|Job description||Represents his/her district in the US House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the legislative branch of the United States. Term is two years.|
|Edward “Todd” Allen|
PO Box 179, Corsicana, TX 75109
Kenny Marchant (incumbent)
Note: Candidate answers are shown alphabetically by last name.
What is your current occupation? Educational background? What experiences do you have that make you the best candidate for US Representative?
Edward “Todd” Allen: I am a government teacher in Irving ISD, and have been a teacher and public servant my entire working life. My wife is also a full-time teacher and is currently in school studying for her doctorate. We have two young kids who love being spoiled by their grandparents. I told you about where I work and about my family first because I think that is what politics should be about. Not ideology. Not party loyalty. Not protest. My policy is People. I believe in things that will help everyday Americans like you and me. I believe working Americans, middle class Americans, need the chance to vote for one of their own: not a long-time political operative groomed by the Party elite, not someone with wealth to burn and time on their hands, and not someone in bed with special interests and corporations. Just a normal American who goes to work every day to put food on the table, then goes out to campaign in the few hours he has left in the evening. I believe the People of the 24th will vote for me because I am one of them, and I will fight for them. When I talk about healthcare reform, it is because my family lives with the cost. When I talk about putting wonder back in the classroom, it is because I am in those classrooms and I see that need. When I talk about tax reform, it is because I know what a few hundred dollars a month would mean to my middle-class family, and your middle-class family. I’m ready to talk to everyone, even if our political views don’t align, and I’m ready to listen, which is something our current representative doesn’t seem willing to do. I think We Can Be Better, and I am willing to bet that most of the people in the 24th feel the same.
I was raised in a small town in West Texas by a family of educators: public service was quite literally a family business (it should be no surprise that my siblings went into Education as well). As a high school student, I was president of our local Beta club and performed a variety of civic services ranging from visiting with senior citizens to highway clean up, all of which are tasks familiar to any student who has served in an honor society or service organization. While I graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science, I knew that my path would lead me through the classroom, and that is where I headed after graduation: the classroom. As an educator for the past fourteen years, I’ve had about as much “civic” training as a person can have without actually running for office. Educators will know what I’m talking about: the politics of coaching, of dealing with angry constituents (parents), of learning to do a lot with very little funding, of working hard and long for nothing but pride and your own sense of doing something right, of legitimately caring about people. As an educator, I and my fellow teachers are in the unique position of being in one of the few careers in the nation where we can see each generation in all of its diversity; this also means we deal with each generation’s problems and each generation’s strengths.
In many ways, I am a lucky man. Each day, when I come home from work, I can make that drive knowing that what I did that day made a difference in someone’s life. In that classroom, I get to serve a civic duty, and maybe the most important one: I get to teach our next generation about the form and function of our government. The career accomplishments of a teacher aren’t measured in profits or in professional advancement; that isn’t the reality of our profession. Our accomplishments are measured in a student’s smile, a lesson learned, a curiosity sated (or ignited), a life minutely but definitely changed for the better. This is my most rewarding civic accomplishment, and it is one that renews itself each day, year after year. Teaching civics (and modeling civic involvement) lends itself to involving my classes and students in more than just lectures. Annually, my classes participate in an “angel” program designed to benefit families in need in our community (a need which is tragically growing). Through their efforts, my students raise money and purchase gifts for children who might otherwise go without. Similarly, as coach my teams would volunteer with youth organizations to help teach sportsmanship to the disadvantaged and provide assistance designed to raise funds for cancer research. Additionally, my wife and I are active within our church, particularly in helping those in need. We routinely volunteer our time to pack lunches for children during the summer or school holidays as well as paint and maintain mobile homes in a park for the disadvantaged in our church’s community.
John Biggan: Research Scientist/College Instructor
Ph.D. Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Arlington, 2012
M.S. Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Arlington, 2010
B.F.A. Department of Theatre Arts, University of Texas at Arlington, 2005
I have been actively involved in leadership roles across various private organizations since my youth. However, having not held public office (just like the rest of the Democratic candidates in this race), I knew that I needed to prepare myself to be successful.
Last spring I completed trainings with the National Democratic Training Committee and with 314 Action (a PAC dedicated to getting more scientists into government) both online and in person in Washington DC, where I met state, local, and federal current and former candidates. Using these contacts, I hired a consulting firm out of DC that has worked on such campaigns as Howard Dean’s successful bid for DNC Chair.
I have also read a litany of books on policies and rulings to ensure that I am informed about the pros and cons of issues, including which policies and laws have been successful and unsuccessful both home and abroad.
