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New Jersey US Senate

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  • Cory Booker
    (Dem)

  • Daniel Burke
    (O)

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    Veronica Fernandez
    (O)

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    Madelyn R. Hoffman
    (Grn)

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    Rikin "Rik" Mehta
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

What on-going role do you envision for the federal government in combating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing for future pandemics?

What are your top three policy priorities? Please explain.

What is your economic recovery plan?

What, if any steps, should our nation take to reform our health care policies?

What measures do you support to improve and secure elections and voting in our country?

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Twitter @VeronicaforNJ
Website www.veronica2020.com
Qualifications/Experience Lifelong NJ resident, taxpayer, small business owner & Mom who is fed up and doing something about it. The women who fought before me gave me the power, right, & courage to be the change I want to see
In order to be better prepared going forward, we need to look back at what has and has not worked to date. I would of course, like to see a more unified effort. For a pandemic to become a partisan issue is itself an indicator of where we are as a country. First, a single payer healthcare system would provide Americans with peace of mind knowing they can be tested and treated. Knowing care is available and there will be no cost for treatment would help reduce infection tremendously. I would want Federal guidelines on safety (too much confusion state to state) that would be based on science and research. We need to have a pandemic preparedness plan that would include direct actions to be taken at state levels. This would include testing, tracking, communication and resources available. Any plan would also need flexibility and "plan B" options already in place and "drills" that would test response plans would be required.
#1-Campaign Finance Reform-I believe in Representative Government & right now, we the people are not represented. For decades & even more so since SCOTUS ruling on Citizen's United, legislation is written for & sometimes written literally by special interests. We have over 12,000 registered lobbyists for 535 MOC. Until we clean up the corruption thru campaign finance reform nothing much will change on any other issue. #2-Term Limits-Again, with approval ratings of 15% or lower, why do incumbents win nearly 90% of the time? Because of donations from wealthy individuals and corporations. Term limits will eliminate that and help well meaning candidates from all parties a more level playing field. #3-Healthcare-NJ taxes at the local, state and federal level contain billions in private health ins prems & unnecessary/duplicated Worker's Comp prems. Substantial relief would be realized by a single payer system. Better care, less money as evidenced by multiple ind./non/bi-partisan studies.
My idea is a more of a "Revenue Recovery Plan". We generate enough money, it just doesn't come back to us. We are told constantly that we are the richest country in the history of the world yet, healthcare is unaffordable, infrastructure is a mess, our schools are falling apart, teachers, police and other workers haven't had a real raise in years, we can't afford education, retirement, and the American dream of owning home is more of a pipe dream now and the environment OMG! With so much money, how can that be? The answer is directly related to my #1 issue of Campaign Finance Reform. For decades corps/industry have had their way in congress and as a result pay little to nothing in Fed taxes (Amazon, Chevon, Eli-Lilly, GE, etc) and many even receive subsidies as well! If we get their undue influence out of congress, we will be able to write fair tax laws. With everyone paying their fair share, there would be no need for budget cuts and Americans would prosper again.
This is why I am running. Please read my story on my website to hear one (there are many) healthcare nightmare story. As a candidate, this is the number one complaint I hear and the stories are heartbreaking. From mothers with mentally ill children that can't afford medication to diabetics that ration insulin, our healthcare system is a dysfunctional disgrace. The only way to get EFFECTIVE healthcare reform is to first get the undue influence of the healthcare lobby out of congress. I support, as do the majority of Americans, a single payer system. Dozens of independent, bi and non-partisan studies indicate we can have much better care for far less money. The only reason we don't have a single payer system is because the powerful healthcare industry does not allow it to happen. They are an unnecessary middleman and ending their reign of control will save hundreds (yes hundreds) of billions of dollars per year and save tens of thousands of lives.
