Tom Hill

Tom Hill

City of residence: Zirconia, N.C.

Occupation: Retired aerospace scientist; Ph.D. in physics

Political experience: Led a successful citizen effort to remove former Henderson County Sheriff Rick Davis from office for sexual misconduct. Served as spokesman for a successful citizen effort to prevent large electrical transmission lines from being constructed in Henderson County. Democratic candidate for Congress in 2014.

If you advance, do you believe you have a legitimate chance to defeat two-term incumbent Mark Meadows?

TH: Yes, I do. People of all persuasions are fed up with the do-nothing-and-block-everything behavior of the U.S. House of Representatives, which Meadows typifies. I represent a Franklin Roosevelt approach to government, under the principle that the government should be working for the people to create jobs and improve their standard of living. When a majority of voters understand this difference, I believe that they will abandon Mark Meadows’ obstructionism.

If elected, you’d be a freshman congressman with little political clout. What do you realistically believe you can accomplish in your first term for the people of Western North Carolina?

TH: I can work with either a Democratic House or a Republican House controlled by Paul Ryan to pass a bill giving legal status to undocumented Hispanic workers who are harvesting the crops we grow in WNC. Ryan has announced that he will support such a bill, but Meadows opposes it and supports returning all such workers to Mexico, leaving farmers without the labor needed to harvest their crops. There are other areas that both parties support, including cutting pork from the government’s budget. Currently, most House members, including Meadows, spend four hours every day on the phone calling rich donors and begging for money. I pledge not to do that.

How do you feel you can represent the 11th District’s various ideologies and people in a way that champions compromise and bipartisan efforts? Or do you have other beliefs on representing a varied constituency?

TH: My only agenda is common sense, and I regard myself as a moderate capable of making reasonable compromises. I do not adhere to some discredited political philosophy, such as the trickle-down economics which Mark Meadows advocates. His only major accomplishments during his tenure in Congress were shutting down the government in 2013 (which cost small businesses and workers in WNC about $23 million) in an attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act, and leading an effort to remove John Boehner (whom Meadows regarded as too liberal) as speaker of the house. That’s the sum of his legislative efforts in Congress.

Which 2016 Democratic presidential candidate (including those who have dropped out) do you most identify with?

TH: I identify the most with Bernie Sanders, but I recognize that some of his stated goals, such as universal health care, cannot be achieved overnight and must follow an incremental path, including the first step of providing a public option for people who have no health insurance. They and their employers must buy into a Medicare type of system by paying into a fund similar to FICA taxes, based on income. I want to emphasize, however, that I will support Hillary Clinton if she is the Democratic nominee, and I will work for the same goals as I would if Bernie were the party’s nominee.

What’s the most important issue facing WNC residents? How would you address it?

TH: The most important issue is job creation and improving the standard of living throughout the 11th District, as discussed below. However, there are other very important issues which must also be addressed, including tax reform, stopping the never-ending and always-escalating wars in the Mideast, cleaning up coal, nuclear and fracking wastes, ensuring equal pay for women for equal work, providing legal status for undocumented workers, including a public option for health care insurance, raising the minimum wage and others.

Job creation and cost of living affect many 11th District residents. What would you do to create living wage jobs?

TH: Passage of new laws is required to create jobs which will pay for themselves many times over. We must pass a per year $50 billion funding bill over the next three to five years to support rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. North Carolina’s share of $1 billion per year would create 20,000 jobs immediately that pay $25,000, with $500 million going to small construction and support businesses. The bill would not raise taxes on the middle or poor classes or small businesses: The money would come from closing unconscionable tax loopholes by so-called multinational corporations, especially those making the preponderance of their profits in the U.S. but claiming to be “offshore corporations.”

What makes you more qualified than the other candidate?

TH: A candidate in the 11th District must become known to people of various backgrounds and political persuasions in an area which stretches about 220 miles from the Tennessee/Georgia border in the west to Lenoir in the east. I am a moderate and am well-versed on the issues which Congress faces and must resolve for the betterment of our nation. If elected, I hope to serve on the Science and Technology Committee. Understanding and support of programs based on science applications, such as a new space program, and issues such as environmental impacts of fracking and cleaning up waste generation are within the realm of my expertise. I am further qualified to refute baseless right-wing claims that global warming is not a reality.

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About Dan Hesse
I grew up outside of Atlanta and moved to WNC in 2001 to attend Montreat College. After college, I worked at NewsRadio 570 WWNC as an anchor/reporter and covered Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners starting in 2004. During that time I also completed WCU's Master of Public Administration program. You can reach me at dhesse@mountainx.com.

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