The following is a compilation of the unedited responses from Greg Sagan, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, to the 2018 Amarillo Pioneer Voter Guide Questionnaire. Sagan is running against incumbent Republican Mac Thornberry and Libertarian Calvin DeWeese in November.
U.S. House of Representatives, District 13
I am a retired management/leadership/corporate culture consultant
What is your educational background?
BA with major in Political Science, minor in History, West Texas State University; MBA with major in Organizational Behavior and minor in Marketing, University of Colorado. Completed course work for Ph.D. majoring in Industrial Relations and minors in Labor Economics and Statistics, the University of Texas
Please list any of your political, civic or non-profit experience.
Answering this question as stated, my experience is negligible. However, I have held jobs as a fireman, a credit collector, office manager for a construction company, university instructor, and management consultant. As a consultant I worked with senior executive teams on establishing high-performance work place "cultures" in companies like Rocketdyne (manufacturer of the main engines for the space shuttle), New York Life Insurance Company, Showtime Networks, various divisions of Singer and Bell Textron, and about twenty nuclear power plants around the country. I know rather intimately what works in both the public and private sectors, and I know what doesn't. This breadth of experience would be difficult for anyone to match, let alone exceed.
Why did you decide to run for the U.S. Congress?
I believe the Republican party in general and Congressman Mac Thornberry in particular have lost touch with the people they serve and no longer represent the needs or desires of the majority of voters. They act mainly as the political handmaidens of the wealthy and the extreme right of their party instead of as a bulwark to protect the economic, political and social equality of the poor, the weak and the marginalized members of society. I am not well known in the state at large, so running for the Senate was beyond my capabilities; but I am fairly well-known in this District because of my editorials that appeared in the Amarillo Globe-News over a period of fourteen years.
Would you vote to end the NSA's domestic surveillance program? Why or why not?
I would vote to end all surveillance of American citizens or visitors without a properly executed search warrant issued by a court with applicable jurisdiction. Such surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment.
Do you plan to host any town halls in your district during your first term in office?
Yes. Town hall meetings are an excellent way to hear from constituents about how government policies are affecting them, about suggested alterations they have to offer on matters of public policy, and to explain how and why I have acted as I have on their behalf while in office.
When redistricting is set to occur, how should the process be conducted?
I support an independent commission made up of representatives of both major parties as well as unaligned (independent) voters to set District boundaries. I do not have a formula or process for determining how this can be done to guarantee "one man, one vote," but I understand there is a case before the Supreme Court today that may yield such a non-partisan method.
Do you support new campaign finance limits? Why or why not?
I do, beginning with the overturning of the Citizen United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Today corporations can contribute astronomical sums of money to political candidates and causes, but such contributions do not necessarily reflect the preferences of everyone who works for such a company. These decisions are generally made by CEOs and/or boards of directors, a condition which puts far more influence under their control than it does everyone else in their organizations. This is unfair. Unless corporate contributions can be apportioned based on the preferences of every employee, the concept of "money as speech" is invalid. What our current funding practices amount to is legal bribery. I favor public funding of political candidates.
Do you support the Republican tax plan?
I am opposed to the current Republican tax plan because it shifts benefits away from the majority of Americans and toward a super-wealthy minority of Americans in a way that threatens the health and safety of everyone. As written, the current Republican tax plan sets up a consequent argument to limit such vital programs as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, with no adjustment period for the transition, because "we don't have the money." This is inhumane and uncivilized. The wealthiest corporations and individuals in America have benefited the most from America's promise, so it is not "unfair" that they should pay more than others to take care of the population as a whole. Americans do not generally object to this burden when it comes to military defense, and the logic that permits military defense of our territory and people applies equally to the health of our people and to the clean air, water, soil and food that sustains them.
Do you support term limits?
I maintain an open mind on this question as it relates to Congress because it cannot be answered in isolation. Right now we have a process - probably but not necessarily flawed - for assigning committee membership and leadership on the basis of party majority and Congressional seniority. This process gives us at least some assurance that the most knowledgeable and experienced members of Congress will lead committees. I know it doesn't always work that way, but arbitrary term limits would remove even that small measure of protection. If term limits were to be seriously proposed then I would want to know how the majority/seniority system would be changed before I would take a stand. For myself, I pledge to hold office for no more than four terms in Congress.
