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May 22, 2012 > Conversations with candidates for Congressional District 17

Conversations with candidates for Congressional District 17

Congressman Mike Honda (Democrat)
www.MikeHonda.com

TCV: Recently your Congressional District has been changed. How do you view this change?

Honda: It's a positive change. The 17th Congressional District is one of the most diverse and innovative districts in the entire nation. Its blend of diverse ethnicities, veteran business leaders, new and innovative business leaders, long-standing economic growth and new growth, is nothing short of historic.

I look forward to the opportunity to represent new constituents in Alameda County. I'm sad to let go of so many amazing constituents that I've. I also know the entire Bay Area delegation will work together to move our community, our state and our nation forward.


TCV: How will this affect decisions at Federal level? How will this affect your work in Washington DC?

Honda: This change will not affect my decisions at all. The vital interests of the 17th District's honest, hard-working constituents are the interests that I've fought for since my first day on the job in Congress - innovation in education, immigration reform, transportation and business to forge a 21st century economy with skilled, good paying jobs. For more than a decade, I've stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Congress with my Bay Area colleagues to fight for access to the American Dream for all.


TCV: Was the change of your District an anomaly or typical?

Honda: The independent commission created change in California and it created new and exciting opportunities to serve. In the case of the 17th District, the independent commission created what will be the first ever majority Asian American Pacific Islander District in the continental United States.

The 17th District is powered by the imagination and industry of Silicon Valley. There are 200 plus high-tech companies, and growing, in the District. In the case of the 17th CD, the independent commission has created a new and exciting opportunity to serve.


TCV: Will this change create more electoral challenges to incumbents?

Honda: The change certainly opens up the process. This is a positive development. It also remains to be seen what results from these new electoral opportunities.


TCV: How can opposite political positions between cities or counties be represented when included in the same District?

Honda: I am a pragmatic public servant searching for real solutions that impact people's lives in powerful ways. When it comes to advancing the interests of my constituents, I've always worked to understand the needs of a diverse geographic area - from agricultural centers in the south county to high tech leaders in the north. I've always worked in a bi-partisan and balanced fashion with one goal in mind: to make a difference.


TCV: What work have you done in Congress since the last election?

Honda: I authored the Department of Education's Commission on Equity and Excellence in Education, which is set to release a groundbreaking report on American education this Spring. As a former science teacher and educator of more than 30 years, I've also been fighting to make science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education a priority to ensure that America remains the world's innovation leader.

As a senior Representative on the House Budget and Appropriations Committees, I've been proud to fight for the resources needed to tackle our region's needs, focusing on creating good jobs, BART and transportation improvements, healthcare, high-tech research and innovation, immigration reform, the environment and education.

I've been honored to serve as Budget Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, where I authored the "People's Budget" in 2011 and the "Budget For All" in 2012. Both fiscal plans dramatically reduce the deficit, preserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, put Americans back to work and make historic investments in infrastructure, education, housing, anti-poverty programs, education and R&D.

In the midst of this fragile economic recovery, I've authored two pieces of legislation - an innovative manufacturing bill and a small business / entrepreneur bill - to in-source countless American jobs, rebuild American manufacturing and revolutionize American clean energy. Inspired by the imagination and industry of Silicon Valley, I've authored a nanotechnology bill and a "smart" energy-saving electronics Act to help drive American innovation.

Finally, I've been honored to serve as Chair Emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus. In this role, I've fought for the civil rights of all, to reform a dysfunctional immigration system - particularly on the issues of immigration visas and reunification for immigrant families - and to protect women's reproductive health services.


TCV: How do you balance the issues of Silicon Valley executives with other concerns in your District?

Honda: The kind of collaboration that happens in Silicon Valley is unique. I often find that the interests of Silicon Valley executives are the same as working families: job creation, quality of life issues - like education, health care and transportation - innovation and recognizing the need for tax reform. I've also found that sometimes tough choices have to be made to protect working families and those who rely on the social safety net in my district.


TCV: What type of legacy do you want to leave in Congress?