Finally, I met with former candidates, current elected officials, and politicos. They were able to provide insight into what it takes to run an effective campaign. Following their advice, we have focused on fundraising, though we also conduct more voter outreach than any of the other candidates in the Democratic primary. I am happy to report that in our first 2 1⁄2 weeks, we outraised every Democrat who has ever challenged Kenny Marchant. Since then, we have outraised all Democratic challengers from 2010-2016 combined and we only began in October.
All of this combined, gives this campaign the best chance in November because it is not enough to sit back and RIDE the wave, we have to be the ones to CREATE the big blue wave!
Jan McDowell: Current Occupation – CPA
Education – Texas Tech University, BA in Journalism/Public Relations
Undergraduate and graduate-level courses in Accounting and Business at UT Dallas
As a citizen who stays informed about the issues, and as a CPA with the financial background to find practical solutions, I am determined to put those skills to work to level the playing field for all Americans.
And having run for this seat in 2016, I have been engaged across the district for over two years, meeting people and getting to know them and their concerns.
I have helped in campaigns for other Democratic candidates, and I have been involved in the community. I registered to vote when I was 18, and I have voted in almost every election at every level since then. So I was a concerned citizen long before I became a candidate.
I’ve raised two daughters to be successful, independent adults, and I’ve seen the challenges faced by seniors as my siblings and I helped our parents navigate their difficult final years.
With a wide variety of life experiences, I think I have a broad perspective to bring to representing constituents all across District 24.
Jonathan Davidson: Current occupation is Software Development. Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Field of Study: Finance. Graduation: August 15, 1998. The greatest threat to our security is the inability by both State and Federal agencies to perform simple tasks upon subpoena request, during the discovery phase of a trial, to yield information that would lead to a felony arrest. I have experienced where a U.S. Attorney gave advice to a Federal Agent to withhold any further details of a crime. This type of behavior is not what the American people expect from law enforcement, much less the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In addition, this type of behavior is criminal by Texas State code, for it interferes with someone obtaining a restraining order to stop stalking, battery, and even worse crimes. To that end, I want an outlined, fool-proof approach to obtaining government held information for an underlining person to serve a subpoena in a civil or criminal hearing and/or trial to complete discovery and provide facts in a petition or complaint for a “Civil Injunction” against the offending party.
My greatest challenge is to get information in the hands of the voting population that I am running for office and will provide to each one of the voters something that has yet to be provided by anyone in law enforcement or elected officials, to my knowledge: “Access to the government satellite and wireless cellular tower surveillance networks to obtain a copy of his or her account, if there, and all information concerning the account, upon request to present during a court hearing to cover probable cause for an immediate arrest warrant to be issued, facts for an affidavit to obtain an immediate restraining order, and further discovery to present facts in a civil trial for a cause of action.”
What percentage of your campaign donations comes from individuals? What percentage comes from PACs?
Edward “Todd” Allen: 100% of my campaign funds have come from individual donors. Currently, the campaign has raised about $16,000 in donations (in kind and otherwise), almost all of which has come in through donations of five dollars here, ten dollars there, from the working-class people of the district. I have said before and I will keep saying: a wealthy donor writes one candidate a check for 2,700 dollars, and 50 people donate a dollar here, five dollars there to another candidate…who has the most support? Our contributors are a matter of public record with the FEC, but I can sum it up for you quite simply: they are simple, ordinary working Americans. If you are looking for a big-name donor, or a PAC or ten, then you can save your time. This is a kitchen-table candidacy and a working-class campaign: the bulk of our campaign funds have come from small donations. I don’t say small donors because I don’t believe there is any such thing, not among the working-class Americans who struggle month to month. If a teacher decides to donate five dollars to a campaign, I cherish that because I know it means a lunch they’ve skipped.
A few months ago, at a primary candidate forum, a woman with multiple degrees in a high-tech field revealed that she had been recently laid off. When asked how her situation could be helped, one of my primary opponents responded that she should go back to community college. This offended her greatly (as well as revealing the mindset behind wealthy candidates and their view of working American life), and she soon became dedicated to my own campaign after she and I discussed her situation in more depth. She donated a hundred dollars to my campaign, money she could not afford. It was in that moment that I feel my campaign grew; it was no longer a campaign of one man’s hopes and dreams and ideas, but of carrying the fragile hopes and dreams of others. It was a campaign for those who could not afford to donate but did, and for those who simply could not donate but still believed. That is a heavy burden.
