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CD3 forum Part 7: Motivations for running and transparency in legislation

Seventh in a series. Previously: Conflicts with the party and whether to move to a gold standardBig government programs and impeaching Supreme Court justicesIncome tax and unconstitutional executive orders or Supreme Court decisionsGetting rid of Constitutional amendments and how to improve the Republican PartyFederal spending and gun control, and The Council on Foreign Relations and powers delegated to the House

A candidate forum for Congressional District 3 was held in Newberry on July 18, with the following candidates present: Bill Engelbrecht, Joe Dallas Millado, Judson Sapp, Kat Cammack, Ryan Chamberlin, Amy Pope Wells, and Gavin Rollins.

The forum was moderated by Tim Marden and Jennifer Cabrera.

The format allowed the first respondent to the question a minute to answer; the remaining candidates had 40 seconds to either add to or disagree with the first answer.

Question #13: What motivates you about this job opportunity?

Wells: “Well, there’s two things that really motivate me about this job opportunity, and I won’t say they’re necessarily positive. One’s positive, one’s negative… After going to Washington, I’ll tell you, the decisions and the games that these people play, and how it affects Americans’ lives, angers me to the point I cannot even begin to describe it because our world’s on fire, guys. People are suffering, and these guys are sitting there with a safety net, a salary, and retirement. I have had to build everything that I’ve ever done. I’ve had to go through the worst economic depression in my life from ’08 to ’15. No one gave me anything, but yet I’m responsible for hundreds of people’s lives in my job. That angers me because they need a good representative that will fight and listen to them and make sure their lives are safe. The other thing is the fact of what good leadership looks like, which is grassroots, to get down and work with people and solve problems.”

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Rollins: “I don’t view this as a job; I view it as a calling, as a deployment. Washington has become a war zone, and I see this as a second deployment to do battle on behalf of conservative values. That’s why I’m running, not because I need or want a job, not because I want to be a part of a country club, because I believe that servant leadership is the highest model of leadership, and I want to go to Washington, D.C., to serve, the same way I’ve served in the classroom, in a combat zone, and on the Clay County Commission.”

Engelbrecht: “In July 1994, I opened up my first business. That was three months after my oldest son was born. I took a chance, and I did it because I wanted to make a change. I want to make a change now to healthcare reform. Our health insurance premiums are skyrocketing; they’re too high. When you have an individual who has a health insurance premium of $1600 just for he and his wife and his 8-year-old daughter, something’s got to stop, especially when you look at the big-name insurers, last year alone, made $37.5 billion profit. We need to stop that because, as an everyday American, it’s coming off your back, it’s coming off my back, and that needs to stop.”

Millado: “I agree with my good friend over there, Gavin Rollins, it’s not a job; this is an honor, it’s an opportunity. It is a calling, and what I’m looking forward to is to make a difference. So what this election is all about is, we literally just destroyed every aspect of ‘You need a million dollars to run for Congress,’ because we don’t. You never did. And that’s the kind of people you want to send up there, the people who have lived and breathed these issues. We don’t have a million dollars; we have $40,000 from friends and families and from every cent I have. No safety nets. So this is the person you want to send up there, that has no safety nets, that’s going to go fight for you.”

Sapp: “What motivates me is my family. I’ve got a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, and frankly, the way we’re headed, I don’t think conservative values will be there when they’re older. Now, I’ve done well, they’ll be okay in life, but I don’t know whether my grandchildren will be okay, and that’s why I’m working hard on this. I’ve been successful, so I feel like I can do this job well, without any need for it, and I think that puts me in a great position. But I’m going to work hard for everybody’s family. You need fighters right now… my wife’s a great person, but she’s not a fighter. She doesn’t carry a gun, like I do. So I’ll fight for you, and I think we need fighters right now.”

Cammack: “I’ve spent the last 8 years working for the constituents of this district, and there’s a lot of initiatives and a lot of projects that we have gotten across the finish line, and then there’s a handful that are on the 5-yard line. I refuse to give up, and I want to see a lot of those initiatives continue. But more than that, I told my husband that I didn’t feel comfortable bringing children into this world, knowing that we’re sliding into socialism. As the millennial up here, I feel that my generation—and Gavin, sorry—as the youngest person up here, I feel that my generation is going to be basically paying for all of the spending habits of Congress as we know it and bad decisions that have been made for so long, and I refuse to let that stand.”

Chamberlin: “When I think of what motivates me, I think that our Constitution’s being trampled. We’re called idiots if we say we believe in God, and we’re called racists if we want to build a wall or protect our country. I have 4 sons, 23, 19, 18, and 15. My 18-year-old was born 6 months after 9/11 and graduated this year in the middle of the COVID crisis. He doesn’t know the country that I know. I’m running this race for my kids, for your kids, so they can respect the United States of America.”

