West Orlando News endorses Chief Val Demings for U.S. Congress.
- What are three top national legislative priorities for the country?
Gun Safety, National Security, Protecting Social Security and Medicare.
- In your district specifically, what are the three most important issues on which you believe the federal government needs to act? If elected to Congress, how would you take action on one of those issues?
* Gun Violence Prevention – Safer Neighborhoods* Increasing High School graduation rates and access to affordable college or job training programs* Protecting Social Security and Medicare for our seniors and those who will depend on those programs when they retire
- What is one thing that distinguishes you most from the other candidates in this race?
Leadership. As Orlando’s Police Chief I had to reform the way our department worked and that took leadership. By doing so, we got results – in fact, we reduced violent crime by 40% by working with the community.We are living in critical times. We need leaders who are battle tested and people focused. My 27-year career at the Orlando Police Department shows my commitment to this community and my proven leadership.
- What are the most important actions Congress can take to reduce the threat of ISIS abroad and at home?
We need to attack ISIS’s lifelines, the most important being their access to the internet and funding.Here at home, it’s all about being hyper aware of what is going on in our community. We all have an obligation to report suspicious behavior, whether it’s our neighbor, coworker, family member or friend, if you see something, say something.
- Would you support legislation seeking to make it harder for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the US? Are there any “bans” you would support in the name of national security?
No. There are no bans I would currently support.
- What do you believe is the best strategic course for the United States to take in the Syrian conflict? Do you support a Syrian no-fly zone or the U.S. enforcement of Syrian humanitarian safe zones? Why or Why not?
The Syrian Conflict is a complex and volatile issue. In Congress I will listen to and work with national security experts to take the most prudent actions possible. The United States needs to do all we can to ameliorate the conflict, but be conscious to not further destabilizing the situation.
- Would you support legislation giving U.S. authorities more access to encrypted or “dark web” communications about potential terrorist plots? What measures, if any, would you support?
- What is the single most important action Congress can take to reduce U.S. gun violence?
An individual who is too dangerous to fly, is too dangerous to buy a gun. We need universal background checks and we need to reinstate the ban on assault weapons.
- Do you support or oppose the “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act?”
I support it.
- Do you believe there is scientific evidence of climate change, and it is caused by human activity? What is your position on the Paris climate change agreement?
Global warming is an obvious problem and we know that at least half of it is manmade. I will take a long, hard look at any cap & trade proposal to ensure that it not only has the effect of reducing CO2 efficiently but also has a minimal effect on the cost of energy.
- What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
The US tax code needs to be written so that everyone is paying their fair share. I would support ending corporate tax inversions which would raise an estimated $41 billion in revenue. Billion dollar corporations, who reap enormous benefits from the American taxpayer shouldn’t be able to hide their profits in offshore accounts through paper companies that exist in name only.
- What are the most important actions Congress can take to ensure the solvency of Social Security?
Currently, only the first $118,500 of a worker’s wages are subject to the Social Security payroll tax. I would support eliminating this wage cap to significantly strengthen Social Security’s finances.I will oppose measures to replace Social Security’s guaranteed benefits. Working families depend on this guarantee when they retire and Congress made a pact with them – a pact we cannot break. I will stand up for Central Florida’s working families and fight to protect this guarantee. That’s why the National Committee to Preserve Social Security has endorsed my campaign.
- Do you support raising the minimum wage, and to what amount and by when?
I will support a $15/hour to the federal minimum wage. I grew up with two parents who worked and struggled every day of the week just to put food on the table. I know the struggle working families go through because I’ve lived it.
- Should Obamacare be overturned, left intact, or changed? Please explain.
Access to health care is still a serious concern in our community. We need to make it more affordable and accessible for all. Because of Obamacare 1.5 million people in Florida have purchased plans on the health care exchange. I would not take away these people’s healthcare by repealing the bill. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it’s a good first step. It prevents insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions, allows young adults to stay on their parent’s health insurance until age 26, and closes the donut hole for seniors. While I believe the Affordable Care Act is a good thing I also recognize it is important we continue to work on the bill to ensure is it doing the maximum amount of good.
- Do you support federal funding of health care services provided by Planned Parenthood? Why or Why not?
I support funding Planned Parenthood. Politicians do not need to be involved in these very personal decisions. These decisions need to remain between a woman, her doctor and her faith.It’s troubling to see Republicans across the country, including Governor Rick Scott here in Florida, passing sweeping antiabortion laws and trying to defund organizations that offer essential and preventative health services for women.I will continue to stand with women and work hard to protect their rights to receive access to affordable health care, birth control, and potentially lifesaving cancer screenings. I will also work hard to protect federal funding for these facilities that offer these services.
- What are the most important actions Congress can take on immigration reform?
Immigration was the fuel that built this nation. Of course, we must strengthen border security and improve workplace enforcement. But we can also build a workable compromise that deals fairly with workers, businesses, citizens, homeland security, and those awaiting legal immigration in their home countries.Congress must stop viewing immigration policy as something that can be left to rot for twenty years and then patched up with a onetime “fix”. Instead, many aspects of immigration policy(such as immigration quota and worker visa rules) will have to be adjusted every few years to reflect the changing needs of our businesses and our citizenry.
- President Obama used his executive powers to prevent the deportation of “Dreamers” – youth who came to the U.S. illegally as children with their parents. Would you support legislation to prevent Dreamer deportations? Do you support putting Dreamers on a path to citizenship?
I would support and expand the executive actions for Dreamers & their families. I support putting them on a path to citizenship.
- Would you support building a wall across the southern border?
- What congressional reform do you favor to address America’s student loan crisis?
I support student loan refinancing and offering lower interest rates to borrowers.
- Any closing remarks or other issues you would like to address?
Income inequality is a huge issue facing the people of Central Florida. It’s troubling to watch as the wage gap continues to grow.According to a recent study from the Economic Policy Institute, Florida has the fifth highest income inequality in the nation. The study found that the top one percent makes nearly 35 times more than the bottom 99%. The average income for the top 1% is $1.27 million, while the average income for the bottom 99% is $36,530.These numbers are unacceptable. In Congress, I will fight to protect the most vulnerable people, and work to pass legislation that will increase the federal minimum wage and ensure that small businesses are able to grow and prosper.We know that education is the key to success and I will work hard to make sure everyone,regardless of the color of their skin, size of their bank account or zip code they live in, has the same access to quality education.
We know that every student will not go to college, and we need to make sure that those students who don’t go to college can gain vocational job skills training through apprenticeships that prepare them to make a decent wage.