Honda: It's way too early for me to start thinking about a legacy. There are too many challenges to address, too many opportunities to create, too many solutions to find. I'm focused on the student in Fremont dreaming of a high tech career, the unemployed line worker in Newark ready to get to work, the family in Milpitas struggling to stay in their home. My mind is focused on them, not on my legacy.




Evelyn Li (Republican)
www.EvelynLiForCongress.org

TCV: Recently the Congressional District was changed. How do you view this change?

Li: Since we work with federal issues, this will likely not have much effect.


TCV: How will this affect decisions at Federal level?

Li: Probably not at all.


TCV: Was the change of your District an anomaly or typical?

Li: It is expected. As the population grows, it is inevitable that we need to redistrict the area.


TCV: How would/will this affect your work in Washington DC?

Li: Probably no effect.


TCV: Will this change create more electoral challenges to incumbents?
Li: Uncertain.


TCV: How will you identify the area you represent at the Federal level?

Li: Our area is known as Silicon Valley where most of our constituents are middle-class and likely involved in technology development; therefore, issues involved in this area will probably be of utmost importance to them. However, despite such, we still have state workers, small business owners, families, children, employees, schools, etc. who will share similar issues that are no different than in any other districts.


TCV: How can opposite political positions between cities or counties be represented when included in the same District?

Li: Decisions will be made, based on the welfare of the country as a whole, while putting in consideration of each special group in different circumstances.


TCV: What work have you done since the last election?

Li: I study and update myself with the whole political scenery and issues daily and I discuss new ideas and problems with constituents. I constantly see an average of 20 to 100 constituents every day which gives me numerous opportunities to listen to and collect their thoughts and concerns.


TCV: What competing interests exist in your District and how do you balance their respective concerns?

Li: This involves a lengthy discussion and cannot be included in this short summary.


TCV: What type of legacy do you want to leave in Congress?

Li: A legacy of which our children, grand-children will be proud.




Charles Richardson (Independent)
www.CVRichardson.com

TCV: Recently the Congressional District was changed. How do you view this change?

Richardson: I view the change as a necessity and an opportunity. For one, the Constitution provides the basic assumption that districts should be created to most effectively represent the given population. This formula has been modified somewhat but offers guidelines about how to calculate the size of a District based on its population. With California's ever-expanding population, it had become a necessity to create additional districts to attempt to stay in line with Constitutional guidelines for representation. I see the redistricting as a chance for candidates like myself to have a better opportunity to win a seat that has unto now been unfilled. Technically, there is no incumbent for a new district.


TCV: How will this affect decisions at Federal level?

Richardson: One would hope new voices will be introduced that offer an expanded vision toward the future. Currently, Congress has too many life-time politicians who have no intention but to feather their own nests. Our government representatives have, long ago, lost touch or concern with what is really important and necessary, at street level, to the American people and the country as a whole. Instead of focusing our politics on moral and international non-issues that really don't hit down at the street level and heart of our economy, we must start looking at re-stabilizing our population and shoring up our own economy before we try to establish a world economy based on uncertain international partners and forced political ideals on other people who don't want them. I hope this will be an opportunity to remove more incumbents and for Congress to re-focus on what's important at street level in America. We need to get people back to work so they can provide for their families. The economy and the country will heal itself, if we do.


TCV: Was the change of your District an anomaly or typical?

Richardson: I believe it was neither. Both democrats and Republicans wanted to strengthen their voices in Washington. I believe they would see it as an opportunity to add more voices in the House to one party or another for their own benefit. To them it is either one side or the other. I'd hope the voters see it as an opportunity to begin to break the two-party stranglehold that stifles and is stagnating this country by bypassing the incumbents in all of the districts and electing candidates like myself who really care about the job and not the party. Politicians are not going to turn things around and save us. If you read the works of the founders of this country, you'll already know this. Government was never meant to rule over the people like it does now. It was meant to protect and defend a framework that would allow the people to govern and provide for themselves.


TCV: How would/will this affect your work in Washington DC?

