On Jan. 5, Sargis Sangari appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked him why he’s running for the GOP seat in the 9th Congressional district of Illinois in the March 2018 primary:
My name is Sargis Sangari. I am running right now as a republican in the 9th Congressional District. My background is that I am a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Army, 20 year veteran. I was U.S. Army . I was born overseas so I’m a immigrant to the United States.
Currently I’m the CEO for the Near East Center for Strategic Engagement.Near East Center for Strategic Engagement is an operational and also research think tank. The most recent trip I had was to Thailand to take a look at what is happening with the Burma crisis, so that’s where we get engaged in bring information back….National Security Council, near east affairs, out of the State Department, the Office of Strategic Defense at the Pentagon, we have operationally since 2014, when I established the Near East Center for Engagement on September 11 in honor of the 3,000 Americans that were murdered in 2001. We’ve been supporting certain Christian force and military force capabilities and structures in both Syria and Iraq that were fighting against ISIS, and part of that process was to be able to give the required information and the previous administration and current administration to see what could be the benefit for our strategic footprint in the nation and ensure that those minority communities are able to survive.
I also established the United Assyrian Appeal in 2015, it is a non-profit organization that supports those multi-families and loved ones who are fighting against the ISIS type forces within the region.
The priorities that I have right now going forward is to represent the people of the 9th congressional district. Take all that talent that I have and abilities and lessons learned and apply it to the political arena, and hopefully as we have said multiple times, my priority is to make sure I represent the constituents and what their desires are in the district.
The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking nominations for Congress a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois. John Elleson submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
QUESTION: As a member of the House from Illinois, please explain what your specific cause or causes will be. Please avoid a generic topic or issue in your answer.
Running for: 9th Congressional district (Illinois)
Occupation: CEO of Near East Center for Strategic Engagement (NEC-SE)
Founder & President of United Assyrian Appeal (UAA)
Education: BA Political Science (DePaul University)
Campaign website: VoteSangari.com
QUESTION: Please list three district-specific needs that will be your priorities. This could be a project that is needed in your district, or a rule that needs to be changed, or some federal matter that has been ignored.
ANSWER: As it stands now economy, immigration, and health care are the top three priorities.
Refusal to accept a party demands that does not benefit the representatives in my district. Elected representatives must represent more than just their political parties, their own interest, and more than just the people who reelect them.
Concentration on continued federal funding of mass transit, AMTRAK, highways, and L-lines.
RELATED ARTICLES: Sargis Sangari
QUESTION: If you are running as a Democrat, what is your best idea for getting any initiative you may propose advanced if the House continues to be controlled by the GOP after the 2018 elections?
TOPIC: President Donald Trump
QUESTION: What do you make of President Trump?
ANSWER: It is not so important what I make of POTUS as what the nation makes of him. We are one nation and despite our differences it is our collective responsibility to support our democratically elected leadership. Only in that way can we be successful. To demean and denigrate the POTUS as some do only serves to empower our enemies and lessen the chief executive’s ability to function. Whether people love the POTUS or hate him, he has steadily been working towards the policies that he was elected to accomplish and the people will decide on his ability to continue leading the executive branch in the 2020 election.
QUESTION: Which three actions by the Trump administration do you support the most? Which three do you oppose the most?
ANSWER: Support the most:
His strategic vision, which is shaped by the most professional and experienced foreign policy and economic team in recent history.
Appointment of a constitutionalist to the Supreme Court.
Pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in its present shape because it did not meet the requirements of what it was negotiated to do.
Oppose the most:
The two political parties should not use the persons who are hoping to be DACA recipients as negotiating leverage.
While the clear identification of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and terrorist organizations as opponents of the U.S. is long overdue, the 2017 National Security Strategy still falls short, perhaps, critically, in failing to identify the Shanghai Corporation Organization (SCO) as the unifying agent in binding these disparate groups into an informal but increasingly effective anti-American alliance.
Half to 2/3rds of all cases pending before immigration courts today are for cancellation of removal. This issue is tied to the Immigration Reform Act which was passed in 1986 which we must be re-addressed.
