In the primary election on Tuesday, May 8, Joel Phelps and Dave Wenger will
vie for the Republican nomination for the 1st District seat in the U.S.
House of Representatives. The Chesterton Tribune invited both to
respond to candidate questionnaires. Early voting begins April 9.
The Tribune set word limits for each question and reserved the right
to edit for length.
(1) Age, place of residence, occupation.
Phelps: 35, Portage, senior project manager for a construction firm.
Wenger: 58, Porter Township, sales at Schillings in St. John.
(2) Describe your qualifications for office. (75 words)
Phelps: Joel has been successful in the field of process engineering. He
can break tasks down into their elemental components, eliminate non value
added parts and make the process more cost effective and of better quality.
Joel can do this in the lean world of the private sector. Imagine what he
could do with Washington bureaucracies. Joel is a natural leader and has
been a tireless advocate for working people.
Wenger: Being a lifelong resident of the region I have experienced two
recessionary periods, the 1980s and our current situation. I understand the
economies of the area and what works to protect the interests of our
businesses and industries. I have held both blue collar and white collar
jobs and feel I have an empathy to peoples needs. I was raised on a farm and
learned the value of hard work, honesty, integrity, and Christian values.
(3) Why are you seeking election to the office? (75 words)
Phelps: Joel decided to run for office because he feels the greatness of
this country is being squandered by career politicians. Joel feels the only
things standing between the American people and prosperity right now is bad
policy. Joel knows that America is still the largest marketplace in the
world by three times over. America still has the most productive workers in
the world, and the best colleges, universities, and technologies the world
has ever seen.
Wenger: I feel the people are disappointed in the way government is
acting. Neither side of the aisle seems to be connecting with the real
concerns of the people. I want to be the real voice of the people, truly
representing their needs, wants, and desires. "Returning Government to the
People" is my motto. We need to feel like our voice is being heard and our
opinions and votes make a difference.
(4) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe
yourself to be a better candidate. (100 words)
Phelps: Joel is different from Pete Visclosky in that he believes that
nothings wrong with America that cannot be fixed by whats right with the
American people. Joel understands that Washington cannot be the answer to
all problems if the American dream is to survive. Joel opposes earmarks
while his opponent has one of biggest appetites for pork in Washington. Joel
understands that the American job market will improve when Washington gets
out of the way and makes it attractive for businesses to risk their money.
Not by confiscating your money to be redistributed in earmarks and special
government kickback projects.
Wenger: I wont get into negative campaigning. The truth is, our
platforms are similar since were both running as Republicans. Probably the
biggest difference is our age and where we were raised. Ive probably had a
few more life experiences than my opponent which will serve me well in
office. Ive been blessed with common sense, the ability to remain calm under
stress, and the desire to solve problems. Ive been in business for myself
and understand the trials of small business owners and Ive worked in
management for a large regional distribution company and know the challenges
larger businesses face.
(5) What are they key issues in the race? (100 words)
Phelps: Sponsor, vote and work to:
•Create manufacturing jobs by enacting a 0-percent tax for the next four
•Lower gasoline and energy prices through the Keystone in ANWR on the coast
•Pass a balanced budget amendment and cap spending at 18 percent of GDP.
•Enact lower, fair taxes.
•Tax Chinese goods to level the playing field for American workers.
•Reward business to come home and bring profits back tax-free if spent in
•Vote for the Mack-Penny plan in first 60 days of Congress to balance budget
by 2019 and save $7.5 trillion in 10 years.
•Preserve the Social Security and Medicare contract with our seniors.
•Commit to no more than eight years in the House and work to pass term
limits for Congress.
Wenger: The top issue: balance the budget. The current administrations
proposed budget shows a deficit of $750 billion per year through 2021. The
people will pay for this deficit spending through increased taxes, higher
debt, or printing more money.
The next most important issue: the economy. Historically we see a dip in our
economy every ten years. Recently our government has tried to eliminate dips
and artificially jumpstart the economy which has helped create the "Great
Recession." Fortunately our economy is turning around on its own.
Another issue: the "Affordable Healthcare Act." I doubt anyone understands
entirely whats in this bill. My new slogan: "If you can't reveal, you must
repeal." The CBO just reported that the 10-year cost, originally estimated
at $900 billion, has been revised to $1.8 trillion. The mandates of this
"insurance" bill are sure to cost insurers more, which they will pass along
as increased premiums.
(6) What, in your view, poses the greatest threat to the future of the U.S.
and how do you propose to address that threat? (75 words)
Phelps: Our debt is the biggest threat to our security and American way
of life weve ever faced. It is the reason I am running. It is the reason
Jennifer and I used our savings to launch this campaign, and my family is
willing to miss much of our time together. It is also the reason we hope you
choose to stand with us and support our campaign to save our nation from the
Wenger: What made our country strong and successful has been lost in
recent times. Our country was founded and succeeded on moral values, and
yes, they were God-based Christian values. Weve become a Godless, immoral
society and have paid the price. We need to regain our morals and restore
patriotism and pride. We are still the greatest country on earth and should
feel lucky to live in the freest and richest system in the world.
(7) The incumbent, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, has historically been a
supporter of the domestic steel industry, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore,
the Port of Indiana, the Gary/Chicago International Airport, and flood
control in the region, among other things. What specifically are your
priorities for Northwest Indiana? (100 words)
Phelps: Jobs and manufacturing is Joels highest priority. Joel would be
a true advocate for the steel industry and do more than just talk by
proposing a tax on Chinese goods commensurate to the amount they undervalue
their currency. This would give steel producers in Northwest Indiana a level
playing field again. Joel advocates 0-percent manufacturing taxes for four
years and 12 percent thereafter and 12 percent right now for all other
business. These policies would do more to raise the standard of living in
the industrial powerhouse that is Northwest Indiana than any earmark
Washington can invent.
Wenger: I support business in general. If we dont have businesses, none
of us will have jobs. I have relatives who work in the steel industry and
relatives who farm and Im a past owner of a small business. Therein lies my
priorities. I would support all legal businesses who create jobs here. The
Gary/Chicago International Airport is a diamond in the rough. We should
continue to support and grow this diamond. The regions road and bridge
infrastructure needs to be updated. I would like to reopen the discussion
for high speed rail service connecting us to key Midwest markets.