The 5th District race: Debating the issues

Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Northeast News
October 31, 2012 

With the Nov. 6 general election approaching, Northeast News wanted to delve further into the issues affecting Northeast residents and Missourians. One of the top races affecting Northeast is between 5th District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II and 5th District Congressional candidate Jacob Turk. We asked them the tough questions and here are their answers.

 Emanuel Cleaver II 816-561-2575 • www.cleaverforcongress.com

•When President Obama took office in January 2009, gasoline was roughly $1.80 per gallon. Today, gas is hovering around $3.65 per gallon. What would be your two primary initiatives to lower the cost of gasoline to consumers?

1. Reduce our dependence on foreign oil through increasing our domestic oil production by streamlining the permitting process. The EPA is drawing out leases so it takes over five years from getting a lease to begin drilling. And our representatives continue to vote to impede domestic drilling while China is off our shores tapping into our own oil reserves. I say, “Drill here. Drill now.”

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II

•When President Obama took office in January 2009, gasoline was roughly $1.80 per gallon. Today, gas is hovering around $3.65 per gallon. What would be your two primary initiatives to lower the cost of gasoline to consumers?

I have supported efforts to improve the energy efficiency of vehicles, as well as supported efforts to develop and expand alternative fuels and their respective uses. Our country has to have a comprehensive approach to our energy policy which is focused on job creation and mindful of our environment.

• “Taxmageddon” as some are calling it, will strike on Jan. 1, 2013, if the “Bush era tax cuts” are not extended or made permanent, creating a roughly $4,100 tax increase for middle class families. What is your position on the Bush tax cuts and how do you propose avoiding this tax increase on America’s middle class?

I have consistently opposed any attempts to increase taxes on the middle class and will continue to do so. It is anticipated that after the election a compromise will be reached to temporarily extend some of the “Bush era tax cuts.” My efforts will continue to be focused on tax relief for the middle class and an equalization of our tax policy to help grow and foster small business development.

•Recently the 5th Congressional District, like districts nationwide, were re-aligned due to population shifts. With this re-alignment, what do you see as the three primary issues facing the 5th District today?

Our Congressional District, like districts nationwide, is continuing to face challenging economic times. I have and will continue to be focused on job creation and economic development efforts. We must remain dedicated and vigilant to improving our economy to afford employment opportunities for all of those able to work. A key component which will foster job creation is the need to pass a full and complete highway and transportation bill versus the band-aid measure currently in place. Our infrastructure is crumbling in our community and across our nation – action is needed now. Protecting the integrity and improving the solvency of Social Security and Medicare is a priority of mine and one which I will fight any and all attempts to deprive our senior citizens of the benefits they have earned and rightly deserve.

•Amnesty for illegals – yes or no?

Everyone wishes that this was a simple yes or no type of question, but it is not because millions of individuals and families are directly impacted by our country’s immigration policy. I support the DREAM Act, as well as the Administration’s recent actions regarding immigration policies. We must take a comprehensive approach to immigration reform and be mindful of consequences which new policy might bring to individuals, families, and our economy while maintaining fairness with a balanced approach.

•Small businesses all over the country are hurting from the failing economy. “Flat” is the new “up.” What’s your plan to help small business weather the current economic storm?

As a Member of the House’s Financial Services Committee I have been actively involved in fostering greater protections for small businesses with the financial services industry. Further, I have joined bipartisan efforts to encourage credit lending
institutions to seriously consider opening up their credit lending to qualified small businesses. Part of our challenge with the economy’s stagnation is a lack of liquidity in the credit markets lending even to the highest scoring credit worthy businesses.

•What’s your favorite Kansas City BBQ joint and what do you eat when you go there?

Gates

•According to a Sentier Research poll, household income continues to trend down and unemployment is trending up, hovering a tad above 8 percent (unadjusted). What is your strategy for reversing these trends and returning prosperity to America’s middle class?

