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Oct 18, 2018







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Candidate Q&A
U.S. House of Representatives, District 1

10/04/18



 Chris Pappas (D)

Since 2002, Chris Pappas has helped run his family business, the Puritan Backroom Restaurant in Manchester. Pappas was elected to his first of two terms in the New Hampshire House of Representatives the same year, and also served two terms as treasurer of Hillsborough County. He was most recently elected to the Executive Council in 2013 representing District 4, which includes 19 communities in Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham and Strafford counties. 
 
What is the best flavor of ice cream?
Mint Oreo. To be honest, I’ve never had a bad ice cream flavor. But I’m a big fan of Oreos; they go well in any flavor. And I’m just a mint person.  
What is one piece of legislation you want to be able to look back and say you helped pass?
We need to continue our delegation’s work in a bipartisan fashion to address the opioid crisis. And we … [need] more than just lip service for this crisis. We need resources that we can invest in prevention, treatment and recovery strategies across our state. My hope is that I’ll be able to pick up where our delegation leaves off at the end of this year and ensure that we can win additional dollars to help us fight that crisis. I think that the recent award that New Hampshire received through [the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration] is going to help us in particular build out medication-assisted treatment, for which there’s not nearly enough access across the state. I think that prevention and recovery needs to be prioritized in future allocations for New Hampshire. We have lots of dedicated individuals that are signing up to be coaches and helping in their own communities making sure individuals stay on the right path. But when people are in recovery, they’re there for a lifetime, and so we certainly need a sustained effort over time to provide the support that people require. I think we also need to continue to look more proactively at getting ahead of addiction, and that I think requires stronger prevention and education efforts.      
 
Why do you support universal health care, and what would that translate to in terms of actual legislation?  
We need to stop the sabotage effort on the Affordable Care Act. And that has an impact on the opioid crisis, because Medicaid expansion as implemented in New Hampshire is the best tool we have to fight the opioid crisis. It guarantees coverage for substance use disorder treatment. It’s allowed us to build out the networks to make sure that people get access to treatment here in our state. If that goes away, that’s going to disrupt our efforts to combat the opioid crisis. I believe that health care should be a right and not a privilege. I think that we need to look for ways to work in a bipartisan way to improve on the Affordable Care Act, but unfortunately, there are those across the aisle who want to repeal it outright. They want to take away coverage from tens of millions of Americans. They want to take away protections for individuals with preexisting conditions. People with preexisting conditions are about half of the adult population in New Hampshire. That’s not going to help us improve our health care system. We need to look for ways to bring down costs, of coverage and medications as well. I think we should be allowing individuals and businesses to opt in to the Medicare system, and I believe that we should add a public option to the [Affordable Care Act’s] exchange so that there’s additional choice and competition in New Hampshire. My focus is on building on the success of the Affordable Care Act and making it work. We provide health care coverage for the workers at our business because it’s the right thing to do, and I think it’s the right thing for us as a country to make sure everyone has access to affordable health care.       
 
As an Executive Councilor, what do you feel were the most effective measures you voted for to combat the opioid crisis, and what solutions will you support in Congress?
I think the implementation of Medicaid expansion was the most impactful vote that I took on the Executive Council, because it’s expanded health care to 53,000 individuals in our state. Beyond that, any grant that is going out with state or federal funds to help with this crisis has come through the Executive Council. So I’ve gotten to know most of the organizations around the state that are doing incredible work, and they continue to need more resources over time. We’re experiencing this crisis because we didn’t have support available for individuals when the cheap drugs started hitting the streets and the over-prescribing problem was at its peak. I was proud that we also approved grants for local law enforcement to be able to disrupt the trafficking of drugs and work to keep our communities safe. I think that’s another piece of the equation that we have to continue to make a focus. Local law enforcement can’t do it alone. They need help at all levels of government, and they need to ensure that we have treatment available for individuals.    
 
