This election year, two Democrats are vying for an opportunity to defeat incumbent Andy Biggs. One is Joan Greene and the other is the subject of this interview, Jose Torres.
Below are Torres’ responses to a series of questions regarding the issues facing the people in the district and how he would act as the district’s next Representative.
Arizona Congressional District Five contains all or parts of Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek, and Chandler. The district has been solidly Republican since 2012. Incumbent Andy Biggs is a former State Senator and current Freedom Caucus Member. This “public servant” has distinguished himself by supporting and fighting for policies that do not benefit the public. On issues ranging from Children’s Health Care to a woman’s right to choose to Medicaid Expansion to tax cuts for the rich, Biggs has continually embraced the causes championed by Dark Money special interests and reactionary conservatives who want to destroy the government they were elected to serve in.
Torres’ background and preparation for the office
“I have 20+ years working in high technology as an Engineer+MBA who got tired of screaming at my television that someone had to do something…and then realized that ‘someone’ was me. I’m a 2nd generation American and Arizonan raised in Tempe by two teachers. My dad was an Airborne Ranger in Germany and a History teacher for 35 years at Mesa Community College. I know reflexively how NOT NORMAL today’s political climate is and how critical it is that Americans resume working together to solve problems.”
“While I have never run for any kind of office before, I have watched the nightly news with my father since I was six years old, and am fluent in cross-cultural communication, foreign currency exchange, and American exceptionalism through my education at the Thunderbird School of Global Management and working at companies like Intel and Motorola. All of these experiences allow me to work with different people, build trust and rapport from the smallest openings, “
What are three local issues the people in this district view as needing to be addressed?
“Education – not only do the local schools need help but at the federal level, the way the Universities prepare us for the economy of the future.”
“Healthcare – the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) must be fixed ASAP because people’s health is deteriorating and some people are dying and costs are subject to tremendous market instability. Under a Democratic president, we can get a more progressive healthcare system.”
“Immigration – we need a guest worker program so that businesses can continue to use quality/needed labor while fully accounting for the costs in an open manner, thereby relieving social anxiety for all and pull people out of the shadows.
Please describe two ways you can address these issues better than your opponent?
“I am Ready To Govern. I have studied and watched these issues and the growing political polarization. I can and will build bridges that will get these items addressed in a bill that will pass the Senate and leave Trump with a terrible choice – sign good legislation or veto it and prove that we need to elect more Democrats. Andy doesn’t believe in solving these things – he’d prefer to use them as wedge issues – to pound without compromising for extreme actions.”
“Well, he (Biggs) is not going to address them. In my core, I believe in the progressive solutions but I am a practical problem solver. What the people need are solutions that cross both camps with collaborative relationships whereas Biggs is just for his cause. Want every pregnancy to be a wanted child. I would start a list of what we can work on and go from there. One of the things to worry about is only the reasonable republicans are going to lose leaving the nut jobs. We are the party of government so we can get reasonable little wins that add up to a lot that is reasonable that shows we know how to govern. I would tell them a story about Abraham Lincoln on a riverboat with his generals about offering generous terms to the south. We need to move the country forward but our way of moving forward is a lot of little earthquakes, not storming the castle. America is not just for the rich or the urban. Did you mean “and justice for all” when you say the pledge to the conservatives and the people who want change tomorrow? Ideas are blended together. When you are living in a district that is republican plus 15, you want to make the district purple by appealing to people in the middle.”
How would you rate yourself as a potential legislator and how would you rate your opponent’s current performance as a legislator and please give at least two reasons for both parts.
