The main questions focused on the current economic crisis, job creation and economic development and the nation's energy policies. On that issue alone, they all spoke of the need to seek alternatives, with several candidates promoting the development of a 'green economy' based on alternative fuel sources which are available in East Tennessee, such as switchgrass, soybeans and bio-diesel.
The crowd was rather small, according to reports, and it's doubtful that any sizable portion of the 1st District will ever hear any of the comments and views of the candidates, which is a sad state of affairs. Still, after listening and making notes on what was said, I've tried to offer a sample of their comments. The forum lasted about 117 minutes, and I hope you'll give it a listen.
I've got some details below on the questions and answers, but first, this morning I received an email from Democrat candidate Rob Russell about one of the questions from the forum, asking whether or not the candidates would support overturning Roe v. Wade. Rob writes:
"His stated position and supporting examples are, at best, contradictory; at worst, they indicate a stance based more on political expediency than his experiences as a physician.
Dr. Roe was asked whether, if elected, he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. He answered yes, saying that he was "pro-life."
He then went on to say how he'd "been with mothers when they've been ill, and [made] the decision … I've made those life and death decisions, and very few people have had to deal with that as I have."
First, I would like to ask Dr. Roe how he defines abortion?
By virtue of his profession Dr. Roe has surely been in many situations where forms of abortion such as D&E (dilation and evacuation) or D&C (dilation and curettage) were performed. Why they were performed is immaterial: these procedures are by definition forms of abortion – they end the life of the fetus – and thus are procedures that could be prohibited by law if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
Second, I would like to ask Dr. Roe if he's comfortable with the state making his "life and death decisions" for him?
There would be no decision to make if Roe v. Wade were overturned and the right to criminalize abortion was given back to the states. The state would set the guidelines for "life and death decisions," not Dr. Roe and his patients. Dr. Roe must certainly be aware of this fact.
I do not doubt for a second that Dr. Roe is as "dedicated to preserving life" as he says he is. His experience in situations where making "life and death" decisions is a necessity has most certainly brought him insight into aspects of morality and ethics that most of us would find difficult to comprehend. And I'm sure that he is heartbroken whenever a malady or circumstance requiring the termination of a pregnancy strikes a mother.
FROM THE FORUM -- Some Comments I Noted:
Why Are You Seeking Office:
Russell - I decided to run because after looking at the field of candidates, I saw no one looked like me - works full time, has to pay close attention to paying the bills, raising a family, I'm one of you.
Roe - I'm a Korean vet, mayor of Johnson City, Johnson City has a revenue surplus now, and I look forward to serving you.
On Oil Exploration in ANWAR
Goodman - we don't need it at this point, and current leadership in Washington has a lack of attention to our needs.
Roe - energy is a national security issue, more supply at home means less foreign dependence.
Russell - it's a symbolic issue which can be a distraction, we have 3% of the worlds' oil but use 25%, a policy that looks to alternatives which brings jobs to ET, drilling in ANWAR won't help East Tennessee.
Candidates Respond to Individual Questions
on Voter IDs
Owens - -we need a fed standard, and a state standard;
Goodman -- better methods;
Reeves -- it's a state issue;
Roe -- a state issue;
Russell -- some ID laws provide too many hurdles for voters, need a fed standard
on Privatizing Social Security
Reeves -- Social Security privatization - won't work now, no new programs, cut more spending; Goodman -- we need less reliance on SS;
Roe -- SS is a solemn promise, i intend to keep it and Congress must stop raiding fund but it does need some privatization;
Russell -- preserve the program and make it work
views on the Current Economic Conditions
Roe - bad home loans were made, to fix it (cut out of recording);
Goodman - it's the federal reserve's fault;
Owens - i don't see a crisis, bailout is a sham;
Reeves - foxes are in charge of the henhouse, need a 'moral capitalism';
Russell - the walls of separation in finance were broken, stronger oversight needed, along with modern rules and regulations.
on Warrantless Wiretapping
Russell-- leadership in Washington has turned into Big Brother, we need to protect rights to privacy;
Goodman -- the majority must want it as they've re-elected those who support these policies; Owens - that's been the president's call, we've been profiling, and we can't do much to change it; Reeves - government not been helpful, those who forfeit liberty for safety deserve neither;
Roe -- absolutely oppose warrantless wiretaps
on Jobs and Economic Development in East TN
Goodman -- I've been promoting bio-fuel projects in E.T. using soy and other products for sustainable energy;
Reeves -- review trade agreements like NAFTA
Roe --balance the budget, keep taxes low and businesses and growth will help
Russell -- the job of a representative is to advocate for the best interest of this area; I will promote a green economy in this area, like switchgrass, bio-diesel; also we need a stronger education system.
on Affordable Healthcare
Goodman -- reduce cost of medical procedures, drug availabilities, reform litigation;
Owens -- set a cap on medical costs; remove stigma of homeopathic medicine;
Reeves -- costs are far too high;
Roe -- future problems of costs and medical professionals will be a challenge;
Russell -- we have an unfair system of access, and we should fully fund SCHIP.
on Support For Nuclear Power
Goodman -- depends on what process we use to provide it and handle waste;
Owens - we need to maintain current projects, renewable fuels make more sense,
Reeves -- yes but not in my backyard, most common response;
Roe - no real way to say yes or no to it, I say yes, can be safe, as other countries do;
Russell -- yes
On Plans for Phasing Out Finite Energy Resources
Russell - we need a new, publicly reviewed energy policy, address options of alternative and renewable resources, tax breaks for green development;
Roe - conservation of fossil fuels, use hybrids, seek alternative sources;
Reeves - technology can offer the best help, stop now shipping money overseas;
Goodman - stop seeking oil overseas.
Would You Have Voted For The Bailout?
Goodman - nothing but crooks in DC, who even understands it? no approval;
Owens - no; failed to help americans, gave money to those who manipulate market;
Reeves - no;
Roe - it's a serious crisis, I have no idea how I would have voted, I don't know what was in the 400-plus pages;
Russell - it is a gamble that may not pay off, it's a worldwide crisis, and we have critical issues to take care of such as the infrastructure improvements needed, America should be priority not Wall Street.
Do You Support 'Basic' Rights for Same Sex Couples
Russell - yes. do unto others;
Roe - marriage is between one man and one woman, but I oppose discrimination based on sexual behavior;
Reeves - federal government's job is not to force beliefs on others;
Owens - ??;
Goodman - it is not American to be a theocracy.
Should Roe v Wade Be Overturned
Russell - no, it should stand;
Roe - i think it should be overturned, i am pro-life, i've made those life and death decisions, so i'd vote yes;
Reeves - yes, it should be a state issue;
Owens - its a state issue;
Goodman - i have ex-girlfriends and a sis who had abortions, it is a woman's choice not the governments.
UPDATE: Local newspapers report on the Forum: