Kenneth Queen’s Stance on the Issues
As a veteran, I feel personally slighted by many of our elected officials. The military life is a difficult one filled with twenty plus hour work days and endless, sleepless nights. The cost of freedom should not be jobless, homeless veterans with sub-par healthcare. Young men and women pay the price of freedom with their youth. Every person who serves our great nation with honor, courage, and commitment should never have to worry about joblessness or go without healthcare. If, as a nation, we can’t afford to employ our veterans and we can’t afford to pay for their healthcare then we can’t afford to send them into combat.
North Carolina’s 10th district is home to some of the hardest working and innovative Americans in the nation. However, our unemployment is currently well above the national average. It is time to draw jobs back to the area and invest in our nation’s future. Our goal should be to lead the world in high tech jobs that pay well. The only way to accomplish this goal is to invest heavily in our community college system and trade schools. Colleges should be working with local businesses to establish apprenticeship programs in trade fields. Here in Western North Carolina, the infrastructure is already in place with one of the best community college systems in the world. Also, we should be leading the world in the field of clean energy. Instead of creating legislation to slow the growth of solar, wind, and other sustainable power sources, the US should encourage the next economic boom in the field.
If a company cannot pay a living wage then it should not be in business. The only way for us to have a strong country and strong economy is to have a strong middle class. In order for the middle class to continue to grow, wages must increase to keep pace with inflation.
Campaign Finance Reform
A system rife with corruption cannot truly serve its people. Currently our political system has been set up so that the wealthiest Americans and corporate interests can bribe politicians for special favors and tax cuts. Many problems in the US could be solved easily and quickly without the influence of corporate money. A government that allows the wealthy to buy political influence is no longer functioning as a Democracy but instead as an Oligarchy. We must work toward publicly funded campaigns so that wealthy Americans don’t have a bigger say in government than the middle class and poor. We can make our government work for the average citizen again if bribery is no longer legal.
Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I will work with congress to promote Medicare-for-all and to limit the obscene profits that insurance and pharmaceutical companies are making off of the suffering of Americans.
I strongly support the second amendment and the constitutional right of all Americans to keep and bear arms. No law should ever be passed to infringe on the inherent right to self-defense.
North Carolina’s 10th district is one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have a responsibility to preserve and protect the land for future generations. Strong environmental protections are needed to combat climate change, ocean acidification, and the contamination of our air and water. These environmental protections can work with businesses to ensure that the regulations are not oppressive to their growth, but still protect the environment. The denial of science and the skewing of facts must stop now.
The word “abortion” raises so much controversy and is viewed as such an inflammatory word that I have been advised to stay away from it altogether. But dancing around the issue will not help anyone no matter their feelings. When it comes to this controversial procedure, our goal should be the same–to reduce the need for abortion. So while I believe abortion should remain safe and legal, I will fight for policies that have been proven to help reduce abortion rates–access to affordable or free birth control and access to fact-based sex education.
America has always been a land of entrepreneurs. Unnecessary regulations and restrictions can hurt that entrepreneurial spirit. We need to work to strike a balance to protect consumers while allowing small business to thrive. Large corporations are not in the business of creating jobs, as they would have you believe. They are in the business of creating profits for themselves and their shareholders. While I have the utmost respect for a well run, profitable corporation, they cannot be allowed to profit off the backs of the poor and middle class. I believe large corporations should pay their fair share in taxes, which is not currently happening. Tax breaks for big business should follow growth and willingness to create jobs and invest in growing America’s economy.
As a Navy Chief, I support a strong and ready military. However, I have also seen rampant waste and mismanagement of funds. I personally watched a command throw out beautiful, antique desks, tables, chairs and bookshelves to replace them with $30,000 of pressboard furniture made in China. This was one instance in one command. Multiply that across all of the branches, all of the buildings, and all of the commands that make up the entire military. Increasingly we are seeing defense budgets being run by people who have never served in the military and do not understand the ins and outs of how the military works. Smart spending is vital and establishing more streamlined spending programs is an important first step. We must stop funneling taxpayer dollars directly into defense contractors’ pockets. We need new leadership, which has a military background, to provide oversight of defense spending.
There is always room for improvement within our educational system. Education is a right, not a privilege, and I will actively promote legislation that supports this. Our nation has thrived by having a strongly educated middle class and we need to, once again, make our schools the best in the world.
We must give more autonomy to teachers and free them from the constant testing cycle. We’ve allowed our society to put more value on a test score that is not supported or backed by science than a child’s actual knowledge. While I understand that testing has its place, it is only one tool among many to assess learning. We entrust the safety and well being of our children to their teachers on a daily basis. Why then should we not put more trust in those teachers’ decisions on the evaluation of our children?
Supporting strong public schools and supporting strong parental education rights are not mutually exclusive positions. We must also ensure that parents have strong rights within the school system which include the right to home school or privately educate their children.
Secure borders are the first step in controlling illegal immigration, however a physical barrier is not a practical method of accomplishing this. Technology such as drone surveillance and increased man power is the most effective way to secure our border. Immigration reform should have a focus on the companies that are knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. Stiff financial penalties, enough to hurt a business’ bottom line, should be applied and repeat offenders should be brought up on criminal charges. Another way to solve our current problems with unauthorized entry into our country is to fully support legal immigration. I will support bills that seek to cut bureaucratic barriers, without compromising security, that make our immigration system difficult and time consuming to navigate
As our population grows, our energy requirements will continue to grow as well. As a country, we need to focus on new, creative, clean ways to create this energy and bring sustainable, energy related jobs to North Carolina’s 10th district. Renewable sources are the only way forward. The US should not be left to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to producing clean sources of power. I am calling for all energy to be renewable by 2035 and will support any legislation that can help us meet this goal.
Social Security and Medicare
We must protect Social Security and Medicare. North Carolina’s 10th district has a growing population of retirees, and I pledge to work hard to ensure that Social Security and Medicare will be here for all of our retirement years. We must make sure that the wealthiest Americans are paying their fair share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Currently there is a cap on any earned income of over $250,000 per year. I believe we should lift that cap so that the wealthiest are paying their fair share in taxes and we can increase benefits for these programs for at least the next 50 years.
A country that works to protect the rights of all of their citizens is a strong country. As a nation, we have made incredible progress in the area of civil rights in the past fifty years, but there is still room for improvement. Minority groups still have higher unemployment rates, higher incarceration rates, and lower access to healthcare. In recent years, we have seen disturbing trends of minority groups having less access to voting and quality education. It is important to preserve the strides we have made and continue to work toward full equality for all American citizens. I will stand with all minority communities to preserve and protect their civil rights and promote equality in the future.
Farming has been the backbone of Western North Carolina’s history since the foundation of our state. Ninety seven percent of farms in the United States are family owned and operated. Local farms are an important part of the framework of the tenth district’s economy. They use local markets, banks, and services to move their produce, as well as improving access to healthy food for the local community. However, in recent years there have been troubling trends in agriculture where farmers are unable to maintain their farms due to large agricultural companies’ ability to undercut their prices as well as unjust laws regarding seed sale and sharing. In congress, I plan to protect the rights of small farmers and protect them, as well as the consumer, from the impact of corporate agriculture. I will do this by supporting legislation that aids local farmers, limits the power of large agricultural companies, and encourages schools to use local produce in their lunches. These things can help protect the family farms that are so important to our community.