Q+A with Teri Davis Newman, Republican Candidate for Illinois’ 12th Congressional District
The first interview on this site with a major-party candidate, the first of many scheduled, is with Teri Davis Newman who is running for Congress in the South-West corner of Illinois. In a district bordering Missouri and Kentucky, containing East Saint Louis as well as Carbondale, she hopes to win the seat for Republicans. Teri Davis Newman is a wedding and event planner in Highland and won a contentious Republican primary in February, defeating Theresa Kormos 53% to 47%.
The incumbent is Congressman Jerry Costello who has held the seat since 1988. He won with 71% of the vote in 2008, a year where Barack Obama won 56% of the vote in the district. He has also been invited to participate in this Q+A. Also running are Green Rodger Jennings and Constitution Party’s Christian Falconer.
Without further ado, here is the Q+A with Teri Davis Newman. Click here to visit her website.
1. Why do you want to be the US Representative for Illinois’ 12th District?
I am a 4th generation Illinois resident. My mother, grandparents and great-grandparents were all born in Alton Illinois, which is part of the 12th District. I was not born here but when I did become an Illinois resident, the people here have been nothing short of wonderful to my husband and me. These hardworking, honest Americans deserve FAR better than the mediocre representation they are currently getting from the incumbent. They are being taxed to death and Costello voted for this pig of a health care bill in November, which allowed it to move forward against the wishes of the 12th district. He has not had a town meeting in years and has placed numerous relatives in high-paying jobs that they did not have to compete to get and that were not made available to anyone who was not a Costello relative. He took nearly 3 million dollars in campaign “contributions” in 2000 and 2006 while running UNOPPOSED. He SPENT almost $1,130.133.00 in the same cycles. How does an honest politician spend over a MILLION dollars running unopposed?
The great people of the 12th district deserve much better. I have no relatives to place on the public payroll and no one has to pay me to do my job. My phone number will remain in the phone book the entire time I am in office and I plan to be having a town meeting at least 1-2 times a month EVERY month I am in office and to be very active and visible in the district. I credit all of my business success to creative solutions and customer service. Whether you call them clients, customers or voters, if you don’t take care of their needs, they will become someone else’s voters, customers and clients. I’m as comfortable in jeans sitting on a cornfield fence as I am in a dress at the Garden Club and I want the people of the 12th to know that I am here for them—and they can call me at home if they need to. I don’t mind a bit. I am a woman of the people, I am one of the people, and I consider it an honor to be chosen to serve.
It is hard to choose just three! You should not miss Chester, Illinois, which is the home of Popeye, and the Opera House in Red Bud is beautiful and on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been beautifully restored and the woodwork is breathtaking. The Great River Road (143) is filled with Bald Eagles, which nest there. The Bald Eagle is such a magnificent bird—just to see them is an experience and I’m proud they are our national bird. They have a fiercely proud look as if they know they are the symbol of the greatest nation on Earth. I also love downtown Belleville, Scott Air Force Base and the view of the Arch and the mighty Mississippi from East St. Louis. The Carbondale area is more modern, but I love the charm of the historic districts. I was born in Florida but I am going to die in Illinois—I love it here!
3. You have lived overseas for extended periods during your professional life. What did you learn from your international experiences that has shaped your personal political framework?
I learned the value of customer service from the Japanese and I admire their excellent education system. The powers that be in Japan demand that their workforce be literate and well educated. When a Japanese child graduates from High School, they have the equivalent of a US 4-year degree. Their children go to school year round from early in the morning until evening and then attend extra classes similar to home schooling in the evenings and on weekends. There is a startlingly low crime rate because the pressure to conform (at least it was in the 80’s) is very strong. Values and morals are instilled from early childhood and peer pressure to conform to society is stressed. While this tends to stifle creativity in the young, it does have merit and teaches social responsibility. I loved Japan but China is a different story. The government of China is a totalitarian regime and they have a great social structure—work or die. If you don’t work, they put you in a slave labor camp and MAKE your work and if you survive your sentence, they turn you over to your family (if you have one) to take care of you until you die. The average factory worker in China makes $130 a MONTH and they are using the interest from financing our debt to build more factories to take more jobs—our jobs, Japan’s jobs, South Korean jobs and every other country’s jobs. The Chinese are a huge threat and being heavily in debt to them is a dangerous thing for America.
4. You also worked in the health care industry and, during this campaign, have taken a hard-line stance against current health-care reform proposals. What would you do, as a Member of Congress, to change the current health-care system (if anything) ?
