Tuesday, August 08, 2006

New project: The Questionnaire

So I launched a new project yesterday. Like many political activists, I find myself in a connundrum every now and then. There's a lot of candidates out there, and I've only got so much time/money to use to help them out.

Case in point: Last week I had the chance to talk to Jim Sammler, who's running for O. Gene Maddox's seat (Windsor Heights, Clive and some of WDM) in the House. He's the real deal. I hope there are more candidates out there like him.

The problem is, as of today there are 150 legislators or candidates running in contested races. I also care about a pretty wide variety of issues. As such, I developed a questionnaire which was mailed out last night (with the help of some invaluable free labor from Laura) and emailed out this morning. The questionnaire asks about these nine issues:

Public financing of campaigns
Abortion
The Iowa Values Fund
Universal Health Care
Local Control over CAFO's
Local Control and ownership of renewable energy
Raising the minimum wage
Community-based corrections for non-violent offenders
Civil unions


Those issues are listed in no particular order, and certainly don't define everything I care about, but I think they're a decent barometer for me. I've already received one response, and will post the results below. You may also want to bookmark this post, as I will make new posts as new questionnaires come back, but this post will contain the full list of all returns. In an effort to be as fair as possible, I'm also including the explanations provided for all responses. I'm also working on putting all the responses into an Excel file so you can download the file and sort candidates for yourself. I'll let you know when that's up.

The first response came from Jamie Simmons (R), who is running in House District #1:

Public financing of campaigns: SUPPORT This is especially important to newcomers such as myself as currently the system is very much in favor of the incumbent. Public financing will not only help to level the field a bit (there will still be a necessity for private funding) but also allow for more oversight of how much and how such funds are spent.

A woman’s right to choose: DO NOT SUPPORT I am a pro-life candidate and do not support abortion.

Iowa Values Fund: SUPPORT

Universal Health Care: DO NOT SUPPORT

Local Control over CAFO’s: UNSURE not sure as do not know what a CAFO is.

Local control and ownership of renewable energy: SUPPORT With the caveat that the state will help fund research and provide regulation to make sure standards of quality remain the same throughout the state, and keep Iowa’s products within the standards given for the entire country. I do think that locally owned business that works to produce renewable fuel is the best way—it keeps local people employed and provides for a closer working relationship between company and employee. I would much rather NOT see corporate ventures from out of state start up ethanol and bio-diesel plants in Iowa, but am realistic enough to realize that it will happen.

Raising the minimum wage (please include amount in comments): DO NOT SUPPORT. If evidence can be supplied that will prove that raising the minimum wage will not hurt employees in the long run (forcing wage increases can cause business to cut employees to keep costs low with higher wages) then I would be willing to change my opinion on this. However, conventional wisdom points to minimum wage increases hurting employer and employee alike.

More community based corrections for non-violent offenders: SUPPORT however this does depend on the nature of the offense. I think this should be limited to misdemeanor offenses rather than felonies, and provide for prevention programs as well.

Civil Unions for same-gender couples: DO NOT SUPPORT. I believe that marriage is one man and one woman

My rating: 3.5/9, or 38.8% It seems a bit questionable to give someone half a point for not knowing what a CAFO is, but technically that'd count as unsure.

THE FULL LIST:

Jamie Simmons (R), House District #1:

Public financing of campaigns: SUPPORT This is especially important to newcomers such as myself as currently the system is very much in favor of the incumbent. Public financing will not only help to level the field a bit (there will still be a necessity for private funding) but also allow for more oversight of how much and how such funds are spent.

A woman’s right to choose: DO NOT SUPPORT I am a pro-life candidate and do not support abortion.

Iowa Values Fund: SUPPORT

Universal Health Care: DO NOT SUPPORT

Local Control over CAFO’s: UNSURE not sure as do not know what a CAFO is.

Local control and ownership of renewable energy: SUPPORT With the caveat that the state will help fund research and provide regulation to make sure standards of quality remain the same throughout the state, and keep Iowa’s products within the standards given for the entire country. I do think that locally owned business that works to produce renewable fuel is the best way—it keeps local people employed and provides for a closer working relationship between company and employee. I would much rather NOT see corporate ventures from out of state start up ethanol and bio-diesel plants in Iowa, but am realistic enough to realize that it will happen.

