Monday, January 29, 2018

Interview with Elizabeth Moro

Elizabeth Moro is a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district. The Republican incumbent recently announced that he won't run for re-election so this race has become a lot more interesting. Ms. Moro's campaign got in touch about an interview. This blog used to do a few interviews most years and they were popular posts, so we'll try it again and see how it goes.

Ms. Moro's campaign website is .  My thanks to the campaign for their outreach and patience with my process.

In In the past you raised money for Republican women candidates in Delaware, and now running as Democratic woman. What issues are universal for women candidates?

On January 20th, I joined with countless women across the country to demand equal treatment and speak out against sexual harassment. The pernicious culture that seeks to relegate females to second-class citizenship hurts women everywhere, regardless of their political affiliation. The gender pay gap, the absence of laws that guarantee a woman paid parental leave, and the fight against domestic violence are universal issues for women. Less than 15% of the engineering workforce is female, and young girls often lack access to training in STEM fields. I believe that a woman’s place is wherever she wants it to be, and I will promote this mantra in Congress.

Early in your career you worked at a non-profit institute that looked at global issues. Tell us what you learned from this experience.

My experience only buttressed my longstanding commitment to the preservation of our planet. One of the central tenets of my campaign platform is environmental protection, and when examining global issues, none can deny the destructive effects of man made climate change. When the icecaps melt, and Decorah, Iowa becomes a seaside getaway, it will be too late. Luckily, we have a unique opportunity to combat and reverse these harmful trends. I support a renewed commitment to the Paris Climate Accord and a prompt transition to renewable energy. We are witnessing astounding job growth in the clean energy sector. Instead of focusing on bringing back coal, let’s train workers for the economy of the future.

On twitter you call for campaign finance reform. If you could design the perfect legislation on this, what would it look like?

The Citizens United decision has effectively transformed our democracy into a plutocracy. Candidates indebted to a wealthy donor class are completely divorced from the issues that matter most to working families. Assaults on organized labor, public education, and Medicare expansion can flourish in a system where candidates are beholden to the highest bidder.

I support the Move To Amend organization’s proposed Constitutional Amendment which states, “The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.” The Amendment also limits contribution amounts and rejects the misconception that limiting political spending is an unconstitutional suppression of free speech.

Regarding the opioid epidemic, you call for education and better health care. In an ideal world what practical steps can Congress take to address this and other substance abuse issues?

The United States has roughly five percent of the world’s population, but around twenty-two percent of its prison population. The “War on Drugs” has been a colossal policy disaster, offering little more than the warehousing of nonviolent low-grade drug offenders. The growth of the prison industrial complex has done nothing to address the core issues surrounding drug addiction. In order to aggressively combat the opioid epidemic, treatment programs must be adequately funded, especially those that use medication-assisted treatment. Drug courts that prioritize treatment over incarceration are essential, and pharmaceutical behemoths and their drug dealers in white lab coats must be held accountable for their role and face more stringent penalties.

On your campaign website you say you have lived a life of public service. Readily available information shows this to be primarily related to school, scouts, and church activities, and work with local conservation / environmental organizations. How does this prepare you for elected office as opposed to the traditional political path of being elected at the local level and then working up to federal office (like Congress)?

I unequivocally believe that there is an assault on the foundational principles that hold our democracy up. A country that espoused equal opportunity and upward mobility has adopted a country club mindset where only the powerful and well connected have a voice. While I have never been an elected official, a myriad of other experiences prepare me to lead in Congress. My efforts as a conservationist pitted me against powerful corporate interests, and I helped lead a successful effort to prevent the superfluous development of a critical green space. When I was a single mother working while raising a family, I lived the challenges facing so many in my district. Republicans in Congress consistently support trade deals and policies that hurt working families. I couldn’t sit on the sidelines and watch this happen. I am running a grassroots campaign focused on governmental accountability and transparency. As a strong female candidate, I am ready to step into Congress tomorrow and lead.

What are the “low hanging fruit” issues that you think Democrats and Republicans can work together to accomplish in Congress?

There are a plethora of issues that should have a bipartisan consensus. Medicare expansion, environmental protection, and eschewing corporate welfare in favor of Main Street America seem like common sense positions. I have a history of bringing people together and finding common ground. The American people are tired of gridlock, ad hominem attacks, and a culture of divisiveness. While I will never betray my fundamental ideals or the people who elected me, I am willing to work with representatives who want real results for their constituents, not just an increase in Twitter followers.

You say you went to college on Pell grant and loans. What can be done to make college more affordable?

As a college education is becoming more and more essential, it is also becoming less and less affordable. I fundamentally oppose for-profit education that seeks to take advantage of students’ dreams and saddle them with insurmountable debt. Any student that attends a public university or community college should graduate debt free. I am also an avid proponent of alternative options for students including bolstering union apprenticeship programs and providing grants and subsidies for two-year colleges and technical schools. Unions built America’s once vibrant middle class, and I support our labor unions without prevarication.

What question didn’t I ask that you would like to answer?

“Why is it of paramount importance to finally address the egregious partisan gerrymandering in the United States?”

Voters should pick their representatives, not the other way around. Fair districts encourage public involvement and foster an enhanced sense of community. Districts that weave in and out of multiple counties are a direct affront to the spirit of representative democracy. I applaud the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for its recent decision ruling the districts “clearly, plainly, and palpably” unconstitutional. It's far past time for Pennsylvania to send a delegation to the House of Representatives that represents Pennsylvanians.

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