Very few people have an understanding of how insurance companies work. Theoretically, there are “uninsured” people in the USA, but in actuality, everyone’s health care is paid for or the hospitals would have to close their doors! The poor have Medicaid which is the government health insurance and the illegal aliens use it by having an anchor baby who is a US citizen at birth. The baby is then used to qualify for welfare benefits and Medicaid and it is automatically granted to underage US citizens. The illegal aliens along with those who choose not to buy health insurance are covered by what is known as “cost shifting”. Cost shifting is the process by which hospitals bill the insurance of covered people for the cost of their care AND THE CARE OF THE UNINSURED. The hospitals shift the cost of the care of the uninsured onto the bills of those of us who DO have insurance—if they did not do this, they would have to close their doors since they are legally required to provide care for any sick person or emergency. Do you really think that two aspirin cost the hospital $30 to provide? NO ONE in America is denied health care because of inability to pay because either they have Medicaid, health insurance or the cost of the care is shifted to the insured. It has been going on forever and worst of all; the illegal aliens know that they cannot be denied care in an EMERGENCY ROOM so they use ERs as their primary physician, which is horrendously expensive. In order to bring down costs, we need to change the incentives that govern spending. Right now, $5 out of every $6 of health-care spending is paid for by someone other than the person receiving care, insurance companies, employers, or the government. Individuals are insulated from the reality of what their decisions cost. This breeds over-utilization of low-value health care and runaway spending. To reduce the growth of costs, individuals must take greater responsibility for their health care, and health insurers and health care providers must face the competitive forces of the market. Three policy changes will go a long way to achieving these objectives: Eliminate the tax code’s bias that favors health insurance over out-of-pocket spending; remove state-government barriers to purchasing and providing health services and reform medical malpractice laws.
5. What book are you reading right now and what was the last movie you watched?
I just finished Sarah Palin’s book “Going Rogue” which was interesting. I read quite a bit and I take online college classes in whatever I am interested in at the moment. I am in the middle of a political science course from UCLA now and I am always learning how to do something new. I don’t really go to many movies, but I did enjoy the new Star Trek movie last summer and my husband and I also enjoyed the Batman movie “The Dark Knight”. I thought Heath Ledger gave one of the most outstanding performances I have ever seen in his re-creation of the role of the Joker. Caesar Romero was wonderful in the TV series and Jack Nicholson was very good in the earlier Batman movie but Heath Ledger truly defined the madness of the character with his chilling, but at times hilarious, portrayal and absolutely deserved the Oscar he received posthumously.
6. On your website, you call for the deportation of immigrants living in the United States without documentation. As a Member of Congress, how would you propose to remove the estimated 14 million undocumented aliens?
Rounding them up, putting them on a plane, and sending them home works just fine for me.
7. You have also highlighted the influence of money on politics and the ability for incumbent Members of Congress to raise large sums of money from corporations, wealthy individuals and foreign interests. As a Member of Congress, how would you fix the campaign finance system?
Campaigns should be publicly financed with each candidate receiving a set amount for the campaign upon winning the primary. It is the only way to keep special interests out of the process and makes it easier for the voters to decide. The only advantage would be to the candidate that spent his or her dollars wisely, which is a necessary skill for someone entrusted with public money–and so few of them seem have it.
8. East Saint Louis is a part of your district. Over the past decade, it has fallen into a great deal of disrepair, as many people are moving out of the city into the suburbs. What would you do as a Congresswoman to help the renewal of East Saint Louis?
Over the past decade? Where have you been? It has been 30+ years and counting! I think it is an absolute disgrace that Costello has used the people of ESL for their votes and then ignored them until the next election. I actually have a plan for ESL, which is a three-pronged strategy to bring them into mainstream America. First, they need more police officers to take back control of the streets. Until people can go to the store without worrying about being shot at, there will never be any redevelopment, but when the streets are safe and the blighted buildings razed, industry will come. The location of ESL on the river with five interstates and railroads plus being in the center of the United States makes it a valuable transportation hub. When businesses start moving back in, they will need workers and the unions can set up apprenticeships and I also want to put in a Vocational-Technical school so that the kids that didn’t finish High School can learn a trade and make a living. Blue-collar skills are always in demand and Vo-Techs are a great way for kids to get those skills quickly and a High School diploma isn’t necessary to do auto body repair. I visualize an America where everyone works and pays small taxes, not the one where 40% of the population is outside the tax system.
9. Who are three people (famous or not) that have helped shape your political beliefs the most?
My Husband who defines the term Compassionate Conservative and lives it every day. He is the most honorable man I have ever known and I am blessed to have him in my life. He introduced me to the Fair Tax program which I strongly support because when 51% of the people are voting themselves a key to the public Treasury, democracy cannot survive.
My Parents who taught me never to back down or take crap from anyone and to stand up for what I believed in no matter what. They gave me values and instilled me with a sense of worth and a belief that there’s nothing I can’t do if I try hard enough—and if I failed it only meant that I had to try harder the next time. They also taught me that I live in the best country on Earth and that freedom was something to be protected at all cost.