Interview with Jeff Latas, Democrat for Congress in Arizona’s CD8

Latas Jeff Latas is a Democratic candidate for Congress in Arizona’s CD8. What will probably catch people’s notice about Jeff is that he is a veteran, as is his son Jesse. Jeff is one of a group of about 40 veterans running for Congress this cycle, the Band of Brothers. But what Jeff would prefer to catch your attention is his bold stands on energy policy and environmental protection and his training as an aerospace engineer. Either way. Jeff is a man of parts, and he wants to be your representative in Congress.

Jeff is 48, husband to Salette for 26 years, and father of two – 6 if you count the dogs, which they are inclined to do. Salette and Jeff were an ROTC romance, having meet at boot camp. Jeff lived in Arizona while attending UofA, where he received a BS in Aerospace Engineering. He later attended University of Central Michigan while in the service and achieved a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Jeff spent 20 years in service to his country flying F-15E Strike Eagles for most of his career and was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross on the 3rd night of Desert Storm, as well as 4 air medals, and 9 aerial achievement medals. Jeff retired from active military service in 2001 and took a job as an airline pilot for Jet Blue.

Medal_obverse Jeff lives in district 8, and has been a registered Democrat since he could first register to vote at age 18. This is his first attempt at government office, besides student government, and the first political campaign he’s been involved with. Jeff feels that his best qualification for office is his ability to grasp how disparate policy areas, such as defense, energy and environment, interlock. Jeff describes himself as an agnostic who endorses the Gaia hypothesis, and thinks that evolution is a scientific fact.

In his personal charitable giving, Jeff and Salette are supporters of animal welfare causes, such as Foundation for Animals In Risk (FAIR) and pit bull rescue, as well as Defenders of Wildlife and Save the Children. I think it says a lot about someone when they support causes which help protect those who can’t protect themselves. The only magazine that Jeff subscribes to in print form is ‘The Nation’, and the last book he read was ‘Running on Empty’ by Pete Peterson.

I found Jeff to be a credible and well-informed candidate with an open mind, strong principles, and can-do attitude. On the logistics of his campaign, Jeff is realistic, but optimistic. He knows that he is facing at least one, and possibly two primary challengers who likely have the ability to raise much more money that him. He points out that he getting a lot of professionals volunteering for his campaign who are providing many of the services, such as PR and video production, for free that others will have to pay for.  Jeff says he’s not really sure how much his campaign has raised so far, but I would guess it to be around 25K – one tenth of what Gabby Giffords reported for the last quarter.

Jeff has a lot of credibility and expertise on military and foreign policy issues; probably a good deal more than any other candidate in the race of either party. For this reason I dwelt on those issues in this interview. Jeff would probably accept that label, but would also be quick to point out that the centerpiece of his campaign is energy policy and environment. This a new and bold strategy for a Congressional campaign, which usually center on bread and butter domestic issues such as jobs and economic development in the district, or on headline issues which the public is focused on, such as Iraq or immigration, at the moment. It will be interesting to see if the electorate responds to a candidate whose central message is changing our energy economy. In the right hands, Jeff’s theme has the ability to become the center of a powerful narrative that touches on nearly every aspect of our society. We’ll see if Jeff is up to the challenge of getting voters to dance to his tune.

Jeff sometimes talks like a fighter jock in the locker room, so the interview has a few bits with slightly salty language. I didn’t think it right to scrub Jeff’s natural demeanor from the transcript. He is who he is.  The transcript has been edited for brevity (and it’s still really long!) so some of the back and forth and surplus has been removed, but it comes close to a verbatim transcript. This interview with Jeff Latas took place on March 9th 2006.

M=Mike Bryan
J=Jeff Latas

PERSONAL

M: What makes a truly great representative? Mo Udall-great?

J: The ability to take their vision and enact it. To actually make the changes they intend to make.

M: Whom do you admire most outside of your family?

J: I knew you were going to ask me about things I hadn’t thought about. In the political realm, the names that come to mind are Howard Dean, Russ Feingold. But then, there’s other people who influenced me in my career, like John Glenn, Neil Armstrong. I’ve always admired explorers.

M: What life experiences prepared you to represent the citizens of CD8?

J: The most obvious is my military experience, because we have such a concentration of active and retired military personnel here. I think the 9th largest military population of any district. Also, my environmental concerns and desire to emphasize alternative energy.

M: What do you think you are a better choice than the other candidates?

J: Because of my convictions. I had strong beliefs getting into this race before Kolbe announced his retirement that this nation was going down the wrong path. This was a way that I might have some effect on changing that course. I believe in my positions and I’m willing to fight for them regardless of who the opponent might be.

[Latas was one of three Democrats to file their candidacies before Kolbe announced his retirement: the other two were Francine Shacter and Dwight Leister.]

M: What committees do you intend to lobby to be on?

J: Obviously, I would be interested in being on the military affairs committee. But as for lobbying, Energy is one of the places I’d really love to go. That’s where my calling really is, because getting off of oil affects so many things. I would also look at getting into environmental issues.

CONSTITUTION

M: What’s your view of the NSA domestic surveillance scandal?

J: We really don’t know exactly what has happened. So I reserve my opinion a little, however, the idea that my telephone calls can be monitored just because I’m talking to someone overseas is obviously an invasion of my privacy without due process being done by getting a warrant to do it. I think at this point it needs to stop. My understanding is they haven’t caught any terrorist suspects by doing this monitoring. Being in the Pentagon as I was I know there’s a lot of things that can’t be shared with the public, and there might be some things regarding this program that are too sensitive for us to know at this point, but publicly I don’t think anyone’s been caught as a result.

M: How do you feel about the Senate and House both voting not to investigate the program?

J: That bothers me. That was a party run vote that when along party lines. I think it ought to be investigated, you bet.

M; Would you vote for impeachment of Bush, Cheney, or other Administration officials and under what circumstances?

J: That question’s obviously coming up and I will say that HR635 [Conyer’s bill to initiate an impeachment inquiry], I would support that at this point. Impeachment’s a touchy issue. It is damaging to our government, whether it’s a Democrat or Republican. But if laws have been broken, it doesn’t matter who you are, you should be held responsible.

[Jeff also signed on Russ Feingold’s resolution to censure President Bush as a citizen co-sponsor]

DOMESTIC

M: How do you propose to incentivize the market to change over from oil to other sources of energy and feedstocks?

J: We need to give efficiency-indexed tax incentives to individuals for solar cells and high-efficiency vehicles. We also have to give tax breaks or subsidies incentives to industry to develop alternatives and do R&D. We can also mandate government purchases and investments meet efficiency targets. We can make grants to universities to help develop new technology, for instance hydrogen from solar energy. Here in Arizona we can really boost our economy with alternative energy such as development of hydrogen plants without using fossil fuels: solar or otherwise. We need to figure out how to make conversion of energy to hydrogen storage more efficient and from alternate sources. Right now it’s about 1:1 with fossil fuels, so that isn’t really helpful.

M: The 800 pound gorilla is private finance – wall street, banks and pension funds – needs incentives to invest in these new technologies. How do we get financial capital out of the rut?

J: 1977-1980 we reduced our oil requirements from the Middle East by 87% at the same time the GDP went up 27%, so it’s obviously healthy for this economy to get off of oil. Those were test-case years. It works to get off oil, regardless of what people say. There were other reasons we had high inflation at that time, but it’s good for us to get off oil. You are going to boost the economy with new industry that’s generate new jobs, and make our school systems better because we’ll need new professionals to solve the problems we have to address. I don’t have the answer how to make these things, I have a vision of how to go that direction based on my engineering experience that these things work. There’s a lot of nay-sayers out there, but there were people who said we’d never go to the moon. We can do this. We have to political will to get off oil now. Bush even said so in his State of the Union.

[I don’t fault Jeff for missing the point of this question, but he did. He answered as if I asked him how to get Wall Street on-board politically, when what I wanted was ideas for how to get Wall Street to lead the way by actually investing in alt-fuels and conservation. The question of how to get Wall Street thinking in terms of long-term sustainability is one that some of the greatest economic minds have not yet cracked.]

M: So the way out of the downward spiral of outsourcing is energy innovation?

J: Exactly. Those are the kind of jobs you can’t ship overseas. I will say China’s a big threat if we don’t get our heads out of our asses right now. China’s going to be the dominant alternative energy technology producer because they are working on it right now because they can’t meet their energy needs with just oil.

M: How do we fix the medical care system in this country?

J: 5 million people are losing their health insurance every year. It’s because of declining income, people are getting poorer and people can’t afford health care and eating at the same time. Which one would you drop? We have to stop that downward spiral of income; that will help. However, Universal Healthcare is something we have to address. We have to insure everyone in this country. There’s obviously a cost; the Hillary plan would cost about 1 trillion dollars. I use this plan now. Tri-Care is based on the ‘94 study and the military leaned forward and went with Tri-Care. I pay $460 a year as a retiree and it’s the best insurance I’ve seen. Of course, they [the GOP] is trying to raise that now. We’re looking now at ways to fund a plan right now. If we have the will we can afford it and in the long run it will be cheaper for all of us.

M: Will there still be a role for private, for-profit insurance?

J: Yes, I think that we need to keep private plans available for people who want them. We want to make it affordable for the lower end, at have option of government or private at higher income levels.

M: What about the Medicare Drug plan?

