U.S. Senate candidate: Paula Jean Swearengin (D)
NAME: Paula Jean Swearengin
CANDIDATE FOR: United States Senate
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.paulajean2018.com
HOME CITY: Coal City
HOME COUNTY: Raleigh
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I am running for office to ensure that every West Virginian has a voice and true representation in Washington. For the next six years, we cannot afford to have a U.S. Senator that will work more for their big donors than their constituents. I am the only U.S. Senate candidate that is refusing all corporate donations and PAC money so I will be beholden only to voters. The working class needs working-class representation and I firmly believe our most valuable resource is our people.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Accounting Clerk.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Various business administration roles, medical office management, and business management.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Sierra Club, OVEC, WV DAWG, Friends of Water, Keeper of the Mountains, 360.org, Save Main Street, Coal River Mountain Watch.
ENDORSEMENTS: Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats, The People for Bernie, Project 100, Women for Justice, Knocking Down the House, Save Main Street, Tim Canova, Charlotte Pritt, Carol Hechler
FAMILY: four children, Thomas Dyson, Logan Swearengin, Avery Swearengin and Isaiah Swearengin.
1. What measures would you support to address the budget deficit and the national debt?
Rein in our bloated military budget and eliminate wasteful spending. Reduce Agribusiness subsidies. Eliminate fossil fuel subsidies entirely. Allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers. Replace the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction with a refundable credit to reduce the artificial incentive for developers and investors to finance high-end home construction.
2. What steps do you think congress should take to ensure access to affordable healthcare for all Americans?
Healthcare is a human right and is essential for a healthy and productive society. Congress must set a goal to establish a Medicare for All system, which can save an average family $6,000 a year by lowering premiums, deductibles, and prescription costs and small businesses won’t have to carry the burden of high premiums for employees.
3. West Virginia has been especially hard hit by the opioid abuse epidemic. What do you see as the role of Congress in addressing this crisis?
We face one of the worst public health emergencies in history. This addiction epidemic affects our schools, neighborhoods, and way of life. This crisis demands regulation of painkillers, education and awareness efforts, and large, sustained funding to increase treatment centers and long-term recovery programs. Resources must go into communities where local leaders and officials can use them most effectively.
4. What measures could help prevent gun violence and mass shootings?
I support the 2nd Amendment, but common sense gun measures are needed. Every loophole for background checks should be closed. Online sales and gun shows should face more strict regulation. Reducing poverty and improving the health and education quality of our communities can reduce violence of all types.
5. What measures do you favor on background checks for gun purchases?
The overwhelming majority of citizens support common-sense gun measures. Background checks should be expanded to include purchases made at gun shows and private sales. The reporting criteria for checks must also be mandated and further expanded to include red-flag behaviors, like non-gun violence, threats, mental health incidents, and school disciplinary actions. This will make background checks more effective overall.
6. How do you think coal fits into the United States’ energy policy?
The demand for coal is declining. We must encourage a transition to the booming renewable energy market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that solar and wind installation and maintenance jobs in the United States are growing twice as fast as ANY other industry. Workers hit hardest by coal’s decline need options and available training for these high-paying, stable jobs.
7. With the increased incidence of black lung disease in recent years, does more need to be done to protect miners’ health and safety?
With black lung again on the rise, clearly some companies are not prioritizing miner safety. I will fight legislation that decreases the demand for safe working environments. Companies that demonstrate negligence must be held accountable. We must enact legislation to ensure that every coal miner gets the black lung benefits that they deserve, with no requirement for years of service.
8. Do you support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline?
Although I enthusiastically support job growth, I’m resistant to pipeline projects that use out-of-state workers, infringe on property owner’s rights, and move profits out of the states from which they are extracted. There has been little concern for the communities most affected by such development. Being a good corporate neighbor should be part of the cost of doing business.
9. What can you do on the federal level to improve the economic situation in West Virginia?
Federal appropriations and earmarks can be used to create opportunities and spur job growth. This can help with infrastructure and broadband expansion, as well as bolster rural services. I would seek and support every opportunity to bring these types of funds home to West Virginia.
10. Do you support a reduction in Medicaid coverage?
More than 50% of children and 70% of nursing home residents in West Virginia receive Medicaid. Pregnant women, the elderly, and the disabled greatly rely on this coverage. Medicaid also covers treatments for mental illness, substance use disorders, and chronic diseases. I support Medicaid and will push for Medicare for All legislation, which will greatly reduce the burden on families.
11. Do you support immigration reform? What, if any, changes would you make?
This nation was built on promises of freedom, opportunity, and equality. Nearly all of us are here today as a result of immigration. The 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. need a path to citizenship. Separating families is not acceptable. We need responsible reform along with practical border security and reasonable immigration enforcement.
12. What are the United States’ essential security interests and needed outcomes with North Korea?
Denuclearization of North Korea is a priority for the world. While the North Korean regime has a singular goal of remaining in power, it’s people and infrastructure continue to suffer at the expense of military bluster. This fact has brought concessions from them in the past. Irresponsible sabre-rattling has damaged potential for a resolution, but strong diplomacy can restart progress.
13. Do you favor more federal aid to states to upgrade equipment and systems in order to protect election procedures?
A growing number of states are upgrading their election systems to safeguard against security threats and to replace outdated equipment. These costs are necessary and should be divided between the states and the federal government. States require ongoing assistance to counter any compromises that may occur. Of course, elections held with all paper ballots are far more secure and cost-effective.
14. Should the federal government provide more funds for broadband in underserved areas?
Absolutely. Much like our roadways, broadband networks are an essential part of our infrastructure. Technology is steadily improving and expanding. Not only will broadband help children and adults gain more educational opportunities, it will help small business compete with larger companies and give people access to remote jobs. Rural communities deserve the same access as urban populations.
15. Do you think the outline for infrastructure improvements from President Trump can be effective? Why or why not?
Our nation and our state are in dire need of infrastructure improvements. I support funding, but we must ensure local workers are prioritized, not out-of-state and private contractors. Multiple economic analyses reveal that the President’s infrastructure proposal, as presented, will produce little to no growth over the next decade and some proposals will result in increased local taxes on consumers.