In 2016 only 56% of voter age eligible citizens voted in the Presidential election and that is unacceptable. So may people feel their vote doesn't matter or they are discouraged with candidates which is understandable. I want to not only improve and secure elections, I want to increase voter turnout and my platform includes measures that will improve voting on many levels. I support Ranked Choice Voting, restoration of voting rights, election day as a national holiday, open and SAME day primaries (here in NJ we are known as superfluous Tuesday!), ending voter suppression, elimination of the EC and fair districting. If we can make voting easier, and give well meaning candidates equal access at running, voter participation will certainly increase.
Twitter @hoffman4US2020
Website www.hoffmanforsenate.com
Qualifications/Experience MPA Rutgers-Newark; Dir. Environmental Org. for 20 years; Dir. Peace Org. for 20 years; Ralph Nader's NJ VP running mate 1996; Candidate for NJ Gov. 1997; 2018 candidate for U.S. Senate - 25,150 votes
COVID-19 is the virus causing pandemic, but capitalism made it worse. Much could have been done to prevent COVID-19’s spread. The federal government should have acted sooner. A national strategy should have been drafted to keep all states on the same page. It should have included strong rules for wearing masks, physical distancing and purchasing and distributing PPE to the states. COVID-19 testing should be free and universal, but there's more. I am a firm believer in improved and expanded Medicare for all, including comprehensive primary care, emergency medical care, dental care, mental health care, and more. If we had a universal healthcare system, many lives would have been saved. Certainly, if ability to pay did not define ability to get quality healthcare, that would have also prevented the spread, as people would have gotten medical attention earlier. Universal testing could have picked up the virus before someone had the opportunity to spread it to too many others.
Peace: As a longtime peace activist, I support significantly reducing US involvement in foreign wars. In addition to the moral dilemma that comes with devastating countries, cultures, and people, wars cost trillions of dollars for the United States and prove exceptionally costly as far as loss of lives of U.S. citizens and expenditure of U.S. tax dollars. A 50% cut in the military budget will help the US fund an eco-socialist Green New Deal, Reparations, Education, Infrastructure, Medicare for All. A Real Green New Deal: Capitalism and a clean environment are incompatible. To achieve a more sustainable world, we must transition away from fossil fuels, and eliminate greed. A Real Green New Deal could create many new clean energy jobs. Social Justice: In addition to supporting reparations for descendants of enslaved people, Puerto Ricans, and indigenous, I support the right to indigenous sovereignty, divesting from police/prisons, investing in marginalized communities and abolishing ICE.
I support a real eco-socialist Green New Deal. A real Green New Deal is not just an environmental policy, but a transition away from Capitalism for good. It includes a universal government jobs guarantee, the creation of clean energy jobs at a living wage, and more. I also support a universal basic income, one based on a living wage and jobs creation, a policy which has proven very effective in Spain, and other countries during the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has also exacerbated the need to control gentrification. Rent controls need to be in place to keep people housed and nobody should be evicted throughout the duration of this pandemic. Additionally, I am a firm believer in community investment. I encourage de-funding the military, police, prisons and ICE detention centers and instead moving that money toward tangible investments in our communities. Strong communities keep each other safe. Mutual aid organizations now empowering communities to survive should remain post-pandemic.
This pandemic has proven that improved and expanded Medicare for All is all that more necessary. Nobody should live off private insurance. Millions lost their insurance when they lost their jobs. Workers needed unlimited sick pay so they could stay home until they got better. In almost all countries with developed economies, and many without, public systems of healthcare mean that everyone has access. Some people argue that this dilutes the quality of healthcare, but nothing would stop people from choosing their own private insurance if they wanted. This is no different than a parent choosing to send a child to a private school. Medicare for All would cover everyone regardless of people’s individual decisions. Nobody would be excluded. This would have had a massive impact in the world of COVID-19 where early detection and early treatment is so critical. It is unconscionable that the U.S. has the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 anywhere in the world.
I believe in Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). RCV allows for instant run-off. Whoever wins any election will be someone the people actually want, instead of the "lesser of two evils" With RCV, there is an incentive for candidates to be strong in their convictions. No longer can fear tactics such as “dividing the vote” be a concern. It means candidates have to campaign harder and be nicer to each other instead of fundraising harder and purchasing more attack ads. Additionally, I support things like automatic voter registration and increased early voting. I support making Election Day a national holiday. Furthermore, I support abolishing the Electoral College which undermines the will of the people. I proudly support lowering the voting age to 16 in order to encourage Civics education in schools and give youth who clearly want to have a voice the ability to do so. Lastly, I support repealing Citizens United, preventing big money and PAC money from unduly influencing elections.