J: Any time you have the pharmaceuticals companies writing the legislation – it’s boondoggle for the pharmas. We can fix it. The VA can negotiate prices and the prices are lower than part D. It’s costing us 50 billion a year, and though my mom’s drugs did go down, that’s the case for most. It was a fiasco the way it was implemented and in that there are companies now making bigger profits because of it.

Why are many of these drugs cheaper in other countries. I’m told it’s because we’re paying the large R&D costs in this country; but why can’t we share those costs among all countries?

M: We have Clean Elections in Arizona, and it is likely to expand to other states. Would you want to see it Federalized, and would introduce such legislation?

J: You damn right I do. You bet, in a second. I honest believe the reason you get Tom Delays and J.D. Hayworth’s, and all those other corrupt, er… allegedly corrupt, individuals is because it all comes down to how they’re financing their campaigns. The sooner we can get away from that, the more power to the people.

M: Would you be in favor of an independent ethics body overseeing Congress?

J: Why not? Why should a Congressman decide the rules of ethical behavior for himself? We need an objective means for determining proper behavior. I don’t have any problem with that.

M: What sorts of new initiatives would you be in favor of to protect our environmental quality?

J: First we need to enforce the old laws, like the Clean Air Act. We need to be careful and enforce the Endangered Species Act; we can’t afford to lose the act to the present legislation in Congress now [intended to make enforcement action more difficult]. We need stronger regulation on water quality.

M: Would you support take-back laws on more products here in the U.S. like computers, televisions, and cars, etc.?

J: Yeah. Especially those products containing hazardous wastes. It makes sense.

M: What about OSHA

J: It’s under-funded and there isn’t enough enforcement.

M: What do we do about reducing carbon emissions?

J: That’s my main platform. We need to get off petroleum. That’s why I got in this race; with ecology in mind, asking how can I make my world a better place? How can I have an effect? By trying to get this nation aware that we can have a better society without oil.

Once you realize that, then you start seeing all the connections between national security, foreign policy, war and oil. Many of our problems over the past 40 years are connected to that.

I honestly believe that if we would have followed what Jimmy Carter started, there would never have been all this military activity in the Middle East. He realized back then that our dependence on the region’s oil was a national security issue. But then, Reagan moved into the White House, and gave us a shift toward corporate controlled America, and oil companies gained considerable political influence. The genesis of all our security problems now is based on our need to sustain our economy with oil.

M: We’ve have these spectacular collapses due to corporate malfeasance and mis-governance in recent years. What can Congress to fix that?

J: You’ve got to give the people more political power to restore the balance. Lobbying, campaign finance, corruption, it’s all connected and you don’t have the people getting enough say. A lot of these problems will be aided by letting regular people have more say in government.

We also have to look at those companies that are doing things right, like my company, Jet Blue, and Costco, and reproduce those successes.

M: How do you intend to deal with the hot button GOP issues; abortion, gay marriage, immigration. How are you going to turn those issues into positives for you instead of for the GOP?

J: Like I’ve been doing for the last 6 months.

Abortion ought to be rare, legal, and safe. You have to have all three, or you can’t have any. If it’s not legal – it’s not going to be safe. And there will probably just as many as there are now. Only 16% of the American population think that abortion ought to be illegal in all cases. 84% of us believe that abortion should be an option. Nobody wants an abortion, but they do want the choice.

Gay marriage. What the hell business is it of mine if two people should love each other? Marriage is an old religious term. Government should recognize only civil unions, no matter who you are. Let the churches recognize marriage however they want. Marriage shouldn’t be the government term. Nobody’s religion, except my own, should dictate how I act in my private life.

M: What about restrictions on adoption by homosexuals?

J: Prove to me that it’s bad. Show me the proof. I know plenty of families that have a man and woman where the kids are totally destroyed by the time they’re grown. So I it’s a truly loving family, I don’t care if the parents are gay or not, those kids are going to come out as a benefit to society.

M: Illegal immigration. Some people say they’re creating a crime wave, using up taxpayer resources, destroying our culture, injecting their language into our government and even trying to re-conquer the United States.

J: Obviously there is a real concern about using government resources in order to provide schools and medical treatment and such services. But there are certain cases where illegal immigrants pay their own way through their taxes.  Some of that is failing to get back here to the states where the money is being spent, however. This issue needs close study of the facts. There might need to be a ‘fencing off’ of certain funds from those revenue sources, so that it can be sent back into the local economy where the impacts are. For instance, the state prisons here that are owed money for holding criminals who are Mexican nationals.

The immigrants generally are helping our society out and benefiting us greatly. I think much of the negative rhetoric is used to conceal that simple fact. A lot of it might be hate-based and prejudice… I’m not willing to say that someone like Randy Graf is a bigot, but there are definitely people who are bigots who are attracted to this issue.

M: What role do you think that the military should play in border defense and homeland security? Especially the US/Mexico border?

J: Up until about a month ago, I’d of said that’s not the military’s business. They’re not trained to do that. The mission profiles are 100 years old. I don’t see Mexico or Canada looking to invade us at this point. The military is not for keeping migrants out of the country.

There are things I want to investigate further now. Is the Mexican military so corrupt now that some of their units are actually escorting drug smugglers and coyotes [immigrant smugglers] and taking their cut? That’s a worry of mine. It’s happening in Texas, apparently. I don’t think we need to put M1s [heavy battle tanks] on the border, but we need to address it to the Mexican government saying. “This needs to stop, or you WILL see fighters [military planes] patrolling our border. Because if we see a threat from your military, you’ll leave us no option.” That is a threat that we must deal with in a ‘big stick’ sort of way.

M: What sort of technological fixes for border security might be useful?

J: I think reaching out underdeveloped countries to the south is the long-term solution to the border issue. Funding enforcement for sanctioning employers also needs to be funded. The enforcement arm for employers funding has gone to basically nothing. We need to get at the white-collar criminal activity of our own people. That is going to put pressure on the legislature to change the immigration laws and make it more realistic when corporations begin to feel the pinch. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce thinks we need increase the number of people coming across the border. We need to have people crossing in a more orderly and efficient manner, so the illicit crossing will decrease significantly, making it much easier on our enforcement agencies on the ground to do their job to apprehend the criminal element that’s crossing the border.

M: We need to increase the number of H2B [seasonal and temporary] work visas?

J: I’m not sure about the details of which visas. But, we have about 66,000 issued now. That probably needs to go up to about 500,000. And we need to readdress immigration law itself and allow easier access for immigrants to cross the border to help sustain our economy, as well as contributing to our society.

M: What would you consider funding as far as technological fixes (i.e. sensors, drones, walls. Etc.)

J: If we do the things I talked about crossing will decline in number and we can sustain with our current border patrol and technology. We might no have to do anything. I don’t know if those U-CAVS [pilotless drones] are really doing the job their supposed to be doing. You fly missions out there and they’re seeing hundreds of people cross the border. The agents go out and the chase one group, hundreds of others get by meanwhile.

In the short term, maybe we do need to increase some sensors. I don’t know that you need more agents. If you’ve been down there, the place is crawling with agents. The people down there who actually live on the border feel that the agents that are working it can be more threatening than migrants that are coming across. They cut fences, shoot dogs in defense of agent safety. Migrants do it too, of course. But more agents are not going to help. Building a wall is not going to help.

M: The Homeland Security Agency now a contract out to bid for a 25 billion dollar fiber optic system all along the border to detect vibrations as subtle as the footstep of an immigrant.

J: Well, Jeez, how many cattle are the going to get arrested by border agents? The trouble is how well tested are these systems people want to put on the border? Those we have now have false signals all the time costing huge amounts of man-hours. Technology is not always the right answer. Before I would approve such things, I want to see serious studies that we the people can get our hands on, proving they’re effective.

M: Drug prohibition. A failed policy?

J: Yeah. I think it’s definitely failed. All throughout the 1990s we were spending lots of money on the ‘war on drugs’; didn’t do a damn thing except waste that money. The way we are approaching illicit drugs in this country is a failure. It’s not that difficult to obtain illicit drags in this country, so we need to approach it completely differently.

M: Would you be in favor of reforming the mandatory sentencing of drug offenders?

J: Yes.

M: Would you fund treatment and diversion programs?

J: Yes. Incarcerating someone is a hell of a lot more expensive than treatment, regardless of how many times that person has to go back through rehab. So this is a cost issue, as well. People who addicted to drugs need help; they don’t need to be thrown in jail – even if it is Rush Limbaugh. (laughs)

FORIEGN AFFAIRS

M: What values should we bring to the fight against terrorism?

J: Well, terrorism can be view differently depending on the culture. I’m sure Hamas views Israeli attacks on the Palestinians as terroristic, as well as our bombing of Iraq all through the 1990s. To me, terrorism is when you try to instill fear in people. I don’t know that’s what we intend when we do military operations, whether I agree or disagree with what we did. We didn’t bomb groups of people, we were trying to take out certain targets. Mistake got made. And I’ll be the first one to admit innocent people died, and that’s absolutely wrong.

We have to, as a nation, demonstrate what real civilization should encompass, and that means dialogue with different cultures, it means respecting different cultures, and understanding what their motivations are. One we start sticking our nose in the business of Islamic law and fundamentalist governments we might see in the Middle East, it’s only going to inflame that region, because they look at us affecting their values as well. So we need to go back to a Christian love model – do unto others – and show we don’t want to hurt them, we want to respect them, and find our what they want in return. If that’s just to go away; we go away.

M: What about rule of law, and torture, etc.?