Raising the minimum wage (please include amount in comments): DO NOT SUPPORT. If evidence can be supplied that will prove that raising the minimum wage will not hurt employees in the long run (forcing wage increases can cause business to cut employees to keep costs low with higher wages) then I would be willing to change my opinion on this. However, conventional wisdom points to minimum wage increases hurting employer and employee alike.

More community based corrections for non-violent offenders: SUPPORT however this does depend on the nature of the offense. I think this should be limited to misdemeanor offenses rather than felonies, and provide for prevention programs as well.

Civil Unions for same-gender couples: DO NOT SUPPORT. I believe that marriage is one man and one woman

My rating: 3.5/9, or 38.8% It seems a bit questionable to give someone half a point for not knowing what a CAFO is, but technically that'd count as unsure.

Brian McLain (N), House District #67:

Public financing of campaigns: DO NOT SUPPORT There is something that I would find amusing about anyone complaining about government handouts to those in need, then turning around and getting the same to run a campaign. Maybe I'm a little biased, but I am running out of my own, lower middle-class pocketbook. If I can do it, then there should be no reason for taxpayers to foot the bill on obnoxious ads and annoying automated calls.

A woman’s right to choose: SUPPORT Abortion, in my opinion, is a wretched thing. However I will steadfastly defend anyone's rights so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others, and with abortion being proven as a valid medical procedure, it should remain legal and I would make no attempt to ban it. Everyone should have the ability to receive or decline any medical treatment they would receive, it only makes sense.

Iowa Values Fund: DO NOT SUPPORT The values regarded to in this misappropriation of taxpayer revenue are not the real values of the state. If companies need a bribe to do business here, then let them stay out of the stay and make room for companies that recognize the hard-working and educated people who live in Iowa, contribute to their community, and raise their families here, as great people to do business with and employ. I want to restructure this fund to serve a more important and useful purpose as a 10-year graduated student loan forgiveness program. This will offer an incentive for our best and brightest to stay in the state, support those who took the initiative to further their education, and draw business into Iowa the right way.

Universal Health Care: SUPPORT As a national system, this idea would be a disaster, but at the state and local level it could be more easily managed and appropriated system. Necessary medical treatment should always be available to all, regardless of income level. After all, it is the duty of the state to insure the health and welfare of its citizens.

Local Control over CAFO’s: SUPPORT I shudder at the idea of passing the buck to anyone higher up the food chain as it becomes more general and more book smarts come into play then common sense. If there must be regulations, let them come from the region that knows about this sort of thing (I will be honest, I did have to Google CAFOs and study up before answering this question).

Local control and ownership of renewable energy: SUPPORT See my answer above. What's the point of developing something great and then selling control over it to the highest bidder? It would be much more economically prudent to retain local control and ownership in the long run.

Raising the minimum wage (please include amount in comments): DO NOT SUPPORT. What purpose would raising the minimum wage serve, but to increase the cost of living. It's a big catch-22 if you ask me, as more money in the system means inflation creeps up in general area. I believe that other alternatives such as better accessibility to education, health care, and job training programs (that aren’t managed by Archie Brooks) would be much more effective than just jumping the base wage up again.

More community based corrections for non-violent offenders: SUPPORT After all, where would you have a better time learning how to behave like a good community citizen? A community or jail?

Civil Unions for same-gender couples: SUPPORT. No changes in the law required in this one, which is why many moralists are scrambling to amend their states' constitutions. Honestly, government is not in the business of determining morality. If two people are perfectly capable of placing a valid signature on a contract then so be it. Government services are available to all, it's called EQUALITY. The opposite of DISCRIMINATION. Leave morality to the churches and get back to legislating.

My rating: 7/9, or 77.8%. Clean elections are a deal-breaker for me, but once you get past that, he's good on most issues.

4 comments:

Chris Woods said...

Awesome idea!

Anonymous said...

No offense, but why in God's name would any candidate respond to your questionnaire

KL Snow said...

One would hope that it's because they're willing to stand behind their position on the issues.

But maybe they won't be. Who knows.

noneed4thneed said...

CAFO? Does she know what Google or Wikipedia is?