Heath Shuler

Heath Shuler

Heath Shuler

Age: 34
Residence: Waynesville
Occupation: Small-business owner
Education: B.A. psychology, University of Tennessee
Party: Democrat
Political experience: History of community leadership, tireless work ethic, successful small-business owner; most importantly, will return the honesty and integrity to Congress that it so desperately needs.

1. What should Congress do about the federal budget deficit, now at an all-time high?

A balanced budget with controlled spending and low taxes is crucial to America’s economic success in the 21st century. Congress needs to immediately re-examine its priorities, rein in spending, and eliminate wasteful pork-barrel spending. Congress must also implement common-sense, pay-as-you-go budget policies for nondefense spending.

2. What course should the United States take in the Iraq war, now into its fourth year?

Congress must begin demanding accountability from the administration over the course of events in Iraq. We must increase efforts to build a stable democracy, a functioning civil service, and [speed up] the rate at which Iraqi police and military forces are becoming self-sufficient.

3. What would be your primary area(s) of emphasis as a member of Congress?

I will fight to protect American jobs by opposing unfair trade agreements like CAFTA; make health care affordable and accessible for all families; make education funding a priority; defend our environment; protect Social Security; and honor our commitment to our armed forces and veterans.

4. Do you favor the North Shore Road project as originally planned, or a cash settlement with Swain County?

As a Swain County native, I have a deep understanding of the issues and emotions surrounding the North Shore Road. Given the current economic and environmental challenges facing the completion of the road, I feel a cash settlement with Swain County is the most realistic solution.

5. What measures would you support to address the needs of working families and the poor in WNC?

I will protect American jobs by opposing unfair trade agreements that ship our jobs overseas; improve health-care affordability and accessibility; and make education funding a priority. I will also always protect Medicare and Medicaid funding, so the most vulnerable among us can receive medical care.

6. What’s your position on marital rights for same-sex partners?

I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that every American is entitled to their civil rights and equal treatment under the law.

7. What’s your position on abortion?

I am pro-life. I also believe that we must provide better pre- and postnatal care for mothers and children, increase educational and support structures for first-time mothers, provide greater access to childcare for working mothers, and make a firm commitment to programs like WIC.

8. What would you do to protect or improve WNC’s air and water quality?

America must reduce its dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. We must make a strong commitment to renewable, alternative energy sources and reduce global-warming emissions levels. I will strongly support legislation that protects our air, land and water for future generations. This is an absolute priority.

9. What most distinguishes you from your opponent in this primary?

I am not that familiar with my opponent in this primary, but in Congress I will focus on the issues affecting the daily lives of families in the 11th District — issues like job creation, health-care availability, protecting our environment and creating a first-class education system.

10. Do you support an increase in the minimum wage? Why?

Yes. It is currently impossible to raise a family on the minimum wage. For 10 years, it has remained stagnant, as we have watched exponential increases in the cost of health insurance, gasoline and the general cost of living.

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