Seven Questions For U.S. Congress Candidate Ellen Simon


1. If you had to pick one thing that needs to be changed now in government, what would it be and how would it improve the lives of Arizona residents?


Ellen Simon

It's time to bring our brave men and women - including the more than 3,000 military personnel from Arizona - home from Iraq. One more dead or disabled soldier, is one too many. No one wants to protect America and the freedoms we have as Americans more than me; indeed, I have devoted my entire professional life to protecting the freedoms provided for under the Constitution and Bill of Rights. But, the War in Iraq has not made Americans or Arizonans any safer.

The Iraq War has diminished our military capabilities, diverted our attention away from fighting global terrorism, emboldened our enemies and allowed them to gain strength while we've become mired in a civil war. According to the recent National Intelligence assessment of global terrorism by 16 American intelligence agencies, the War in Iraq has made overall terrorism worse and has hastened the spread of Islamic radicalism across the globe by spawning a new generation of Islamic radicals. The Iraq War has made the world much more dangerous not just for our troops, but for every American. In the five years since Sept. 11, the Taliban and al Qaeda have reconstituted themselves in Afghanistan, Iran is close to having an operational nuclear weapon, and North Korea has doubled its number of nuclear warheads.

If elected to Congress, I will fight to bring our troops home from Iraq and direct more resources to fighting global terrorism, dealing with the mounting threats posed by North Korea and Iran, and protecting our Homeland. The nations of the world need to work together to root out terrorism, stop the potential transfer of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and share intelligence and collaborate militarily to prevent another tragedy like 9/11. We must increase our influence and standing within the international community to deal diplomatically and militarily with potential threats.

2. What can be done to ensure that affordable health care will be available to seniors? Or is this even the job of the government?

In the richest country in the world, 46.6 million people - including 9 million children - should not be without access to health care. Today in America, three Americans lose their health insurance every minute. As the Bush administration, Rick Renzi, and the Republican Congress have us paying for a War in Iraq that costs billions of dollars per month, here in Arizona 1.2 million residents, or one in five Arizonans, have no health insurance. This number represents an increase of 225,000 uninsured people from 2004 to 2005. Access to healthcare should not be a privilege, but a right. That is why I will fight for health care for all Americans.

Our seniors deserve a real prescription drug benefit program that is meaningful, simple to understand, and provides no gaps in prescription drug coverage. Medicare Part D is an overly-complex program where close to 45% of the program's enrollees fall into a coverage gap, which requires them to pay for 100% of their prescription drug costs. Under the current program, Medicare is prohibited from using the negotiating power of 40 million Medicare beneficiaries to guarantee the lowest price under the new prescription drug benefit. Medicare should be permitted to use this negotiating power.

3. As recently as 25 years ago, the economy in Gila County, and in the
West, was a commodity-based economy of timber, minerals and livestock - and to some degree, biomass energy. Now the foundation of our economy has been shifted to what might be called a "soft economy" of speculative real estate and tourism.
What would you do to balance this economic foundation, to restore forest industry while retuning health to our forests?

Our district encompasses a wide variety of economic interests, including a large service sector, mining and ranching, Northern Arizona University and several community colleges, and a sizeable science community. Every county in our district - including Gila - will continue to feel the effects of the changing global economy, whether through decreased production due to outsourcing, increased international competition, lost jobs, dying industries, or increased downward wage pressure.

I would push for additional research and development (R&D) dollars in growth areas such as alternative energy, healthcare, information technology, and semiconductors. For example, I believe that our district can set the standard for developing wind and solar power, which will create good jobs. In addition, I would promote the development of business incubators, like the Northern Arizona Technology and Business Incubator, to help entrepreneurs and start-up companies become successful business ventures in the above growth areas.

As far as forest health, I would support relaxing restrictions on forest thinning and logging on federal lands to promote forest health and prevent forest fires that put people and property at risk. Congress has financially starved our Park and National Forest Services, and has tried repeatedly to privatize their maintenance and access. Putting additional federal money into preserving parks and forests would create additional local jobs and protect the land; it's a jobs program without any negative environmental impact.

4. Within the Payson School district, only 1.7 percent of the land is in private hands and eligible for property taxes.
In November, Payson voters will decide on a $33.8 million school bond for much-needed capital improvements. Payson area school districts, as well as districts throughout the state, continue to struggle with inadequate funding.
What would you do in order to get the federal government to better support our schools by improving salaries, resources and facilities?

I believe the federal government has a duty to help support our local public schools. A quality education is probably the greatest determinant of whether our workforce is successful in meeting changing workplace demands. Currently, our schools are failing to prepare our children adequately. The federal government must do more to improve the academic excellence of public schools, and, in Congress, I will work to improve the quality of public education. Lastly, tax dollar-supported vouchers to send children to private or religious schools are not the answer.

5. What is the real immigration concern and how should our government resolve it?

The first priority in any immigration reform policy must be to secure our borders. The illegal immigration debate should center on our own security. We must know who and what is coming into our country. Our current Congress has failed miserably on immigration; they need to get back to work and find a solution.

6. What is it that you would do differently for our district that our current congressman is not already doing? What defining attributes principles or planning do you posses that makes you the best candidate?

I would put the interests of Arizona's families over the interests of special interests and serve our district with integrity and honesty. It is well known that Rick Renzi has consistently put special interests above the interests of Arizona's working families. He has taken thousands of dollars in contributions from defense contractors who have fleeced the taxpayers with waste, fraud and abuse. He has accepted over $90,000 from oil and gas companies, while giving these same companies huge tax breaks and subsidies, and voting against legislation that would impose stricter penalties for gasoline price gouging and outlaw gasoline market manipulation. And he voted for Medicare Part D, a complex set of regulations that benefits large drug and insurance companies, while hurting our seniors with rising premium costs, and a coverage-gap that leaves many seniors with no coverage at all.

It is also well known that Rick Renzi has used our seat in the House of Representatives to enrich himself and his friends and family at the expense of the citizens of our district. Our district deserves better than a Representative like Rick Renzi who is part and parcel of the culture of corruption that has infested Washington. It's taken Rick Renzi just four short years to be named to the list of the 13 most corrupt members in Congress - a dubious distinction he shares with the likes of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Bob Ney, and William Jefferson. Our district deserves someone who is honest and who represents the values of our residents.

My principles include a deep love of our country, and a fierce and unwavering protection of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the democratic principles that bind us as a nation. I have devoted my entire professional life, over 25 years as a civil rights attorney, fighting for the rights of individuals against powerful special interests who have broken the law. And I was named one of the nation's top lawyers by my peers. I have taken on and won many tough cases - cases no one else would take. I have changed the law on behalf of women deprived of their rights in the workplace, older Americans wrongfully fired after decades on the job because of their age, and people unjustly stripped of their employment and benefits because they had cancer. When I go to Congress as your Representative, I will continue to fight for the residents of the First District with the same hard work, passion, and dedication with which I have been fighting for people my whole life. In Congress, I will work to ensure that all members of our district benefit from my service, not special interests or my personal friends and family.

7. As you must know, potential long-term water resources for this area currently appear to be isolated from communities, either coming from the forest or Blue Ridge Reservoir.
What would you do to assist a community like Payson in developing long-term water resources and help remove regulatory obstacles, such as complicated environmental rules or bureaucratic process?
Option: Or, what would you do to expedite the process of bringing in water from the Blue Ridge Project?

In Congress, I would make the environment once again a priority in Washington. I am for a more balanced approach to water rights and water issues that is based on conservation, better water management and improved water purity standards.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.