In an effort to provide Texas voters with as much information as possible to inform their votes, the Herald Democrat reached out to each of the six Republicans vying to represent the 4th Congressional District in Washington. The only candidate not to respond was Tony Arterburn Jr., who is out of the state with a sick family member.
On many policy issues, all five respondents agree, including no path to citizenship for illegal immigrations, no federal government support for gay marriage or civil unions, no expanded background checks for gun purchases, and no federal action on climate change.
The candidates’ answers are printed verbatim with two exceptions — direct attacks were removed and candidates were told their answers would be cut after 100 words. Those edits are marked with ellipses (…). The order of responses was determined by random drawing.
Please provide a brief synopsis of your biography and background.
John Stacy: I have worked in the insurance and investing fields for the last 12 years. I represent 200 small businesses for their insurance needs, and know intimately the effects of Obamacare in Texas. I have been married for 11 years to my beautiful wife Amie, and we have 3 boys, Jude, Gabriel, and Luke. I have served on Fate City Council, worked for the Texas Tenth Amendment Center, and started notintexas.org to fight Obamacare in Texas. I have written legislation at the state level, worked on city budgets that lowered the tax rate and paid off debt. I have also successfully…
Ralph Hall: I was born in Fate, Texas and attended public schools in Rockwall. After my service in World War II as a naval aircraft carrier pilot, I received my LL.B. from SMU and maintained a private law practice in Rockwall. My personal business experience in Rockwall County includes: President/CEO of Texas Aluminum Corp., General Counsel of Texas Extrusion Co., Chairman of Lakeside News, Inc., and a founding member of Lakeside National Bank in Rockwall. In Congress, I currently serve as Chairman Emeritus of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and as the senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Brent Lawson: I’m a 49 year old 4th generation Texan. My wife Sandra and I have been married for 29 years, and we have three children in college. I am an Electrical Engineer (1991 UTA), currently managing a group of 20 semiconductor design engineers and their projects. I am a GOP precinct chairman in Grayson County, and the chairman of our county “Keep Texas Red” committee. We live on a small ranch in Grayson County. Our Christian faith is the rock on which we have built our lives, and we attend Church at First Baptist in Tom Bean.
John Ratcliffe: I’m a limited government conservative with a proven record of defending the Constitution and balancing budgets. I believe that the strength of our country comes from the liberty and ingenuity of the American people, not from the Federal Government. As the U.S. Attorney for East Texas under President Bush, I fought hard to crack down on illegal immigration, drug trafficking, terrorism and fraud/corruption. As a Texas mayor, I balanced eight straight budgets without raising taxes. I’m 48, have been married 24 years with two children and we attend our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Rockwall.
Lou Gigliotti: Lou Gigliotti, Degree in Math and Business, Former HS Math Teacher, Wrestling Coach, 3 time National Champion Race car driver, Stunt Driver for Walker Texas Ranger. 40 years in Business, 30 of them in Texas. Started my Texas business, LG Motorsports with a loan of $1200 and have built this company up to become a national performance parts supplier. I signed over 200 Texan’s paychecks. We will move into our new 45,000 Sq. Ft. National HQ building in Plano Tx in March. We have come from our humble beginnings to a thriving Texas business.
In a race with six candidates from the same party, there’s bound to be more overlap than divisions when it comes to policy. So what defining characteristic about your personality makes you the voters’ best choice? In other words, people like to say our political system is “broken.” What makes you think you can fix it?
Stacy: I believe in my ability to build consensus. It is one thing to say you want to bring change, but I have been able to get a City Council to lower taxes twice, get a County to repeal a tax, and get bills passed the State House with over 100 votes. We all want change, but we have to be able to convince others to join us in this fight. I have been able to do this at every level of government that I have been privileged to work at. I do not believe that I can fix it alone. …
Hall: My work ethic, seniority, experience in Congress, and ability to bring people together have served the constituents of the 4th District well. Because I was born, raised, and live here, I know the values and needs of Northeast Texas. I listen to my constituents, and utilize cultivated relationships in Congress to help the 4th District and advance policies to keep America strong and competitive. I believe Republicans will take back the Senate this year, and in doing so, the House and Senate can work together, pursuing conservative objectives to get America back on track.
