Steve Woods: Candidate Questionnaire

Your name: Steve Woods
Your social media sites:   http://www.facebook.com/woods2012  http://www.twitter.com/SteveWoods2012  www.SteveWoods2012.com

1. What are your 3 top accomplishments that are relevant to representing Maine in Washington? If you have already served in any political office, please cite at least one of your accomplishments from that position.

I have proudly served in numerous roles in municipal government – and I am currently the Chairman of the Yarmouth Town Council.  Over the last three years I have worked with our Council to manage our town’s budget during an economic crisis – and we’ve been able to maintain town services at a high level while keeping annual budget increases below 1% (non contract expenses.)   Ultimately government is about serving the public with honor, dignity and respect – something that I do every day as Chairman – Yarmouth Town Council.  -I made the decision many years ago to invest in Maine and invest in Mainers by starting and growing my business, TideSmart Global, (www.TideSmart.com) here in Maine.  We employ close to 100 people here in the state and thousands on a contract basis around the country.  In 2010, we built a state-of-the-art business campus that features solar power, hydronic heating and an employee health/wellness center.  We were selected in 2011 as one of the “Top 40 Places in Maine” to work.  As the only US Senate candidate that owns and operates small businesses (six companies) –invests in Maine businesses (partner/co-owner of Maine Red Claws and Forefront at Thompson’s Point project) – I know how to manage a budget, create jobs and serve the public.   I am also the only US Senate candidate that actively writes checks (various taxes) to the state of Maine – and does not cash checks from Maine as is the case with most (all?) of the other candidates.   -Many years ago before I started my own family I became a “Big” with Big Brothers Big Sisters.  My experience as a Big was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  Three years ago I was asked to serve on the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine where I still serve today.  My work with BBBS represents some of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  I can’t imagine any government official not being connected with civic organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and connecting with this critical part of our community.

Money & Government

2. Would you vote for a constitutional amendment designed to nullify the effects of the Citizen United Supreme Court decision?

Yes!!!  Citizen United represents one of the worst decisions handed down by the Supreme Court.

3. Who are your top three donors?

I have self funded my campaign to date.

A. What level of campaign finance disclosure do you think is necessary?

I believe in 100% transparency.

B. Do you believe it’s acceptable for candidates to accept money from super PACs?

It’s “acceptable” in that it’s currently legal – but in my opinion, it’s far from right.  Our democracy was designed as being for the “people” – not for institutions or “special interests.”

4. Would you support a jobs bill similar to the American Jobs Act proposed by President Obama earlier this year? Do you have a proposal to create jobs that offers a fresh approach?

I support the AJA.  But, we have to change our views about the government being responsible for “creating jobs.”  The government should focus on policy issues that create more efficient economic conditions.

5. In your opinion, what was the primary cause of the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent recession and unemployment crisis? Was the recent financial reform legislation passed by Congress sufficient to prevent another financial crisis like the one in 2008? If not, what else should be done?     

The “primary cause” of the financial crisis of 2008 and many of our other challenges has little to do with banking, finance or regulatory issues.  The problem goes deeper into the decay of our democracy and the corrupting influence of money or unchecked power.  (Please see my website section;  http://www.SteveWoods2012.com “Issue #1 – The Decay of Democracy” for more details.  Currently we have a “financial crisis, Wall Street crisis, Healthcare crisis, Debt Crisis, and a dozen other crisis issues.”  It’s the system itself that is dysfunctional – and that is where we should be focusing our attention/energy.  

6. What has been the impact of the Occupy movement so far? Name 3 accomplishments/consequences.

A.  Greater awareness generated in regard to income inequality

B.  Greater political awareness/activism for many Americans

C.  Greater GOP discomfort (A good thing)

7. Would you support the following policies in the interest of reducing wealth inequality? Yes/No*
*If no- why?

A. Increasing taxes on the wealthiest 1%: YES
B. Repealing the carried-interest tax break: YES
C. A financial transaction tax on the purchase of stocks, derivatives and futures (with an exemption for retirement accounts): Too complex an issue to answer “yes” or “no”?

P.S. What is your tax rate and/or bracket? Upper 5%

8. Do you support the following workers’ rights policies? Yes/No*
*If no – why?

A. A mandate for paid sick days YES

B. A living wage mandate YES

C. Worker’s right to organize a union YES

P.S. What dollar amount do you think is a living wage?

Too many variables city to city – to give a finite answer.  Somewhere in the range of $25,000 – $27,000 might be a good place to start.

9. The recent emphasis on deficit reduction in Washington will likely lead to widespread cuts in government spending.

A. What’s one program or government agency for which you would not be willing to reduce funding? Why?

Public Health – for the most vulnerable.

B. What is one program or government agency for which you would be willing to reduce funding? Why?

Defense.  I believe that we can provide a strong national defense with a more focused budgeting process.

10. Would you support filibuster reform? If so, how?

It was never intended to serve as a mechanism to paralyze government – I would limit its use.

11. Maine has the second highest student loan debt in the country. What would you do to alleviate this burden on young people?

Reduce interest rates – and create a program that allows students to reduce their debt burden if they stay and work in Maine for a period of time.

12. What would you do to reform farm subsidies in order to promote local agriculture and avoid giveaways to agribusiness? What else should be done to reform federal or state agriculture policy? What would you do to get more Maine-produced food on Maine tables? 

