Name: David Bequette
Office seeking: U.S. Representative, 12th Congressional District
City of residence: Columbia
Campaign website: bequetteforcongress.com
Why are you running and why should you be nominated? Over a year ago, like many Americans, I was on the sidelines, watching the current fate of our nation unfold. I never considered the audacious path of running for office, let alone for Congress. However, with the election of Trump, the deterioration of our party in Southern Illinois, and back to back failed congressional elections in the 12th with familiar names coming out of St. Clair County, I realized I could no longer sit on the sidelines. With a global career of serving, teaching, and leading there is no greater calling than that of representative politics. It’s not enough for us just to say we “hear you” or that we are “listening”, we need leaders that are focused on fixing the status quo. I’m running to be a truly representative leader, without leaving constituents on the sidelines.
What are your views on the nation's health care system? What needs to be changed, if anything? The Affordable Care Act, was an incredible step forward, but it is nowhere near good enough. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. A majority of American's polled believe this and yet it continues to be a partisan issue with the GOP consistently working to weaken the existing program with the goal of shutting it down completely. I believe along with millions of Americans, that we need a single-payer, Medicare for all program. There are working models around the world and we know that these models over time will save us money on healthcare as a nation, and ultimately contribute to a healthier society. This is not something that should be slowly implemented. It needs to be a national priority and I would argue that failing on healthcare is an issue of national security.
The federal budget is in deficit and the debt is growing. What should be done in order to balance the federal budget? The deficit and debt ceiling are poised to grow even more with the impending GOP tax program. This is absolutely the wrong direction. The highest earners in America need to pay their fair share. Along with tax reform, we need a three-pronged approach to nationwide job creation and industry growth. First, we need to increase our infrastructure spending. We are at a six decade low in relation to infrastructure spending (based on per capita GDP over the past 6 decades). This has resulted in a crumbling of our highways, bridges, and electrical networks. Spending on infrastructure will not only create jobs, but will also initiate industry growth, specifically in the renewables. We also need to attach this to a 100 percent "Buy American" program which will bind US Government infrastructure contractors to only use American made materials. Second, we need to implement a nationwide program to end the gender wage gap. This is not only a moral and ethical issue, but an economic drag on the US economy. According to a report by McKenzie, an end to the gender wage gap, would add an additional $4.7 trillion over the next decade. Lastly, we need an equitable justice retooling, training, and hiring program that works with impoverished communities around the US, and specifically communities of color which have seen inequitable practices that have stagnated their growth and led to severe declines in African American populated centers around the country. All of these programs would help to increase much needed tax revenue.
What local issues do you want to work on in Washington, D.C. and why? There are three areas that I want to work on in DC that will directly affect us locally. First, I want to work on a program for equitable justice and the effects of systemic racism which affects nearly 20 percent of our district. This will require major reform to our justice system to include an end to mandatory minimums, decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, a massive decarceration program, and a comprehensive clean slate program designed to remove the life-long stigma of being a prior offender. Second, I'm very passionate about our environment and the affects of fracking and coal mining on our natural public lands that could be major areas of interest for tourism versus environmentally dangerous practices that continue to place our communities inside the resource curse. Lastly, I want to work on a program for protecting miners, their families, and their communities. Coal mining has been an important part of our past community development and economic prosperity in Southern Illinois, but has ultimately become a curse. Nationwide I want to be a part of developing a Coal Country Re-tooling and Redeveloping Program where we focus efforts on retooling and retraining these communities to be the centers of modern development for new industries in clean-tech, bio-tech, renewables, and sustainable agriculture.
Immigration into the United States continues to be a topic of debate. What changes should be made to the nation's immigration system? There is an absolute need for immigration reform, however it must be done with empathy and an understanding of how immigration has been at the center of American success over the past 200 years. We need to protect the Dreamers and continue the DACA program, allowing for a legal and human pathway to residency and citizenship. We need a more comprehensive structure for ensuring that visitors to the US are leaving after their legal arrival (legal visitors staying is the largest contributor to illegal immigration). Lastly, we need to embrace a program which allows the best and the brightest a pathway to legally live and work in the US and contribute to the American economy.
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