“Andy’s abilities with the procedure will exceed my own at the beginning. Andy’s abilities to compromise will never exist. Andy will never get bills through – he will only block bills, and he will only block bills that most people would like. He comes in with an agenda and he is okay to giving into others as long as he gets what he wants, sacrificing the interests of the district. He will not get many bills passed because he insists on purity. he may know the machinery but does not know the intricacies of policy”
“In life, you get what you negotiate. I have never stopped thinking about that truth since my three Cross-Cultural Negotiations classes from MBA classes at Thunderbird, and I’m familiar with many of the ways in which negotiations can happen on the Hill. I will start on day one with earnestness to meet Republican Senators I can work with – as they will determine what gets through Congress. Ironically, Andy won’t even work with those Republicans that would work with any Democrats.”
What are at least two personal qualities you offer that your opponent does not?
“I am likeable.”
“I treat everyone with Respect – enough to talk and listen to everyone, even people who don’t agree with me” and offer different ideas and perspectives.
He also said he is fact and detail oriented.”
Would you but this district in the Liberal Progressive or Pragmatic Progressive Camp or Centrist?
The Cook PVI (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cook_Partisan_Voting_Index) of this district is R+15. Alabama is only R+14. He considers himself a problem solver centrist pragmatic progressive
What are two reasons your message is better than the Republican one of your opponent for this district? “
“Andy has been clear (video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deVVW-F5tJM&list=PLp96O3pEb82palqPw_Ktuz2rwW_PVUpWX&index=3 ) that he doesn’t represent people who didn’t vote for him. I am clear – I represent and listen to and work to understand everyone in the district. That’s reason one.”
“Reason two is that I’m the best match between the people of the district and their current choices. The district is more educated than (40% college degrees vs 30%) the rest of America, it is more frequently married with kids, it is fairly religious – Andy is too – but I’m also a technology employee (like the #1 private industry in the district) and a real dude who has a mortgage and a kid in college and who changes his own spark plugs and installs his own landscape irrigation drip system and I’ve taken my kids to football practice on these fields and I approach this with the mentality of “how many problems can I go solve so that we can make progress as a society”, whereas Andy, the career politician, seeks only ‘perfect’ extremely right wing solutions or nothing at all.”
What is your view and proposals on the following issues?
“I will visit every elementary school in the district once elected, working to bring parents and communities to increase their esteem and value of education.”
Student Loans and Pell Grants
“Loans should be owned by the Government, with an interest rate around what mortgages are at, with data made available to students on the ROI from both the degree and the university, thereby reducing (or at least discouraging) loans for degrees that don’t generate financial returns for the prospective student and minimizing the government’s risk.”
“Eliminate, or at least, pause where they are at to see if any are creating value at all.”
“Eliminate, or at least, pause where they are at to see if any are creating value at all.
NEED ACCOUNTABILITY – fully account for public money and what it is spent on, and private money, and what it is spent on.
NEED TO ACCEPT SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS
NEED TO ACCOUNT FOR STUDENTS THAT ARE TURNED AWAY, EXPELLED, ETC.”
“Clean bill. I’d consider a negotiation, but would loathe to do so. I will seek out and publish stories of individual dreamers once a week or every two weeks, etc.”
The Tax Cut Passed last year.
Your ideas on what tax cuts and tax credits should be allowed:
“The 2018 Tax bill leaves future generations with loads of debt. I propose we claw back some of that cut to lessen the debt in a way that incentivizes more collective benefit for whatever we don’t claw back.
BTW, I want to incentivize outsourcing to companies that employ more Americans. I.E. if you outsource, fine. Do you outsource to Americans? GOOD. Do you outsource internationally (Canada, Mexico)? NOT Good. Do you outsource outside our time zones? BAD.”
What should be the top tax rate?
“This is something I’d really have to study to be numerically precise. My default is to leave it alone, study some options (and the good that can be done by adjusting it up) and weigh that against the legislative priorities and costs and what we the Democrats collectively think we can accomplish in 2019-2020”
“I don’t want to give an answer to the constituents that I can’t live up to, and I don’t have data.”
Your views on how to improve the state and national economy.
Roads, Bridges, and Railways
“I’d like this to be a perpetual budget item that is always small and moving throughout the country, balancing economic return and the needs of locations.”
