9th Congressional District Republican nominee: John D. Elleson
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Before the March primary, John Elleson met with the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board. Watch the video above to hear him explain why he’s running for office.
The Sun-Times also sent the candidates seeking the 9th Congressional District seat a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing their district and the country. Republican John D. Elleson submitted the following responses:
As a member of the U.S. House, what are or would be your top cause or causes?
Elleson: Good High Paying Jobs, the Economy, National Security, Healthcare, Trade, Immigration, the General Welfare of the people.
Please list three highly specific needs of your district that you would make priorities.
Elleson: The Economy, Unity with All the People (both parties), Healthcare Reform.
I would strive to be a National Unity figure and try hard to bring people together. I think I could do it. We would be a respected, admired, national congressional district. A model for other districts to follow. We would be the best district in the country, for ALL the people, no matter what ones party label is.
Who is John D. Elleson?
He’s running for: 9th Congressional District
His political/civic background: None
His occupation: Pastor
His education: Pastoral Theology, Christian Life College, 1985
Campaign website: http://www.JohnElleson.com
Bipartisanship is virtually non-existent in the House. What would you do about that?
Elleson: I would work hard to change this. This would be my number one priority, as this is very important to me. I would strive to be a friend to ALL members of Congress. I would work to learn the views and reasons of the other side, and their thinking. I would make it my number one priority to befriend everyone. If the district gives me 2 years, we will be known as a model bipartisan district.
Are you convinced that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in support of the candidacy of Donald Trump? Please explain.
Elleson: I’m sure Russia did meddle, but I do not think they effected the election too much. I do not think FB posts swayed too many minds. I am not convinced they helped Trump win the presidency. The press ought to be thankful the electorate got Hilary’s emails, transparency is good. Much of the press thought it would be ok to illegally get Trump’s tax returns, no difference. Anything seems to be ok as long as it benefits the side one is on.
Do you support the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller? Please explain.
Elleson: No, not as it’s playing out today. I think it’s gone on too long and it’s hurting our country and dividing the people.
If President Trump were to fire Mueller, directly or indirectly, what should Congress do?
Elleson: Nothing, he has the power to fire him if he chooses. I don’t think he will as the investigation is probably coming to an end.
If Trump were to pardon his former campaign aide Paul Manafort, what should Congress do?
Elleson: Nothing, he has the right to pardon him if he chooses. Remember Marc Rich’s pardon from President Clinton. If Trump pardons Manafort it will be a political decision that he will have to answer for in 2020. But I don’t think he’ll do it, unless the court gives him life in prison, and then I hope a reduced sentence is offered. I have strongly advocated for Blago’s sentence to be cut short. Many if not most, prison sentences are too long and counter productive. My experience with prosecutors is, they have not always been honest and fair to everyday people. Look at the St. Louis area and the giving of tickets to poor people, taking their money wrongly. I am for reducing the time on most prison sentences, unless violent crimes are involved. I would be open to blank reduction of all prison sentences, for those serving time that don’t involve violent crimes.
Which three actions taken so far by the Trump administration do you most strongly support?
Elleson: 1) the administration’s work to improve the economy (laxing of unnecessary regulation), renegotiating the trade deals, job creation measures, the tax bill, 2) Supreme Court (judiciary) picks, 2) the businessman approach to the country’s problems.
Which three actions taken by the Trump administration do you most strongly disagree with?
Elleson: Calling people names. I took huge offense in the way he attacked the reporter who was disabled, the attack on Ben Carson’s faith in the primary, and things he’s said against people. At one point I said I would never vote for him. But I.ve gotten over much of it and like the way he has governed as the president and the direction of our country is heading. Our biggest problem is polarization and attacking and hating one another. We need to find common ground and come together as a country. It started before Trump came along.
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?
Elleson: I agree with most of the roll backs. Much of the electricity down state is 30 percent more expensive that ours up here is Chicagoland, due to nuclear vs. coal fired plants (Obama regulations), and many in small southern Illinois towns have less access to good jobs and income. Many of the Obama regulation and new rules choked and harmed the poorest among us. The Paris climate change gave China a pass while restricting the US. It wasn’t fair. Make it equal to all countries at the same time and I am for it. China is a developed country they do not need a 20 year waiver.
To what extent is climate change a man-made phenomenon? How serious is the threat to our children’s future? What should be done?
Elleson: It is probably a real thing that we need to take seriously. Carbon released in the air is not good. I want clean air, clean water, and a environment that is healthy for this generation and the ones that follow. But we need to tackle it without ruining the economy.
What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence?
Elleson: Uniform background checks prior to a gun purchase.
Is the media the “enemy of the people”? Please explain.
