Voter Question Answered

I appreciate the opportunity to discuss today’s issues with voters, so thank you for sending in your questions. First, voters can now check when their early ballots are counted at www.voter.azsos.gov, or can text JOIN to 628683 to receive text messages once their ballots are received and counted.

Regarding the environment, high levels of greenhouse gasses continue to affect our planet, resulting in increasing global temperatures, droughts, floods, species extinction and more. The US should be a leader among nations researching and be investing in solar power and other renewable energy sources. Congress should act to create new jobs and keep us at the forefront of technological advancement and earth protection, by investing in a new national transmission network to ensure the ability of states to share safe, renewable energy. If our utility companies embrace and invest in these new technologies, rather than try to defeat them, they might sacrifice today’s profits in favor of the substantial rewards to themselves and their customers for generations to come.

Opposition to development of a rational energy strategy is intense, and so is the global impact of the unwise decisions we have made in the past, and the crucial choices we are destined to make in the future. Fierce, too, is the growing determination and commitment of Earth protectors around the globe. We know America’s priorities must no longer be desire for instant gratification and fast profit, but a relentless determination to learn from the past and alter our course for the future – even if it is one day, one windmill, one solar cell at a time.

Our elected officials will make decisions which are in the best interests of their constituents only when their decisions are truly based on the merits of the issues, and not party politics or dirty money. I recently signed a pledge to take NO money from the fossil fuel industry, and I vow to introduce and support legislation aimed at developing sensible, renewable energy sources.

I support legalization of marijuana, as the 1973 DEA classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug was based on the personal prejudice of Richard Nixon and then-Attorney General John Mitchell, who were both disgraced during Watergate. Despite world-wide data accumulated in the last 45 years regarding the benefits of medical marijuana, and the red herring of addiction potential and other dangers, cannabis remains on the list of the most dangerous drugs. Since 1973, we’ve seen plastic debit cards replace cash and check-writing, the near-extinction of the phone booth, and we now have only eight planets revolving around the sun.

Drugs Involved in U.S. Overdose Deaths* – Among the more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2016, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with over 20,000 overdose deaths. Source: CDC WONDER

In concert with numerous studies worldwide, a 2009 study in American Scientist on the relative toxicity of recreational drugs indicated one would have to use more than 1,000 times the effective dose of marijuana for it to be potentially fatal, and that would not even produce certain death.

I support legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana at the federal level. Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. Eight states and, interestingly, the District of Columbia, have adopted the most comprehensive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The positive economic impact on those states and the lack of evidence regarding dangerous health implications tell me that Congress needs influential leaders who will take on the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries. By fighting federal marijuana legalization, the lobbyists for the big three sectors and the elected officials who succumb to their pressures and temptations bear equal guilt for denying the American people a viable medical alternative to opiates in pain relief, and treatment of disease symptoms, medical conditions and medication side effects.

The effect of marijuana legislation ties in with other issues, such as reform of both the criminal justice and prison systems. In 2015, the NY Times reported that the US prison population was near a record high, even though violent crime nationally had fallen by nearly 50%. Most of those incarcerated in local and county jails were there for minor violations, including driving with a suspended license, shoplifting, or evading subway fares, but had been jailed for excessive periods of time due to inability to pay penalties.

Behind the need for reform of our justice system lies the fact that Congress must end private prisons. Allowing powerful, billion-dollar corporations to control private prisons has led to mass incarceration policies that have swelled prison and jail populations around the country. For example, private prisons around the world run by GEO Corporation, with lobbying investments in the billions, have experienced a direct correlation between their rising profits and the decline in prison conditions and prison safety for inmates and employees.

I will fight any plan which allows people to be detained in a maze in which they may be trapped for far longer than warranted by their offenses. Our lawmakers must decide if prison is a for-profit industry, where American lives are traded on the stock market like pork bellies, or an extension of our legal system aimed at protection of the public, punishment, and/or reform of inmates.

Arizona’s Congressional District 8 wants and needs a leader who is bold, new and courageous – someone who will stand up for the working-class. I am a determined, passionate candidate who championed a childhood of poverty to become the successful, proud, hard-working American I am today. Vote for me, and by working together, we’ll see America rise to her feet and once again be an empowering beacon of light to all.