You were prompted to run for Executive Council after the board voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Why is this such an important issue for you and the people of New Hampshire?
This is an important issue because it’s about the basic health services that people receive. It’s about their health and well-being and their economic security. I ran for the Executive Council to push back against an extreme ideology that was putting up roadblocks for individuals’ abilities to access basic care in our state, and we were able to turn that decision around. At the end of the day, I don’t think that politicians should have any role in determining the availability of critical health services for women and men across our country. I think we’ve got to ensure that people have access to that level of basic care.     
 
You’ve said that you’d like to pursue a “bipartisan immigration strategy” in Washington. How will you aim to achieve that considering the divisiveness of the issue?
I think you can survey the members of Congress today and you’d find majority support for a permanent fix for [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals]. But yet nothing gets done, because the leadership ties it up in a debate over the budget, and they use immigrants as political pawns. And that’s just wrong. This is an issue that we’ve got to address, because it has impacts for individuals here in New Hampshire who’ve had their status questioned under the Trump administration. It has impacts for our economy, and for our ability to be able to grow and thrive as a state. So I believe we do need comprehensive immigration reform, and I do think there is a space to pursue it in a bipartisan way. When I go around the state, the top concern I hear from local businesses is they don’t have enough people to take positions they have open. We have many seasonal businesses in New Hampshire that couldn’t get the number of workers through the H-2B visa program that they were depending on to be able to keep their doors open and keep their businesses thriving. Visa reform and raising the cap on seasonal workers that come to our state is an important measure for our economy to be successful over the long term. In addition to that, I believe that we should fix DACA and allow individuals who know no other country but the United States to become full-fledged citizens. They shouldn’t be sent back to a country that they don’t know in a dangerous part of the world. And I think we benefit from recognizing that immigrants built this country. At my business, we employ several new Americans, including refugees from countries like Syria. I am so thankful that our country has welcomed them here, that my city and my state embraces them and that they are thriving as new Americans. To think that they could be in a very dangerous place and have their lives at risk I think shows the benefit of  America continuing to welcome people from distressed parts of the world as asylum-seekers and as refugees.          
 
Why do you support raising the minimum wage and tying it to inflation? Would you support other economic policies to help boost the salaries of Granite Staters, like lowering tax rates?
We are tied to the federal minimum, which stands at $7.25 [an hour] and has been there for 10 years. It’s long past the time to raise it, and I believe we should tie it to inflation so that workers won’t have to wait around another decade until there’s a supportive Congress to give them the type of cost-of-living increase that they deserve. I think this is an issue of economic justice. I think we need to reward hard work, and I think New Hampshire in particular loses out to our neighbors because we don’t have the same incentives to attract workers to stay here within our own state. … My focus will always be on working and middle-class families. I think the tax bill that was passed last year was done in an irresponsible way, because it’s a huge giveaway to the highest income earners, to the biggest corporations, and it was done without any public process. I think there needs to be transparency in Congress. We need a reform to the rules process. We need to ensure that there’s a public vetting of major legislation. That wasn’t done with respect to this tax bill, and I think the result was a giveaway to the wealthiest Americans with not a lot of investment in working people and in measures that can grow our economy.     
 
What benefits do you see in having tuition-free community colleges and public universities, and how would you propose funding student education in this way?
We have the highest student debt load of any state in the country, because we provide the least amount of state support for our public universities. That’s not a recipe for economic success. Students shouldn’t be taking out a mortgage to pursue a degree and have a crushing burden for decades after. I think we need to look for ways to lower the costs of college, and that’s an important issue for us right here in the Granite State. At the federal level, I would support lowering student loan interest rates [and] expanding Pell grants and tuition assistance programs. I think we need to invest in skills training and career and technical education programs for students who want to learn workforce-ready skills and get right into the workforce here in our state. I think for us to continue to thrive as a state, we need to be attracting young people to go to college here and start their careers here. 
 
What’s something nobody is talking about right now that you think will become a critical issue in the next few years?
We have an affordable housing crisis in New Hampshire, and there is a lack of stock of housing that is affordable for young people and workers. And it’s not just in one region of our state; I hear about this everywhere ... This is another hurdle for us to be able to attract young talent to our state, to make sure we have a fully functioning economy that allows working people to succeed. There’s good work that’s being done ... but there continues to be a need for federal programs that can help facilitate the types of development that would bring about more workforce housing. 
 
