During the March primary, Republican Jitendra “JD” Diganvker appeared before the Sun-Times Editorial Board. Watch the video above to hear him explain why he’s running to represent the 8th district in Illinois.
The Sun-Times also sent the candidates seeking the 8th Congressional District seat a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing their district and the country. Diganvker submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
As a member of the U.S. House, what are or would be your top cause or causes?
Diganvker: Economic Development, Immigration and Defense
Please list three highly specific needs of your district that you would make priorities.
Diganvker: Support for healthcare, support economic development and infrastructure improvements.
Bipartisanship is virtually non-existent in the House. What would you do about that?
Diganvker: I have worked with Democrats in the past, and I will work with them in order to keep America safe and prosperous. These are not partisan issues.
Are you convinced that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in support of the candidacy of Donald Trump? Please explain.
Diganvker: Based on the assessment from our intelligence agencies, it is clear that Russia meddled in our election to cause discord among Americans. Part in support of President Trump and in part by creating groups for those opposed to Trump. This must not stand and we must fight foreign attempts to influence our elections.
Who is Jitendra Diganvker?
He is running for: Congressional District: 8th Congressional District
His political/civic background: Community Activist
His occupation: Uber Driver/small businessman
His education: Bachelor’s in accounting
Campaign website: jdforcongress.com
Twitter handle: @JD4Congress
Do you support the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller? Please explain.
Diganvker: The Mueller investigation must be allowed to run its course. Robert Mueller is a public servant and a patriot. I believe the Special Counsel’s investigation should be completed without political interference. I am part of the majority of Republicans who believe Robert Mueller should not be fired.
If President Trump were to fire Mueller, directly or indirectly, what should Congress do?
Diganvker: Firing Robert Mueller would gravely damage the Presidency, the GOP and the country. I would encourage Congress to pass legislation protecting the Muller investigation. If Trump were to fire Mueller, another Special Prosecutor must be appointed immediately.
If Trump were to pardon his former campaign aide Paul Manafort, what should Congress do?
Diganvker: While the President has the right to pardon those convicted of federal crimes, doing so would undermine the credibility of the office and the rule of law. It could be considered obstruction of justice. I strongly urge the President to let the jury verdict stand and let appeals courts decide his fate.
Which three actions taken so far by the Trump administration do you most strongly support?
Diganvker: 1. The President has taken steps to build a wall and fortify the southern border.
2. The Administration has taken steps to reduce the amount of regulations that are hindering development of the private sector.
3. He has appointed judges who believe in the rule of law and will support the constitution.
Which three actions taken by the Trump administration do you most strongly disagree with?
Diganvker: 1. The separation of children from parents at the border was a cruel and unnecessary policy that did not need to happen.
2. The tariffs proposed by the Trump Administration will hurt consumers and job creators while not helping the problems he is trying to solve.
3. I believe the President needs to take a stronger stand against Russian meddling in our electoral process.
The Trump administration has taken action to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at curbing climate change and limiting environmental pollution. The administration has done so in the name of supporting business growth and making the United States more energy self-sufficient. Most notably, the administration has begun to dismantle Obama’s federal rules over American coal plants, weakened automobile fuel-economy standards and ended American participation in the Paris climate agreement. What is your take on all this?
Diganvker: The Trump administration has taken great effort to analyze and remove duplicate, burdensome or outdated regulations. Red tape is a major problem for companies that don’t have the manpower to analyze all the rules or hire lobbyists to change them. I support a free market approach to solving these problems. The US is already on path to meet it’s emissions targets without the Paris Climate agreement.
To what extent is climate change a man-made phenomenon? How serious is the threat to our children’s future? What should be done? *
Climate change poses “immediate risks” to national security and will have broad and costly impacts on the way the US military carries out its missions. Climate change is real and it’s our duty and our opportunity to reduce the risks. We have to fight climate change with free market system instead of ineffective subsidies and regulations. Partnering to increase fuel efficiency, renewable energy and natural gas are proven steps to help reduce emissions.
What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence?
