Gaby Downey Interview

Gaby Downey is a Democratic candidate for the 2nd District Seat of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the seat currently held by Representative Jean Schmidt, or as we like to refer to her as Mean Jean.

Of course this question is a must. What’s your favorite drink?
Gaby Downey: I’m a girly girl, I’m not a big drinker, but I like Strawberry Margaritas.

Do you have a twin?
GD: I do not.
Just checking.

Why run for Congress?
GD: I want the country to change and change for the better. I think I’ll make a good representative of the people, and can get the job done once I get to Washington. The Paul Hackett race lured me in. I’m a government teacher and I didn’t know the other candidates. I was waiting for a name democrat to run, and if one had run, I wouldn’t have. (like David Pepper, Todd Portune, etc. )

What do you think Mean Jean’s biggest failures have been in Congress?
GD: I think attacking Murtha, opening her mouth on the senate floor, and for a variety of reasons what she said was wrong. Whether it was attacking another member of congress on the floor, whether t was attacking a marine and calling him a coward whether it was responding to that saying “how was I to know he is a marine?”

All those things are the epitome of a person out of touch. As a government teacher when we talk about things in class I never let my students get away with things if they are not well researched, or understood. They are not allowed just to stay stuff, and here a member of Congress is doing this. And it’s very sad. And the second thing is it’s our member of Congress that’s doing this. So that’s probably the worse thing.

The fact that she goes off and talks about things and whenever President Bush makes a mistake, and it’s clear identifiable her response has been he know what he’s doing, and we have to trust him. And that’s frustrating because once again as a government teacher one of things that you are required to do in a democracy is question what’s going on. There is no questioning going on right now.

Election Reform:
On your website you talk about being from the middle class, which will make you a minority in the Congress.
GD: It will but I don’t think that things are going to change unless we start electing regular people.

How do you think we could change campaign financing to make it possible for the average citizens to run successfully for public office?
GD: Unfortunately the way we do this is on the tax forms we ask if you would like to spend a little bit of money for this or that to allow for campaign finance to allow for public election. We just need to change the laws, and whether it’s putting limits on things, or saying that you know what every candidate comes in on a even basis or your only allowed to fundraise for a certain amount of time.
Even in this primary the person who has the most money is supposedly the front-runner. It should be the person with the clearest message, and connects to the people most. You really have to figure out how to fundraise, and that shouldn’t be how you spend all your time. It’s kind of scary we spend million and millions on elections when we could be spending it on something else that’s more productive in our country.

In our country we have people who don’t have healthcare insurance; people who can’t get preventive healthcare, thus end up sicker and take more resources when they do qualify for care. I even heard a story on NPR about soldiers that are marrying friends so their friends can be covered under the military healthcare plan. Healthcare is a topic that politicians always give lip service to, but don’t seem to be doing any thing about it. What would you do in congress to help ensure all Americans access to healthcare?
GD: We need to provide an affordable pay in system. The difficulty with healthcare now a days is that it’s terribly expensive, unless you are covered by your job. So many small businesses owners can’t afford healthcare for their workers, cause it cost so much to cover their selves. I know a family of 5 that has to pay 10,000 a year for their health insurance. This says that America is not good for small business, entrepreneurs; if something catastrophic happens then that family is destroyed monetarily. Unless we create some sort of system where we can pay in we need to look at dropping the cost of medical insurance. 40% of the dollar goes toward medical insurance and our medical coverage. Medical care should be affordable just like electricity and water, some of the basics of society.

I noticed you didn’t mention gas in the affordable category. I filled up my car today for double what it cost me in 1999.
Downey expressed the need for more public transportation, a way to get people around so they don’t have to rely on automobiles. We don’t have sidewalks anymore, and we are fat as a society. Imagine how many people would be willing to bike if they had a way to safely bike around. When we ride in our neighborhood people scream at us to get on the sidewalk. We say, “no that’s not our place.” If you go to Oregon, or Madison Wisconsin, where they have these great bike paths they don’t mind paying these gas prices, cause they are exercising as they are getting places.
She added her family bikes ever single night when it’s warm.

Pharmacists & Religious Objections:
Do you think pharmacist should be allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions that are in opposition to their religious convictions?
GD: Should cashiers be able to say "you can’t have a pack of cigarettes, maybe you shouldn’t have alcohol; cause I disagree with that?" Maybe we should we get to decide what we want to do as far as dispensing things. But that’s not how the world works! If you have a job, you are expected to do it.

You played basketball in high school and college what position did you play?
GD: Forward, I was not tall for my team; there were others that were 6 foot 5. I played inside over outside, I would much rather play outside*because you don’t get the crap beat out of you.

You’re a government teacher, so it’s time for a POP Quiz.
What is the line of presidential succession?

The Vice President: Dick Cheney
Speaker of the House: John Dennis Hastert
President pro tempore of the Senate: Ted Stevens
Secretary of State: Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of the Treasury: John Snow

Up till Secretary of Treasury she answered them in rapid-fire fashion; that one was a little tougher. (Who even knows who the Secretary of the Treasury is?)

Can you name the five protections in the first amendment?
With no hesitation she launched into religion, speech, press, and petitioning, they came easily but the last one took a little longer. The answer is assembly.

In addition to teaching government you also teach history. Gore Vidal called this country the United States of Amnesia; as a history teacher [how] do you make history relevant to students?
GD: I actually pride myself on making what is happening today, connect to what happened in history and vice versa. History did not happen in a vacuum, so it is essential to make students understand how what happens today impacts the future. I think Gore Vidal's quote is one of the reasons I am so frustrated by the current administration. All of the things that have happened from the Iraq war to running up a huge debt will impact us for a long time. If we don't change the current direction we are going in, I am afraid of how things are going to turn out. I have two young children and I want the world to be a better place for them. That is one of the reasons I am running.

The constitution gives the power of war to Congress. You attend the Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers, and peace is a tenant of that religion. As a congresswoman would you ever vote to declare war?
(Note she grew up Catholic, but when the talk of war started she switched to attending the friends meetings, which is more in line with her philosophies.)
GD: You have to consider your constituencies when voting. Although we haven’t declared war since World War II, the congress has effectively stripped themselves of the power of war.

You like to hike. What is your favorite place to hike and why?
GD: Red River gorge, because it’s close, pretty, secluded see all different kind of land formations.

Intelligent design. Intelligent or not?
GD: A pretty design; not intelligent.

*Correction made. I origianly typed inside, not outside. (Sorry I know nothing about Basketball.)

Want to hear more from Gaby? She will be at drinking liberally this Tuesday, the 21st. We meet at the Comet at 7:30. There is a link at the top of the homepage.

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