“Extracted and sold responsibly. Starting with renewable energy.”
Cultural like theaters and symphonies
Oceanographic and Space Exploration
“At least maintained. Identify possible “commercial dividends” that might accrue from government investment in these areas to help prioritize possible increases.”
Good Paying Jobs
“While good paying jobs are hard to create, I’d like to improve the environment that enables a wage (whatever is paid) to go farther.”
“Now, I’d like to attract Cyber Security jobs to Arizona by having our State Universities focus on a Cyber Security competency to produce a ton of graduates with that skill set.”
Obamacare, Medicare for all, or something else?
“All Answers depend on the timescale and who is President.
2019-2020 – Fix Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Improve – people’s lives are at stake.” He believes Trump would sign this measure because of his transactional nature and desire to be reelected.
“2021 – at least allow people to buy into government healthcare.”
“Beyond – find details of a healthcare system and figure out how to get there that improves $$ spent by people and gov’t, and improves outcomes.”
Trump plans to dismantle Obamacare
“Relentlessly document the people who are being hurt by the lack of coverage – and how this is an unacceptable pain for the nation.”
Should the government negotiate for cheaper drug prices
“Only if we want to be efficient (YES!)”
Trade: Please explain your views. Do you favor free trade or protectionism; N.A.F.T.A. and W.T.O.
“The Thunderbird School of Global Management leaves me an articulate voice for how trade benefits most of society.”
“HAND-IN-HAND, we must identify people left behind by trade and define the problem and work solutions.”
“I am Pro TPP. Why? #1 – It forces other countries to have higher labor standards and higher ecological standards. That means that helps American wages, and helps our global environment. #2 – it boxes China out and forces China to play by our rules. Win-Win. TPP got dumped because Bernie pooh-pooh’ed it while Trump dumped on it, and HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton)chose to walk away. But Obama believed in it, and so did Hillary while she was Sec of State.”
Reducing Poverty and Homelessness like affordable housing, food stamps, work requirements, and raising the minimum wage and earned income tax credit.
“A clear difference between myself and my primary opponent is $15 (her) and EITC (me). $15 is simple. EITC is complex, but much more likely to pass, and perhaps much better. My proposal – for each person who works near full time at a min wage job with a dependent, the EITC is used (paid quarterly if not more often) to bring the effective wage to $15 (say based in Phx). For Los Angeles or NY, the effective wage would be higher. For small towns outside of Omaha, Nebraska, the effective wage would be lower.”
“I’m all about redemption and helping people soar. I seek individuals who have the desire and potential to accomplish and do more – and identifying what obstacles they have and helping them grow – investing to get a return on America and Americans. However, I’m not for increasing the $$ we pour into a bucket with a hole in it. That does not mean cuts – that means identifying and experimenting with ways to keep the dollars flat and the results improving.”
Private Prisons vs Public Prisons
“PUBLIC. No discussion.”
Sentencing for Criminal Reform: should people get harsh sentences for non-violent crimes.
“I’m about redemption. I’m about making sure that people who get out become productive members of society – that they find jobs or create a business and recidivism is low.”
“I’m for common sense gun policies.”
- “A public service message on trigger locks and gun safes, etc”.
- “Implementing the common sense proposals I outlined in my Arizona Republic OpEd calling for Adult Discussion (https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2018/04/14/assault-weapon-nfa-ownership-gun-rights-safety/443710002/) I’d like to have that discussion, and then implement something worthwhile from that. It would include making a bump-stock a title II item (just like a suppressor/silencer), making a high capacity magazine a title II item, making all weapons descended from the Stumgewehr (StG44) a title II weapon (including AR-15 and things like it).””Closing loopholes. Requiring trigger locks or gun safes for urban households with kids and 4+ firearms.”
“Good. Great. Preserve. Set limits to keep the total fertility rate of the USA targeted at 2.15 (small net population growth). Allow more incentives for entrepreneurs who will make new businesses.”
