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US Congressional District 27 Democratic and Republican Primaries candidate questionnaires

By Victoria Advocate
May 26, 2012 at 12:26 a.m.

Blake Farenthold

Editor's Note: To help our readers learn more about candidates in the contested primary races, we will publish responses to the League of Women Voters questionnaire. Candidates Blake Farenthold, Trey Roberts, Ronnie C. McDonald, Rose Meza Harrison and Jerry J. Trevino respond today. Republican candidates John Grunwald and Don Al Middlebrook and Democratic candidate Murphy Alade Junaid did not send in answers to the questions.

• NAME: Blake Farenthold

• PARTY: Republican

• AGE: 50

• CITY AND COUNTY: Corpus Christi, Nueces County

• OCCUPATION: Founder and owner of Farenthold Consulting

Please describe what combination of education motivation and/or experience qualifies you for this office.

As a 4th generation Texan with a strong background in the energy industry, agriculture, and a technology small business owner, I understand the needs of our district. My work in Congress is to stop the attacks from Washington on Texas businesses, the economy and our way of life. I have voted to increase drilling for our resources, repealing obamacare, and increasing personal freedom and liberty.

Have you signed a pledge that will affect your vote on any issue? Why or why not? If so, what legislation did you pledge to support or fight? Why?

My votes are for Texans, not for pledges. My personal commitment is to simplify and lower taxes, cut wasteful spending, repeal Obamacare, repeal stifling, job-killing regulations, and to build infrastructure. I want to grow the economy and create security for hardworking taxpayers.

What, if any, measures would you propose to strengthen our economy and increase employment access?

Stop job killing regulations which hinder our ability to fully utilize our energy resources such as the Eagle Ford Shale, create a simpler and lower tax system, get the Keystone pipeline approved creating thousands of jobs, stop the job-killing takeover of healthcare, and get our budget and spending under control.

How would you propose to balance the federal budget? Do you support tax increases, cuts to entitlements, elimination of government programs or other measures?

Washington spending is out of control. I support the Balanced Budget Amendment and voted for budgets and legislation that cut spending. But that's not enough. We have to target specific programs that are wasteful and duplicative. That's why I authored legislation to cut the free cell phone program costing tens of millions of dollars. We don't grow the economy by raising taxes but by growing the economy and reining in spending.

Do you believe the current tax code needs to be overhauled? If not, why not? If so, what do you recommend?

The tax code must be simpler, fairer and flatter. We have the most uncompetitive tax rates on employers in the world and our tax law is too complex and full of lobbyist loopholes.

Would you advocate overturning the federal healthcare legislation, If so what alternative would you propose?

Yes. The Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act is a job killer that robs $500 million from Medicare for seniors and contains an unconstitutional individual mandate. It creates an unelected 15 member board of bureaucrats to ration care. We should repeal and replace with legislation that increases accessibility to healthcare, protects Medicare for our seniors and returns health care decisions to doctors and their patients.

• NAME: Trey Roberts

• PARTY: Republican

• AGE: 35

• CITY AND COUNTY: Rockport, Aransas County

• OCCUPATION: Lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin and attorney

Please describe what combination of education, motivation and/or experience qualifies you for this office.

I have degrees in government, business, international relations, law, and international law. I have consulted to the federal government on international trade issues, including the Texas shrimping industry, worked in international security, created and run successful small businesses, advised my legal clients on how to do the same, and taught college. I am running in order to stop the economic devastation caused by the current administration and Congress, and the disregard for the U.S. Constitution.

Have you signed a pledge that will affect your vote on any issue? Why or why not? If so, what legislation did you pledge to support or fight? Why?

I pledged to repeal the death tax, which discourages savings, punishes hard work and thrift, and amounts to a double tax after a lifetime of other federal taxes are taken into consideration. I feel this particular tax is unfair and bad policy, since it discourages investment, which is necessary to improve the economic climate. I have taken this pledge to show my seriousness about improving the economy, and reducing the power of the federal government.

What, if any, measures would you propose to strengthen our economy and increase employment access?

I propose reducing taxes, spending, and excessive federal regulation. Reducing personal taxes returns money to consumers to spend in the free market as they see fit. Such spending promotes economic growth. Reducing business taxes and regulations gives owners more money to make new hires, improve facilities, and expand operations. Reducing spending allows this strategy to be sustainable in the long run and increases investor confidence that our government will remain solvent.

How would you propose to balance the federal budget? Do you support tax increases, cuts to entitlements, elimination of government programs or other measures?