J: What we are doing in Gitmo inflames the rest of the world to no end. We have a set of laws we follow, yet we are treating these people as if there were no laws. That is not what this country is about; we are a country of laws. And we ought to figure out we’re going to give those people their day in court.

Torture does not work. That’s proven. We’ve had these people for three years and we’re still thinking we can get information out of them. To me, that just doesn’t make any sense. Torture just doesn’t work.

M: What’s your opinion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

J: Six months ago I thought there was good progress being made. I hope to see that progress continue. Obviously, with Hamas taking control, and Sharon out of the picture, I hope both groups maintain their dialogue. I hope their problems don’t escalate into more violence in the future.

M: What can Congress do to assist in the peace process?

J: We don’t deal with terrorists. So until Hams renounces terrorism, we can’t deal with them. However, that does push them into a situation where they are going to make deals with Iran, Syria, Russia. We are pushing them toward the more fundamentalist side. I think we could reach out to Hamas in direct talks in the correct circumstances and recognize that they are now the legitimate government of Palestine.

M: Should we conditionalize aid to Israel on progress on a settlement with the Palestinians?

J: Possibly. We do support Israel with a considerable amount of aid  and that irritates the Arab people. It doesn’t look fair. Israel has to behave themselves too. Israel did get out of hand in 2001-2002. They came down with an iron fist. Sharon was seeing that tactic was not going work and started to pull back, and withdraw some from the West Bank, things actually got better. We have to consider how much of this business between Israel and Palestine is actually US business. That is between two other states, and us getting in the middle of that doesn’t make us look like a good actor either. Because is we favor one side over the other, it’s a lose-lose situation.

M: Iran is emerging as a possible crisis with its alleged nuclear weapons program. Can military force actually resolve this issue?

J: (Laughs) No. Bombing the facilities over there is only going to make matters worse. The bet thing to do is to go back in time and erase that line ‘Axis of Evil’ from the President’s State of the Union address. We invaded the country next door to Iran. That’s got to make them feel they’re next. We allowed another country of the ‘Axis’, North Korea, to develop a bomb and did basically nothing about it. So of course they are going to push hard now because they saw somebody else get away with it while they saw somebody who didn’t have WMD get invaded. The logic there is obvious. I know something about the facilities in Iran. Military action would have only limited effect on stopping their plans.

M: So you wouldn’t support use of military force?

J: No. We have to have better dialogue with the Iranian. We actually alienated some of the reformers over there who now see us more as a bully now. Whereas just 6 years ago we had made some progress toward to more liberal Iranian state, and that’s gone now.

M: Would you support economic sanctions through the UN.

J: Iran should not be allowed nukes. As well as Egypt, and Israel, and Pakistan… you see where I’m going?

M: You think GWB is a hypocrite in terms of the NPT and proliferation policy?

J: Yes. You’re referring to the India deal [to provide nuclear power generation technology outside of and in violation of the NPT terms]? There may be some things the public doesn’t know. The current situation between Pakistan and India has defused considerably considering just three years ago they were ready to start dropping nukes on each other. I don’t know exactly what technologies he [Bush] is talking about [selling to India] because obvious they had the technology to develop nuclear power and weapons. I don’t know if it’s more efficient or cleaner technology they’re considering. I would like to know more about that and what exactly is in that package.

M: How important is Non-Proliferation to the security of America in the future?

J: Very important. I would love to see sometime in my life where we live in a county that has no more nuclear weapons. I thought we were on that road in the 1990s, but with the current Administration that progress has come to an end.

MILITARY

M: What are the greatest security threats we need to be able to address now and in the future?

J: Rogue nukes. Port security, to catch radiological threats. We also need to look at countries like China, they have been developing ICBM and cruise missile technology. Meanwhile we are getting bogged down in occupation of Iraq. We need to be able to address asymmetric threats from China, maybe Russia. We’re sucking all our money into readiness, equipment maintenance and replacement, just keeping our equipment running. Our airplanes are falling apart, we’re working ‘em so hard. And we’re throwing 160 billion a year into Iraq.

M: Being as you want to be on the Energy Committee, and they are responsible for DOE and funding nuclear threat reduction programs, such as that advocated by Kerry in the last election, what funding will you seek for such programs?

J: I would push to reduce our nuclear arsenal. I would definitely make it a priority to get funding for nuclear threat reduction [loose nukes and securing nuclear materials for making weapons] back on track. I would also look at modernizing our nuclear arsenal by renegotiating the treaties that currently restrict us from developing the latest nuclear deterrents that are more humane, specific and very effective against chemical and biological threats. We could have a stronger and more humane deterrence with less weapons.

M: Should we reduce the size of our nuclear deterrent and what size is sufficient?

J: Zero is sufficient. I would like to see us get to that. I think we need to take a leading role in saying we can still be a strong nation without WMD.  We are a promoter now of WMD. Everybody uses us as a model. If we can be a strong America and protect the rights of our people without WMD, I think that is the way we have to lead.

M: Is National Missile Defense [Star Wars] as viable and useful program and would you continue funding it?

J: The technology is very expensive. I don’t know if it’s going to be a viable program in the long-run. It’s a technological challenge. It does keep an escalation of countries like Korea from developing short-range, and even long-range, ballistic missiles. If we can sit there and pop them off, we don’t need a deterrent force of destruction. We can take care of those types of weapons in a defensive posture.

This is where I’m going in terms of a strong defense. If we do have a viable, workable, affordable system, it’s something we ought to consider for our own protection from countries that are rogue. However, I don’t know that’s really the biggest threat. Suitcase bombs are much easier to deliver.

M: Do you think the US should be the first to deploy space based weapons as recommended by the Rumsfeld Commission?

J: Weaponry is not allowed [by treaty]. There are [non-weapons] systems that can promote peace. First strike weaponry is – no. Not first-strike, not at all. Then you get into an escalation situation. It’s not the way to go. The best way to go is to outsmart your enemy without spending money.

M: Does the ‘Bush Doctrine’ of preventive warfare have any place in American military doctrine?

J: No.

M: Give me your position on Iraq.

J: We should never have invaded Iraq and we need to get out. I join John Murtha in his plan to re-station fast-reaction air and ground forces in friendly countries such as Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, etc. However we should not go into Iraq unless the Iraqi ask for help. We have to be able to quickly analyze the treat they face, too. Only if their democracy is being threatened, but we don’t need to be stepping into the middle of a civil war, or trying to snuff out the Sunnis, for examples. We don’t need to take sides except to defend democracy.

The urgency to invade Iraq was false and very misleading. It should be investigated by Congress under HR635, to determine the real motive of invading Iraq. I don’t believe that WMD was the real motive.

[There was some drill down discussion between Jeff and I of the new book by Pape, “Dying to Win” I have left out. Pape’s conclusion is that suicide terrorism is a nationalist phenomenon inspired by military occupation of what the terrorist organization considers its homeland by a people of another faith whose government is democratic. I suggested that placing our troops in neighboring Middle Eastern countries could still inspire suicide terrorism against American targets. We agreed that reaction might depend on whether the Middle Eastern country is democratic. For instance, would stationing ‘over the horizon’ forces in Turkey inspire suicide terrorist attacks against us by Turks? Personally, I think there is about 0% chance that Turkey would allow us to base there for that purpose, so the issue is purely academic. Some of the locations suggested by Jeff, like Qatar and Kuwait, are very much not democracies, and I maintain that should we base in those countries, our troops will be perceived as occupiers not only by natives of those countries, but will still be perceived as occupiers by many Iraqis, defeating the purpose of basing them outside the country. ]

M: The war in Afghanistan is usually viewed as justified by the connections between the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but do you share that view? And is the on-going occupation by our troops still justified?

J: We really have done much in Afghanistan except having a few firebases over there. I don’t think we are doing as much in actually securing the country as people might think. The hills are still pretty much left to the Warlords. The Taliban still has a little foothold. The Taliban’s support for Al Qaeda was a direct threat to our national security. That’s been proven.

We need to promote democracy over there, but we need to let the Afghanis develop their own form. It should not sponsor threats to our civilization. Same thing with Iraq. We should do our best to help them develop into states that seek peaceful solutions.

M: Do you support the continued basing of US troops in Afghanistan?

J: At this point, yes. I would like to pull out of the Middle East altogether eventually.

M: What the hell went wrong with the Pat Tillman investigation? What does the cover up say about the military’s leadership culture?

J: I would like to know. I’m waiting to see what the investigation reveals. With Abu Ghraib and even some things I’ve seen myself, there is a certain amount of cover-up that happens. I see a lot of our military leaders that shrug it off as, “war is hell.”

M: Is a certain part of it careerism?

J: Yes, it is. There are certain standards we have to uphold. In a friendly-fire incident like Tillman’s, a lot of them are just mistakes.

M: Do you have any specific critiques or concerns about the Quadrennial Defense Review of 2006 [a Defense Department planning document produced every 4 years which envisions the next 20 years of defense policy]?

J: It’s puzzling that we are going to spend 600 billion with the Iraq supplemental and we can only go after one war at a time. Whereas we had 270 billion in the last QDR and we could fight to regional wars. So there’s something being said here the way an occupation drains the life out of a strong defense. That bothers me. R&D is the future of our security and we dropped the ball on being able to out-think our enemies.

M: Does it bother you that Northern Command, an operational command, now includes CONUS, whereas it used to stop at the border? Americans now live in a war zone.

