Raquel Okyay has a pending phone interview with Chris Gibson who is running for the Republican nomination to face Scott Murphy in NY's 20th Congressional District. However, to whet your appetite until then, Mr. Gibson agreed to an email interview with UPR. Below are the questions and his responses:
Quest: While there are a number of really big issues that the nation is facing, what issue do you feel most impassioned and qualified to handle and why?
Ans: I have spent the last 24 years in the military fighting to protect our freedoms and our treasured American way of life. But now our country faces a new threat. Our government is standing in the way of the economic growth and job creation that has always guaranteed our citizens a prosperous, free and secure future. Economic growth and job creation are the most important issues facing us today. My campaign is advocating cutting taxes, eliminating onerous and duplicative regulations, and lifting the burden of spiraling healthcare costs. These are hampering the private sector’s ability to grow and create jobs.
But we must do more. We must also reduce our budget deficit and our national debt. We are spending at an unsustainable rate, and the Congressional Budget Office is the first to acknowledge this. We are spending $400 billion dollars a year just to service our debt. Imagine if this money were available to the private sector instead- business investment and job creation would flourish.
I’ve travelled extensively through the District talking with business owners, their employees, and business leaders. Their concerns are almost universal. They are being squeezed by too many taxes and too many regulatory burdens. Recently we held a series of press conferences around the district to discuss the Cap & Trade bill. At each stop we were joined by business owners who stood up publicly to warn against the negative impact of the taxes and regulations associated with this bill. This is a great example of government failure to protect businesses that create the jobs in this district.
My meetings at companies like Stanfordville Machinery in Dutchess County, Bowman Orchards in Saratoga County, and Falls Farm and Garden Equipment in Washington County covered a diverse cross section of businesses in NY-20. We met with manufacturers, farmers and retailers all of which were family businesses handed down from one generation to another. Their stories, their struggles, and their spirit to continue working toward growth have been inspiring. I will be the greatest advocate for job creation and business development for this district.
Quest: What can congress do to aid job growth in your area?
Ans. There are numerous things that Congress can and must do to facilitate job growth in the District. First and foremost, they must lower taxes so businesses can invest in their operations with confidence and hire new workers. Congress must also cut and streamline regulations that today distract many businesses from pursuing their core mission, to service customers. Finally, Congress must repeal the new healthcare legislation and replace it with real reform that reduces the cost of healthcare. These are three key measures that will help aid job growth immediately.
While visiting with a group of employers in the southern part of the district, I met one business owner who was ready to purchase three dump trucks and some earth moving equipment. He had already picked out the machines, but was forced to put everything on hold because he was unsure of the new tax and regulatory implications that his company may face due to the health care bill and Cap-&-Trade. His uncertainty will have a ripple effect through the economy. Not only will his business now suffer, but the retailer and the manufacturer of the items he would have purchased also lost a sale. When demand drops, so do opportunities for employment.
If Congress made these three simple changes, businesses could plan long-term and the private sector will once again become our engine of job growth. Sadly, my opponent, in only a short time, has managed to raise taxes, create more burdensome regulation, and vote for a healthcare overhaul that makes our business environment even more challenging. It is time to lift these impediments to growth.
Quest: Many on the right are looking for a smaller government, what areas can we responsibly reduce government involvement?
The first thing we need to do is stop growing government - yet we are doing the exact opposite. We have grown government with the healthcare legislation, the new financial regulatory bill, and Cap & Trade. Rather than improve the government agencies that already exist to oversee many of these areas, this administration has added more government. This is misguided and harmful.
There are also areas where we have duplicative regulatory agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. Imagine the challenges a small business faces in trying to navigate these bureaucracies. It is amazing these businesses have time to service any customers at all. This hurts our ability to create jobs.
I have also argued to abolish the Department of Homeland Security, which I feel has created more government without adding to our national security.
Quest: Are there areas where congress could expand government involvement in a beneficial way?
Government can be effective in two ways. Obviously, it must secure out state and protect our way of life against those who wish to destroy it.
At home, the government must ensure that government operations and our markets are fully transparent.
Quest: Should you get elected, how do you plan on staying in touch with constituents while in Washington?
Once elected, I will maintain my home base in Kinderhook, Columbia County and develop my relationship with the District’s individuals, families, and communities. Too often politicians think its fine to merely send out taxpayer funded mailers to their constituents. I plan on still making it a priority to visit all the towns and villages throughout the 20th District. I will always remember who sent me to Washington and why they did it. I plan to regularly hold face-to-face meetings with constituents to better understand their concerns and represent them in the Congress. .
Quest: Does the current congress and administration have the right strategy in Afghanistan and if not, what is the right strategy?
