Name: Erik Jones
Office seeking: U.S. Representative, 13th Congressional District
City of residence: Edwardsville
Campaign website: https://erikjonesforcongress.com/
Why are you running and why should you be nominated? I was born and raised in Centralia. My dad is a small business owner and my mom was a teacher for over 30 years. An academic scholarship allowed me to attend SIUE, and $150,000 in debt allowed me to attend law school. Like many people throughout Illinois, I have worked for everything I have. My understanding of our challenges comes from my experiences. I will fight for an economy that works in every zip code, for universal healthcare coverage, and for young people to get education or training without facing crushing debt. And I will be ready to do this job on day one. Throughout my career, I have focused on putting people ahead of corporate and government institutions. I'm a former Illinois Assistant Attorney General and a former Investigative Counsel in the U.S. House and Senate. Whether it was fighting big banks that were forcing Illinois workers to pay fees to access their pay or uncovering that FEMA sent toxic trailers to victims of Hurricane Katrina, I have the experience to fight for the 13th congressional district. Our district needs infrastructure investment, better support for small and new business owners, and access to basic, high-speed internet for everyone.
What are your views on the nation's health care system? What needs to be changed, if anything? Healthcare is a human right and access to affordable health insurance is part of that right. During this campaign I have heard from many residents whose current health insurance is unaffordable. As a country, we are on an unsustainable path. If the cost of insurance is too high, we cannot ensure that people have access to the care they need. It is alarming how many families would be at risk for financial ruin if they had a health emergency. When I worked in Congress, I investigated health insurance companies that were spending too much on advertising, CEO pay, and executive benefits, and not enough on actual healthcare. Our current system is not working. We must control the costs of prescription drugs and let the government negotiate for drug purchases. We must control the costs of healthcare. To do so, I support opening up Medicare to allow everyone the opportunity to buy or opt in, permitting individuals to enter a system that has provided affordable care to individuals for decades. It would provide a path to universal coverage while curbing healthcare costs. I will also fight against any changes to the Medicaid and Medicare programs that diminish the benefits to Americans.
The federal budget is in deficit and the debt is growing. What should be done in order to balance the federal budget? The economy thrives when everyone shares in its successes. An economy that largely benefits only the wealthiest among us is not sustainable. We must build an equitable and honest system that creates opportunities for all Americans. The tax plan just enacted by President Trump, and endorsed by our current representative, is a handout to corporations and the extremely wealthy at the expense of middle class Americans. This handout will add over $1 trillion to the national debt on the backs of hard-working taxpayers. There is absolutely no guarantee that these tax cuts will lead to more jobs, higher wages, or economic growth. If we're going to give a tax break to corporations and the super-wealthy, let's put some teeth in it and tie it to creating jobs here in America. Furthermore, this tax bill creates tax relief for middle class Americans that is only temporary, while the massive tax cuts for corporations are permanent. This hypocrisy is exactly the gamesmanship that Illinois voters are tired of and the reason we need a change in representation for the 13th District.
What local issues do you want to work on in Washington, D.C. and why? Fighting for the economic future of our district will be my top priority. That means establishing universal healthcare coverage, fair wages, secure retirement systems, an equitable tax system, affordable education, and making real investments in infrastructure. Over 200,000 Americans across the counties that make up IL-13 still do not have access to basic, high-speed internet. I support infrastructure investment that will allow communities to improve their access to the Internet, promoting business development, higher wages, and lower unemployment rates. We also need to provide access to affordable education--an important issue in IL-13, where more than 20,000 people work for schools and universities. Their success is vital to our economic future. I will fight to ensure that our universities and colleges receive funding and continue to compete with the world's top schools. I will also make sure that schools are accessible to Illinois students and that they graduate without overwhelming debt. As an Assistant Attorney General, I worked to protect students from loan servicing companies that gauged them following graduation. I would continue that work as a member of Congress.
Immigration into the United States continues to be a topic of debate. What changes should be made to the nation's immigration system? The federal government's plan to repeal DACA is cruel. Our government made promises to the individuals who came forward. Congress should vote in favor of extending DACA and implementing the DREAM Act. I also believe comprehensive, long-term immigration reform is the only solution. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress believe this and it's time a bipartisan compromise comes forward. We cannot continue on a path where millions of undocumented immigrants live in the shadows. We do need to ensure we have secure borders and we should certainly invest in border security appropriately, but building a wall makes no sense. The Chinese built a wall nearly 2,000 years ago. It didn't' work then, and it won't work now. We should invest in technology of the 21st Century to secure our border and we should find a solution for comprehensive immigration reform.