Question #14: Many candidates in the past have promised transparency and also things like a minimum review time for bills, lengths of bills (thousand-page bills), and bills about single topics. All of these have been talked about in the past. What are your thoughts, and what can Congressional District 3 expect from you regarding some of these things?

Rollins: “I think that’s why a proven track record is important. As a commissioner, I’ve been willing to stand alone when necessary. I’ve taken some 4-1 votes where I’m the one, but I’ve also built a coalition when possible, and I think that’s what we need, people willing to vote no if it’s a bad bill. You wouldn’t drink water if it had poison, just a little bit of poison, in it. You would throw it out. If it’s a bad bill and it has horrible things that are against our values, then I’m going to vote against it. So I’ll vote no a lot, but I’ll also work to build a coalition because I believe courage is contagious, and if we build a coalition of courageous people willing to stand, then we can get some of these things done. But I think it’s important to have that balance of building the coalition but also being willing to stand alone if necessary.”

Engelbrecht: “I think knowledge is power, and as a business owner, I have to talk to my employees, and I have to tell them we have to make some cuts. But I tell everybody about it. I recently had to do this back in October because we were going through a major change within our industry. I told them we need to cut everything at least by 5%. We can either cut it by 5% or we can cut some people. I’d rather cut 5%, and everybody voted to cut it by 5% so everybody has a job. I also believe in coming to constituents and talking to them about these problems because I don’t know everything, but what I do know is, everybody here has a lot to say, and they can bring some very valuable input, and I tell my employees there’s never a glass ceiling; you can always grow. So I respect and I want to hear our constituents.”

Millado: “That’s, again, my sword and shield, as there’s a lot of problems as, time and time again, people are gonna do these things—accountability, transparency… I could do that because I’ve already done that, whether it be which committee, which introduction. From 2007 to 2012—2012, so you had the economic stimulus, the Wall Street bill, all these things, golden parachutes for CEOs, and they’re gonna continue to happen because everybody else has to relearn these things… So coalition building, it’s a lot harder passing these things if you don’t know the parameters, the rules of engagement… then you’re not going to be successful, are you?”

Sapp: “One of the biggest problems we see time and time again are these thousands and thousands of pages that they try to pass overnight without ever reading them, and that’s a big problem… I might be from Green Cove Springs, but I do read some, and I’m not that slow, but I’m not that fast, either. So you can’t do that. You’ve got to slow it down. Being fast and passing a lot is not necessarily a good thing. Slow it down, do it right, and do your job, and then also surround yourself with the smartest people possible to make sure you’re reading it properly, and also go back to your constituents and talk to them and get some involvement from them.”

Cammack: “My family was a victim to a piece of legislation that nobody on Capitol Hill bothered to read. It was an 1800-page piece of legislation that incentivized big banks to foreclose on people’s homes. It was called the AMP Program; it was under the Obama administration, and it is one of the greatest pieces of legislative malpractice. It’s one of the reasons why when I go to Congress, I’m going to introduce a rule under the 117th Congress Rules Package, that members have to sign their name that they have read that bill they are getting ready to vote on. And that signature is that person’s word that they have read the bill, and they are going to be held accountable for what is in that bill and their vote.”

Chamberlin: “Some of these answers, as we know, are common-sense answers. As my wife and I raise our boys, there’s a statement that my boys have heard me say quite a bit: If you’ve got to question anything, you’ve got to question everything. When it comes to transparency, it really is a Biblical principle—if we really analyze what we’re frustrated with people about not being transparent over, we really feel like they’re lying to us. That’s why we feel that way. It’s not that we need to know everything, but you can tell when somebody’s not being truthful with you. Hence, the $26 trillion in debt, the bail-outs for Wall Street and big corporations. We expect that from Democrats; we don’t expect it from Republicans.”

Wells: “Well, we all know it’s a joke, right? Back in Washington, working on healthcare, you cannot imagine, when we were doing Repeal and Replace Obamacare, I had never been to Washington before, and I was assigned to look at this. Has anybody ever looked at this? Well, this legislation is about as tall as I am, and I’m not really tall, but that’s plenty tall. What I would tell you is, these things do not get read. They get advised upon. Each of these Congressional members have policy advisors, but before they even know what’s going on, basically trades and things have happened, and the reality is, people need to be surrounded by experts, and they need to take those issues back to the district and ask people what they feel about that legislation, because I’ll tell you right now, when Repeal and Replace Obamacare came out, I love Congressman Yoho, but he didn’t call me and ask me my thoughts on it. I called him and I gave him my thoughts on it. That’s where it starts.”