J: After 9/11 when the fighters took off to do the intercept, they were thinking the Russian Bear was coming and they flew out 100 miles over the ocean before someone said, “No. turn around; it’s New York City you gotta go to.” We might have to ask our airmen to go shoot down airliners, and, you know, it might be me. It might be a necessary evil at this point.

M: The military is often categorizing PTSD of those returning from combat as a personality defect, and refusing to cover treatment. What’s you take on that?

J: I’ve got vets on my staff and I’ve heard some their stories of how they can to have PTSD, and I find some of their stories horrifying. Anybody would be affected the rest of their lives base on stories I’ve heard. Stories I’ll never forget, and I didn’t experience them, I just heard them. I’ve had my combat thrills, and been scared near to death, but I’ve never seen the gruesome things personally that some of the these people had to do. They had to commit that horror.

This is not something that is to taken lightly, There are some reports that with 58K killed in Nam, but up to 100K committed suicide. We going to see this with Iraq. You can ask my son, he was there. The Administration has completely dropped the ball; the VA is grossly under-funded, it’s understaffed, our military hospital and medical facilities, same thing. I got to go to Walter Reed to see what was going on there; amputees, blindness, head injuries, and it’s disgusting that we are dropping the ball on these soldiers and veterans the way we are.

M: How much more funding do we need, and are you willing to cut other areas to get the money?

J: Yeah, I’m willing to cut the occupation and free up 150 billion a year. Some of that ought to go to the VA as well as health care, education – 55 billion left unfunded in NCLB – yeah we need to get out of Iraq and fund some the programs that are being defunded.

M: How do you view the Bush Administration’s use of the use of the Ready-Reserve Guard and Reserve system in fighting in Iraq?

J: Reserve system is being abused. Jesse [Jeff’s son] was back-door drafted through the reserve. I will say that when you sign a contract as a reservist or guard member you are giving the government the ability to use you, over and over [the only thing that stops them from abusing it is respect and honor]. The problem is that these soldiers coming back want to bail out because they know their time is coming next year to go back over there, but they can’t find jobs, so they’re force to stay in. We’ve shipped their jobs to India or China. My daughter can’t even find a decent job, 23, just out of college.

M: Do you have any concerns about the use of private contractors in security and combat roles?

J: I have a problem when they’re no-bid. Halliburton and KBR have basically taken over almost all the administrative and support functions of the force structure – laundry, sewing, food service – and it’s all no-bid with no oversight. We’re paying $33 a meal for everyone there. That’s outrageous. Halliburton contracts in just the last 3 years have gone up 2000%. Something is wrong with that.

I have a problem with the increase in private security forces in the past 10/15 years. They have always been there, but less in the eye of the public, working behind the scenes and not necessarily just military contractors. No one seems to be asking the question of why there are so many private security forces. I know that some of them actually are not on DoD contracts. Some are CIA, or some other agencies. One of my supporters in Bisbee was Special Forces and is now retired. His was being recruited to go over and interrogate prisoners/detainees. He declined that $100k/year job. My guess is that the Army can’t keep trained soldiers at the wages they pay and have no choice but to go private or there is a pipeline in those positions and many are taking advantage of this system.

I don’t know if you classify truck drivers in this category, but there are lots of them in Iraq. My son is an Army Driver. He hardly ever drove. Halliburton contractors did most of the driving at around $120k/yr. My son made about $18k/year to do the same job. But instead of drive, a job he was trained to do, he sat in the passenger side of the vehicle with his M-16 to protect that valuable high dollar contractor asset. This is wrong and the US tax payer is paying hundreds of millions to support KBR and Halliburton. I had a contractor while I was in the Pentagon. He was paid about $90K/year and was worth that. However the actual contract was about $180K/year. ANSER, the contracting company, got the other half. This is how the contracts work. It’s my guess that Halliburton is getting around $200k/year for every driver they hire to drive in Iraq. Do the math, that’s about 10 privates the Army could have instead.

M: Would you call that war-profiteering?

J: Oh, you bet I would, because it’s all no-bid. And it’s obviously cronyism at work and it’s shameful we don’t investigate that.

M: Are the courts martial of low ranking Abu Graib MPs covering for decisions taken at the highest level of the civilian and military leadership? What would you do about it in Congress?

J: Cheney is saying it’s perfectly OK to do what we’ve been doing, yet at the lower end of the scale we’re throwing soldiers in jail for stripping the locals naked. Which one is right? You have the Vice President saying it’s alright, but then you’re throwing people in jail. Why doesn’t Cheney say that we shouldn’t put these people in jail, then?

M: Can we reduce the size of some of our forward deployed forces and bases to save some money?

J: I don’t have specifics now. I think it is certainly possible to do it. We have drawn down over the past 15 years a significant amount of forces. A lot of people think we have 100s of thousands of troops in Korea, for example, and we really don’t anymore [currently ~37K]. Most of our presence is just staging and transfer points. Iraq is the largest. When we pull those troops out we can reduce the [roughly 130K] number of troops [tasked to a rapid response force in the region].

I understand the operation of carrier groups. Carriers are extremely expensive weapons systems for the actual combat capability they produce. But there is a certain amount of prestige when you set one of the carrier groups off someone’s coast. Maybe there’s a way we can integrate a fast reaction force, bombers, as a deterrent.

M: Are there weapons system currently in the Pentagon’s acquisition pipeline that are no longer appropriate for the strategic threats we now face? What are they, and would you work to kill them?

J: I thought the F22 should have been cut ten years ago. I don’t know if that’s still an appropriate measure. You cut it now, and you’ve wasted I don’t know how many billions on development. I did bring some new technology forward. I thought we should have skipped the F22 and gone right to the joint strike fighter – now I don’t know if the joint strike fighter’s affordable because of the F22 and the Super Hornet (the Navy’s alternative to the F22). I thought we needed to look more at unmanned vehicles (though this was blasphemous when I was in service), and we are doing that more now. We need to look for places to make some cuts in these programs. We may be able to do much of the missions we want by developing new weapons instead of new platforms.

0 responses to “Interview with Jeff Latas, Democrat for Congress in Arizona’s CD8

  1. IRAN is the “KEY” to the Future of The World as we know it!

    There constant rejections of UN resolutions and threats of retaliation against Isreal and the destruction of The United States must be taken seriously!

    Alot of economic factors are controlled by Iran that could effect all western civilizations, from oil to instability in our markets.

    What we don’t need is what President Carter did in the 1970’s to sit in The White House in a sweater while Iran held American Hostages!

  2. I agree with Metacomet – Jeff Latas’ knowledge of the issues and his views are pretty impressive and pretty close to my own.

    He’s certainly making it competitive to choose between him and Giffords. I favor Latas’ positions, but I tend to think Giffords is more electaable in the general. Of course, part of that is because Giffords hasn’t been too forthcoming with her positions…

    As for Dwight’s comments…I mean…wow. My heart goes out to you, Dwight.

  3. Interview: Very good. You captured Mr. Latas’ open mindedness quite effectively, though it is obvious that he had made up his mind on several issues already. I would very much like to hear more of his opinions on immigration.

    User Comments: *snore*

  4. I am impressed with the positions that Mr. Latas described in the interview, which should have been the topic of the ensuing discussion.

    I found no inconsistencies to what I consider a highly ratioanal and cohesive set of beliefs concerning a number of timely issues. (Mostly because I think I was in pretty much total agreement.)

    Good interview Mike.

    Now having a better understanding of Latas’ views, and his declaration of admiring Feingold and Dean, I must say that he has moved to the top of my list of Kolbe replacements.

    Probably the most encouraging attribute is his ability to construct a rational framework for his positions, and the obvious intellect to derive those positions independently.

    Not sure who else in the field has that ability.

  5. Candidates for Congress in Southern Arizona have not found it necessary to run to Washington D.C. and have pictures taken with Politicians from the BELTWAY, it usually is the other way around,they are in awe of our goals in Arizona , as I can recall (4) four Presidential Candidates from Arizona in recent history, one a Southern Arizona Congressman!

    That is why I said those whom recently moved to Arizona from the East, now running for Congress just don’t get it and are out of touch, not just with The land and its people, but having a picture taken with Rus Feingold has me scratching my head? What has this guy ever done for those of us in Southern Arizona?

    Being on the ballot is important to win an election,but how about a Candidate who changed the dynamics of The Democratic Party, and the direction of Arizona as a Candidate for Congress that may not win an election?

  6. The Committee To Elect its Staff and workers have been instructed by me to not “TALK DOWN,” any other Democrats Campaign or its workers.

    All Complaints given to me of confrontations between workers will be dealt with in a fair manner.

    We will direct our statements towards “Democratic Party Policies,” and Platforms, and “Republican Party Policies and Platforms,” not any Candidate or his or her Committee.

    We continue not to speak at any Forum that is a 501c3 or 501c4 non-profit ,that does not give full disclosure as to if its board members support or oppose another Candidate or his or her Committee.

  7. I want to put to bed once and for all who is a “Coward” and whom is not on this blog; Godzilla knows my name ,my Family business that averages over three Funerals a day posted in all newspapers in the world for the last 80 years and my e-mail address and The fact Iam a Precinct Committeeman yet I do not know his or her name, what precinct he or she represents and Iam the Coward?

  8. Let me address that, “THE GROUND SWELL COMES ONLY FROM CIRCULATING PETITIONS AND ATTENDING SAME PARTY MEETINGS,” NOT THE “INTERNET.”