Here is the thing about money in politics: it has made us lazy. Beyond the corruption that comes with money in politics, beyond the peddling of influence that it brings, money in politics has made us lazy because we have put it on a pedestal and said it solves everything. It didn’t solve things in that special election in Georgia. It didn’t solve things for Secretary Clinton in 2016. In fact, there was a recent study from researchers at Stanford and Berkley that found that all the money spent on a political campaign trying to sway a vote, whether at the federal, state, or local level, had zero impact on a person’s eventual decision. Not almost nothing: Zero.
You might hear some say that it is ok to take PAC money as long as it is a PAC affiliated with the Democratic Party, or with a cause you believe in. I disagree. You can’t decide some money is good and some money is bad. If money is a corrupting influence, then money is a corrupting influence…otherwise you really aren’t concerned about money in politics at all so long as the person with it has the right letter by their name. And that kind of thinking is an awful lot like the tribalism that has brought us here.
John Biggan: 100% from individuals, 0% from PACs.
Jan McDowell: 100% individual contributions.
Jonathan Davidson: Zero from individuals. Zero from PACs.
If elected, what would be the first piece of legislation that you would propose?
Edward “Todd” Allen: A Day-One priority, once I am in office, is to push for a clean DREAM Act. For more information on my thoughts on this, please see my answer to question #5.
John Biggan: My first piece of legislation will be focused on allowing Americans the right to purchase prescription medications across international boundaries as long as they are safe and legal in the US. The cost of prescription medications in the US is astronomical relative to other developed countries. The US pharmaceutical market has little to no competition and uncompetitive markets often lead to high prices. It is in our best interests to inject competition into this system by allowing Americans the option of legally purchasing safe and FDA approved prescription medications across international borders. This is currently illegal, although the law is rarely enforced so long as the quantity is less than a three-month supply and for personal use. Making this change will make the market more competitive and begin to address the rapidly rising costs of prescription medications.
Jan McDowell: I believe that income is income, and our tax law should reflect that. There should be no distinction between ordinary income (the money you earn in your paycheck or as the profit from your business) and capital gains income (from dividends and the sale of stocks). For some reason, the tax rate on capital gains income is about half the highest rate on ordinary income. Is it a coincidence that the representatives making these rules, and their donors, make most of their income from capital gains?
This phenomenon is how Warren Buffet’s secretary ends up paying taxes at a higher percentage rate than Buffet himself! In addition, there is no Social Security or Medicare tax paid on capital gains income. You absolutely pay those taxes on your wages or business profits.
The first legislation I would propose is one that recognizes all income as income. Whatever rules are set for taxing income should apply equally to all income.
Jonathan Davidson: “Domestic Terrorism by Satellite and Wireless Cellular Tower Surveillance”
I am running for office to obtain access to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was founded in 1978 to file complaints for the issuances of FISA warrants to pull accounts of victims and allow the Texas State Constitution and U.S. Constitution’s Title 18 rules and civil rights amendments to work in obtaining Civil Injunctions (“Stalking Protective Orders”) and have criminal charges filed. Unfortunately, from what I have noticed, there are no other candidates, running for office that will fight for every person in my district, neighborhood, and family for the right to obtain a protective order or the like against FISA Act violations of misconduct using DARPA programs by any agency or commercial entity. If the population knew of the filth and profanity on the satellite and wireless cellular tower camera system surveillance networks, there would be shock, disgust, disbelief, anger, and a demand for the multiple cases of wrongdoing, misconduct, abuse, and persecution to be presented in the criminal courts, either State or U.S. District Criminal Courts. To provide such access and help to victims of stalking and terrorism related crimes is a great honor and a task that must be accomplished.
What is your position on the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana? What regulations should there be on marijuana usage?
Edward “Todd” Allen: This is an issue that should have been dealt with decades ago, beginning with the immediate rescheduling of Marijuana. Scientific studies have been piling up over the years, all of which point to a conclusion that has been suspected all along: Marijuana poses significantly less dangers than the use of nicotine and alcohol. The federal government should reschedule marijuana, regulate marijuana’s sale and use, educate Americans on potential dangers (just as the Surgeon General does with the use of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages), tax each sale, and using the resulting revenue to fund programs direly in need of funds.
John Biggan: We have spent over $1 trillion on the war on drugs with very little to show for it, especially with regard to marijuana. While it seemed like we were beginning to move in the right direction on marijuana policy by allowing states to decide for themselves, that progress has been derailed by the Justice Department’s recent decision to enforce federal regulations over states’ objections. The best option is for Congress to re-schedule or de-schedule marijuana and allow states the right to choose for themselves. That is why I support the Marijuana Justice Act.