Lawson: There is a practical agenda laid out on the campaign website for advancing my vision for changing politics. I am passionate about working with GOP and conservative grass roots leaders throughout CD4 to take politics out of the hands of the political elite, and put it into the hands of people that love the Constitution, and recognize the value of our heritage. I have over 20 years of experience identifying and solving complex problems. I’m going to Washington to protect the way of life in CD4 and to pursue a constitutional-conservative agenda, not to play defense.
Ratcliffe: With a proven record of leadership and success, voters don’t have to guess what kind of Congressman I’ll be. I’ve defended our Constitution from top to bottom. I’ve proven to be tough on illegal immigration by arresting 300 illegal aliens in a single day. I’m a proven fiscal conservative who has balanced budgets without raising taxes during the worst economic recession of our lifetime. In Congress, I won’t be tethered by the “inside game” rules where politicians sacrifice principles for an eventual committee chairmanship. Instead, I will continue to fight for the conservative values which have defined my public service.
Gigliotti: I am young enough to perform at the top of my ability yet I have enough experience and background in business and life to help turn this ship of state around. If Washington DC was a forest, one man can’t chop the entire forest down alone. BUT one man can start a “Forest Fire”, and I have matches. The matches of ideas that will bring us back to the Constitution. I have learned how to get things done. And my business success is testimony to that.
If Obamacare were repealed tomorrow and you were tasked with creating a replacement system, how would you improve health care in this country?
Stacy: We have to remember how we got here. Healthcare is not an easy fix. What I will say first is that Obamacare has limited the ability of people to secure insurance in this country. We have to remember that it is only through the free market that any industry can survive. Everyone needs healthcare at some point in their lives, but we have to separate the care from the insurance. When we talk about healthcare we are mostly talking about insurance. If the government would stop trying to take over the insurance companies, then rates would be much cheaper. If…
Hall: My priorities for health care reform after “ObamaCare” is repealed will be to improve health care quality, affordability, and access, and to protect the doctor-patient relationship. Specifically, I would work to ensure:
• Access to deductions and advanced refundable credits so people have the incentive to purchase health care;
• Health policies are owned by the patient, regardless of who pays, to provide more flexibility;
• More coverage options for those with pre-existing conditions;
• The lawsuit abuse system is reformed; and
• Doctor-led quality measures are established.
Health care should be a market-based system, free from government control, which …
Lawson: My position starts with the premise that the status quo was preferable to the ACA. Free market reforms have been proposed by a number of sources in recent years. The core of these reforms typically includes removing interstate commerce barriers, improving insurance portability, and Health Savings Accounts. I would promote moving away from an employer based market toward an individual market. When starting with the best health care system in the world, any reform should focus on incremental improvements. The American health care system was a national treasure that is now at risk due to the ACA.
Ratcliffe: Runaway health care costs are the main drivers of our out-of-control deficit and fiscal instability. Obamacare reduces access to healthcare and increases costs. It was supposed to be the other way around. When Obamacare is eventually repealed, we need to replace it with sensible, market-based reforms which actually control costs. Specifically, I would support the following reform:
• Equal tax treatment of employer provided and individual healthcare plans
• Sale of health insurance across state lines
• Portability of health insurance
• Promotion of Health Savings Accounts
• Elimination of fraud, waste and abuse
• Healthcare risk pooling for individuals and small businesses
Gigliotti: First, many of these ideas have been put forth. There are some good ones for sure. Start by allowing insurance to be purchased over state lines. Remove government from every aspect of health care. Put Medicare and Medicaid in the private sector and remove the Government bureaucracy. It was the original government intrusion in health care that spiked the costs up. Allow Private health Savings accounts. Remove the burden of illegal aliens from hospital Emergency rooms. Only allow life saving care then deport them back to where they came from. We are not the world’s hospital. Our Tax dollars…
Looking into the next decade, is the Republican Party best led by representatives who focus on social issues, or those whose primary focus is fiscal issues?