I’m not a fan of “subsidies” of most types as it puts government in the role of picking winning or losing industries many times.  With an exploding world population, we need a stronger and smarter federal/state approach to policy.  Agribusiness has the best “locally grown” business model of any business sector due to; efficiency of transportation cost, perishable commodity, healthy living, etc.  Maine has lost of land and relative proximity to large population zones – we should be doing more to support this industry here in Maine.  

The War on Terror, Religion, Women & Health

13. Do you believe we are engaged in a global war on terror? If so, how will we know when it ends?

We are engaged in a global war on ignorance (theirs) and fear (ours.) As the most visible country in the world, we should accept the reality that many of our international neighbors will not like us or share our ideals.  I believe that global connectively will slowly help reduce ignorance around the world – but it’s imperative that we as a country do not lower our standards in regard to honor.

14. Explain your opinion of each of the following counterterrorism policies: (2-3 sentences each)

A. Indefinite detention of terrorism suspects.

Key word – “Suspects”  If they are “suspects” than we should have a clear policy path for due process – if they are “military combatants” – than detention can last as long as we’re at war.

B. Extrajudicial executions/assassinations of American citizens (such as that of Anwar al-AlWaki) by decree of the president.

Someone that kills American citizens is declaring war on the U.S. and I believe that deadly force is an appropriate response.

C. Using military tribunals rather than the civilian criminal justice system to try federal terrorism suspects.

Acts of “war” military tribunals – otherwise, criminal justice system.

D. Torture or “enhanced interrogation” tactics.

Too complex of a question for a simple “yes” or “no” answer.  I believe that during times of war, the military should use interrogation tactics when needed.  But, that we should not resort to tactics that betray our ideals/honor as a country.

15. An increasing number of candidates are invoking religion as part of their campaign. Do you believe this is acceptable and do you plan to invoke religion in your own campaign? Why or why not? What role should religion play in campaigns and in shaping public policy?

Religion played an important role in our country’s foundation and is still woven into the fabric of our society – and we should each respect each other’s beliefs or non-beliefs.  In most cases, I believe that religion is a personal issue that should play a limited role in government/leadership.   

16. Do you feel the need to take a proactive stance against the anti-choice agenda? How would you effectively frame your argument to religious women?

First of all, Roe v. Wade was decided many years ago by our highest court of law after much discussion, debate and deliberation.  I respect that legal decision.   I respect each woman’s choice on this most personal and sensitive issue – regardless of what that “choice” involves.  I support our government imposing our laws – but not morality in itself.  We are a nation of laws.

17. Were you supportive of the Affordable Care Act?

If so, how would you improve or strengthen it? If not, what would you recommend instead to ensure all Americans can access affordable health care coverage?  Yes, I support the Affordable Care Act.  As the owner of one of the largest health/wellness companies in the country, Promerica Health, I see many important elements in the current legislation.  Every American should be able to access basic health care coverage – basic humanity dictates that base principle.  But, it was such a legislative struggle to get the original piece of legislation first passed – that there are many areas that are less than ideal and need modification.    

Prison Reform & Immigration

18. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We spend more than $70 billion each year on prisons. How would you reduce incarceration and recidivism (especially among minority and lower-income populations)?   

Our approach is archaic in regard to criminal justice/prison reform.  In too many cases we are not modifying criminal behavior to improve – but instead to reinforce and train better criminals.  The answer to this question is similar to most others in this survey; better education.  Low income communities get caught in a socio-economic spiral where poor education leads to fewer options – leading to poor choices.  Plus, we need to look at new standards for non-violent criminals.   

19. Should the U.S. end the war on drugs?

It’s not a war – it’s a delusion.  For our entire history, humans have sought escape through drugs and various forms of alcohol.  That reality will never change.  We should maintain strong penalties for illegal drug dealers and manufactures – but focus more on treatment than punishment for users.   

20. Do you support the Dream Act and would you vote in favor of it?

What else do you think could be done to reform immigration laws?  Yes, I support the Dream Act.   

Equal Rights & Energy

21. What is your position on the following marriage equality questions:

A. For same-sex couples, do you support extending full marriage rights, civil unions, or no legal recognition whatsoever? Why?

Full marriage rights.  To me, this is more of a “Human Rights” issues than one of sexual orientation.  Every American (tall, short, man, woman, white, black, Jewish, Christian, left-handed, right-handed, gay, straight, able, disabled, etc., etc. etc…) ALL deserve the same human rights and benefits.  The sooner we accept that total HUMAN RIGHTS – the sooner we move forward and away from our history where racism, sexism, and every other –ism were all accepted here in America.

B. Would you be in favor of striking down the Defense of Marriage Act? What should be the role of the federal government in supporting or opposing marriage equality?  

Our government should not be in the business of supporting or opposing specific things – but it should ensure that all human rights are protected.

C. Will you vote for marriage equality on the Maine ballot? Would you actively get involved in the effort to pass or oppose same-sex marriage in Maine?  

Yes & Yes.

22. Rank the top 5 energy sources that you see as being the most viable options to combat man-made climate change, 1 being the best and 5 being the worst:

Nuclear 5
Wind power  1
Natural gas  4
Solar power  2
Off shore drilling ___
Tidal energy  3

What is inhibiting the growth of these energy sources?  Investment and desire.