Eddie Edwards (R)
A Navy veteran and graduate of the FBI National Academy, Eddie Edwards spent the majority of his career in law enforcement. Edwards previously served as the chief of police for the town of South Hampton and as chief of the New Hampshire State Division of Liquor Enforcement. He is currently a board member of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Hampshire and chair of the Governor’s Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice. 
 
What is the best flavor of ice cream?
I have a couple, but I like butter pecan or maple walnut. I just like the taste, and I like to think that I’m eating healthy because it has nuts.  
 
What motivated you to run for office, and why did you choose to run for this seat in particular?
First, I believe truly in public service, and I believe that this continues my path of being in the military and law enforcement. I believe that we can actually change Washington if we change the types of people we send to Washington. We should elect people who want to do their duty to serve their community. … For me, I looked at what we were getting out of Washington. New Hampshire is a very responsible state, and we try to do the best we can here locally. Having Washington, D.C., put demands on our state and take money from our state — I have a problem with that, and I think most Granite Staters have a problem with that. We shouldn’t be impeded by the federal government.   
 
What is one piece of legislation you want to be able to look back and say you helped pass?
I shouldn’t say one piece of legislation, because there’s so many important things. I think you have to change the way of thinking in Washington. I would want to look back after that first year and say that we really reshaped the focus of Washington, and that is to eliminate benefits for folks elected in 2018 and beyond. That starts with health care. If you look at Granite Staters, people and families are struggling with high premiums and high deductibles. Yet, in Washington, we’re subsidizing their health care, particularly those who are in elected office. I think that has to change, because it changes their view and changes their motivation to resolve this issue. ... I would also work toward taking steps to reducing the duplicity of work at the federal and state level. ... I would continue to look at how we can transfer authority back to the legislative branch, to make sure they’re writing our laws and not administrative agencies. 
 
Why do you feel New Hampshire would benefit from repealing and replacing Obamacare, and what legislation would you support or propose to replace it?
I think it’s important to look at health care, real health care, because we’ve never had a free market health care approach. ... I think if we could take the government’s finger off the scale, where it guarantees certain subsidies for some and not for others, we can have greater transparency of costs. For instance, right now patients are not afforded the ability to know the cost of anything. People are paying different costs if they pay with cash versus insurance. We limit access and restrict citizens from buying health insurance where they would like. We can’t negotiate the price of medicine. I think all of those things drive up costs and act as barriers to reducing costs. People ought to be allowed to shop for the best product you can buy anywhere you like. And when we limit the amount of facilities or providers, that also has a cost effect. I think there are many things that we can do that bring down the cost of health care. … We should motivate folks in Congress by making sure they live under the same structure and rules and laws that have been passed. When they understand how difficult it is for families to purchase health care insurance and the limitations they have and the burdens that they face, I think you’ll see them move very quickly to establish a system that is more reasonable, one that provides more opportunity and transparency of costs and reduced costs. 
 
You support President Trump’s proposal to build a wall on our southern border. Why do you back this plan, and what other measures will you pursue regarding immigration?
America is the most generous nation on the planet, when you look at what we have provided for the world — yet we only represent about 6 percent of the world’s land mass and about 5 percent of the world’s population. We take care of 94 percent of the world’s population, from a financial standpoint, a human capital standpoint and providing military protection. So at some point, you have to say, “How do we sustain this system?” Well, we sustain this system the way our country was founded. We have an immigration system, and we welcome all immigrants from around the globe. But we have a process by which that happens. We have to secure our border, because any reasonable country would do the same; in fact, most countries secure their border. That’s not wrong, and that’s not something we should be ashamed of. We permit a million people legally into the country every year. I think when we look at our immigration system, we want one that welcomes new immigrants and has a legal process that is adhered to.
 