Stacy: The ones who focus on fiscal issues first are the ones that will lead us the best. America has a major spending problem, and is currently stealing wealth from future generations.
Hall: The liberals in Washington have been pushing their misguided social agenda, ignoring our current fiscal reality. It’s important to strike a balanced approach. Our Nation was founded upon Christian conservative principles, both fiscal and social, and we should continue to use these principles to guide us. America’s most important priorities right now – the need for economic growth, job creation, and the full repeal of “ObamaCare” — are fiscal, but we must also continue to support policies that are pro-life and pro-liberty.
Lawson: The Republican Party would be best led by representatives that recognize that conservatism cannot be broken into pieces and remain conservatism. Our representatives must focus on both fiscal and social components of conservatism.
Ratflicffe: For Republicans to start winning again we need a broad coalition of conservative leaders. I’ve never been a big fan of labels — they’re a Washington insider thing. Whether someone considers him or herself a Fiscal Conservative, Social Conservative or Constitutional Conservative shouldn’t be the defining qualification in their ability to lead. Rather, I would look for a steadfast commitment to embracing liberty, fighting for limited government and defending the Constitution. I’m pro-gun, pro-life and have been fiscally tough and conservative throughout my career.
Gigliotti: Actually both, because without virtue we will not have a civil society. But if we do not address the out of control spending immediately, there will be no civil society left to look to. Just looking at 2007, Bush’s budget was $2.4 Trillion. But the stimulus and TARP added over a trillion to the spending and without a budget, Congress has used Baseline Budgeting and Continuing resolutions that have kept spending at $3.8 Trillion +. All spending originates in the House, per the Constitution. Live it and stand our ground.
If you support term limits, what do you say to those who believe the government should not artificially limit The People’s choice of representative? If you don’t support term limits, what is your answer to stagnation in Washington?
Stacy: I support term limits. Congress was never intended to be a career and in order to have a government that serves the people and not itself we have to limit the amount of time our representatives can remain there. This will force our government to live under the rules they set and will alter the way they govern.
Hall: The Constitution provides for two-year term limits for Representatives and six-year term limits for Senators. Voters determine who best represents their values in Washington, and I put my faith in the voters. I have previously supported term limits legislation in response to constituents’ requests, but that issue became less of a concern as the House Majority changed three times recently and turnover provided new representation. I attribute current Washington gridlock to two different views on the direction our country should be headed. It doesn’t help that our President would rather divide our nation than address the need for jobs.
Lawson: I would say that term limits are a necessary part of restoring the faith of the American people in a political process that is currently dominated by political elites that live in a political society that is alien to most Americans.
Ratcliffe: I support term limits. Our Founding Fathers never intended for there to be a permanent political class. Washington is full of professional politicians who put the next election ahead of the next generation. The resulting gridlock has weakened our citizens’ representation in Congress and effectiveness of government. Functions of government intended to be carried out by the Legislative Branch have instead taken the form of executive order and judicial decree. We have already amended our Constitution to term limit the Office of the President and had we not done so, we might be facing a third term with President Obama.
Gigliotti: I support term limits … The idea that there is but one person in the 700 thousand people in the 4th district that could truly represent the people is ludicrous. The framers envisioned only 2 years at a time. 6 years is enough. I have also signed the Term Limit Pledge for max 6 years.
In your opinion, what does the Republican Party need to do to attract younger and minority voters?
Stacy: Be the party of Constitutional rights and freedom. That is a message that most people in this country support. It will also help if we treat everyone like an individual with rights rather than a young person or a minority. These are individuals that will be drawn to the party that supports their personal freedom.
Hall: Conservative values are fundamental in keeping America strong and competitive. The Republican Party needs to do a better job attracting younger and minority voters by showing empathy and connecting with them by showing why conservative values benefit them. I would tell any voter — no matter the age or race — that as a Republican, I care about people and want to fight for greater opportunities for them in education, jobs, and health care. Conservative values include compassion for the vulnerable and fairness for all.
