Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Response from Jason Kander, U.S. Senate Candidate

1. What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position? What experience/attributes do you have that qualify you for this position? 

Missouri’s United States Senator should answer to Missourians first—not lobbyists or special interest groups. After I saw the twin towers fall on 9/11, I decided I could best serve my state and country in the Army. I worked to root out corruption in Afghanistan as an Intelligence Officer and returned home to Missouri to train soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood. My service taught me that honest, transparent governance is essential to a healthy, successful society.

As Missouri’s Secretary of State and a former member of the state legislature, I have worked to improve transparency and fought for tougher ethics laws so that Missourians know exactly how their government is working for them.

2. Why do you think you are the best person for this position? What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

Over about the past eight months, I have visited every county in the state and spoken with folks who are fed up with the way Washington is leaving them behind. I have made a concerted effort to reach out and include voices from every community and background in my campaign, and I will represent all of them in Washington.

I have experience as a soldier, a legislator and a statewide elected official. I believe I am the most qualified candidate because I have successfully fought for the rights of all Missourians throughout my time in public service and will bring a fresh perspective to Washington.

3. What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)

After the Wall Street collapsed the economy in 2008, Congress came to the rescue only for America’s wealthiest. Today, the economy is getting back on track but working families still aren’t seeing enough of a change in their pocketbooks. Costs of living in America are rising and Congress refuses to act to help the people who need it most. It is time to give the middle class a tax cut, raise the minimum wage, guarantee equal pay for equal work for men and women, and increase workplace and whistleblower protections.

We also need to undo the damage the Supreme Court caused in the Citizens United decision by passing a Constitutional Amendment so millionaires, billionaires and huge corporations can’t buy our elections. I passed the first major campaign finance and ethics reform in Missouri in over 20 years while a member of the legislature, and will continue that fight in the Senate.

Our country is now at risk of sending numerous jobs oversees if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is passed by Congress. This poorly-negotiated deal would force Missouri businesses into unfair competition with foreign companies, likely driving down labor standards in America and further harming Missouri’s most vulnerable. Congress must oppose the TPP and save American jobs.

4. Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.

I am running for Senate to make sure that the voices of all Missourians are heard in Congress. One of my main priorities in this campaign is to bring those voices to the table, listen to their concerns and sustain those conversations as an elected Senator.

In April, we launched the Black Community for Kander as our first campaign group to build relationships and continue dialogues across the state. Instead of just holding press conferences, I’ve held roundtables to actually listen to the concerns of Missourians. I will continue building coalitions to discuss the issues important to Missourians that aren’t currently addressed by our federal government.

5. Who are your 3 largest campaign contributors? Are there donors from whom you will not accept campaign contributions?

As a candidate running for federal office, Federal Elections Committee guidelines limit contributions to my campaign to $5,400. Therefore, I am not beholden to any exclusive individual or group of campaign contributors.

I accept money from supporters who believe Washington is broken and we need a new generation of leaders to step forward.

6. Since the shooting death of Michael Brown and the national rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement, criminal justice reform has become a national topic of conversation, yet few changes have been made on a national level. If elected, will you make criminal justice reform, and racial equity, a priority in Washington? If so, how?

Michael Brown’s death started a conversation in Missouri and across the nation about ways our government can better serve the Black community. But the time for conversation is over, and the state and federal government must take action.

The use of body cameras on police officers is a great first step in building trust between the Black community and law enforcement. Eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline should be a top priority in Congress, and I will work to improve education in underfunded school districts to empower young people and improve access to higher education. To decrease recidivism, Congress should support federal legislation in line with “Ban the Box” proposals to increase opportunities for individuals who have been incarcerated. I am proud that I have “Banned the Box” in the Secretary of State’s office.

But there’s more than we can do besides policy changes. Elected officials need to step up when they see a need. After meeting with small business owners in Ferguson in the wake of the death of Michael Brown, I launched #FergusonRebuild, a nonprofit initiative to raise private money to provide grants to businesses in Ferguson and the surrounding area that were damaged or destroyed during the unrest. Working alongside the St. Louis Regional Business Council and North County Incorporated, this initiative has raised over $150,000 in private money to help keep those businesses in their community.

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