QUESTION: What is your view of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian tampering in the 2016 election, including possible collusion by the Trump campaign? Does Mueller have your support?
ANSWER: Political noise aside, Mr. Mueller is still conducting his investigation. Mr. Mueller’s investigation will eventually reach a logical conclusion giving us an opportunity to make our own decisions with the evidence that’s presented. The only issue for me is we should abide by the law and as long as everyone works within the legal framework of the constitution I am satisfied. Mr. Mueller should take personal steps to address the friction points caused by the political leanings of some of the members of his investigation team to limit the political noise surrounding the investigation.
QUESTION: What should Congress do to reduce the threat of terrorism at home, either from ISIS or from others?
ANSWER: This is a global problem. It is not just a concern of the West. In the U.S., the Congress must lead the way in dealing with terrorism by holding special sessions to discuss these multifaceted issues on a more consistent basis. Our security forces must be given the authority tools to deal with these terrorists. Further, U.S. embassies must be equipped with special capabilities to locate and neutralize terrorist threats. Overall, the U.S. must work with other nations to ensure that they support our efforts.
The threat, from both domestic as well as foreign terrorists, is better addressed when our efforts are multifaceted yet unified in resolve and purpose. Congress has a vital role in not only equipping our frontline first responders, intelligence personnel, and warfighters with the legal tools necessary to discover and disrupt terrorists and their allies; they must also ensure that they receive adequate funding for their operations. Congress has a right to demand accountability and results, and itself can be an instrument to facilitate cooperation across the traditionally adversarial components of the government sworn to uphold the Constitution and protect the people. Congress, after all, is perfectly situated to define and facilitate what is reasonable and necessary to accomplish this objective. Congress can make sure that our augmented focus addresses the needs in terrorism prevention, as well as mitigation, response, recovery and resiliency across all critical infrastructure sectors vital to our country’s vitality, health, protection and tranquility.
TOPIC: Guns and violence
QUESTION: What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence in the United States?
ANSWER: Empower the courts to require jury trials for ALL felony prosecutions (no plea bargaining/trust the jury) and make the MAXIMUM sentences required on all convictions with NO possibility for parole. There must be consequences to committing gun crimes, as the victim of such crimes does not have or enjoy the luxury of a mitigated sentence.
QUESTION: Do you favor a law banning the sale and use of “bump stocks” that increase the firing speed of semi-automatic weapons? Why? Do you favor any further legal limits on guns of any kind? Or, conversely, what gun restrictions should be done away with?
ANSWER: Additional regulations for bump stocks must be considered given that the purpose of a bump stock is to increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon. The way guns are used for committing crimes is a problem. Plea bargains undermine deterrents for criminals using guns. Conversely, every state should protect the rights of law-abiding Americans by passing reasonable concealed carry and reciprocity law that will allow citizens exercise their Constitutional right to own and carry firearms.
TOPIC: America’s growing wealth gap
QUESTION: As an editorial board, our core criticism of the tax overhaul legislation supported by the Republican majorities in the House and Senate 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 it does not look to us like the “silent hand” of the market is functioning properly, rewarding merit fairly. We are troubled that the top 1 percent of Americans own 38.6 percent of the nation’s wealth and the bottom 90 percent own just 22.8 percent of the wealth. Tell us how we are right or wrong about this. Does the growing income and wealth gap trouble you?
ANSWER: There is an income cap but no gap in opportunity. This also depends on you definition of wealth, and whether wealth is/should be earned or inherited. An individual has more opportunity in our country than in any other country in the world. I have seen no evidence that people have less opportunity to improve their lives. If you are part of the 90 percent and want better then you should do better. There is no charge for the opportunity that our free society provides for all. It is the most significant “social benefit” in the world. Our country has the highest living standard of ANY country in the world. Why else do you think so many people want to relocate to our country?
TOPIC: International affairs
QUESTION: Do you support the Trump administration’s decision to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? How will this help or hinder efforts to secure a lasting peace between Israel and its Middle East neighbors?
