This morning, I sat down with Scott Taylor, a former SEAL who is running for the Republican congressional nomination in the 2nd District. We talked about his campaign and his thoughts on various issues. His responses to some of my questions follow:
VBC: What motivates you to want to run for Congress?
ST: I’m concerned about the direction of this country, and I’d like to do more about it than just talk. We’re losing economic prosperity and not becoming more independent in our energy sources.
VBC: What are some of your differences with the current representative, Glenn Nye, and what things will you do differently from him?
ST: First, I’m more conservative than Nye. Voters will know exactly where I stand on the issues, and I won’t wait until the day before a vote to decide my stance on an issue. I am stronger on making the district and our country energy independent. I will read all bills that come across my desk, and will also propose a 7 day waiting period so that legislation can be read and reviewed by the public. I’ll also offer better services to my constituents than Nye has, including holding town hall meetings at least quarterly.
VBC: What are your views on the excessive spending by both the current and prior presidential administrations?
ST: I disagreed with the TARP program that began under President Bush; it’s proven hard to account for the monies we’ve spent, and I disagree with the way the program was forced on businesses, including local banks. I don’t support bailouts for ailing industries or businesses; they should move out of the way for those who are able to compete in our economy. I’m also against “stimulus” plans as methods of job creation. For companies that can’t make it in this economy, we should work to make their ex-employees more tech-savvy and steer them toward jobs where they can use their new skills.
VBC: What are your thoughts on the healthcare legislation pending in Congress? Do you believe that healthcare coverage can be mandated under the Constitution?
ST: I believe that mandates to have health insurance are unconstitutional. I believe the pending healthcare legislation doesn’t adequately address the costs of healthcare, and I don’t approve of the background deals that have been made to secure votes for its passage. President Obama campaigned on the need for transparency in reforming healthcare, yet the Democratic leadership is working on the bill in secret, without Republican input. The current legislation has many negative unintended consequences that will adversely affect our hospitals, such as cuts to Medicare that will make hospitals less likely to accept patients participating in that entitlement program.
During his time as a SEAL and as a private citizen, Scott spent time in Yemen. While there, one of the compounds he guarded received bombing threats from al-Qaeda. He offered me some of his perspectives on the country and the war on terrorism as a whole. We also talked about ways he would work to better the military community in Hampton Roads-the largest in Virginia.
VBC: How has your military service shaped your views on the war on terror, and what are some of your reactions to the events of the past few weeks?
ST: My service helped me better understand the perception our country has around the world, as well as the perception our nation’s enemies have of us. I believe the Obama administration is naïve if they feel that simply talking nice to our enemies is going to make them not want to kill American citizens. I believe that people who even attempt to kill Americans-such as Umar Abdulmutallab-meet the definition of “enemy combatant” and should be treated as such.
I also don’t believe that the adminstration should keep sending detainees from Guantanamo to Yemen. We’re dealing with a country with a weak national government, where al-Qaeda has gone in and paid off tribal leaders to exert their influence. Suspected or convicted terrorists can be released from Yemeni prisons simply by signing a note that says they “renounce” extremism; this happened with 400 prisoners while I was there.
VBC: What things will you do to better improve the lives of current, former, and retired military personnel in Hampton Roads and their families?
ST: I would dedicate a portion of my staff to specifically deal with military issues-including dealing with the VA as well as working with transitioning service members and military families. I will lend my name and support to job fairs that will allow us to keep the talents of separating and retiring military members here in the district. We have 10,000 service members in this area who leave the military with 10 years or less of service; that’s a workforce that we can utilize for transportation and energy work. I will also lend my support to helping veteran-owned businesses be successful, including assisting them through the government’s procurement processes.
The 2nd District, which is made up of parts of Norfolk and Hampton as well as all of Virginia Beach, is 21% African American. We talked about how Scott would include the black community in his campaign and campaign message, as well as how his faith influences his political direction.
VBC: How has your faith help shape your politics?
ST: It’s shaped my being, as well as how I view the world. The values that guide my life are Christian values. I meet with my pastor (Scott attends Wave Church in Virginia Beach) monthly so that I can measure my campaign and stances against my Christian beliefs.
VBC: What’s your message to the African American communities in your district, and how have you utlized their leaders in your campaign?
ST: I’ve worked-and will continue to work-with churches and influential leaders in the black community, many of whom supported my mayoral candidacy. I also plan on walking their neighborhoods so I can take my message directly to them. As someone who grew up after the struggles of the civil rights era, I look at everyone as having an equal opportunity, but not being guaranteed an equal result. Where there are areas of our lives that show discrimination or discriminatory practices, I will work to change them.
One of the things I will lend my voice to is making mentoring programs more available to the black community, as well as those of other minority communities in the district. As a product of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization, I know firsthand the positive effect a mentor can have in our youths’ lives. I would look to churches, faith-based organizations, and retiring military members to take the lead on mentoring in our communities, and I would work to ensure their success from the federal level.
For more information on Scott and his campaign, visit his site at www.scotttaylorforcongress.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @votescotttaylor.