Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Response from Dylan Hassinger, State Senate Candidate (Dist. 5)

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?

The 5th District needs a senator that can bring people together. Our city is held back by divisive politics - here at home, and in the statehouse. We need a senator who can build new coalitions that break through the conventional narratives. We need someone who can transcend party lines to diffuse the gridlock in Jefferson City. And we need a senator with vision, who will put forward new solutions to the challenges we face. As a community organizer, an entrepreneur, a technologist, and a musician, my whole life has been spent trying to find new ways to create community. I believe this background and temperament will allow me to find common ground in the Missouri Senate.

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

I am standing up for a young, involved generation in St. Louis that is fed up with politics as usual. We have watched established politics, silver bullet projects and heavy handed government destroy too much and harm too many. My opponent talks a good talk, but behind the scenes she's cutting deals with these same special interests. Her campaign fund is filled with checks from the corporations and strings that lead to billionaires. I am accountable to the people, I refuse corporate donations, I pledge to never take gifts from lobbyists. I will work in good faith - and with an even temperament - to find new solutions that deliver progress for families and small businesses.

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)

1) Building a new coalition and a new narrative that breaks through the rural-urban divide. It won't be easy, but we can do it with a new approach and new ideas.

2) Stopping transactional politics. We need a senator that says no to special deals, who fights corruption, who stays away from the billionaires and the lobbyists, who relies on grassroots funding and not corporations.

3) Community collaboration. We need a senator that stays engaged and collaborative with the community full time, not just during elections, and who considers input from a diverse array of sources.

4. What three issues are your main priorities and how will you guide them?

#1 Economic Development. We are at the end of a long economic decline in St. Louis, but we can flip that around by encouraging new growth industries (such as brewing, urban farming and green tech) and by making it easy as possible to start a small business. #2 Government Accountability. We need to increase transparency, reform campaign finance and ethics laws, and get serious about police and municipal oversight. #3 Neighborhood Empowerment. We need to make sure every community is healthy, has access to quality education and transportation, provides local social services and after school programs - and has law enforcement that reflects and understands them. These will be my priorities in the Missouri Senate.

5. How do you plan to address the schism between Republicans and Democrats in Jefferson City? How will you accomplish things as a member of the minority party?

As a grassroots independent Democrat, not aligned with any political machine or special interests, I believe I can be an honest broker in the statehouse and offer a personal and political reset. As someone who believes in balanced budgets and fiscal sanity, and someone is a bit libertarian on social and economic issues, I can find new common ground with Republicans (for instance, I would have stood with the dissenters on the stadium funding). Last but not least, I will build upon my local activism experience and begin organizing at the statewide level to establish a new progressive coalition that transcends party lines in our state, and can apply pressure to the statehouse on behalf of working families and small businesses.

6. How do you plan to increase available jobs in the area and state?

We need an economic revival in our city and state. We can do that by passing laws that encourage new and growing industries (such as green technology, urban farming, small scale manufacturing, commercial cannabis, and the rehab economy), removing regulation on small business and making it easy as possible for startups & aspiring entrepreneurs to get going, and removing the tax breaks and special deals that large corporations and established interests receive. Initiatives like these will empower a new generation of St. Louis entrepreneurs and STL success stories, spreading out jobs and opportunity that lift everyone up.

7. How do you plan to address the tension between rural and urban areas of the state?

On a person to person level, I think a non-confrontational approach and a willingness to consider new solutions can go a long way. Building on that, my social libertarian views and my youth spent in tiny Stevensville, Michigan gives me some ability to talk in their language, and perhaps to rewrite some preconceived notions of what a St. Louisan Democrat is. In the big picture, we need to reinvent the narratives around our city, and change the assumptions about what Missouri Values are. We can do that by organizing at the state level for common sense progressive change, by standing up for our principles and not cutting deals, and by staying civil when the rhetoric rises and emotions gets hot.

8. What broad-based, stable source of revenue would you recommend to fund quality, public services if both individual and corporate taxes were cut?

I think the best option would be a transaction tax - a small percentage on electronic financial transactions conducted in our state. This would primarily affect financial institutions and large corporations, and would reduce financial speculation. Another option would be pollution and vice taxes -- i.e. putting fees and higher sales taxes on things that are unhealthy. A more creative possibility could be increasing sales taxes for out-of-state corporations that do business here. This would have the secondary benefit of providing new opportunities for Missouri businesses.

9. How can the legislators from the St. Louis metropolitan area work together despite party differences to support and protect the interests of the entire area? (please be specific)

#1 - Take city/county merger off the table. City and county are different, so lets let them each do their own thing. By removing this issue from the discussion, there would be more breathing room to accomplish other forms of collaboration.

#2 - Put sustainability and green tech initiatives at the top of the regional agenda. These can be non-controversial and can lead the way to other progressive change.

#3 - Build a region wide, non-partisan caucus pushing for grassroots, common sense change

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

I will always seek to build common ground, to keep a calm temperament, to be civil & issue-oriented, to keep my word, to not take things personally, to put out a positive vibe. I try to consider things from others points of view, weigh the good and the bad of every case, and not belittle opponents motivations even if I disagree with their position. I work incrementally - I will try to create small pieces of legislation based around areas of consensus, and build a track record of common sense lawmaking. I will push for legislative transparency, post all my bills online before I submit them, and let my constituents submit comments and suggestions via the internet. I will be involved in my district full time.

11. Who are your 3 largest campaign contributors? Do you have a policy on accepting lobbyist gifts? Are there donors from whom you will not accept campaign contributions?

I am running a grassroots, DIY campaign that is primarily self funded. So far all of my contributions are friends who gave less than $30. I will not take donations from out-of-state corporations and will not accept lobbyist gifts. I will not accept any campaign contributions associated with Rex Sinquefeld or Paul McKee. I will work to enact campaign finance reform, ethics reform, and open data policies at all levels. I will stand up for these issues in committee, on the floor, and in the media. I will never miss an ethics vote. I will always vote based on principle, not because of campaign contributions or cutting deals.

12. The Ferguson Commission has over 100 calls to action as a result of its year long community engagement process. Many of its recommendations fall on the Missouri General Assembly to implement. Your election will be a couple of days before the two year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, yet very few of the Commission’s recommendations have been taken up by the General Assembly. If elected, what will you do to ensure that racial justice receives the attention needed at a state level?

1) I will introduce community policing concepts and ways to empower neighborhoods. If we amplify local voices, better integrate law enforcement with their communities, and get serious about urban education, then movement towards justice will follow. 2) I will fight to reform the drug war, but I will frame it libertarian and economic terms. If we do so, there is an opportunity to build a new coalition around cross-party values like police oversight, cannabis decriminalization, and asset forfeiture reform. 3) I will put pressure on St. Louis County to be accountable. I am from STL County, I have been through the legal system there, I have seen firsthand how it is broken. I will be very serious about increasing oversight for the municipalities AND county government, and will encourage frustrated families & businesses to relocate to STL City.

13. Increasingly, women’s reproductive rights, workers’ rights, and LGBTQ rights have been under attack in Jefferson City. If elected, what will you do to protect and advocate for these classes?

I will frame these issues in civil libertarian terms, and make a conservative case for respecting personal freedom and privacy on social issues. I will also organize at the statewide level to show Jefferson City that there is broad cross-party support for progressive stances on these issues. Last but not least, I will build a track record of finding common ground on less contentious issues, and work earnestly to build a common sense coalition that changes the dynamic in the Missouri Senate.

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