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|Philadelphia County, PA||April 22, 2008 Election|
Americans for Democratic Action
By Walter James "kernaghan" Kernaghan, IIICandidate for State Representative; District 195; Republican Party
This information is provided by the candidate
1. Why are you running for office? I think it's time for a New Direction for the district. It's time for elected officials to become more accountable, visible and accessible to their constituents. One of the reasons I am choosing to run for office is the result of the non-responsiveness from my district councilman's office in reference to continual criminal activity that still affects the safety and quality of life for the residences of my neighborhood. It's all too often that incumbents are never seen or heard from until it's time for re-election and that is only if they are being challenged. I feel that the lack of competition in this district has built complacency and mediocrity in its elected official's leadership. We're still addressing the same issues that we did eight years ago when I moved to the district; Crime, Education, Lack of Jobs, Taxes, Residents and Employer's leaving the city, etc.
2. What experiences qualify you to hold the position you seek? My formal education and work experience in finance combined with three years in law enforcement has provided me with a varied background, which I believe prepares me for being a State Representative. I now own and operate a wireless telecommunication consulting company that has provided me with 8 years of experience in project management that has allowed me to develop strong interpersonal and communication skills, which are necessary to be an effective leader. Having managed a number of varied projects from development to deployment combined with profit and loss accountability; I believe this knowledge will be valuable should I become elected. My background in law enforcement provides me with a strong understanding of public safety and the reforms that are necessary especially in these times of diminishing resources combined with my years in the private sector I believe have prepared me to bring the district in a new direction. I have an obligation to my community and I have learned that it takes commitment, flexibility, persistence and dedication to bring about results and change in anything that you want to do. I have the vision and determination to meet the challenges that will be placed in front on me.
3. What issues are of most concern to you and how do you plan to address them? As a resident of the district for eight years and growing up in the Olney section of the city, I continue to observe that crime is the most pressing issue that affects our quality of life and it needs immediate attention through proactive law enforcement with the fusion of legislative support to our law enforcement agencies in the city and throughout the state. To truly address crime in the district and throughout the city and state we need to embrace tax reform at all levels of government especially business tax reform to encourage the investment of companies to come into the city and state to spur job creation which will provide economic opportunities for all residents of the district, city and state. For the future of the district, city, and state we need to change our education system and seriously evaluate what works and doesn't work and who it might work for and who it won't touch. We need to prepare our children for their future whether it's through the traditional academic path or through an alternative path of learning a trade which will allow them to leave school with the basic skills to pursue a career with one of the several unions located in the city in a skilled trade profession. An investment in our children's education would be an investment in the economic future of our state. We also need to stop our students from leaving the city and state after receiving their education in our city's higher education institutions. They are a part of our future and we need to devise a plan that keeps them here working and becoming permanent citizens of our city and state.
4. What is the most important issue facing your constituents and what would you do to address it? Economics and Tax Reform. We need more jobs in the city of Philadelphia which means more businesses which means a larger tax base for the city and state but we cannot achieve this with the current tax situation in the city and state. We need immediate reform in personal and business taxes. We need to become a state and city that wants business development and we need to be aggressive in the way that we do this. We can not afford a sliding scale "tax decrease" over the next number of years. We need to do something immediately to make this change in a new direction.
5. Please identify an elected leader that you respect and explain why. I would have to say that Michael Nutter is an elected official that I respect and admire for several reasons. I hear in his voice, the passion that he has for the City. I admire his Herculean dedication and willingness to take on the status quo of city politics with a more open and ethical city government "ethics reform legislation", tax reform and ability to unite. I also admire the fact that he resigned his position with city council and his campaign for mayor was not at the cost of the tax payer as it is with most political candidates.
6. Do you support a woman's right to choose? Yes
6(a). If so, would you support government funding of abortions for economically disadvantaged women? Yes
7. Do you agree with the following gun control measures: (a) require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns; Yes all gun owners public or private should report the sale, purchase, transfer of ownership, loss or stolen guns. This obviously includes gun show vendors and purchasers. (b) limit purchasers to one gun per month; Yes, I do. This law has statistically proven that limiting the opportunity to straw-purchasers to only one gun a month reduces the number of crimes committed with illegally re-sold handguns and the profitability of gun runners. (c) permit Philadelphia to enact its own gun control laws? No I support the State of Pennsylvania's firearm preemption law. We cannot afford to have every city, boro, township, etc. creating its own laws in this state.
