In less than two weeks, Republicans and Democrats head to the polls for the Aug. 14 primary to pare down a crowded field in the new Fourth Congressional District.
The field includes five candidates: two Republicans and three Democrats, including incumbent Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum, D-St Paul. The Republicans in the primary field are Ron Seiford and Tony Hernandez.
Part one of the Gazette’s two-part series on the Fourth Congressional District primary looks at the Republican candidates Seiford and Hernandez. The Gazette asked each candidate the following questions:
n Why did you choose to run?
n What makes you a good fit for this position?
n What makes you a good fit for this district?
n What are the top three most important issues of your campaign?
n Why should people choose you over the other candidate(s)?
n How would you work across the aisle with other representatives in Congress?
n What do you feel you have to do to introduce yourself to Stillwater?
What follows are each candidate’s responses.
“Some clients of mine told me to stop complaining about politics and do something about it. I didn’t think about it before, I’ve never run for any political office before. I Thought about it in January and didn’t make it official until the first or second week of February. I mainly got involved because money and politics are the biggest problem in our country today. So I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring and if the people of the 4th district decide to vote for me that would be great.
“Right now I think that fiscal issues are the biggest problem in our government and many members of congress either don’t understand or are not willing to deal with that issue. Decisions need to be made that are difficult in nature. I’m a financial advisor and I teach macroeconomics, business law and classes of that nature. So I feel I’m better able to help in that way. The economy comes up in every single conversation that I have, its ‘Economy, economy, economy and jobs, jobs, jobs.’ The crash of 2008, you might call it the great recession, happened a long time ago and now is the time to focus on jobs.
“I grew up in St. Paul Park and I now live in the Fourth District, which used to be the Sixth District and I think that it’s time for a change in representation. The district has traditionally been Democratic and it has been for about 60 years but I think a lot of people are ready for a change.
“Economy, jobs and education.
“I’m not going to make promises that I’m not willing to stand behind and keep. I don’t know many politicians that I like, which is odd because now I suppose I am a politician, but the whole reason I’m doing this is so that we the people can preserve and protect the constitution of the U.S. and our district representatives are not doing that.
“There needs to be dialogue. Right now our representatives are afraid of getting on an elevator together. They need to talk. We’re all Americans and whether we lean to the far right or the far left in some respects we all have a lot in common. We need to find things we can agree on and work on what we can. Difficult decisions can be made and we can’t continue to kick the proverbial can down the road. We have to look at Europe, the countries with high unemployment and debt and see what it does to their economies. Politics as usual isn’t going to work anymore.
“I don’t think many people know me but I’m planning on organizing some meet and greet sessions over the next two Saturdays I’m happy to answer questions or even come out for some evening to talk. I know that some people are concerned about my stand on social issues, which is understandable, but I feel the fiscal issues are the main issues that need to be addressed right now. I also support limited government and I want to give power back to the states because I believe that the closer to home laws are implemented makes it more effective and efficient for decision-making. I know my council members and city officials but I don’t know people in Washington, D.C. This means they are less accountable which allows for lots of corruption.”
For more information on Seiford check out his website: http://www.ronseiford.com
“It was a decision made in 2008 during the financial collapse when this big idea of too big to fail regarding the banks came up. I’ve worked in the private sector (in finance) for my whole life. I called up Betty McCollum and I asked her to not vote for the bailouts because we would have to pay for it some time in the future. She went on to vote for TARP, and the bank bailouts and that’s when I decided to stand up and run for the Fourth District.
“I was born and raised in St. Paul in an Irish and Mexican-American family and I’ve worked in the private sector for most of my life. I’m not a party ideologue and I think that when you run for the U.S. House Of Representatives you run to represent the totality of the district: Republicans, Democrats, independents, seniors and students.
“I have a high sensitivity and love for the people here. My private sector experience was in finance and especially now we need to be people-oriented toward our fiscal policy, and our economy needs to get back on track. We need to create careers, jobs and business.
“The first one is the economy and that’s multi-faceted, everyone’s talking about ‘jobs, jobs, jobs,’ but I think people are losing the idea of careers. I think the people and families in the district are looking for careers for their children that they’re sending to school. It’s all about creating strong, diverse career opportunities for everyone.
“The second issue is financial security and that perception starts in Washington, D.C., and Congress. Because Congress is so fiscally irresponsible right now it’s created a lot of doubt and people here.
“I’m Republican endorsed. I earned 96 percent of the delegate votes my opponent only received 3 percent of the vote. He had told me that he was going to step back and support our campaign but he decided to go forward after losing the endorsement. It’s his right as an American so I won’t hold it against him, but our campaign is growing and it’s supported by a huge donor and volunteer base. We’ve done a lot of work to demonstrate excitement and name recognition. I believe we’re in the strongest position to compete with the incumbent.
“The partisanship in D.C. is destroying our economy and putting a lot of doubt in the hearts and minds of the Fourth District. I’m a strong term limit advocate and there are too many career politicians who are locked in to the Republican versus Democrat old way of thinking who’ve made their career by dividing and conquering their district. I feel I represent a new generation of people who want to be involved in government and focus on issues that affect us all including economy and career growth. I’m the first of 64 cousins and my family represents all sectors of the political system from anarchists to very strong conservatives, so our dinner conversations can get pretty colorful but I understand that there are different viewpoints on how to handle the fiscal budget.”
Hernandez makes a visit to Stillwater on Saturday. “I’m making myself open and available to the whole congressional district. You called, I answered and people can reach me on Facebook, Twitter, phone, email, website or cell.”
For more information on Tony Hernandez, check out his website: www.hernandezusa.com