Ans: We must remember that the Afghan people will ultimately decide whether the insurgency fails or succeeds. Afghan efforts thus should be oriented on earning the support of the people and developing security forces that understand the nuance of counterinsurgency and work to protect the population. I believe we agree on this.
But NATO-led counterinsurgency and institutional-training commands, now separate and distinct, should be consolidated -- employing partnerships down to the company level.
Afghan recruits should start basic training in cohort units assembled and equipped first for that task -- and then for unit training for initial-operating capability. This will enhance cohesion, which is critical to counterinsurgency operations' success.
We should also avoid putting definitive timelines on training the Afghan security forces; that work is inherently "conditions based." Additionally, the NATO Rules of Engagement need reviewing. Over the last year, they grew too prescriptive and restrictive. Every effort should be made to limit civilian casualties, but these out-of-balance rules favor our enemy in close-quarter combat.
Throughout this effort however, let us never forget why America went to Afghanistan. It was to defeat al Qaeda and protect our way of life after the unprovoked attacks of 9/11.
Quest: It has been written that you don’t oppose abortion in the first trimester. Is this true and what are your thoughts on this issue?
Ans: I am opposed to all forms of partial-birth abortion and late-term abortions. I will fight to prevent the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions and hope to work closely with the Right-to-Life community to continue efforts to limit the number of abortions being performed. I will also work to make adoption an easier, less complicated, and more affordable process for both biological parents and those looking to adopt. No public monies should ever support abortion - to the contrary all federal efforts should work to decrease the number of abortions.
Quest: Many in the conservative base are suspicious of Republican candidates, what makes you more than just a Republican candidate?
Let me first say that I respect anyone willing to run for office, even if I do not agree with them on the issues. My background is open for review. My calling to serve my country came at the age of 17. I have always believed that our constitution and the principles that our founding fathers espoused in it where worth fighting for.
Over the course of my 24 year Army career I rose to the rank of Colonel and was deployed 7 times - including 4 combat tours to Iraq, and separate deployments to Kosovo, the Southwestern US for a counter-drug operation, and most recently to Haiti where I commanded the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team during the opening month of that humanitarian relief operation.
I’ve taught American Politics at the United States Military Academy at West Point, served as a Congressional Fellow with US Representative Jerry Lewis, the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and completed a Hoover National Security Affairs Fellowship at Stanford University.
My military decorations include 2 Legions of Merit, 4 Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with Star, the Master Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab. For our actions in Mosul in support of the first national election in the new Iraq, my Battalion Task Force earned the Valorous Unit Award. For our actions in Tal Afar during the 2nd and 3rd national elections in Iraq my Battalion and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment were recognized for excellence by President George W. Bush and earned a 2nd Valorous Unit Award.
I also hold an MPA and PhD in Government from Cornell University and authored Securing the State, a book on national security decision-making published in 2008.
I have fought hard for this country and our cherished way of the life, and you can be assured, I plan on continuing to do just that.
As I've pointed out in the past, Chris Gibson has a good shot at taking this seat from Democrat Scott Murphy. He has outstanding qualifications and is solid on the issues.
UPR reader, Fenway Nation, sent me the following email based on his experiences with the Chris Gibson campaign.
I decided to try and research who was running against Murphy....and I came up with Chris Gibson's name. Maybe I'm biased because I'm a veteran myself, but I was impressed. For starters, Gibson's actually born and raised in the district- just down route 203 from where my mother's family grew up. Secondly, I think his 24 years of military service make him a better leader than the current Commander in Chief (altho' thats not saying much- the talking pug from Men In Black could do a better job than BH0 on most issues), let alone a Harvard lawyer, lobbyist and failed businessman like Murphy. Not to mention Gibson just seems to get it....he just seems to have a better feel for what the people of his district are looking for than Murphy. Also- for whatever it's worth, Gibson is part of a PAC called Vets for Freedom.
So with that in mind, I sent off Gibson a fairly small check sometime in May- hardly enough to buy his campaign volunteers a pizza. I didn't think too much of it at the time, but a few weeks later I got an envelope in the mail from his campaign HQ in Kinderhook. Besides the boilerplate "Thank you for your generous contribution blah blah blah" boilerplate form letter was a handwritten note to the effect of "All the way from the West coast! Thank you for your generoisty- signed Chris Gibson".
Stop and think about that for a second. If the man took the time to write a handwritten note to a stranger on the other side of the country who sent him hardly enough money for a good-sized lunch, imaging how responsive he'd be to his constituents.
From what I've heard and seen, Chris Gibson could be the real deal for NY's 20th Congressional District