7(a). If no, what strategies would you suggest for decreasing gun violence in Philadelphia? First I would like to see broad active support for our law enforcement officials coming from our communities and government officials. I think we should use all available existing gun control tools like Gun Tracing, combined with the active enforcement of existing gun laws. I would also like to see the use of "permanent" aggressive intervention programs to reduce gun crimes with the use of intensive patrols that would consist of select patrol members from the city's Highway Patrol Division and District Patrol members directed at the areas where the rate of gun related incidents is high. I do not want to see "short term grant policing projects + Operation Safe Streets" which are more for the media than they are to seriously address the crime issue. Finally, if I was elected, I would be a proponent of endorsing some of the existing house bills that are currently proposed to provide grants to the state and city law enforcement agencies to hire additional officers to address these high crime areas but would take it one step further to be an activist that these grants become permanent into the state and city's budget. If we're going to provide funding for more police officers over the departments complement, then we need to make sure these officers are solely dedicated for the use of fighting crime in our crime-ridden areas of the state and city and the department needs to know that these grants are permanent.
8. Do you support universal health care? Not in its current presented form I do not think we should allow the federal government to directly or indirectly manage our universal health care system. I do however support several aspects of the proposed PA State Senate Bill # 300. In the meantime we should have everyone take advantage of existing and available plans, Medicaid, Medicare, Tricare and the State's Children's Health Insurance Program. We need to increase the accessibility and participation levels in these programs so that legislatures know that these programs are vital and that adequate and proper funding is made available and then we need to make sure that these programs are running efficiently and cost effectively. We need to remove the bureaucracy cost of these programs so the intended purpose of providing care to those that do not have or can not afford health insurance can be provided with quality medical care.
8(a). If so, please identify your strategy for achieving it.
9. Are you in favor of imposing jail time and/or mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders? Not sure what your classification of a non-violent drug dealer would be? Would it be someone that is caught in possession of drugs for personal use with no previous criminal history, if so "No"? If it is someone who is caught with a considerable amount or related drug paraphernalia that could be considered distribution with no previous criminal history a first time offender "No". If it is someone who is caught with an considerable amount of related drug paraphernalia that could be considered distribution with a previous criminal history "Yes"
10. Do you support ending the war in Iraq as soon as possible? Yes
11. Are there any circumstances under which you would endorse the use of torture as defined by the U.N. Convention against Torture? No
12. Do you support the death penalty? Yes
13. What is your position on the way in which public schools are currently funded? I believe the state needs to make some adjustments to the existing mechanism for financing the state education system. We need to identify the correlation between the state education systems at all levels; elementary, high school, higher education and the state economics competitiveness.
13(a). If you believe it needs to be changed, how would you change it? I believe that the State needs to play a larger role in the funding process. The state needs to increase their proportion of funding for those rural and urban communities struggling to raise the adequate funds to provide their schools with the proper services for all students; i.e. Speech Therapist, Librarians, Art and Music Teachers, etc. Let's not allow the zip code of our students determine their quality of education in Pennsylvania. We should want to see all students in the State be able to access the same education. An investment into our children's future is an investment into this state future economic success.
14. What is your position on raising, lowering or modifying the existing tax structure? The Flat Tax (as used in PA) is the much fairer and straight-forward means of taxation. Pennsylvania's flat income tax is rated as one of the best in the nation. It is not just about trying to figure out who should be taxed and at what rate, but compliance. This includes enforcement. A flat tax, ignoring losses after netting, is a much fairer, and easier (compare the hours spent on the Federal return vs the state or local return), way of assessing taxes and collecting them. Just compare your PA return (and non-Philly local returns) to your Federal return. Other benefit, such as a reduced bureaucracy and reduced paperwork, is also helpful (and extremely less expensive, particularly when you consider the future pension expense). A flat tax at the Federal level is something that our legislatures should be seriously considering changing.
In my district, the City Wage Tax is the highest in the nation which means more goes to the city than to city residences. Philadelphia is the only city that taxes business gross receipts and net income a double tax system. The city's processes of evaluating real estate is an inadequate assessment method which needs to be addressed by our city state legislatures so we can change to a more equitable process so everyone is tax fairly across the city.
Yes, we need tax reform in my district.
15. What is your position on campaign finance reform? I believe that ALL campaign financing should be transparent and accessible for all to see. Everyone should know from whom and where support for a particular candidate is originating.
16. In your opinion, what are the major characteristics of Good Government? Representatives that actively participate, and are accountable for their actions; representatives that are transparent and are responsive to the needs of their constituents.
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