Beyond the economy’s recovery over the next few years we must continue to focus on efforts to create jobs. Job creation is the best foundation for ensuring prosperity for our middle class.

•According to the World Economic Forum, America’s global competitiveness has slipped from No. 1 in 2008-2009 to No. 7 in 2012-2013. What’s your plan to put America back on top when it comes to worker productivity and innovation?

One area I have been actively involved with is fostering greater attention on math and science education efforts. Specifically, we need initiatives to encourage engineers, scientists, physicists, computer programmers, nanotechnology specialists and other critical growth areas. Additionally, it is important to retrain our workforce to meet the ever changing technology used in manufacturing and other critical sectors of our economy.

•Crime continues to be an issue for residents of Kansas City’s urban core. With a homicide rate that’s trending upward and residents living with a daily threat of violence, what if anything can you do as a Congressman to stem the tide of urban violence?

I have worked with the Police Department and Mayor to attract federal resources to our community to help deploy the new ShotSpotter technology. Similarly, I have collaborated with local interests to establish and grow outlets for our youth to channel their energy like the new recreational complex in the Northeast community.

•The Kansas City, Missouri School District has long been in turmoil and is now in its second year of being unaccredited. If elected, how do you see your role in regard to getting the school district to meet accreditation standards?

While the issue of accreditation is wholly within the State of Missouri’s jurisdiction, there are limited areas where the federal government can be of assistance to local schools. Recently, the Secretary of Education was in the Kansas City area touting initiatives to more directly link classroom education with job needs and skills. As there are opportunities to draw federal resources or attention to efforts to improve the education of children in our community, know that I will be there advocating for our kids.


Jacob Turk • 816-524-6723 • www.turkforcongress.com

Congressional candidate Jacob Turk

2. Reduce our dependence on oil and gasoline for energy. The U.S. has over a 100-year supply of natural gas, so providing incentives for short haul fleet vehicles to convert from diesel and gasoline to natural gas, which also burns cleaner, would lower gas prices. Moving fleets to natural gas will lower gasoline prices by lowering demand, particularly in the cities.

•”Taxmageddon” as some are calling it, will strike on Jan. 1, 2013, if the “Bush era tax cuts” are not extended or made permanent, creating a roughly $4,100 tax increase for middle class families. What is your position on the Bush tax cuts and how do you propose avoiding this tax increase on America’s middle class?

Making Bush era tax cuts permanent will avoid throwing our already vulnerable and struggling economy into depression. If you add both those tax increases on top of the $2500+ bill every family will be getting for Obamacare, you are talking a double blow to American families they simply cannot afford. We must repeal Obamacare and replace it with common sense solutions to healthcare access.

•Recently the 5th Congressional District, like districts nationwide, were re-aligned due to population shifts. With this re-alignment, what do you see as the three primary issues facing the 5th District today?

1. The 5th District boundaries were grotesquely manipulated by political deal making. Emanuel Cleaver sought to cut out the home of his toughest opponent, Jacob Turk, and in the process chopped up Jackson County and tacked on three rural counties to the 5th District. The “new 5th” has left the voters in the rural counties vulnerable to a serious lack of representation in Washington since they make up only 11 percent of the new 5th District. The redistricting was a blatant display of politicians selecting their voters rather than voters being able to select their representatives…

2. The 5th District now contains urban, suburban and rural communities, and each one deserves a representative who understands and cares about their issues and is able to represent their point of view as their elected representative to Congress. Between me and Emanuel Cleaver, I’m the only candidate with the background to understand and address urban, suburban and rural issues. I grew up in rural Indiana in an agriculture-reliant household, I started my own company and for 12 years had clients throughout urban, suburban and rural Missouri, and I understand the difference between the rural communities, downtown Kansas City, and the many suburban areas of our district…

3. The people deserve someone who reflects their values and will vote for them, not against them. Emanuel Cleaver is rated F by NRA and described as “a true enemy of gun rights” while I’m endorsed by GOA and WMSA for my commitment to uphold the 2nd Amendment. Cleaver was begged by over 80 percent of his constituents to vote “no” on Obamacare, TARP, and the big corporate bailouts, but he voted “yes” instead. As a Marine Corps veteran, I will champion the needs of our military, military families and veterans…

•Amnesty for illegals – yes or no?