Jan McDowell: I believe we need to end the federal prohibition on marijuana. The drug remains categorized as Schedule I at the federal level, meaning it has no recognized medical benefits and is wholly illegal, just like LSD and heroin. This is clearly not true. It has been proven to have significant health benefits in treating some conditions. It has recently been shown to be an alternative to opioids in treating pain.
For recreational use, regulations on marijuana should be similar to those in place for alcohol. States that have allowed legal marijuana usage should be consulted to find best practices.
Jonathan Davidson: I would not legalize marijuana; for it is poisonous. No regulations. The product should not be produced to sell like tobacco.
What are your priorities for comprehensive immigration reform?
Edward “Todd” Allen: I teach in an urban school district. A large portion of my classes are made up of DREAMers. I see their struggles every day. I see what many people choose to ignore: that these students are as American as you or me. This is the only nation and culture they have ever known. They still believe in America. This nation needs to fight to keep that belief alive. How will I lead efforts to support them? First, by doing what my campaign has done at every appearance and in our media: making the passage of a DREAM Act a priority that we talk about ad nauseam. Once in office, I would utilize the tools and techniques of social media and the power of the bully pulpit available even to a freshman Congressman to keep this issue on the forefront on the American mind. It is rare for politicians to ever listen to the advice of those who confront immigration law and immigration enforcement on a daily basis, such as our state’s immigration attorneys, Border Patrol agents, and, yes, though who have gone through the entire naturalization process and can speak knowingly of the problems involved. This can be seen in the ignored advice of law enforcement officials who have pointed out the uselessness of an expensive border wall; you show me a seventy-billion-dollar wall and I’ll show you a dozen two hundred-dollar tunnels. The Chinese could tell you all about the effectiveness of an expensive wall, though it might be better to talk to the shades of the Mongols, who managed to defeat the obstacle of the Great Wall and conquer China. The ineffectiveness of a wall does not mean that enforcement of border security is a hollow-exercise; it simply means that we need to listen to what law enforcement officials suggest is more effective. We should increase our focus on law enforcement technology to patrol the border, on drone programs, border sensors, and other tools. Securing our border is just a piece of the immigration issue; simultaneously, we need to listen to the advice of immigration attorneys and naturalized citizens to reform the system into a cleaner, quicker, cheaper, and more efficient process. Any immigration or naturalization attorney will tell you that the process costs too much, is too complicated, and is controlled by politicians who don’t understand the ins and outs. I would urge the creation of (or commission the creation of) a panel of experts to study immigration reform, made up of those who practice immigration law, those who enforce it, and those who have been through the current process and are now citizens. I would support this panel, sit in on sessions, and trumpet to the heavens that the only way to get informed, intelligent, and compassionate reform is to utilize the ideas and experiences of those INVOLVED, and not politicians.
John Biggan: The DREAM act needs to be passed as soon as possible. In fact, I hope that it is done before I get to Congress. Children brought to this country through no fault of their own, who are contributing members of society and do not have a criminal record, should be allowed a path to citizenship. We have already invested so much time, effort, and money into these children, it is beneficial to both them and us to allow them to continue being contributing members of this great society.
On top of that, there are a tremendous number of undocumented workers who work jobs that companies cannot find Americans to do, like agriculture and construction. States that have cracked down on undocumented workers without an alternative have seen entire harvests rot on the vine. This could be catastrophic in Texas where agriculture adds $20 billion to the GDP. Additionally, roughly 1/4 of all construction workers in Texas are undocumented. Removing that workforce could lead to huge increases in home prices, on top of the recent increase, as supply is unable to keep up with the demand. Expanding guest-worker programs is a viable option that allows individuals from other countries to work in the US legally for a time and then return to their home country.
Finally, we must address non-financial reasons for illegal immigration. In 2014, a flood of children crossed the Texas/Mexico border illegally. These children were fleeing Central American countries where they were likely to be sexually assaulted, targeted to become drug-mules or assassins, or even murdered. By increasing our international outreach through governmental agencies (e.g. USAID) and partnering with non-governmental organizations, we can address the reason they fled, by making their countries safer. If their country is safer, there is no need to immigrate to the United States illegally
Jan McDowell: First, for Dreamers, the people who were brought here years ago as children, their situation should be handled separately, and immediately. Beyond the fact that it’s just the right thing to do, our nation has invested for years in their education, and it would be foolish to deport them now, when they are able to fully contribute to our economy. They should have a clear path to citizenship.