Richardson: Should I win the seat, it should have no real effect on my work. As an independent candidate my mandate will be directly to my District's constituents and not based on a false allegiance to a particular party or doctrine that is proposed by that party affiliation. People need to realize that if they vote the same as they have for the last 50 years, they will get exactly the same as what they have now. Personally, I am not happy with the direction our country has headed. That is why I am running.


TCV: Will this change create more electoral challenges to incumbents?

Richardson: It could. Some believe the new districts dilute the Republican strength in Congress; others believe that the process to create the new districts was unfair if not unconstitutional. I think the worst case scenario is that we could see a two-thirds majority by either party created by the redistricting which could lead to potential tax increases and other changes that are not good for the people of California. I hope the incumbents are challenged by this redistricting and that we can get new blood into the House and Senate that will break the ongoing stalemate we have now.


TCV: How will you identify the area you represent at the Federal level?

Richardson: That is an interesting question. District 17 encompasses a large portion of what was once the Silicon Valley. In challenging economic times like these, it's important to play to strengths and identify economic weaknesses where they exist. Silicon Valley, as it is now, cannot compete with foreign companies in manufacturing like we used to and we're no longer the keepers of the kingdom when it comes to technology. We are, however, very strong in innovation and development. The key would be to use those strengths in technological innovation and re-gain the foothold we once had in those areas. I would identify District 17 as a valuable asset for new ideas and technical innovation.


TCV: How can opposite political positions between cities or counties be represented when included in the same District?

Richardson: We must stop focusing on political differences and ideals and start focusing on the real human problems we are facing. We need to identify and eliminate all the ulterior motives, cronyism and petty greed from politics and get down to the meat of the problems. Politicians won't do this; they get rich when people are divided. This process will have to be done by people. People, banded together, can change everything. They just need a focal point that is focused on doing just that. I hope I can be that focal point and help things move in the right direction again.


TCV: What work have you done since the last election?

Richardson: I have intentionally stayed away from politics and government and worked in the public sector. There has been very little in politics worth cheering about for quite a long, long time. A lot of false promises and empty dreams have been floated by the politicians that disgusted me. I am only entering politics now because I see no other way to find a position here I can be heard by a lot of people and at a time where people are starting to wake up to this fraud called "democratic government" that we've been forced to live under for so long. I finally feel that we've come to a place in this country where people are open to new and refreshing ideas about government and how it can be changed to make things that can be better for all of us and not just some of us. I feel I can help make a huge difference in the way we do business and politics, especially in this country, if I can just reach enough people and get them to listen.


TCV: What competing interests exist in your District and how do you balance their respective concerns?

Richardson: First, I'd do my best to squash competing interests whatever they are. America should not compete against itself. We must re-educate industry and the workforce to understand the challenges of the new economy. One of this country's strengths is that when times got lean everyone pitched in and worked together. That is what gave us pride, made us strong and elevated our people and our country. For too long, we've worked under the assumption that we have to one up each other for financial gain of one group over another in this country and in the process we've created a lop-sided, greedy, frail, useless Wall Street-paper driven economy that now threatens to drag us all down. We need to re-aggregate manufacturing, business and the workforce and find a way to create a more symbiotic way to produce again that benefits everyone at all levels more effectively. It's time for a new "New Deal" that puts America back to work.


TCV: What type of legacy do you want to leave in Congress?

Richardson: The legacy I hope to create is one of renewal. In my opinion, we need to move away from the failed policy of Reaganomic Trickledown theory and shift the paradigm to a "Percolate Up" policy whereby we start to re-build and fortify our economy and our people from the bottom-up instead of trying to bail-out everything at the top and wait for it to trickle down to the bottom layer of our society. That was a fruitless and failed policy from the beginning and any rational and intelligent person should have realized that immediately. Maybe the people in power did and saw the policy as a way to sell an idea to the American people intended to keep resources at the top and isolate the largest sector of our population from the assets of our society. If you work from a bottom-up policy, there is nowhere for the money to go except up and ultimately, the shift in assets and capital naturally helps the people, invigorates and stimulates the economy. It's common sense.

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