Tax hikes result in lower revenues by strangling business and households. I support increasing tax revenues by cutting taxes and simplifying the tax code. Entitlement reforms can be made without putting the benefits owed to our seniors and veterans at risk. Giving states greater control over entitlement programs would result in increased efficiency, transparency, and accountability, leading to large savings over time. The federal government has multiple duplicate programs, which can be cut or streamlined.

Do you believe the current tax code needs to be overhauled? If not, why not? If so, what would you recommend?

Yes, the tax code needs overhaul. The current tax system is difficult for most filers to understand, apparently including many members of Congress and the current Secretary of the Treasury, who owed tens of thousands in back taxes upon taking office. We should reduce the number of tax brackets, lower tax rates, and simplify the system of credits and deductions. Also, we should reduce corporate taxes, to make American firms more competitive internationally.

Would you advocate overturning the federal healthcare legislation? If so, what alternative would you propose?

Yes, I would vote to overturn Obamacare. It is a usurpation of power and represents the first step on the road to total federal control of our private economic decisions. I propose fostering competition among insurance carriers, promoting health savings plans, and overhauling Medicare and Medicaid to reduce costs by preventing fraud, waste and abuse. I would ease the tax and regulatory burden on health care providers, so those savings can be passed to consumers.

• NAME: Ronnie C. McDonald

• PARTY: Democratic

• AGE: 41

• CITY AND COUNTY: Bastrop, Bastrop County

• OCCUPATION: Retired Bastrop County judge

Please describe what combination of education, motivation and/or experience qualifies you for this office.

B.A. Degree in Political Science from Texas A&M University. I worked for John Sharp in the State Comptroller's office for five years on the revenue side of state government. Bastrop County Judge and Chief Financial Officer since November 1998. As county judge I have first hand knowledge of dealing with federally unfunded mandates and still balancing budgets. In 2011 I was placed in a leadership role in dealing with the fires that devastated the county.

Have you signed a pledge that will affect your vote on any issue? Why or why not? If so, what legislation did you pledge to support or fight? Why?

No, I have not signed any pledges to support any particular legislation or vote. The one pledge I will offer is to the citizens of Texas CD 27 to represent them in Washington D.C.

What, if any, measures would you propose to strengthen our economy and increase employment access?

We need to encourage our corporate execs to stop exporting our jobs and manufacturing base to foreign countries. How can we possibly remain a superpower and provide jobs to our own people if we are shipping off every other job. America has to remain a producer, not a consumer. Our transformation into a service economy does not bode well for a future power position or generation.

How would you propose to balance the federal budget? Do you support tax increases, cuts to entitlements, elimination of government programs or other measures?

You can't spend more than you take in. we have to be sensible in our approach and look at the budget holistically. Politics never balanced a budget; common sense is what does that. Revenue has to increase simultaneously. Revenue can be increased by keeping our jobs at home and by making sure that all our citizens are contributing to the economy. There are many who are not, for whatever reason.

Do you believe the current tax code needs to be overhauled? If not, why not? If so, what would you recommend?

The tax code is too complicated. I believe the sensible thing to do is to eliminate the loop holes and make sure that similar people and corporations, in similar situations, pay similar amounts. There should not be a difference in tax amounts charged based on the sophistication of your tax attorney and CPA. The question is why are our corporations and people putting their money in off shore accounts.

Would you advocate overturning the federal healthcare legislation? If so, what alternative would you propose?

It hasn't gone into effect, so I can't say if it's good or bad. I support the right to access affordable healthcare. We must also be sensitive of the financial realities. We need to be able to make changes that benefit health care recipients and do not bankrupt taxpayers or small businesses. I witnessed my parents struggle with medical problems late in life and so I will always be sensitive to healthcare issues.

• NAME: Rose Meza Harrison

• PARTY: Democratic

• AGE: Late 50s

• CITY AND COUNTY: Corpus Christi, Nueces County

• OCCUPATION: Assistant county attorney for the Nueces County Attorney's Office

Please describe what combination of education, motivation and/or experience qualifies you for this office.

As a mother, professional attorney, businesswoman and Democratic organizer, I see and understand the struggles of hardworking Americans. I cannot stand by and allow attacks on women, seniors and the middle class. I have the experience, ideas and determination to be the representative for District 27 and will protect the American Dream.

Have you signed a pledge that will affect your vote on any issue? Why or why not? If so, what legislation did you pledge to support or fight? Why?