On the overall subject of illegal immigration, the number of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally is at its lowest point in more than a decade, according to a study by the Center for Migration Studies. Our country benefits daily from the work done by immigrants, both legal and undocumented. Our diverse tapestry is richer thanks to their sharing of their culture. People in countries less fortunate than ours are trying to do exactly what we all do…providing a good life for their families. They would much prefer to enter the country legally, and it would be a benefit to all if we made that a viable option.
House Speaker Paul Ryan recently said that American women should start having more babies. Otherwise, the number of baby boomers dying each year will continue to outpace the number of babies being born, thus jeopardizing Social Security and Medicare. Democrats, though, see the benefit of having immigrants filling that population gap.
Of course, anyone here illegally who is convicted of a violent crime should be immediately deported. But for the majority, who for the most part are doing everything right…working hard and contributing to their communities, there needs to be a reasonable path provided for them to attain citizenship. Families should be kept together, not torn apart. Simultaneously, the legal immigration system needs to be streamlined, and our laws need to be changed to reflect our beliefs embodied in the Statue of Liberty.
Jonathan Davidson: The Visa and green card programs are available for immigrants to utilize. I do not propose to make it easier to change citizenship to this country.
What solutions do you propose for health care system reform?
Edward “Todd” Allen: I would oppose any legislation that aims to dismantle protections necessary for the health and well-being of those Americans least able to weather the sudden storm of debt and cost that almost any medical procedure would incur. In my district, almost 60,000 people would lose health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed; I am ashamed to say that our current representative gave full-throated support to repeal. Moving forward, we need to not only strengthen and reform the Affordable Care Act to make it more efficient and more affordable, but we need to also look ahead to what is next. A single-payer system is the destiny of the American healthcare market. We are moving in that direction, and I believe within ten years we will fully arrive at a version of the single-payer plan championed by Senator Bernie Sanders. Unfortunately, the push for single-payer will be fueled by the chaos the Trump administration and the current GOP-led Congress has caused by undermining the Affordable Care Act. We will see premiums skyrocket, insurance markets abandoned by insurers, and a conservative-media push that will blame it all on Democrats. My first step will be to utilize social media and the bully pulpit to inform Americans about what is going on around them. When the bubble bursts, when premiums skyrocket, I will hit the streets and talk to the people in my districts, no matter who those citizens support party-wise, about true healthcare reform. Tribalism is rampant: our GOP constituents will need to see a real person, a real working American, talking calmly to them about what needs to happen moving forward. The war will be won there, on the streets, in the restaurants, in living rooms and town halls. It will be won, not by party and tribalism-fueled rhetoric, but by working-class representatives speaking to working-class people about realities. Once the people of the 24th, Democrat and Republican, see the need to support the Affordable Care Act, we can truly move forward.
John Biggan: No matter the system (e.g. ACA or Medicare-For-All), we need to address rising costs and decreased access so that we can achieve universal healthcare. That means expanding scope of practice laws to allow nurse practitioners to open their own practices, increasing competition in pharmaceuticals by allowing Americans to buy medications across international borders where the same medication is often much less expensive, and allowing individuals over the age of 50 to buy into Medicare, thus removing their, on average, higher costs from the individual markets, which should lead to a lowering of premiums and increase in access for younger adults.
These are a few of my ideas about how we can ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable healthcare. Much of this has bi-partisan support, meaning that it could be passed even under the current president in 2019.
Jan McDowell: Healthcare is a right of every person, not a privilege for those able to afford it. By whatever name or means necessary, healthcare for all must become a reality in our nation. It is appalling for the United States to be the only very highly developed nation in the world without universal healthcare. Studies have shown that we spend more and achieve poorer outcomes than other developed nations. A reordering of our priorities is clearly called for.
I favor Medicare for all. If that needs to happen incrementally, one suggestion would be to lower the age of eligibility one year at a time until it reaches age 55. That would remove those age 55-64, typically those with the most costly needs, from the private insurance pool. Additionally, drug prices must be negotiable on Medicare, just as they currently are on private insurance plans. Americans’ need for lifesaving medications must not be held hostage to the greed of pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists.
Jonathan Davidson: The removal of taxing the practice of medicine or medicine received will reduce medical costs. What these particular taxes currently fund will have to be addressed with direct Congressional appropriations, for the real demand and need, as well as audited.