Elleson: They could be. I think much of the media outlets have their own agenda. If they are not reporting things fairly, both sides and view points, they can be seen as the enemy of the people. If they lie and misrepresent the truth, and intentionally deceive the people, the people start thinking such. But I do not think they are the enemy of the people. A free, unregulated, honest press is crucial to our democracy. I think much of the media (both right and left leanings), could do a better job for the people, and accurately report news more honestly.
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?
Elleson: I think it was a good start and in the right direction (rewriting of the tax code). I do not like the income inequities of wealth, as we need a large, strong middle class. The middle class has taken a huge hit in this global economy. I believe in free markets also, but I don’t like everything I see. I do blame the global economy and the shipping of jobs overseas. We like our Walmart goods too much. The cheap plastics being made in China and India are hurting the world. Its polluting our environment and destroying American manufacturing. We should not say this is the way it has to be, but try to bring good change to a shrinking world.
With respects to the tax code, I think everyone should pay some income tax. I believe more in a flat tax system where everyone pays the same percentage. Part of the reason insurance companies have co-pays is so there is a shared responsibility. Everyone should have the same shared percentage, and shared skin in the game. We would probably have a higher percentage of voter participation and turnout. in which we should strive to get as many people involved.
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?
Elleson: In the latest released report, pay for the average American rose 2.4 percent. And it’s going to keep climbing as long as the economy does well. If there is a shortage of workers, wages tend to rise. Taxing the wealthy is not the sole answer for bridging the income gap, like some suggest. We need to work hard to narrow the differences. We need to have an economy where good high paying middle class jobs are available to the people (with good benefits).
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?
Elleson: Maybe not now. I am not happy with Russia stealing Crimea, interfering in Ukraine, the Syrian war, and their role in the destabilization of functioning democracies. I am more concerned about these issues over them meddling in our elections. If Hilary would have won the election, it won’t be a talked about issue today. We know that Russia meddles in elections around the world (the US does also), so we should be smart enough to control or contain it. Russia is our adversary, but an old proverb says “keep your enemies close to you”.
How would you assess and grade the Trump administration’s efforts to recalibrate our nation’s relationships with Korea, NATO and Russia?
Elleson: I like the direction of our foreign policy and our approach to it. I think we should challenge things that need improvement and are not working. NATO needs to pay their share of military costs. Russia has gotten away with too much (Crimea, Ukraine). For too long republican and democrats have gotten us into needless wars and conflicts overseas. His approach is different, but I like it. So an “A-” I think moving our Embassy to Jerusalem was the right thing.
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?
Elleson: I think it was reasonable. If you cannot vet those coming into the country properly, you need to hit the pause button. The countries in question did not have proper identification on many of the applicants applying to come into the US. I do not believe it was a Muslim Ban, but rather deep screening.
What three major reforms should be made to United States immigration policy?
Elleson: We should secure the boarder, not pretending to, but actually do it. We need to crack down on those who overstay their visas. It should be mandated that most larger employers use E-Verify. We need to settle the immigration issue. I’m for comprehensive immigration reform if we deal with the problem of illegal immigration. If we need to raise the amount of people we let into the country legally, lets do it. Let’s just decide what we want our immigration policy to look like and then enforce it.
Do you support or oppose the family-based immigration policy sometimes called “chain migration”? Please explain.
Elleson: Yes and no. I believe people who immigrate to the US should have the ability to invite their family over also. But, we need to be careful and make sure it’s done right. If it’s done honestly and the applicants want to contribute to the country, let them in.
What would you do, as a member of Congress, to improve race relations in the United States?
Elleson: I would champion race relations. I would be an intentional representative whose goal is to build bridges in today’s society. Bill Clinton may have been the first black president, I will be the first black representative for our district. Our church is like the district. We are about 1/3 Black, 1/3 Spanish, 10 percent Asian, and 1/3 White. 70 percent of the people in our church are probably democrats, and we get along great. We don’t focus on the things we don’t have in common, but on the good in each other. the people come from all economical and social backgrounds. The rich and poor sit and eat together each Sunday in a shared meal after the service. I love diversity and the challenge of building bridges and bringing people together. It is possible.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent?
Elleson: I want to bring people together and build bridges with the other side. I will work hard to build good honest relationships with the opposing party. This will be a conscience effort and choice. I maybe a conservative (an independent conservative), but I care about getting along with people deeply and deeply want to find common ground. Our campaign theme song is “We all Bleed the Same” by Mandisa. This is who I am. Some may say this is idealistic and untenable, but I know it’s possible. If the 9th Congressional District gives me the chance to represent them, we will be a National District for people to follow.
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.