By Gregg Bragg for The Island Eye News
Joe Cunningham is a College of Charleston graduate, an ocean engineer, and Charleston based attorney. He’s also a candidate running for South Carolina’s District 1 congressional seat. Upon recent inquiry, campaign manager Mariah Hill responded to questions on behalf of Joe Cunningham.
Asked about the incumbent’s track record Hill responded, “For the last quarter century, Mark Sanford has put politics ahead of common sense when making important decisions for the Lowcountry. From his votes against the construction of the Ravenel Bridge, the deepening of the Charleston harbor [and], hurricane relief, [to] infrastructure funding or his vote to repeal healthcare… without even reading the bill, Sanford has consistently voted against the best interests of the Lowcountry.”
Asked if their position on marijuana meant decriminalization, legalization, medical only, or recreational use, Hill offered, “What we’ve been doing for… decades in regard to federal marijuana policy hasn’t worked. The fact that marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug alongside cocaine is absurd. Outdated drug policies have sent countless people… to prison for non-violent offenses which make it nearly impossible to get an education, a good job, a mortgage, [or] a fair shot at a successful life. We need to take a hard look at changes we can make to our federal marijuana policies so we can keep our eye on the bigger problems – violent crime and the opioid crisis.”
Cunningham posits the idea of lowering the age for Medicare eligibility to 55. Asked if this was a gateway to ‘single payer’ Hill shared this statement, “In the richest country in the world, no one should go bankrupt because they get sick. While the Affordable Care Act tackled the problem of access to healthcare, it did not go far enough in addressing the costs. Middle-class families are still paying thousands each month for basic insurance. That’s why we have to tackle the reasons why insurance is so expensive. First, I would allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies the same way the [Veterans Administration does]. Second, I would look into lowering the age of Medicare to 55, decreasing the eligibility age by one year over the course of ten years. Third, I believe we should look into a public option that would compete with private insurers and create more competition in the marketplace.” Asked about getting the White House to go along with lowering the age for Medicare eligibility, Cunningham’s office stated, “You’d be surprised what a little bit of leadership can do. Mark Sanford’s lack of leadership over the past quarter of a century proves he is part of the problem.”
Asked if vouchers for private schools dilute funding for public schools, Cunningham’s statement declared, [he is] “proud to be a product of public schools, from Kindergarten through Law School. My son, Boone, will attend public schools too. I believe a quality public education must be the bedrock of our nation. I don’t support private schools taking away resources from our public education system. We should also raise teacher salaries to retain the best and brightest teachers in our state. I’ll fight to protect our public schools and deliver the resources they need to provide a first class education for our children.”
Cunningham has refused to accept PAC money. However, that means knocking on doors instead of buying TV ads. Asked about his refusal Cunningham stated, “I’m not a career politician. I work full-time to support my family and I decided to run for Congress because our country is in desperate need of new leadership. I believe in elections, not auctions. I have refused to accept any PAC money because I think this district belongs to the people, not corporations. Twentyfive years ago a young candidate named Mark Sanford pledged to refuse PAC money. Today, that’s where most of his money comes from. I’ll never break my promise on PAC money and I’ll never sell out the people of the Lowcountry.”
Cunningham also pledges action on the tax bill stating, “The recent tax bill was anything but fiscally responsible. While it lowered the corporate tax rate, something I supported, it ballooned the deficit by $1.4 trillion… There are responsible ways to cut taxes, but this was not one of them.”
Cunningham doesn’t shy away from any issue including gun laws. “There are plenty of ways we can bring some common sense into the discussion of gun safety. For starters, we can close the Charleston loophole… Secondly, we can make sure there are universal background checks for all gun purchases – including gun shows. And third, we need to leave the weapons of war, like the AR-15 and other semi-automatic assault-style weapons, on the battlefield where they belong.”
For a schedule of appearances and more information in general, visit joecunninghamforcongress.com.