Would you vote for any budget that would increase the federal deficit?
I would not vote for "any" budget that would increase the federal deficit, nor would I vote against "any" budget that would increase the federal deficit. The federal deficit is like a credit card in one way: it gives the government a valuable tool for recovering from some forms of economic decline. It's like an individual using a credit card to pay expenses for a better-paying job. If the additional debt can be paid more easily by assuming it then it may be a good idea. The federal deficit is not as important as the federal debt as a measure of fiscal responsibility or economic health. Having said that, I would not favor the federal government's spending one dollar more than it has to to meet its obligations to the people.
Would you support any legislation that would prohibit the use, manufacturing, ownership or carrying of firearms?
I have owned guns almost all of my adult life. While in the Navy I was a member of the Navy Match Pistol Team in the Philippines, and I was awarded the Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with the silver "E" denoting "Expert." I own handguns today, and I am licensed by the State of Texas to carry them openly in public. I fully support and would energetically oppose any attempt to remove the Second Amendment. I do, however, favor restrictions on the Second Amendment. I oppose any fully automatic weapons for civilians as well as modification kits to turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon. I am also opposed to private citizens owning silencers; high capacity magazines (ones that hold more than 15 rounds); and such things as mortars, rocket launchers and crew-served weapons. I am also opposed to allowing those prosecuted for domestic violence and those convicted of public violence from owning firearms of any kind. If states want to either permit or prohibit the carrying of firearms then I am content to let them set their own policies, but I don't believe the "full faith and credit" clause should be applied to their policies to compel other states to recognize and accommodate the licensing practices of those who permit firearms to be carried.
Would you support legislation aimed to audit the Federal Reserve?
I have no opinion on this question. My gut response would be to ask why such an audit authority is needed. I can visualize circumstances under which such auditing authority might be a good idea, but I am not familiar with any circumstances that would require it right now.
Would you support the use of military force without a declaration of war?
I would permit the president a 60-day period of freedom to use military force without a declaration of war simply because some threats must be addressed within such a period. But to engage in any conflict that would last beyond 60 days - including the subsequent period of occupation, if any - would absolutely and always require a formal declaration of war by the Congress.
Do you support net neutrality?
I absolutely support net neutrality for the same reason I support a toll-free Interstate Highway System.
How are you better prepared than your opponent(s) to step into this role?
First, I have actual military experience. I am a US Navy veteran of Vietnam, I had achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander when I left the Navy, and I was an internal consultant to Navy flag officers on issues of leadership, teamwork and human productivity while in the Navy. Second, while on active duty I was privileged to serve as a US Navy delegate to Southeast Treaty Organization (SEATO) planning conferences, and I have seen how our military can be both a comfort and a cudgel to our friends as well as our opponents. Third, I have traveled throughout the district since June of 2017 listening to the concerns of District voters, most of whom receive no attention or representation from Congressman Thornberry. And finally, I own no stock in and am under no obligation to any corporate interests, so I can and will represent the constituents of this district, and them alone.
Are you supported by any political action committees? If so, which ones?
No. Nor will I accept contributions from any corporation of more than 100 employees, corporate PAC, or specific industrial PACs. I may accept contributions from non-profit PACs or from PACs that represent broad economic political or economic interests, but I would first have to satisfy myself that by doing so I would not compromise my commitment to represent the people - all of the people - of this District. I also will not purchase or accept stock in any business during the time I am in Congress.
Why should voters choose you in 2018?
Because I am beholden to no one but the citizens of Texas District 13, even those who do not vote for me; because I am pragmatic and "solution-oriented"; because I am not merely a conveyor of party orthodoxy; because I am educated in enduring principles of political, economic and social justice; because I am a father, grandfather and senior citizen with a practical view of how Republican economic policies place mounting burdens on regular people; and because I believe in engaging all of my constituents in productive two-way conversations as one who is their servant and not their master.