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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 11 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Sherry Alu Campagna, a Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, which covers rural Oahu and the neighbor islands. There are two other Democratic candidates, Tulsi Gabbard and Anthony Tony Austin.
1. What would be your first priority if elected? How would that change if your party is in the majority? The minority?
My first priority in Congress would be to work collaboratively to:
• End the zero-tolerance policy for immigrants crossing U.S. borders; a policy which enables the construction of new prisons for profit and the indefinite incarceration of immigrant families and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum.
• Locate all the children separated from their parents and reunite all of them through a compassionate and sensitive protocol run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, not law enforcement or the military.
• Hold those responsible for this abusive enforcement accountable for crimes against humanity.
This priority would not change depending upon who is in the majority or the minority. Both Democrats and Republicans are outraged because of this illegal abuse against children and their parents. Protecting children is a bipartisan issue.
2. Who would you support for Speaker of the House?
I would support any candidate for Speaker who would put forth a progressive stance on moving the House forward on policies to raise the federal minimum wage linked to inflation; preserving Medicaid and Medicare; reducing military spending; fully funding public education from pre-K to four-year college with an emphasis on improving infrastructure and teacher pay raises rather than on profiteering by textbook corporations; and implementing tax relief for low to middle-income families and individuals while increasing taxes on the wealthiest of our nation.
3. Under what circumstances should America go to war?
Diplomacy must be exhausted before Congress decides to declare war and our motivations must not be based upon profiteering or benefiting corporations; rather we must base the decision to act in order to prevent continued human rights violations.
I believe that war is an immoral act in all cases except when we are defending ourselves or rendering aid to people facing persecution or death for their ethnicity, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other diversity trait.
As a superpower, our country is responsible for combating genocide anywhere in the world that it exists. Inaction should not be an option for the United States as the country with the strongest military in the world. It is my opinion that without heeding this moral charge, we are doomed to repeat mistakes made during the times of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot when faced with dictators such as Assad, Modi, and El Sisi.
4. Should Facebook be regulated by the federal government? How?
Yes. Laws must be enacted to hold social media sites like Facebook criminally and civilly accountable for hosting known “fake sites” and promoting libel. Laws must also be enacted to prevent the data mining of users, hacking, and other breaches of confidentiality. Facebook must not be allowed to “self-police” its regulations, perpetuate a monopoly in social media, or refuse to allow transparency pertaining to its services including Facebook ads, especially political campaign ads, and handling of the financial information of users.
One option is for Facebook to be federally categorized as a media company so that it may be properly enforced by laws that already exist. The passage of the SESTA/FOSTA anti sex-trafficking bill package earlier this year has set a precedent for high-level reform that holds internet companies accountable. The challenge is to ensure that Congress safeguards internet freedom while existing or future federal regulations regarding accountability are applied. I strongly support internet freedom while maintaining a balance with regulatory laws that should be applied to Facebook.
5. What should the United States do to control carbon emissions and slow climate change?
The United States needs to get back into the Paris Accord. At home, we need to invest in renewable energies and in public transportation systems that are clean.
6. Is it time to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? How?
I strongly believe that we have a duty to care for our country’s senior citizens, especially those who survive on a fixed income. I also strongly believe that health care is a human right.
Yes, I support eliminating the Social Security payroll tax cap in lieu of reducing benefits. I also support implementing means-testing for individuals who have enough retirement saved up that they do not need Social Security payments.
I strongly support a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care system which may save the U.S. $500 billion in administrative costs, among other significant savings.
7. Congress has struggled in recent years to reach agreement on budget deficits, the national debt and spending in general. What would be your approach to fiscal matters?
I strongly support streamlining military spending while preserving basic operations, jobs, and programs benefiting active and veteran personnel and their dependents. I also strongly support economic justice by taxing large corporations and the wealthiest individuals in our country, outlawing corporate overseas tax-havens, and using this taxable income to fund health care, public education, and Social Security.
8. Whatever happens in the midterm elections, Congress will remain deeply divided. What specifically would you do to help bridge the partisan divide in Washington?
First, I will work to get big corporate money and dark money out of the political process. I will also work to restore the Voting Rights Act to ensure that all Americans are afforded the right to vote, especially poor voters of color. Without these restorations, our governance will be in perpetual conflict with equal protection and representation, and hence, in conflict with democracy.
I would also focus bipartisanship efforts on building relationships and common ground on our country’s infrastructural needs, which will create jobs, grow our economy, and improve the quality of life of our nation’s citizens.
The core of such great divisions in any organization, from Congress to grass-roots movements, is the fear of scarcity. This fear compels individuals and organizations to act selfishly and use exclusionary tactics to limit access to what we believe to be finite resources. In order to move past this division, we as individuals and as a country must move away from scarcity politics, remove contempt from political dialogue, and find ways to work together as a society. I am committed to doing my part in affecting this change for the benefit of our planet and future generations.
9. What should be done to reform U.S. immigration policies, if anything?
The deportation process is regularly abused and misused, allowing for grave human rights violations, indefinite incarceration, and violations of human rights committed by DHS (CBP and ICE). This must end now and the use of incarceration and deportations must be highly regulated by a checks and balances system. Clearly, Trump’s zero-tolerance policy at the border must be abolished and a strong and compassionate plan must be implemented to reunite all families torn apart by Trump’s recent child separation policy.
I also strongly support the restoration and preservation of DACA, repealing the 2017 ban on Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the United States, and the reimplementation of asylum for victims of gang violence, victims of domestic violence, and LGBTQ individuals fleeing persecution.
10. What is your view of the role of the U.S. military in the islands, and would you like to see that role increased or decreased?
I grew up with a father who was one of the highest-ranking civilians in the Department of Defense and a mother who was and is still tied strongly to the Native Hawaiian rights movement. A large part of Hawaii’s economy depends on direct DOD spending and there is also a boost from military families spending into our local economy, but I don’t want to see Hawaii further militarized, especially on Kauai.
Currently, on Kauai, the public has access to beaches that are part of the Pacific Missile Research Facility (PMRF). If the U.S. were to weaponize that facility, as Congresswoman Gabbard proposed in May 2018, then public access would stop and the boundaries of PMRF would be secured. In fact, the working population and uses of PMRF would drastically change, resulting in a Kauai very different from what we have today and I do not support such a change. Additionally, I believe that weaponizing PMRF increases our risk as a target and degrades our communities.
11. What specific reforms, if any, would you seek in gun control policies?
I would like to see the nation follow Hawaii’s lead with gun control, which are some of the strongest in the country. I strongly support an assault rifle ban and would work to remove the tax-exempt status of the NRA.
12. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
I will work to ensure the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, repair the damage done to the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, our unions, and work to secure our elections process from enemy influence.