    I assume Godzilla owns a COMPUTER because I see him now and then on this blog, how can anyone who owns a computer and saw what Governor Dean did with the SOLE help of Joe Trippi to get him the GROUND SWELL;to jump him ahead of the other candidates. It was not his circulating of nomination petitions that got Governor Dean, to be known by the public, run for President and later as Chair of the Democratic Party, it was the internet,as Jeff latas knows because he owns a Vistoso Internet hosting and design company in Oro Valley,and is using that Company to the fullest on his campaign.

  9. What does Godzilla think of Raul Grijalvia stating on Television that the Cd8 race comes down to Patty Weiss and Gabriel Giffords,and since he “DOES NOT KNOW ANY OF THE OTHER DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES HE SUPPORTS “GABBY”; HE SOUNDS LIKE GODZILLA,HE DOES NOT KNOW THIS GUY OR THAT WOMAN SO HE IS SOME KIND OF CLAN MEMBER AND CAN ONLY SUPPORT FRIENDS OR MEMBERS OF “LARAZA.”

    I met Raul personally at ACLU meetings and he gave me his card and wrote his phone number on the back and told me to call him,so as Godzilla says no one knows me, Raul does not know the people he attends meetings with and writes his phone number on his card,and does not know any of the other Democratic Cd8 candidates but knows Randy Graf and Steve Huffman?
    Raul said;that Randy Graf is the one to beat,and that the “CD8 VOTERS WILL NOT ELECT A DEMOCRAT” unless Steve Huffman is the Candidate, on the Republican side.

    My family works The Polls also as Inspector’s and Marshal’s not just the Party angle for any candidate.

  10. Concerning “getting Signatures,” my Campaign has talked to Petition Circulators in many Precincts through-out Pinal,Santa Cruz,Cochise and Pima County,and are offering to pay for those circulators whom are working hard to get the required signatures. If you know of people whom would like to circulate petitions we would be more than happy to talk to you. The more the better,but understand that the public is very “picky” about whom they want to put there name next to,as you know,as living in Oro Valley,no Democrat is welcomed as would be a Republican. My own Precinct Constituents have complained to me about Republicans who are on Homeowners Associations having the signs removed from the yards of Democrats.
    The Petition drive is now on ,not just for me but for Terry Goddard and Governor Janet Napolitano,as The Democratic Party wants to hand her the required amount of signatures by the end of this month, so we are circulating all petitions not just my own.

    As far as how many names we have I don’t know at this time,I can tell you that we have 200 petitions circulating, in (4) Four Counties.

    I can tell you that my circulators have been going to the regular places to get names and are finding people like godzilla running in front of them making the public angry, and they walk away not signing anyones petitions.
    We are walking the streets with our walk-lists as is the way most signatures are gotten as godzilla knows.

    I can not understand why a Precinct Committeeman continues to attack another Precinct Committeeman who is a member of the same Legislative District Club,and as he says is not at every meeting shoving myself down everyones throat, I made my announcement as a candidate for Congress at that club meeting, and don’t feel it necessary to put down anyone else who is running from the same party. If Godzilla attends the meetings he knows about how they are conducted and how many candidates step aside to let another run for any office;its the reason I like the way we co-operate with each other to put a working platform and candidate whom is able to accept that platform before the public.

    Godzilla seems to think that Congressional District 8 is in Pima County confined to The Town of Oro Valley and meets at LD26 once a month; For his information Randy Graff is concentrating on Cochise County as well as Patty Weiss and Garbriel Giffords, that is why you don’t see them as much in Pima County either.

    Paul Eckerstrom has advised “ALL CAMPAIGNS TO GO SOUTH TO COCHISE COUNTY'” DO NOT JUST CONCENTRATE ON PIMA COUNTY! Has Godzilla talked to Paul about why he would not just stay at LD26 and talk only to Godzilla?

  11. Accept my apologies, it’s your show.

  12. Godzilla, if you don’t mind, I would prefer to be in charge of disinviting commenters and readers from my own blog. Obviously, you and Mr. Leister have your differences, just I and Mr. Leister have had ours, but try to be a little more civil. You don’t HAVE to read his comments, after all. I shouldn’t have to remind you that I came to your defense, too, Godzilla.

    You two don’t have to get along, in fact, I find it rather entertaining that you don’t, but no one should presume to control who is allowed a say here. Except me, of course. And I choose not to.

  13. I don’t think you get it. Your right, let’s move to the next level. But you can’t with out signitures. How many do you have now? That takes you coming out of your cave and facing the public, our do you think that the ground swell of the public wil just write you on the ballot? Your constant ravings of your achievement is getting quite old, why don’t you move on to someone elses blog?

  14. So you may ask where do we go from here?

    First pick a Candidate(any Candidate) who is willing to say He or She will not attend “Political Party Hack Forums” and shift to “INTERNET FORUMS” as is being run today by Rus Feingold and was being run by Governor Dean under Joe Trippi which hosted other Candidate web-sites posted on their web-site to start the ball rolling to raise “awareness”,not necessarily” money” to get the bloggers talking,from there it will take on a will of its own!

    The readson Iam addressing this issue now is that “THE ELECTORATE” does not at this time ,have any choice for either any candidate or any Political Party that it trusts,and any Candidate or any Political Party not yet known nationally or locally can be running what WE THE PEOPLE WANT” in 2006 and 2008, “TAKING BACK CONTROL OF EVERYTHING FROM FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILTY , THAT IS NON-EXISTANT IN ANY PARTY, TO CIVIL LIBERTIES AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUES THAT I ADDRESSED IN AN ARTICLE IN THE TUCSON DAILY CITIZEN THAT BROUGHT SHOCKWAVES FROM ACROSS THE NATION! The National Responce to that statement knocked the ball out of the park as to the real position of the Ameican People,who are fed up with both Parties on all issues,and if offered a choice will not stay home on voting day but will reverse Washington in its tracks!

    The issues are vast and overwhelming but we are still sending in our tax dollars to fund this mess! So as Congress is Constitutionally responsible for making Laws and we pay taxes that were just made into law in the early 1900’s The Founding Fathers did not give us a RIGHT OF CITIZENSHIP FOUNDED ON OUR ABILITY TO PAY TAXES!

  15. Joe Trippi got it right;but even Governor Dean would “NOT” let the very system that put him before the people finish the job! Governor Dean BETRAYED his own GRASS ROOTS EFFORT and went back to BIG NEWS MEDIA CORRUPTION that in the end TOOK HIM DOWN!

    Lets start thinking out of the box,there is a potential to create the first YAHOO all over again!

  16. I ask Godzilla as he has states that “YOU COWARD!” for not attending forums? What do you consider this to be; why are forums where you get in car and drive to a place using gas and polluting the enviornment, more credible than this “Forum?” that does not clog our overburdened highways, pollute the enviornment and has a direct back and forth between me “The Candidate” and you, the “Citizen” where at a “Forum” of which you describe you would be either forbidden from speaking or limited to (1) One Question?

    The “COMMITTEE-TO-ELECT.ORG” is a “ORGANIZATION” chaired by myself; which is a member of The Greater Sierra Vista Chamber of Commerce as a “Political Action Committee.” Registered with THE CLERK OF CONGRESS and THE FERERAL ELECTION COMMISSION,SO IT CAN TAKE DONATIONS ACCORDING TO CURRENT CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS AND RULES OF CONGRESS. DONATIONS ARE AS EASY AS CLICKING A BUTTON ON MY WEB-SITE TO FURTHER YOUR VOICE AS GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZERS,WHY ARE YOU STAYING WITH THE “SAME OLD SYSTEM” THAT GOT US INTO THIS MESS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

    We are a “DOT ORG” as one might say, taking campaigning to the next level,beyond “Forums,” that are closed to outside groups of people not advocting for an agenda,of that “Forum.”

    I will say to you right now,Godzilla that the “Forums of today;are not the “Forums Of The Future!”

    I noted another comment by someone who said that my Campaign is a “Hobby.” Again way off point of the very way a “INTERNET CAMPAIGN ,” is run. I am a “REFORM CANDIDATE” and I just do not mean how money is taken in,but “WHY MONEY IS TAKEN IN ,” to pay “TELEVISION NETWORKS” and big “NEWSPRINT MEDIA MOGULES” of which everyone talks against but keeps them in business anyway, corrupting the system?

    Mike who had the foresight to put together a site,that I consider to be the way of the future in Campaigning, would be overjoyed to have the 10 million dollars that is going to be spent in this Congressional District 8 race PAID TO THE NEWS MEDIA, GIVEN TO HIM INSTEAD,AND I THINK IS MORE DESERVING OF THE MONEY than the Arizona Daily Star that charges me $30,000 dollars for one page in that rag!We need to STOP WHAT IS CORRUPTING THE SYSTEM, and what I see by Godzilla is the same old system,SMOKE FILLED PARTY ROOMS PICKING CANDIDATES,WHO THEN ARE SELECTIVELY CHOSEN TO SPEAK AT A FORUM OF THE SAME SMOKE FILLED ROOM PEOPLE!

    “I HAVE BEEN ATTENDING AND SPEAKING AT THE SAME “DEMOCRATS OF GREATER TUCSON FORUMS” SINCE I RAN FOR THE OFFICE OF PIMA COUNTY SHERIFF IN 1968,WHEN IT WAS HELD AT THE TRANSAMERICA BUILDING DOWNTOWN NEXT TO THE “TOM RALLIS” RESTURANT “and GODZILLA says “I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE?” THE TRANSAMERICA BUILDING WAS TOURN DOWN AND THE TOM RALLIS RESTURANT WENT BANKRUPT,BUT IAM STILL HERE!

