Floyd, the police department has emphasized community policing, de-escalation, and anti-discrimination training. In addition, the department is now utilizing the assistance of social workers whenever possible. In response to George Floyd’s death, the city created a citizen’s review board to determine more changes and hold police accountable. These are the types of reforms that should be made nationally.
In addition, Congress should create a federal registry of police misconduct complaints and disciplinary actions. Federal officers should be required to wear body cameras, only use deadly force as a last resort after de-escalation is attempted and in truly life-threatening situations, and prohibit chokeholds or other lethal holds. Federal funding to state and local law enforcement should depend on these agencies adopting similar policies. In the same vein, additional funding should be provided to state and local police for de-escalation and anti-discrimination training.
What are your thoughts on how the U.S. has responded to the coronavirus pandemic? What would you want to be done differently?
With 200,000 people dead in less than a year and our economy in one of the most significant downturns since the Great Depression, one cannot say that the federal response has been sufficient. The Trump Administration purposely downplayed the severity of the virus to the public; the messaging around the virus has been erratic and often harmful to ensuring a robust public health strategy. Other countries have been able to contain the virus to levels where they can go back to mostly normal activities. There continues to be a roadmap to containing the virus – even before a vaccine — if we choose to take it; however, the messaging and lack of a nation-wide strategy from the White House continues to delay this containment from happening.
Legislatively, the passing of the CARES Act by Congress in the spring was a good start to responding to the virus’s health and economic implications, but it was insufficient by itself. We must pass a version of the HEROES Act and continue to help individuals, small businesses, and states weather this storm until the virus is under control. We must also pass forward-thinking legislation that will help drive an economic recovery.
Do you support more stimulus money? If so, how should Congress pay for the stimulus?
Families and communities are hurting. We must ensure that people who are out of work due to the coronavirus are able to keep their homes, put food on the table, and otherwise stay financially afloat until the economy gets back on track. We need to ensure our communities, our hospitals, our schools, and small businesses can combat the virus effectively and stay financially afloat. I support a stimulus package that will accomplish those goals. Congress should pay for the stimulus by ensuring that corporations and the very wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.
What are the top 3 things you think deserve your immediate attention in Washington and what action would you take on them, including how you’d compromise with members of the other party?
The top three things that deserve our attention include: 1) combatting the coronavirus and its economic implications, 2) our healthcare system to ensure affordable and accessible healthcare for our citizens, and 3) dealing with climate change through promoting clean energy production, building an energy-efficient national infrastructure, encouraging sustainable agriculture, and building a clean energy economy.
To be able to work with members across the aisle to deal with these types of issues, we first must build relationships with those who we do not necessarily agree with politically. We must also look for areas of common ground. Most of the time, the disagreement is in the details or in how to address an issue. When negotiating those disagreements, we must be open to hearing the other side, giving a little on some points to be able to gain on others.
Do you believe our healthcare system needs to be reformed? If so, what will you do to change it?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) should not be withdrawn 1) during a pandemic and 2) until a new plan that will make healthcare more affordable and accessible is presented. While the ACA has its shortcomings, it has provided health insurance and healthcare to millions of Americans since its institution. One of the most significant positive developments was protecting those with pre-existing conditions. No matter what future healthcare policies may bring, this must be protected.
To improve our current health system, we need to decouple employment from having access to health insurance. A public option could also be a bridge to creating a universal healthcare system. I believe that medical professionals should make a salary commensurate with their level of training and expertise. Equally, I think that the healthcare industry should incentivize patient outcomes over profits. Our current system does the opposite, and we have some of the highest cost of healthcare with the worst patient outcomes in the developed world. A universal healthcare system emphasizing preventative medicine and patient outcomes will save lives while being more cost-efficient.
Give us your stance on gun control/2nd Amendment rights.
I believe the 2nd Amendment should be protected. My concerns around guns focus mostly on the safety of our children. As a MOMS Demand Action Gun Sense Distinction candidate, I want to promote gun safety, universal background checks, red flag laws, and ensuring weapons stay out of the hands of those who would do harm to others. I want to look at protections that will keep mass shootings from occurring in our schools and public places. I would like to work on preventing accidental child shootings and keeping weapons out of the hands of domestic abusers.
Do you think we need immigration reform and what changes would you support?
Yes, we need to ensure our legal immigrations system is substantially more efficient and humane in how it works. Additionally, we need to ensure that our guest worker programs allow for temporary immigration for key sectors needing extra support. Holding families and children in detention centers for prolonged periods under inhumane conditions is not an acceptable immigration system and should be stopped immediately. The border wall is an exorbitantly expensive and also highly ineffective measure to keep undocumented immigrants from entering our border. In recent decades, most undocumented immigrants come into the country by plane and not through the southern border. We should spend our resources on creating a system that will allow immigrants to come here legally – either permanently or on guest worker programs. Lastly, we need to ensure a path to citizenship for our Dreamers. The U.S. is their home, and they deserve to have an opportunity to become full American citizens.
What steps would you support to strengthen the nation’s security?
Over the last four years, we have lost substantial stature on the world stage and damaged our relationships with our allies. I support us repairing these damaged relationships over the next four years. I also support actions that will better hold countries like Russia and China accountable for their destructive actions toward us and our allies. As we have since 9/11, we need to continue to ensure no foreign terrorist attacks are successful on our soil and work to stop domestic terrorists from committing mass shootings or bombings in public places and schools. Beyond geopolitical threats, we need to ensure we are substantially better readied for future pandemics than we were for the coronavirus. I support ensuring our national stockpile is always up-to-date with sufficient supplies, funding the CDC and other agencies working on tracking viruses, and working with other countries to combat pandemics.
What are your thoughts on climate change? What should Congress do about it, if anything?
Climate change is the number one challenge we as humans need to tackle worldwide. I am running for office to ensure my son’s generation has a healthy environment to enjoy when they are my age and well beyond. Congress should promote clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives and policies that will both help mitigate the effects of climate change AND help us grow our economy in the 21st century. The Moving Forward Act is a great example of a plan that would not only rebuild our infrastructure but update our transportation, energy, and buildings to be energy efficient. In addition, it would create jobs, keep America competitive on the world market, and generate a stronger economy. We can also promote sustainable agriculture, protect and increase our national parks and protected federal lands, and work with industries to lower carbon emissions.
Would you vote in favor of spending bills that add to the deficit?
Unfortunately, the U.S. national debt has risen by over $6.6 trillion under President Trump, creating an expected $3.3 trillion budget deficit this year. This is the largest deficit we have seen since World War II. At the same time, we are currently in a health and economic crisis that will likely require additional investment to overcome. When I vote on spending bills, I will evaluate whether these spending measures either ensure economic and health viability of our country and/or invest in the infrastructure desperately needed to promote strong economic growth and prosperity. We can help reduce the deficit through reducing unnecessary costs and making wise investments that will increase our economic growth.