In the general
election on Nov. 6, Democrat incumbent U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky will defend
his 1st District seat against Republican Joel Phelps. Early voting begins on
Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to candidate questionnaires.
set word limits and reserved the right to edit for length.
Visclosky: Age, place of residence, terms in office. 63, Merrillville,
To Phelps: Age,
place of residence, occupation. 35, Portage, industrial engineer.
Visclosky: Describe your achievements in office. (75 words) I am proud
of my ability to work with community leaders to support our domestic steel
industry, invest in our public infrastructure, protect our valuable natural
resources, strengthen our public safety, and increase opportunities at our
local institutions of higher learning. By working together, we have enhanced
the strong manufacturing foundation that built our economy and will ensure
that Northwest Indiana continues to grow and create local jobs.
Describe your qualifications for office. (75 words) I’ve managed over
200 stories of commercial high-rise construction. I know and understand how
to bring groups together to accomplish big things. I am an industrial
engineer. I see Northwest Indiana as one economic system, and understand
that this region wants to be the center of intermodal transportation,
cross-docking, and distribution for the U.S. We have a specific plan to get
it done through serving on the House Transportation and Development
Visclosky: Why are you seeking re-election to office? (75 words) As a
public servant, I am always conscious of the great responsibility entrusted
to me by the residents of Indiana’s First District, and I take those
responsibilities very seriously. I am seeking re-election to serve our
troops and veterans, to fight for our domestic manufacturing base, invest in
our public infrastructure, protect our valuable natural resources, address
our nation’s budget deficit, and support our institutions of higher
To Phelps: Why
are you seeking election to this office? (75 words) I am running because
we need fresh energy, new goals, and a cohesive, achievable master-plan for
developing the latent potential in our region. We have unmatched, untapped
natural and industrial resources, and as an industrial engineer, I know how
to promote our competitive advantages in a way that companies understand and
will respond to. Northwest Indiana is ready to go from good to great. I have
the skill, and determination to get us there.
Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe
yourself to be a better candidate. (75 words)
respect my opponent and the democratic process. As someone who has dedicated
my professional career to public service, I am always conscious of the
responsibilities that have been entrusted to me by the residents of
Indiana’s First District, and if re-elected, I will remember that first and
foremost, my work is to serve them.
opponent is a career politician in every sense. He appears a nice,
grandfatherly gentleman who calls on your birthday and lets you sit in his
chair. Yet, at the end of a three-decade long career in Washington, he can
point to very little about this district that has grown and flourished under
his watch. I am running because I want to do something big for this
district, not because I need a career.
(5) What are the
key issues in this race? (100 words)
We are a nation at war and we should bring our troops home from Afghanistan.
We must ensure our military personnel have the necessary equipment in the
battlefield and upon their return home have access to quality health care
and job opportunities. Jobs and economic recovery also are top priorities.
There is still prevalent concern about the stability and direction of our
economy. While we have made improvements, there is still more work that must
be done. We have to invest in our public infrastructure to enhance economic
opportunities. I will continue to work to that end.
primary focus is to get Northwest Indiana working again, and develop our
local economy by leveraging our competitive advantages. This region wants to
be the center of intermodal transportation, cross-docking, and distribution
for the Unites States. We can and should develop the existing infrastructure
to create the environment that companies are seeking leaving Illinois. We
are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the sterling reputation for
business Indiana has earned of late because of strides in others parts of
the state, and combine it with our industrial signature that sets us apart
from the rest of the country.
specific measures do you propose to get people back to work? (100 words)
We should fight to strengthen our domestic manufacturing industry. It is
imperative that we continue to make things in our country. Manufacturing
drives our economy and supports investments in research and technology and
transportation infrastructure. I have dedicated my public service to
fighting for our manufacturing base and jobs that support our communities in
Indiana’s First District. This commitment starts with enforcing our trade
laws and cracking down on the manipulation of foreign currencies. We also
cannot allow the outsourcing of American jobs, and I will continue to do
everything possible to ensure our jobs stay in Northwest Indiana.
Enforce FAIR trade policies for our manufacturers, make Northwest Indiana
the center of intermodal transportation and distribution for the Unites
States. This means $6-8 billion and 20,000–25,000 new good-paying jobs.
accomplish this by:
rail capacity and incentive packages for new distribution centers.
customs and clearing house so imports and exports don’t have to go through
dozens of disparate economic development boards, to focus under one vision
to reverse the PR problems of corruption we have suffered for 28 years, and
respond at the speed of business to potential companies.
specific measures do you propose to move the federal government toward a
balanced budget? (100 words)
It is past time that comprehensive action is taken to balance the budget.
Any serious proposal must put everything on the table. It must address taxes
and the inequalities in the tax code, and at the same time, reform federal
spending programs. When our federal budget was balanced from 1998 through
2001, tax revenues and federal spending represented around 20 percent of our
gross domestic product. In 2011, revenue was 15.4 percent of our gross
domestic product and spending was at 24.1 percent of our gross domestic
product. The budget cannot be balanced while these extremes exist.
on Chinese goods commensurate to the percentage they undervalue their
currency to put our manufacturers on even footing.
federal Income tax on manufacturers for four years, and 15-18 percent flat
tax thereafter. This will generate millions of new jobs and billions in new
flat tax on all businesses. No deductions.
•Cut one penny
of every federal dollar spent from 2012-17.
•Cap spending at
18 percent of GDP beginning 2018. This balances the budget in 2019 and saves
taxpayers $7.5 trillion dollars over the next decade.
(8) What, in
your view, poses the single greatest threat to the future of the U.S. and
how would you propose to address that threat? (75 words)
The greatest threat to our nation would be a failure to address our national
and economic security. Our troops deserve our full attention, in battle and
upon their return home. I also believe our government needs to make
long-term decisions about revenue and spending policies to strengthen our
economic recovery. I will continue to work in a bi-partisan and
comprehensive fashion to find solutions to our long-term fiscal and economic
believe the greatest threat to maintaining American “exceptionalism,”
long-term, is our failing educational system. However, given the near
exponential explosion of our national debt, and two credit downgrades in one
year, I feel that addressing the annual structural operating deficits of
$0.40 of every dollar we spend is paramount. A balanced budget must be the
priority of the 113th Congress as a matter of national security. We address
these solutions in Question 7.
(9) What are
your priorities in Northwest Indiana? (75 words)
We must invest in our physical and economic infrastructure to reach our true
potential in Northwest Indiana. We have great potential in our region, which
stems from our existing transportation infrastructure, our access to Lake
Michigan, our educational institutions, and our workers, who are the best in
the world. My priority is to continue to work with citizens and communities
to build upon the strength of our region to create jobs and economic
priorities are the region’s people. Not just returning them to work, but
restoring the pride the region felt before we suffered the deterioration of
the last three decades with my opponent at the helm. Corruption and lost
jobs have become our hallmark. It has decimated our people’s confidence and
our reputation around the country. I believe this is Northwest Indiana’s
moment. I believe together we can do better. I believe our best days lie