Lawson: Talk to them. As Representative I will work to establish conservative clubs in every school, and college in District 4. We must do more to help conservatives in minority communities take the conservative message to their neighbors.
Ratcliffe: Conservatives know that the Republican Party is indeed the party of opportunity and optimism. It’s the party that says you can go as high and as far in life as your own abilities and hard work will take you. Unfortunately, through poor leadership the Republican Party has incorrectly been portrayed as the party of “no” — the party of no ideas and no solutions. The party that is against everything but for nothing. To attract younger and minority voters the Republican Party needs to do a better job at controlling the tenor of this conservative message.
Gigliotti: Just do the right thing and get rid of the beltway mindset. If the government would just get out of the way and remove some of the restrictive regulations that kill business, there would be jobs for this group and their loyalty to conservative values would come with prosperity.
Above and beyond your general belief that conservative policies will provide a rising tide to lift all boats, what specific ways will your election boost Grayson and Fannin counties?
Stacy: I will serve as a representative of all the people of CD4. I will return to the district every weekend, as my family will not move to DC with me. I will listen to the people and not the special interests of Washington. Most importantly I will work day and night to make this a free country again. It is freedom that will boost these great counties more than anything else I could do. The government causes problems, and it is the shrinking of government that solves them.
Hall: I will continue to work with local leaders to improve the area’s infrastructure and meet the challenges of growth in population. I will help create an environment for new industries, expansion of current industries, improvements in education, and assisting veterans. We have already had great success working together in recent years on a number of projects important to Grayson and surrounding counties. I will continue those efforts for the benefit of all area residents while working to ensure the government is out of your daily lives and businesses.
Lawson: I will specifically work with the grass roots to get people more involved in government at every level. I will stand with our local communities when liberties are threatened. We have seen an example of where this is necessary with the Freedom from Religion Foundation threats that ended prayer before football games in Pottsboro last year.
Ratcliffe: Located in the southwest corner of Grayson County, Celina is a close-to-home example of the economic benefits of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. In spite of the President’s regulatory state, technologic innovation in the free market has sparked a natural gas revolution throughout this country and much of Texas. But we need more of it. In Congress, I will push to unwind the overreach of the EPA, promote domestic energy exploration and finally approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Creating good paying jobs while increasing the supply of domestic energy is good for both Grayson County and Fannin County.
Gigliotti: I am a fighter for the values that made America great. To regain these values in Washington will benefit the entire 4th district. Texas is so great; it just needs to get government out of our way. I will work toward limiting the excessive power of the regulatory agencies that constantly seem to throw up roadblocks to industry and business in general. I will work to end the war on Texas being waged by the EPA, Dept of Energy and more. The power of these agencies has gone unchallenged since they were handed power in the mid 90s. These laws …
Do you support abolishing any federal agencies? If so, which ones?
Stacy: There are too many to list, so I will give you my top ten in no particular order. EPA, IRS, Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Education, Department of Labor, ATF, FEMA, the FED, and NSA.
Hall: YES: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Education.
Lawson: Yes. EPA, Education, Commerce, Interior, Energy. These roles can be performed by the states.
Ratcliffe: Yes. Internal Revenue Service, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Gigliotti: Yes, all by 75% min. - EPA, Education, Interior, Fish and wildlife, Energy, TSA, HHS. All need a 3-5 year sunset review to continue to exist.
Should there be exceptions to abortion laws for rape, incest, and life of the mother?
Stacy: Only life of the mother.
Lawson: In some cases.
Ratcliffe: Life of mother.
Gigliotti: Yes (but new medical procedures can save both lives.)
Do you support an individual state’s right to recognize gay marriage or civil unions?
Do you support a state’s right to legalize marijuana? (None of the candidates said they personally support legalization.)
An abbreviated version of this article appeared in the Feb. 16 edition of the Herald Democrat.