Name: Betsy Dirksen Londrigan
Office seeking: U.S. Representative – Illinois 13th Congressional District
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City of residence: Springfield
Campaign website: www.betsydirksenlondrigan.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? When I decided to run to represent 13th Congressional District in Congress, I knew from the get-go that the job is more than a title -- it is an ongoing dialogue between the district and the decision making tables. The need for a new voice and priorities that reflects our communities could not be more glaring because whether it’s his votes on health care, Social Security and Medicare, or tax ‘reform’, or simply the decision to listen to those who disagree with him, there is no question that (incumbent/current rep/etc) does not have our district in mind when he heads to Washington. I have, throughout my campaign, put hardworking families first by promoting tangible steps towards solutions (rather than a D.C. sales pitch) and have been proud to have been supported by tens of thousands of contributors and hundreds volunteers from all political backgrounds, who have put their belief and trust in my candidacy, and I am looking forward to continue to build towards victory in November, for all of us.
Were the steel tariffs the right approach in fighting foreign steel dumping? Why or why not? If not, what should have been done? Overall, the trade war is a self-inflicted wound that was undertaken without foresight or planning. Furthermore, our sitting Congressman has continued his standard ‘wait and see’ policy, which is unacceptable. Specifically, steel tariffs could have been dealt in a more comprehensive way, addressing dumping from a legal perspective. As the candidate who is proudly endorsed by the United Steelworkers (USW), I disagree with U.S. Steel’s demand during negotiations that they dive deeper into the pockets of hardworking families for health care, and their denial at a modest raise for workers, as well as doubling the time length for contract negotiations from 3 years to 6 years. I plan to fully support the workers of USW locals, including those who have voted to authorize a strike, which is the last thing anyone wants. However, it’s clear trickle-down economics does not work for the middle class, even when business is good.
What should be put in place or done to ensure fair trade agreements and long-term stability for everyone in your district? Fair trade agreements are vital to the local economies of our 13th District. The ‘wait and see’ method that Congressman Davis has adopted is insufficient. This year, grain farmers in Central Illinois have seen significant depletion in crop value, and the promise of a bailout will not return their markets. In Congress, I will make sure that we put American workers first, and solidify their place within the global economy. It’s time to both de-escalate tensions overseas, as well as ensure that other countries are held to the same labor and environmental standards that we expect in the U.S.
Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? I have put over 55,000 miles on my UAW-built car and have completed a town hall in each of the 14 counties in our district because I believe that every election acts as a term limit. Being your representative in Congress will be more than a title to me. Bringing our voices to Washington means more than just talking at you -- it means listening to you, and being in open dialogue with those with whom I don’t always agree. That’s the job and I’m looking forward to it.
Has enough been done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic? If not, what else should be done? Immediate action needs to be taken from the federal level to the local level when it comes to working towards addressing the opioid epidemic that has ravaged central Illinois. From the federal perspective, it means working to solve issues of health care coverage and access. It also means declaring that I will always be on the side of the community and not on the side of Big Pharma. My opponent, on the other hand, has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act 11 times without any legislation replacing it, and has accepted over $125,000 from pharmaceutical companies.
Was eliminating a fine for not having health insurance as required in the Affordable Care Act the right thing to do? Why or why not? What parts of the ACA should be changed? From my family dinner table to the 14 town halls I completed, I know that the ACA does not work for everyone. However, chipping away at the ACA has led to an instability in the healthcare marketplace, causing hardworking families to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for their monthly premiums and causing deductibles to rise. At times, it has meant that families get completely priced out of the market. First, we need to see the ACA as the first step towards quality, accessible health care coverage for everyone. Throughout my campaign, I have suggested opening up Medicare as a public option, providing a competing entity as a way to start bringing costs down. Additionally, we must address the cost of prescription drugs. We need to allow Medicare to negotiate for prescription drug costs effective immediately. I believe that access to quality and affordable healthcare is critically important and I will lead that charge in Congress.
Gun violence is a problem. What can and should be done to stop it? I’m from a community of gun owners, and also believe in common-sense gun safety. Gun violence needs to be treated as a public health crisis, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) should be given the budget to study it. Ultimately, I believe that we can both respect the Second Amendment and protect our kids and our communities, through basic measures such as background checks and keeping firearms out of the hands violent offenders. I am proud to have been endorsed by Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and named a Gun Sense Candidate by Moms Demand Action.