Diganvker: The majority of America’s gun deaths are suicides, and the problem is especially serious in rural states with a strong tradition of gun ownership. I support mental health initiatives aimed at gun owners, along with extreme risk protection order laws, which would give family members and law enforcement officials a way to petition a court to temporarily bar at-risk people from possessing firearms.
Is the media the “enemy of the people”? Please explain.
Diganvker: No. While the media may make mistakes, they are an important part of our Democratic Republic. The protections are enshrined in the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. Journalism helps keep the powerful accountable.
As an editorial board, our core criticism of the tax overhaul legislation pushed through Congress last December is that it lowers taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans at a time of historic inequalities of wealth and income in the United States. We believe in free markets, but the ‘silent hand’ of the market does not seem to be rewarding merit fairly. What’s your position on last December’s rewrite of the tax code? Would you push for further changes, or for the law’s repeal?
Diganvker: We need to strengthen the middle-class by focusing our policies on supporting everyday Americans instead of special interests. We need to focus on increasing incomes, not raising taxes. The recent tax law set a cap on state and local income taxes deduction at $10,000. This will greatly hurt many families in my district and we need to offer relief through reform while pushing for local and state property tax reductions. This is one major component I would be subject to change.
Speaking of income inequality, top executives of America’s biggest companies saw their average annual pay surge to $18.9 million in 2017, even as the pay of ordinary workers has remained flat for a decade. What, if anything, should be done to address the growing gap in wealth and income?
Diganvker: Part of the reason for the gap in wages has been due to have compensation is structured. Wages have remained flat, while executive compensation comes in the form of stocks. One solution I propose is for employers to use profit sharing and stock as part of a broader plan to increase wealth. This helps insure workers and managers that they have aligned interests.
Would it be appropriate at this time for President Trump to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House? Why so, or why not?
Diganvker: No. Russia needs to answer for meddling in the US electoral process and should face sanctions until relations have improved.
How would you assess and grade the Trump administration’s efforts to recalibrate our nation’s relationships with Korea, NATO and Russia? *
While the President has taken steps to address long standing issues, I disagree with the approach he has taken. We must work with our allies in NATO while standing firm with North Korea and Russia. The can receive economic and trade aid when they have real democratic reforms and curb civil rights abuses.
In late June, the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s travel ban on visitors and immigrants from seven countries, five of which have Muslim majorities. What is your view on this ban?
Diganvker: The court correctly upheld the right of the President to restrict immigration from countries whose governments may not be reliable or friendly towards the United States. I am glad the court also took the opportunity to disavow the Korematsu v. United States decision from 1944.
What three major reforms should be made to United States immigration policy?
Diganvker: 1. Build a secure border area that prevents illegal crossing and moves immigration to ports on entry.
2. Create a path to legal status, not citizenship, for adults who have lived in the US for a long period of time with no criminal history. There should also be a path to legal status or citizenship for DREAMERS who decide to serve in the military or other public service.
3. Increase the amount of merit based immigration visa’s to those who want to bring their skills to the United States.
Do you support or oppose the family-based immigration policy sometimes called “chain migration”? Please explain.
Diganvker: Chain migration allows immigrants to sponsor not only their immediate family—parents, spouses and children under age 21, but much of their extended family once they gain citizenship: unmarried adult children and any children they might have, married adult children and their children, and brothers and sisters and their children. These immigrants sponsored an average of 3.45 additional relatives each. It is important to keep intimidate family together. Ending chain migration would reduce non-merit-based (or “points-based”) applications. Merit-based immigration would reward points based on high-paying job offers, past achievements, English-language ability and education. All that would be taken into account when green card applications are considered.
What would you do, as a member of Congress, to improve race relations in the United States?
Diganvker: As an immigrant, I have worked hard to assimilate to America while keeping my traditions alive. I believe the United States is the least racist country in the world. However, we must continue a dialog for those who feel disenfranchised. We can do this by having members of Congress meet weekly with families of a different race than themselves.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent?
Diganvker: My opponent is a member of the political class and a defender of the status quo. I will go to Washington to raise our standard of living and not focus on raising campaign cash. The difference is that my opponent is a member of the DC elite the voters rejected in 2016 and will do so again in 2018.
Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.