    GET MY POINT!

    I challenge all of you right now,lets take campaigning to the next level and go beyond blooging and “DO SOMETHING!”

  17. Dwight, thanks for your clarification and candor. I appreciate it.

  18. I do not want anyone to take the terms “This is going to be GOOD'” in my last blog as ‘A good thing” or Good for the Democratic Party,” I am pointing out it will be “GOOD” when the Democrats answer the issues and “shoot them down,” and back at Carl Rove!

  19. As I had discussed on this blog in the past;that sources close to The White House described using the illegal immigration issue to inflame riots,and chaos now and through-out the summer ;including special events in this congressional District ,that will throw off guard The Democratic Candidates,because of attending Forums and voicing opinions that were being watched by Carl Rove;now those Candidates will have to “Flip_Flop on issues that they thought were “Not an Issue.”

    Stay tuned as this is going to be good; as these candidates are called down one by one by the Media from Mexico and Republican Media in The United States.

  20. Did anyone catch the GAYLA at the La Poloma with “The Million Dollar Club” in attendance hosted by Jim Click for Kyl with the Vice President and Kolbe,Huffman and Hellon in attendance but no Randy Graf?

  21. Dear Mike;

    I have no intention of making any such accusations against you and you have convienced me of your intent, nor try to convey to you that your work on this web-site and blog is not short of genius, and I commend you for making available a forum which does provide a means for Candidates to express themselves in ways “Different” than one might see in the News Media where many F.C.C. rules apply,that do not give a true perception of whom they actually are.

    We need to take Campaigning to the “Next Level” in The Internet,and that is why Iam very “against” any Federal Restrictions on internet servers or content,The Big Media Networks would love that to happen,because they see the Internet as a threat to them.

    I was taken back at some comments directed at me that supposidly are coming from LD26 meetings and Oro Valley PC’S ,as Iam one, I never heard it said personally before, outside of that venue, as was described to me by my Campaign Manager. She was a person who could be subject to being as you put it “misimpressioned” and I did have occations to ask her if she wanted me to tell her all the things that are going on,as she seemed overwhelmed. I was reflecting on that ,and am sorry if I might have made it seem otherwise. I also had these dicussions with Juana Mase and that is when she brought up the fact some Republicans could be in house doing some dirty tricks. I hope that explains to you as best I can what I meant.

    I would have liked if Blue or Godzilla would have responded to my personal e-mails as I wanted to know the truth about this unfortunate event.

    Nevertheless non of this made me a “Coward” not attend meetings at LD26 as is being described. I do not want to go into those details with you at this time but would entertain them later on.

    I look forward as I said to your blogs in the future and current events,keep it up!

  22. Thank you for having an informed web-site;and I wish you the best of luck in the future.

  23. If you are accusing me of something, Mr. Leister, I would prefer you simply do it plainly, rather than suggesting how ‘interesting’ things are. I assure you that everything I’ve posted is only out of what I feel to be my duty to assure the free expression of everyone who visits my site, and in an attempt to maintain a certain level of decorum.

    I am exactly what and who I purport to be: nothing more, nothing less. I am just an interested and engaged citizen who tries to understand current events and share that understanding with others. I don’t have any hidden agenda; frankly, I don’t think I’m influential enough to bother hiding any agendas.

    It sounds very much like you are accusing me of intimidating candidates, being a crypto-Republican, using multiple logins to bait you, and having some involvement in making some sort of racist threat against your campaign manager.

    From my perspective, you have let a few critical commenters on a blog drive you to such lengths of paranoid conjecture that you are accusing your host of unethical behavior without a shred of evidence. I feel a little like someone has walked into my livingroom and urinated on my sofa in front of me. To be perfect honest with you, Sir, I’m starting to be offended.

    If I’m under a misimpression about your intentions, I would be grateful if you would explain your statements. Nobody is forcing you to post here Mr. Leister. You are welcome to do so, as is everyone else, without censorship, but you are solely responsible for what you write. This is a public forum.

  24. Dear Mike;

    I would not have come to the conclusion’s that I have if something had not jogged my memory of what Godzilla said;stating I was a “Coward” for not attending LD26 meetings. I thought why would anyone say that,when many of my friends whom I have known my whole life are in attendance,and we work well together and have alot of give and take as to running for office,one of us will step aside to let another run,if in the best interests of The Democratic Party;Etc.

    Another interesting fact is the attention to my personal family and why we have titles and were we go to attend meetings.

    One very intersting fact is what candidates are blooging on this site. Francine and I seem to be the ones who fell for this;as Jeff Latas is no where to be heard;but we better fess up and answer the questions right now;or else,even if they are no ones business and not associated with the ISSUES!

    F.E.C. rules state Federal Candidates are to keep one another informed as to certain things we do,so far the only candidate who read the book was Giffords.

    I am very involved with Campaign Finance and enforcement of ethical laws that have “Trashed our Party.”

    Juana Maze brought up the fact that Republicans are inside the Deocratic Party right now intimidating Candidates,not me!

    It is intersting how Blue askes the Questions and godzilla enforces them and you support them,almost like you are all one in the same person.

  25. Dear Mike;

    I want you to know why I am very interested in knowing what godzilla knows about me and about my campaign manager whom “ATTENDED LD26 MEETINGS. SHE TOLD ME A VERY DISTURBING FACT AFTER ONE OF THE LD26 MEETINGS;THAT SHE WAS APPROACHED BY A MAN THAT INTIMIDATED HER BECAUSE SHE WAS MY CAMPAIGN MANAGER. My Campaign Special Projects Manager was also in attendance and confirmed that this confrontation took place, at the LD26 meeting.

    This Confrontation IS of “SPECIAL INTEREST” to JUANA MAZE; because she does not allow such things to occur while LD26 meetings are in session.

    I saw the same type of “INTIMIDATION” occur on this web-site,which you supported.

    Juana Maze was informed of the events that followed that intimidation which included my Campaign Managers resignation! My Campaign Manager is a woman of color,and I thought that the intimidation went to far and played the RACE CARD.

    You may conclude Juana Maze would not be wise to control her LD26 meetings from precluding intimidation of other officials and elected precinct committeeman as silencing the rights of the intimidators,but we disagree.

    This is why my Campaign Staff and myself in consultation with all concerned chose to waite to see how future intimidation occured and where, weather in blogs or at DAF forums, and for or against whom.

    Specific targeting of “Federal Candidates” at forums that are 501c3 or 501c4 tax exempt are covered under F.E.C. rules. Some activity as to “The Intent of the Forum” are now under review, and I can not go any further that that at this time.

    I would encourage anyone with iformation about “ETHICS” violations to come forward now,so that Candidates feel free to attend meetings or forums that are not “SET-UPS!”

  26. Did any of the people on this blog ever attend anydinners or meetings with Mo Udall? If you did you would often find his “Stories” more intersting than the politics of the day. Also with my good friend Hubert H. Humphrey, he would greet you with a good story to begin the debate.

    That is what is missing today in Politics and Debate; The “Politics of Debate!”

    You may not agree with what was said;but you came away feeling good about it anyway.

    That is what Iam trying to get back into this District.

    As my Campaign states; Working for a more just and Tolerant America!

  27. I want to point out to everyone on this blog what Mr. Quick an Independent Candidate for Congress IN cd8 said to The Tucson Daily Citizen on March 16th,2006 as a reason for running. ” There is to much INTOLERANCE IN THE TWO PARTY SYSTEM; ALL THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT IS WINNING AN ARGUMENT, NOT SOLVING THE PROBLEM!”

    This is the 100,000 votes that needs to come to the Democratic Party that I have been talking about, in order to win.

    As long as you are focused on making a fool out of me or anyone else in Politics that the main concern is wining an argument not solving the problem, just to make talk,for example,either you answer the question,that has nothing to do with any issues or else,as I was told.

    How long do you think any Candidate for Congress is going to even let you do an interview, or bother with this web-site?

  28. Dear Blue;

    I have not heard from you by e-mail,so I will try to answer the questions you have posted on this blog; that I can that are not subject to any investigation that precludes my comments.

    I attend many meetings,ACLU, Defenders Of Wildlife,Air Force,Optimist Club, and Ld26 as a member,Democratic Party Neucleus Member,Democrats of Greater Tucson Member; your Forum refers to a Federal Candidate Forum that I can not discuss,because I sent a written letter to Steve Cody Co-Chair of DFA Tucson to read to everyone in attendance. That Letter stated That due to recent campaign finance revelations and rulings of non-disclosure of board members of 501c3 and 501c4 tax-exempt non-profits,supporting or opposing a Federal Candidates Committee or The Candidate I needed “Clarification,” or an “Advisory Opionion,” as to what a “Volunteer IS” and to “Diclosure of Members on the Board,” relating to the 5 year rule of “Conflicts of Interest,” and F.E.C. fines for attending such events,if unknown to the Federal Candidate.

    There was a Forum I was scheduled to attend that I could not due to illness,that was Arizona Illustrated with Bill Buckmaster at KUAT.