Twitter @RikMehta_NJ
Website https://rikfornj.com/
Qualifications/Experience Consumer Safety Officer- United States Food and Drug Administration Co-Founder- Licentiam, Inc. Co-Founder- Lactiga Therapeutics J.D.- Rutgers Law PharmD- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
First and foremost, we need to end the globalization of our supply chain and take it back from the hands of communist China and other countries that we cannot depend on in times in crisis. In concert with that, we should enact my ‘Made in America’ medicines campaign that will require companies to disclose the country of origin of their manufactured drugs. Americans have a right to know whether the medicines that they put in their or their children’s bodies, were ‘Made in America’ or ‘Made in China’, and they should be labeled as such. Lastly, we need to empower small businesses – the mom and pop shops – to reopen responsibly and not be held hostage by arbitrary, politicized policies promulgated by politicians like Governor Phil Murphy, who is singlehandedly destroying New Jersey’s economy and putting us at even further competitive disadvantage to our neighbors.
My top three policy priorities as US Senator would be as follows: 1) rebuild our economy in the wake of COVID-19 by continuing to bring jobs back from overseas and resurrect manufacturing here at home. That includes pharmaceutical manufacturing right here in NJ, which used to be one of our primary in-state industries and employers; 2) take on politicians in both parties to get NJ’s fair share of federal investment from Washington. Due to the failures of our current U.S. Senators, NJ gets less than 80 cents back for every dollar we send to D.C. That is an instant, backdoor tax increase on every resident of our state. We need to fire the incompetent politicians who created this mess and put New Jersey first; and 3) securing our border to stop illegal immigration. The proliferation of ridiculous policies like Phil Murphy’s so-called “Sanctuary State” and free tuition, healthcare, and legal assistance for illegal immigrants while our own people struggle to make ends meet must end.
We need a responsible, regional reopening of our economy and we need it now. The idea that Governors like Phil Murphy can sidestep both duly elected Democrats and Republicans in the legislature and rule by Executive Order is unconstitutional and wrong. My plan would be to bring together local, county, and state elected officials, public health and public safety experts, small business owners, and public education officials to formulate a regional plan that allows for reopening based population density, infection rates, and hospital capacity. That plan needs to include firm timelines that provides people with the certainty needed to return to normal. That includes planning for childcare, eldercare, school schedules, etc. Moreover, we need to ensure that economic stimulus aid finds its way directly to the small businesses who have been so devastated by this pandemic and the ensuring lockdown.
As someone who worked in the FDA, I know what is broken with our healthcare system and how to fix it. Disastrous socialist policies like so-called ‘Medicare for All’ is not the answer, as it will lead to the end of private insurance, the doubling of taxes on nearly every American, and rationing of care. That is unacceptable. Rik supports the following prescription to fix our broken system and still deliver the best care: 1) allow competition across state lines to bring down costs; 2) eliminate excessive regulatory mandates and burdens on medical professionals; 3) reverse damaging policies like taxing insurance premiums; 4) crack down on pharma companies; 5) get innovative therapies onto pharmacy shelves; 6) increase transparency into PBM practices and manufacturer drug pricing decisions; 7) cut down FDA approval time for new medicines; 8) bring drug manufacturing back to the U.S. to lower the price of drugs and create American jobs.
Ensuring free and fair elections is essential to the future of our republic. We should encourage participation by every legal citizen who meets the requirements to vote. At the same time, we need to do everything in our power to crack down on interference from hostile nations like Russia through cyberwarfare, as well as ensure that we eliminate voter fraud here in the United States. That means increasing investment in our capabilities to identify and stop outside attacks by our enemies. It also means the implementation of a national Voter ID law in the United States that requires all voters to produce a verified, legal picture identification at each polling place, as well as for those who endeavoring to vote by mail. I’m not the first to say it and won’t be the last, but the idea that you need an ID to board an airplane, rent a car, book a hotel room, or buy a bottle of wine, but don’t need one to vote, is ridiculous and needs to be changed.