Rick Bryson, Democrat
Place of residence: Bryson City
Occupation: Industrial public relations
Political experience: Alderman, Bryson City
Endorsements: IBEW, Teamstersl; Asheville Citizen-Times
Amount of money raised: DNA
Top three donors and amount contributed: DNA
Why are you running?
Because for the past four years, the 11th District of Western North Carolina has not been represented by someone who shows genuine concern for our future.
Both major party presidential candidates have, to a degree, divided their party; do you support your party’s presidential candidate? Why or why not?
I support the candidate of my party … because she is clearly the better choice.
The congressional primaries were delayed this year because the Supreme Court mandated the state redraw its congressional districts. How would you propose congressional districts be drawn so that they are fair?
They should be drawn by a nonpartisan committee.
Should Western North Carolina be open to accepting refugees from war-torn nations? Why or why not?
Yes, because that is the creed by which we live. It even appears on the Statue of Liberty. This does not mean that we should open our doors to all comers. They should be carefully screened.
As Western North Carolina becomes a more popular destination for Latinos, how would you address our immigration laws?
Those that are here should be given a pathway to citizenship. That deals with reality. The greater problem of how to reduce the flow of refugees should be put in the hands of the Economic and Social Council [of the United Nations], to provide greater economic opportunities in Central America and Mexico, so people will feel less compelled to flee.
Many people in Western North Carolina struggle to find high-paying jobs; what can you do to help create employment opportunities that match the cost of living?
By bringing a form of the Research Triangle Park to Western North Carolina. We will seed startup companies in cutting-edge industries, including biotechnology, telecommunications, computer modeling, green energy and high-tech agriculture. It can be spread all across our region and not located in just one spot. I call it WNC GenerationNOW.
What federal-run service needs the most improvement, and how would you address it?
Probably Veterans Affairs. It is underfunded and not run with an eye toward expediting the needs of veterans. America owes veterans a huge debt. Bluntly, they are the reason we do not speak German or Japanese as our national language. We need to fund the VA so that veterans get the best possible care.
How do you represent a constituency with varied political ideologies?
By taking the point of view that is expressed in the Book of Isaiah: “Come now, let us reason together.”
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?
The present officeholder has created an atmosphere in his office where women were sexually harassed and people were paid off illegally with taxpayer funds to silence them. In addition, he was the architect of the government shutdown in 2013, costing his own district $23 million. On the other hand, I am an alderman in Bryson City and will take an alderman’s approach to Washington, to get things done. We need infrastructure improved in our mountain region. I will focus on that, not voting over and over again to repeal the Affordable Care Act.