Pledges that force lawmakers to vote a particular way before considering the specific provisions, costs or consequences of legislation are dangerous. These vows drive partisanship and paralyze law-makers' ability to represent the interests of their constituents. The only pledge I will make is to support the Constitution and the American people.

What, if any, measures would you propose to strengthen our economy and increase employment access?

Our nation can increase jobs, and strengthen our economy by investing in education, infrastructure, and innovation. If we want to compete in a global economy, we must arm our children with the knowledge and skills they need. We must focus on rebuilding roads, bridges and rails so that American businesses can easily and efficiently get their goods to market, and the unemployed can get back to work.

How would you propose to balance the federal budget? Do you support tax increases, cuts to entitlements, elimination of government programs or other measures?

It is important we get our fiscal house in order, but we cannot do it by simply cutting programs for seniors, students and women. All responsible options should be on the table. Not only should we cut waste and excess, but we also need to raise revenue. By simply letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire, we will decrease our debt and and continue to help millions of struggling Americans.

Do you believe the current tax code needs to be overhauled? If not, why not? If so, what would you recommend?

The tax code has been changed and manipulated to benefit the few at the expense of the middle class. I support a simplified tax code that eliminates special deductions and loop-holes for millionaires, big corporations and special interest groups. We should encourage hiring veterans, promoting domestic energy, and supporting small businesses.

Would you advocate overturning the federal healthcare legislation? If so, what alternative would you propose?

As Americans, we need to ensure that each citizen has access to affordable, quality healthcare. I believe that, while the Affordable Care Act is not a perfect solution to our healthcare problems, it is a step in the right direction. Increasing access to over 30 million Americans, while decreasing the cost to tax-payers, should be a plan we can all support.

• NAME: Jerry J. Trevino

• PARTY: Democratic

• AGE: Not listed

• CITY AND COUNTY: Corpus Christi, Nueces County

• OCCUPATION: Attorney and businessman

Please describe what combination of education, motivation and/or experience qualifies you for this office.

As the son of schoolteachers who taught me to value hard work, education and faith, my qualifications combine education in law and business administration with practical experience as a twenty-year attorney, small business owner and employer. The generations to follow deserve the same opportunities. I'm running now because the gridlock paralyzing Congress threatens my children's futures. I'm determined to take the values that work for Texas to Washington and get the job done.

Have you signed a pledge that will affect your vote on any issue? Why or why not? If so, what legislation did you pledge to support or fight? Why?

I haven't signed any pledges. I'll represent the will of my constituency. The ink on the redistricting lines on our 27th District is barely dry. No candidate yet knows the views of voters in this district. And today's challenging times require remarkable flexibility. Legislators who signed "no new taxes" pledges yesterday are abandoning that promise today as Congress struggles to balance the budget. I keep my promises, not break them.

What, if any, measures would you propose to strengthen our economy and increase employment access?

My initial economic proposals have four job-related components. I support investment in our infrastructure and in innovative technology that enhances our resources, both of which will generate business and jobs. I favor priority job placement for our Veterans. And I support federal programs that broaden educational opportunities to prepare our children for promising futures in the workplace. But as I travel the district, I look forward to hearing voters' ideas.

How do you propose to balance the federal budget? Do you support tax increases, cuts to entitlements, elimination of government programs or other measures?

Like us, our nation has a budget. When our businesses and families can't pay the bills, we cut spending, and we find ways to bring in more money. Our government first should eliminate waste and duplication everywhere, including entitlement programs. I support equitable taxation of all income brackets, with the upper 1 percent shouldering its fair share. Again, I look forward to hearing new ideas about balancing the budget from the voters in our district.

Do you believe the current tax code needs to be overhauled? If not, why not? If so, what would you recommend?

The tax code shouldn't be completely thrown out, but it does need revision to fairly tax the top income bracket and to provide incentives for businesses that create domestic jobs and to encourage rebuilding our infrastructure. Our tax policies must combat practices that are illegal here and should not be sheltered by U.S. businesses abroad. Again, as the campaign progresses, I will be seeking input on tax issues from the voters in our new district.

Would you advocate overturning the federal healthcare legislation? If so, what alternative would you propose?

No. Too many households in Texas live one healthcare crisis away from bankruptcy, in large part because job loss often means loss of insurance. The plan enacted by Congress is the best proposal so far to address the problem. If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the legislation, any alternative created by this next Congress also must include affordable and accessible healthcare for all Texans as a means of providing economic security.

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