    The Cancer and TCP issue of AIRFORCE PLANT NUMBER 44 (HUGHES-RAYTHEON) that for 50 years it dumped TCP along the highway that surrounds Hughes, it over time had gone down into the Tucson Water Table,as you know the Tucson Water Table is feed from SOUTH TO NORTH and fills from The Santa Cruz River Basin which includes Anoconda,DuVal,AS&R mines plus tailing dams that sink sionide into the system as it fills the Tucson Water Table,along that route came Hughes,and a Lawsuite by The Federal Government was issued against Hughes,and citizens sited higher incidents of Cancer on Tucsons South Side near The Hughes Air Force Plant. The Federal Government installed a huge Pumping Station that extracted water from the water table around Hughes Aircraft Plant Number 44 and cleaned and filtered the TCP pollutted water,than pumped it back into the ground. Hughes Air Force PlANT NUMBER 44 PAID THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR THE HUGE YEAR LONG PUMPING STATION THAT SAID CLEANED THE CANCER CAUSING AGENT TCP FROM TUCSONS WATER TABLE. Idividual Lawsuits were filed as more and more people,including my Father who worked at the Hughes Airforce Plant number 44 came down with CANCER,after drinking the water at hughes for 40 years. Most of those lawsuites have been settled with the Federal Government ,but as more Cancer is being tracked on the Southwest side of Tucson,than any other loication,further studies are going to have to be done,as more and more Cancer is being diagnosed,in a confined area around sites where the TCP was dumped along highways and vacant areas to kill weeds.

    As for Air Force Engineers,not being trusted;I sighted that (2) two other candidates, not Jeff Latas, for Congress are Hughes-Raytheon engineers,and might not be as willing to admit wrong-doing on the part of Hughes-Raytheon concerning enviornmental issues now or in the future if elected.

    Jeff latas himself knows his style is to “Change his opinion,” or “Filp-flop,” about an issue. I have not followed everything he has said,but look at what he says now to what he said last year,to what he said on his web-site;etc;some things have changed, some call that Flip Flop;I in no way question hois integrety to change his mind,but the stands I took 50 years ago , and in 2004 when I first announced for Congressional District 8 have not changed.

    On issue I can point to is my call in April of 2004 at an ACLU meting at the Viscount Hotel ,which was attended by Raul Grijalvia,and George Miller plus 100 other ACLU members like myself as Iam a Sponsor and Member, “TO PUT THE NATIONAL GUARD ON THE BORDER TO AID THE BORDERPARTOLAND INS.” This was called as radical and uncalled for and I was aked to change my opinion,I refused citing I was the only Democrat to address the Illegal Immigration Issue. Today The Governor of Arizona has joined me in Putting The Natuional Guard on The Bordera 180 degree turn for her, no change in position for me. At That Time Jeff Latas was not a Candidate so I have no stand he might have taken. But recent statements from Jeff Latas states;”anyone who advocates putting the guard on the border is niaeve, because the National Guard is Tired and over stretched,and needs to come home.”

    The reason a Flag was ordered flown by the 355th Fighter Squardon over the skies of Iraq during operation “SOUTHERN WATCH,” from Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait,for Dwight Leister , flown by Capt. Gavin “Forrest” McHenry 11 December 1998; Aircraft:80-0254 Call Sign: Nail 41 Mission: 3041 was that a very good friend of mine was in “COMMAND AND CONTROL OF AIR FORCE ONE,” at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. and was sent to Iraq to man a FLYING COMMAND CENTER hovering over Iraq,that controlled aircraft being deployed into the area. I had been in contact with President Clinton on many issues and as an honor to me the order was issued.

    The reason Iam The Chair of The Committee To Elect that is a member of The Greater Sierra Vista Chamber of Commerce is to get first hand what concerns the citizens of District 8 may have that is outside of a campaign for congress that is run in cycles,every two years. As a Political Action Committee Iam able to engage in getting things done now,as with my personal involvement as a major player in Saving The Sabino Canyon Lions in 2004 from being killed and changing the Governors Position from saying Dwight its a done deal the lions will be kiiled to a 180 degree turn imploring the Arizona Game and Fish Department to stop the killings with-in 12 hours of my getting involved, to being involved in The Aspen Fire and “Failed Forest Policy,” and president Bush calling me from Air Force One as he Left Tucson after speaking at inspiration point “CHANGING FAILED FOREST PLICY,” and changing the Chief of The Forest Service upon my advice as to what went on during the two week long burn, then meshing into Putting The National Guard On The Border,another 180 degree turn by The Governor after two years of hard work on my part,and others.

    T.MAe Leister is my Mother,who is a stage (4) four Cancer survivor,and was Secretary Treasurer of my Campaign for The Office of Pima County Sheriff in 1968. I can think of no other person to run finances of an Ethical-Moral Campaign and to hold accountable anyone who gets out of line than my Mother. If you have a problem with that I suggest you take it up with her. The F.E.C. requires that (2) people oversee the job of Treasurer, that is why she is listed as First Vice Treasurer.

    I would be more than happy to discuss any other family concerns you or anyone else may have.

    I have been though two years of election cycles and filings and re-organizations with the F.E.C. and expect to go through some more in the future. The Total combined cycle expenditures of all cycles is approaching $20,000 dollars. The shock of having (1) one Candidate raise $250,000 dollars during an “OFF MONTH “of December where she raised more than all the FEDERAL CANDIDATES COMBINED FOR THE ELECTION CYCLE 2004 AND 2006 TO DATE HAS VERYONE SCRATCHING THERE HEADS. I had talked to many call centers and people who raise campaign funds for Candidates on The National Level and they told me “The Month Of December Is The Worst Month Of The Year To Raise Any Campaign Funds For Candidates Because Of Christmas,they question the one month numbers as being accurate.”

  29. Mr. Leister, you said, “you made fun of “My Coffins,””.

    No. I haven’t. I think you’ll find that any such comments were not made by me. I wouldn’t make fun of a man for how he gets a living.

    Except politicians. I reserve the right to make fun of politicians.

  30. Dear Mike;

    I recognize the readers right to attack me as a candidate and any stand I may or may not take; but I draw the line at attacks on a third generation Funeral Homes that serves Families in a Time of Need.

    We put The Name of Harry Truman on The Ballot for Nomination for President Of The United States as a Democratic National Delegate representing Arizona,in 1948,at that time The First State to be called on the list of States, to the Convention in Philadelphia, P.A. yes where I was Born,but left after being diagnosed with Asthma, at 6 months old first came to Arizona in 1946;that picture is on my web-site at a Motel on the Benson Highway, with my Mother standing behind me. I have lived in Arizona 60 and one half years!

    My Family moved to Arizona in 1910 after selling their Farm and Furniture Store in Kansas, at that time The Furniture Store sold the Caskets,before trhat they came directly from Sweden as Admiral of The Swedish Navy, named Peterson, The King of Sweden had so many Petersons as Admirals of the navy that he changed my families name to BRING by knighting them Bring.

    My Family has been in Arizona as a Territory and a State for 96 years.

  31. Dear Mike:

    I have seen remarks about my Funeral Homes that I think are out of line.

    Brings Funeral Homes Inc. have offered Free Funerals for all Service members, Police, Fire and Sheriffs Deputies who were kiled in the line of duty.

    In 2005 we were “Business of The Year,” nominated by The Tucson Chamber Of Commerce for our sponsoring “The World War II Veterans National Monument” on The National Mall in Washington, D.C. and opened our Funeral Homes to any service member or family who could not attend the dedication ceremonies , so that they could sign The Guest Book as being in attendance.

    On other thing is that you made fun of “My Coffins,” I have seen what is in these “Coffins” as they came back from The Viet Nam War to the current War In Iraq, that contained “The Remains,” of Fallen members of our Military.

    I will not discuss what I saw in these “Coffins,” as they were driven to The Fort in Sierra Vista , for internment in The National Cemetery, or any other Cemetery in The World,as we are a WORLD RECOGNIZED FUNERAL HOME, that demands respect for all families. I will tell you that if anyone saw what I have ,no one would ever go to war again, on Lie!

  32. Dear Mike;

    Juana Maze has been a long time friend for over 30 years, that I lived next to ;up the block;on Pomona Road next to The Metro Water Disrtict where the LD26 meetings are held monthly,and I am a member and have been known to attend, as Martin makes sure I keep my dues up,and Ann and Cunningham talk about my being the youngest candidate ever and since to seek The Office of Pima County Sheriff in 1968 bringing down a corrupt Sheriff from my own party in office 15 years, before moving to Oro Valley in 1998, that they have not heard the name of Waldon Burr uttered in many years as I did when I announced my Candidacy for Congress at The District 26 Legislative meeting , after discussing at length with Paul Eckerstrom and my Campaign Manager and staff member at a 4th Avenue Resturant that serves Guatamalin Food, what we need to do as a campaign to mesh a winning stradegy,with The Goals of The Party.

    That being said; Juana was the Campaign Manager for George Miller and is an avid “Air Force'” supporter as Iam a Member of Air Force Lodge# 105 at Davis Monthan AFB, we have had long coverations about “Republicans” inside of the Democratic Party who drive campaigns and candidates sideways.

    Any censur motion of a Democratic Committeeman is not taken lightly,as with the censur of President Bush by Russ Feingold, but there is no place in The Democratic Party for anyone calling another elected committeeman a “Terrorist” Osama Bin Laden.

  33. I accept your invitation to have debate and an exchange of views between readers.

    Iam a Founding Member of “The Campaign For Tolerance,” and a founding member of The Southern Poverty Law Center, Morris Dees Chair; and was honored by Rosa Parks on Sept. 10,2001 ( one day before the world changed forever; 9/11)by having my name placed on “The Wall of Tolerance,” signed by Rosa Parks.