No. Until the illegal border crossings are reduced and our present immigration laws enforced, no comprehensive immigration reform will be possible. We must stem the tide of new illegal immigrants because until we do, the issue gets more and more unmanageable. Once the flow is stopped, then we can address solutions for those who are in the country illegally.

•Small businesses all over the country are hurting from the failing economy. “Flat” is the new “up.” What’s your plan to help small business weather the current economic storm?

As a former small business owner, I understand the plight of today’s business owner. I’ve been visiting with business owners throughout the 5th District about what solutions would get them hiring again. The most common answer I get is “repeal Obamacare and reduce government regulations and red tape!” so those will be my first priorities in Congress. There are redundant regulatory bodies, such as the EPA and each state’s Department of Natural Resources. I believe in local control, so taking those functions away from the Feds and allowing the states to regulate their own natural resources and environment would be an excellent first step. I will work to change the adversarial attitude of many government agencies to be more cooperative with businesses in their practices with business owners.

•What’s your favorite Kansas City BBQ joint and what do you eat when you go there?

I think Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ has mighty good ribs and beans… There are so many others that are fantastic, too, and the variety in styles and flavors in our area is really impressive…

•According to a Sentier Research poll, household income continues to trend down and unemployment is trending up, hovering a tad above 8 percent (unadjusted). What is your strategy for reversing these trends and returning prosperity to America’s middle class?

Getting government off the backs of small businesses, repealing Obamacare and reducing the red tape and regulatory burden would give small business owners the breathing room and confidence to start hiring again. I’ve talked to scores of owners who are not hiring or are waiting on hiring until the elections are over to see if Obamacare will move forward or get re-tooled. Every single business owner I’ve talked to is hopeful for a new Congress who will reduce spending, overturn Obamacare and reduce government regulations so they can expand again, creating more jobs… I will fight for the “Mom and Pop” shops who need relief and I will be an advocate for them in D.C.

•According to the World Economic Forum, America’s global competitiveness has slipped from No. 1 in 2008-2009 to No. 7 in 2012-2013. What’s your plan to put America back on top when it comes to worker productivity and innovation?

The OSHA, EPA and DOL regulations, fees and fines have been a huge detriment to our manufacturers and commercial operations in the United States. It is not a level playing field for the U.S. to compete with China and India and other countries who do not have such onerous regulations and taxes. If we are to compete globally, we must reduce the governmental burden on our businesses.

Crime continues to be an issue for residents of Kansas City’s urban core. With a homicide rate that’s trending upward and residents living with a daily threat of violence, what if anything can you do as a Congressman to stem the tide of urban violence?

I would urge our city leadership to change their “1% for art” mandate on capital projects and re-allocate some of those funds towards addressing the crime issue, including increasing the police force and police presence to stop many crimes before they happen since many crimes are crimes of opportunity. I also favor helping entrepreneurs starting their own business to give hope to those in the inner city of pursuing their own American Dream – to rise from their circumstances to a new life of prosperity through starting their own business. The fees, permits and taxes to get a business started in Kansas City add up to an insurmountable hurdle for most people who dream of starting their own business, and I’m eager to engage with city leaders on how to turn that around.

•The Kansas City, Missouri School District has long been in turmoil and is now in its second year of being unaccredited. If elected, how do you see your role in regard to getting the school district to meet accreditation standards?

When a school district loses accreditation, the welfare of the children affected should be our first priority. Parents should have the ability to choose any school within the failed district’s boundaries for their child… It has been shown in many cities that the solution is in empowering parents to choose the best educational option for their child, and to let all schools within a school district compete for the business of those parents. Education of children is best left to the wisdom of parents, teachers and the taxpayers of local communities, not the Federal Government.