How will you implement your plan for a “cost-conscious higher education system,” and why should we expand degree and course credit options instead of tuition assistance? 
I think we have to have choice and look at some of the things that are emerging — for instance, online education. Southern New Hampshire University right here is the fastest-growing online university. The cost is reasonable there, so you also have some high school students who are able to take their high school courses while also taking some online college courses at night. … We should be looking for ways to reduce that cost and reduce that burden. There are ways to reduce a bachelor’s degree to a three-year commitment rather than a four-year commitment. [There are] many different ways that we can become more creative in how we reduce costs. The one thing the government has done here as well is put its finger on the scale by guaranteeing money, and because you have guaranteed money for student loans, it increases the cost for education. … There are alternatives to higher education as well. Look at the trades, for instance. There are wonderful opportunities for people to have wonderful lives in the trades, like running heavy equipment. There are schools here, which cost $18,000 for six weeks, and then you have a license and are permitted to engage in a trade that can yield $45 an hour. In some cases, these are $100,000+-a-year jobs — not in all cases, but the opportunity is there for as little as $18,000. But for those schools, [students] can’t get loans in those areas. ... Clearly, we have to do a better job of making sure people have different opportunities to be educated in a way that actually benefits their life and their communities, but doesn’t drive up the kinds of costs you see right now. The interest rates on some of these loans are outrageous. The way that we have structured this system, where the government has backed these loans and now young people are tasked with a heavy burden, that prevents them from buying their first homes and starting a family. 
 
From your experience in law enforcement, what has New Hampshire done well to equip law enforcement to fight the opioid crisis, and what more needs to be done?
Part of that is whether we’re securing our border, or making sure illicit drugs aren’t being mailed or brought into our country. ... Based on my experience in law enforcement, substance use disorder is not something that can be resolved with a law enforcement approach. It is largely a health problem. We certainly took the opioid issue and moved it from a public health concern more to a criminal justice concern, because now we have heroin and other drugs on our streets. If you look at New Hampshire, I think our law enforcement community is very passionate about working across the spectrum. I saw that first hand, because I was also a ... Drug Recognition Expert instructor. ... These are specially trained police officers working to stop motorists who are operating under the influence of drugs. But that education has been applied in many different areas in our state by these officers, whether it’s educating parents, students, teachers, health care professionals, other law enforcement officers and people in the insurance industry. … Now, when it comes to really addressing this issue, we know this starts with preventing this from happening in the first place. That prevention starts with making sure young people, parents and schools are educated, and also health care providers. We have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of medication that is being prescribed to young people. ... I think we have over a million children under the age of 5 who are taking psychiatric medication, for instance. … So a lot of young people are growing up and experiencing life through medication. … Those things are much more in the arena of public health. Law enforcement has to step in when ... crimes are perpetrated or illicit drugs are being used or legal drugs are being abused or misused.
 
You’ve said New Hampshire residents would benefit from a simplified tax code and reduced tax rates. Why is that, and would you also propose raising the federal minimum wage?
New Hampshire operates in a very responsible way. When we have other states that maybe have overspent their budgets or have done things that put their state at risk from a financial health perspective, they then demand resources from the federal government. Well, those are tax dollars coming from New Hampshire going someplace else. We should do whatever we can to keep those tax dollars right here in our state. … What you see now, when we have record-low unemployment, is that wages are starting to increase because there is a demand for labor. It forces businesses to offer higher wages and different benefit packages to attract the best talent they can find. That is how you grow wages and grow an economy and the health of an economy. ... You’re robbing businesses and individuals of the opportunity to actually gain skills and a healthier economy by having government interference. I am not in favor of a minimum federal wage of $15, or any such other notion.
 
What’s something nobody is talking about right now that you think will become a critical issue in the next few years?
Again, I think the issue that is emerging that has not gotten the attention it deserves is just how much medication that we’re pumping into the bodies of so many young people. ... It’s a cultural issue, where we have decided that we’re not going to look for other approaches to deal with some of the issues we have in our society. There’s medication for almost anything that you can think of now, and I think that’s having a dramatic impact on the health and well-being of our young people in particular. 





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