    The main focus of The Southern Poverty Law Center is , as you know, “Hate Speech.”

    The Current Debate in America is not weather Jeff Latas “Flip-Flops,” or has his finger on the pulse of this District, but as many in the media,writers and professionals are talking about, “Demonization and the End of Civil Debate in American Politics.”

    This Congressional District is full of “Hate” towards a segment of our society that is being addressed by The Southern Povertry Law Center as we speak, and Illegal Immigration has now turned into The Civil Rights movement of this Century.

    The Minuteman are planning a Summer long vigil along our Border with Mexico that is sure to inflame “Hate Speech” before the November election. This is being run by many who support Randy Graf and will use this for his election campaign to undermine any Democratic Candidate or Democratic Party thrust towards making our candidates more attractive to Congressional District 8 ,that in the “Recent”past has been “Brutal” towards any Democratic candidate,as Jim McNulty found and Tom Volgy.

    That is what I meant by saying Mr. Latas does not know the Citizens of District 8, not that Mr. Latas does not care about its Citizens.

    I never doubted the integrety of Mt. Latas and cited ; thanking him for his service,noting that I was familiar with what he experinced in “Operation Southern Watch,”

    My concern is what was expressed to me by people who attend forums of “The Federal Candidates” for Congress, that is controlled by Federal Law from “McCain Feingold'” and “BCRA,” which I think is creating a bigger problem in Campaign Finance Reform,than it does to address the problem.

    While I do not have any problem answering questions from “Blue”,and told him to e-mail me directly and I would answer any question he has, and that I had tried to e-mail him but his e-mail was turned off, I do not think this kind of back and forth discussion concerning who my Treasurer “IS” or why I “CHAIR” a Political Action Committee that is a member of The Greater Sierra Vista Chamber of Commerce, gets us as a “Perty” gaining the trust of not just the “Choir” (Democrats) but we must convince 100,000 Independents and hopefully some Republicans to vote for our Nominee in November,and if that is Jeff Latas fine with me, but we need to start “stop attaking each other,” and working on forming concensus,or what you will see is what The White House did in 2004,as The Democrats were tearing ourselves apart,they drove a wedge bet the voters,because of “Hate Speech,” directed towards President Bush and turned that into winning The White House,The Congress,The United States Senate and now The Supreme Court.

    As for the use of slander,I know you are Lawyers,and Iam sure you will appreciate knowing The Firm Chandler,Udall,Redhair and Tullar,as they represented me and my Funeral Homes, before I now use Duffield and Young who was past Chair of The Democratic Party.
    My personal Lawyer is Gene Karp of whom you all know who I have known since his mother-in-law was Rose Silver, past Pima County Attorney and legal council to the Pima County Board of Supervisors. I bring this up not to “Brag” about having paid them more than I would like to think about,but that another candidate for Congress has retained Tom Chandler to manage there lagal affairs,which also speaks volumes to me about where that debate is going.

    Iam not just skimming the surface in this or future campaigns,but know its players,and can tell you that never in the history of any Congressional Race fought in Arizona are we prepared for what is in store for The Democratic Partry Nominee for Congressional District 8,and we better be ready and begin to “Raise The Bar!”

  34. It is the policy of this blog neither to remove comments that are not commercial spam, nor to encourage illegal behavior. Slander is a legal term; don’t misuse it around here.

    I see a spirited and valid discussion between readers and have no intention of removing it, nor censoring anyone.

    I do not think it appropriate for a candidate for public office to be threatening to censure a citizen from participation in the Democratic party for saying something that you don’t like, Mr. Leister. Such pettiness does not reflect well on you, and I would be very disappointed in Ms. Maze should she even entertain such an absurd motion.

  35. Slander? You make remarks about Latas and then can’t defend them and don’t even try, pathetic. My guess is that you are so full of hate you can’t stand it anymore. I hope you get the help you need, and I do feel sorry for you.

    Now answer Blue’s questions.

  36. Dear Godzilla;

    I will be talking to Juana Maze the Chair of LD26 and ask you be censured from any futher meetings.

  37. Please remove GODZILLA from this blog; I do not think his slanderous remarks reflect the host of this web-site.

  38. You’re a bag of hot air, Leister!

    Go crawl back in that whole you surfaced from way back during the Gadsden deal, which I think is PA. That is where you’re from, right? Your no AZ native so quit making it sound your so high and mighty and hold the moral high ground in this area.

    Answer the questions that Blue is asking. Let’s face it, you’re a coward. No one ask you about YOUR issues, just to answer Blue’s questions. What’s your problem with that? You dirty up this blog site to gain some attention that Presidents suck up to you, but no one knows you and no one cares. I too, am a PC in Oro Valley and never met you, why don’t you show your face at the LD-26 meetings? Answer Blue’s questions or shut the F–K UP!

    Latas lives in this district and has for a while and is squarely facing the problems we Americans are facing, in public. You hide like Osama and pipe up occasionally rhetoric that makes no sense. Go crawl back into you coffins your so proud of.

  39. Dear Godzilla;

    I have gone into great detail on this blog site to inform everyone about my positions on the issues, and that does include my personal history in Arizona. I do not engage in he said she said attacks. I feel that it is very important to be able to understand that this Congressional District 8 in Arizona is a very special district , that needs attention to its own details. Those details are easy to address for those of us who have lived in this District and know its citizens;to those who have not lived in this District they seem out of touch,and Iam not going to tell them how to get elected.

    It is way to early for this decussion to be going on, with alot of eyes and ears from the Republican Party watching and listening.

  40. It seems the Latas supporters just don’t get it!

    The Democratic Party will not engage in debating itself like the Latas supporters have been wanting to happen.

    The Democratic Party wil be around longer than Jeff latas and hopefully this issue is closed.

  41. You answered none of Blues questions!

    Fess up big boy. You obviously are a very smart guy since you’ve had Presidents lining up to your throne. Answer the questions or quit being a pain in the ass!

    You are taking up way to much of my oxygen so stay focused, read the blog carefully. I don’t care about your first car, your business dealings of the 1800’s or any of the other things you seem to be overly proud of. I just wanted to hear the answers to the questions Blue is asking.

  42. Dear “Blue in AZ”

    I have been trying to e-mail you personally to answer your questions but your e-mail is not accepting e-mails.

    From what I read into your statements you recently moved to Arizona.

    Please go to my web-site; http://www.committee-to-elect.org or http://www.dwightleister4congress2006.com as most of your questions have been answered as this site was first up in April of 2004.

    If after reading the extensive personal history dating back to my family pioneering Tucson in 1910 before it became a State; and owning the first automobile in the City of Tucson,Iam sorry you have never shopped at Frys Food and Drug Stores; or The Circle K Corporation,or know of Brings Funeral Homes Inc. of Tucson founded in 1928; or Brown and Page Mortuary founded in 1890 in Douglas, Az. and my vast experience in dealing with enviornmental concerns before they became concerns,as I did not work for Congressman,Senators or Presidents, they worked for me,and communicated my concerns on over 50 years of “ARIZONA HISTORY,” then any question that still remains to be answered please feel free to post another blog or e-mail me personally.

  43. Mr. Leister,

    I am a Democratic Precinct Committeeman, too, and I’ve never met you. Do you attend LD meetings? Party meetings? Candidate forums? Why not?

    It sounds like you’ve worked for a lot of people. What does this have to do with cancer in Tucson?

    I don’t think that Jeff Latas was an Air Force engineer. His education is in engineering, though.

    In what way you think he flip-flops? Why do you think he doesn’t know CD 8 or the concerns of its citizens?

    Why did the Department of the Air Force fly a flag in your honor in “OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH,” over Iraq? Jeff Latas flew many missions in Operation Southern Watch.

    Why are you the chair of your own election committee? Who is T. Mae Leister? What is a First Vice Treasurer?

  44. Thank you for the interview.

    As a Pima County Democratic Precinct Committeeman for 40 years I do not know Jeff Latas. I have worked with Mo Udall,Dennis DeConcini,Raul Castro,Sam Goddard,Carl Haden,Barry Goldwater,Rose Silver,Thomas Jay,Sam Lena,Ray Castillo,Dino DeConcini,Evo DeConcini,Hector Morales,Adli Stevenson,Jack Kennedy,Bobby Kennedy,Edward Kennedy,Henry Jackson,Hubert H. Humphrey,Walter Mondale,Lyndon Johnson,Jimmy Cater,Bill Clinton personally and many more Congressman,Senators and Presidents on enviornmental and Mining issues that destroyed The City of Tucson’s water table and TCP’s being dumped along “Air Force Plant Highways,” to kill the weeds since back in the 1950’s at both Davis Monthan and Hughes-Raytheon have polluted the City of Tucson water table and caused cancer in hundreds of people on Tucson’s south side.

    I do not trust any Air Force engineers to care about any enviornmental issue in Pima County or District 8.

    Mr. Latas FLIP-FLOPS and clearly does not know District 8, and the concerns of its citizens.

    I thank Mr. Latas for his service.
    The Department of the Air Force flew an American Flag in my honor in “OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH,” over Iraq and presented me with The American Flag and Certificate in my honor.

    Dwight D. Leister:Chair
    http://www.committee-to-elect.org
    T.Mae Leister:First Vice Treasurer
    http://www.dwightleister4congress2006.com

  45. Thanks for doing the interview. Jeff’s grasp on the issues raises his credibility for him as a viable candidate. I’m undecided on who to support for the district, so I’m keeping an open mind.