ANSWER: Congress decided on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital nearly 30 years ago. The POTUS simply acted in support of that law this past year. When Congress passed this law 30 years ago, America stated that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the decision by the president to support the law simply stated that he did not believe that Congress had overreached into the executive branch in passing the law. United States never changed its viewpoint in the thirty years. This peace process is not tied to a decision made 30 years ago, which no one challenged until this year.
QUESTION: Is military action by the United States a plausible response to the nuclear weapons threat posed by North Korea? How might a U.S. military response play out for South Korea, Japan and China? What alternative do you support?
ANSWER: The U.S. has a history of dealing with these problems going back to the Cuban missile crisis and the cold war stand-off with the Soviet Union. The U.S. has the world’s strongest military and must keep all its options on the table as it has done historically in these cases. America’s strongest alliance is with South Korea. We must stand with our allies to include Japan.
I support negotiations as a way of avoiding war but I we must retain our ability to strike if and when military action is warranted or needed.
QUESTION: The Supreme Court has ruled that the third version of the Trump administration’s travel ban on eight countries with predominantly Muslim populations can go into effect while legal challenges against the ban continue. What is your position on this travel ban?
ANSWER: The travel ban is legal as decided by the Supreme Court and is settled law. I answered the question of security issues in regards to the travel ban in FEB 2017. Where I stated that the travel ban is about what we have done, and failed to do over the last three decades in the foreign policy sphere. Please see link provided on the security matters.
QUESTION: Has the United States in the last decade been accepting too many immigrants, and does this pose a threat to the American way of life?
ANSWER: Is today’s America the same nation that it was ten years ago?
If your answer is no than you have answered your own question. From my personal experience, I can say that when I immigrated to the United States at a young age I did not know what the words no and yes meant because I did not speak any English. In less than five years I applied myself and not only to learned English but scored the highest score on the Constitution test in my grammar school. My father and mother charged me with not being a burden on my nation and my family. I took that charge to heart and I quickly adapted to life in my new home and became a naturalized American citizen. I learned to speak English and attended public school on Chicago’s north Side. At Gordon Technical High School where I graduated in 1988 I lettered in football and was an honor student. I then attended De Paul University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science while receiving an Army Reserve Officer Training Corp scholarship and earning a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. I served my nation as an army officer for 20 years. While I was busy becoming part of the fabric of the United States it bothers me when I read stories about four kids at Live Oak High School who were wearing American flag tee-shirts and who were sent home because school officials did not want the other students be offended on “their day”. I am an Assyrian Christian and I am teaching my four children to not be a burden on the United States just as my parents taught me.
QUESTION: Should the “wall” between the United States and Mexico be built? What might it accomplish?
ANSWER: The United States has the strongest and most capable military in world history. We have the best police forces across the world. We have the DIA, CIA, DOD, DoS, and major security assets and institutions both national and local protecting us. We are watched by video cameras and monitored and subjected to all manner of security procedures and measure supposedly implements to keep us safe and secure. Additionally, Americans spend millions on security systems, weapons, locks, and fences to protect their homes, families, and property. Americans recognize the world today is more dangerous than in the past when they could leave doors unlocked and allow children to play outside unattended. They understand that it makes no sense to spend millions secure their homes while not securing our national boarders from possible infiltration from drug traffickers and terrorists.
TOPIC: Affordable Care Act
QUESTION: The tax reform plan created by Republican majorities in the House and Senate would eliminate the Obamacare “individual mandate” that most Americans must have health insurance or pay a fine. Does this threaten the viability of the Affordable Care Act? What more on this, if anything, should be done?
ANSWER: The way the ACA was written and mandated is a good example of how a system of systems approach is needed in understanding the long-term affects of political decisions. The ACA will continue to add to the friction points between the political parties given that any legal action on tax reform will affect ACA mandates. Whereas the Constitution has no provision to provide health care that is not the world we live in now given the political decisions that have been made in this sphere. I believe that an approach to at least addressing the underlying costs of medicine should be investigated and legislation should be developed for lowering the present astronomical costs of drugs and medical technology.
TOPIC: The opponent(s)
QUESTION: What is your biggest difference with your opponent(s)?
ANSWER: I do not see any of the Republicans candidates running in the primary for the 9th congressional district as my “opponents” rather I see them as Americans who want to make a change.