“Solve the problem by addressing all three pieces – legal, social, and economic. This means making it easy to know when someone has the right to work in the USA (currently 17 documents, would like to have DMV expand their current responsibilities to enable this to be documented easily.) Use a guest worker program to allow people who otherwise are not breaking laws to come, work, pay taxes, contribute to Medicare and Social Security, and over time, earn permanent residency (8-12 years or so). Combined with easily verified right to work, people who don’t get job offers don’t get to come, and businesses need to be easily audited (all people – not just people who fit a profile), making it harder for undocumented people to hide in the shadows, and encouraging them to move where the jobs are (and leave where they are not).”
Do you support a wall?
“Only one that Mexico pays for in advance. In short, 100% NO.”
“Keep it strong. Use diplomacy to expand the impact of DoD. Emphasize cyber-Security and a peace-dividend – identify DoD spending that will produce technologies that can create future commercial industries. Example – GPS was created from Military technology development, as was the internet. Effectively, improve the “ROI” of the money we spend on DoD.”
Foreign Relations with N.A.T.O. allies
Foreign Relations with Russia
“PUNISH KNOWN OR PROVABLE ACTIONS”
Foreign Relations with China
“FRENEMY. Use ZTE leverage to change China – something Trump missed Bigly.”
Foreign Relations with Mexico and South American Allies.
“ENCOURAGE. Identify cooperation opportunities – such as Asylum centers in southern Mexico and Guatemala, and identify ways to use USAID/Diplomacy, as well as services from Mexico/Central America for guest workers.”
Our membership in the United Nations.
Presidents shift to Authoritarianism
Dark Money and Campaign Finance Reform
“DEFEAT DARK MONEY. Fix Citizens United – at least force disclosure.”
“EXPAND Independent Redistricting Commissions. NOTE: this won’t turn USA blue, but will increase fairness.”
P.A. and Green Energy
“Green energy will improve local maintenance jobs that can’t be outsourced. It will reduce cost of doing business (electricity is a factor in every biz). It will reduce dependencies on foreign oil. Use markets to transition away from fossil fuels and to create economic incentives to increase green sources.”
The Supreme Court
“Judges appointed by an illegitimate President should have their terms expire after 5-10 years.”
A Woman’s Right to Choose
“100% Roe v Wade. Also interested in reducing abortion by helping ensure every child conceived is a wanted child (via more affordable/effective birth control, improved self-esteem) and improving the public appreciation/gratitude for adoption.”
“100% support. I’m for Fairness, Respect, and Opportunity in all cases.”
Enthusiasm and Community Engagement: How would you rate it compared to 2016 or before and advise why:
“Higher. Some people are starting to see what the cost is of not voting.”
Are there any issues not mentioned that you feel need to be addressed this election cycle and why?
On the issue of regulations, “For those people who do not regulations, want them to deposit money in unrelated banks, fly unregulated airlines, drive in roads with no signals and go in unsafe cars and put their kids in it. “
Is there anything else you would like the community to know about you as you prepare for this election season and please explain?
He “absolutely wants the voter to have two good choices when they vote. It is not about me. we need some adult behavior. I am incredibly pessimistic that candidates will not put the people first. It is so important to our happiness and way of life and quality of life that government functions well. Some of it is on autopilot but that cannot last forever. The public servants need to be people with decency and integrity.”
Please describe at least three marketing methods you are employing to convince voters you are better in the position you are running for than your opponent.
“Learning the difference between marketing products and ideas. “Is very good one on ones and has had house parties.”
Jose Torres is a very knowledgeable candidate who ably articulates a technocratic, practical, centrist, and utilitarian approach to legislating and governing. In a conservative district like CD 5, it is a message that may resonate with people that want a progressive that believes in incrementalism. All forward-looking voters should consider him this election season. For more information about Jose, please research the sites below.