CD 8 Green Party candidate Charlie Manolakis answers viewers' questions
CD 8 Green Party candidate Charlie Manolakis answers questions on topics most important to viewers.Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Web Producer: Sara Wright
CD8 Green Party Congressional contender Charlie Manolakis Barber sat down with KGUN9 anchor Jennifer Waddell to discuss the issues. Below is a transcript of that interview.
Jennifer Waddell: Welcome, Charlie. Thanks for being here with us. Let's just jump right into it, we want to learn a little bit more about you. Tell us what qualifies you to represent Congressional District 8?
Charlie Manolakis: Many things, I think one outstanding thing I can relate around as to why I should represent district 8 is the fact that I've been, for forty years, I've been a political activist. I've been involved in the Industrial Military Complexities going on in the Vietnam War. I stepped up and fought against what I thought was not the right way for the country to be going. I also have participated in Civil Rights, Women Rights, Health Care Reform, Environmental Protection, and many other main issues that help us be an American, and help us be who we are.
JW: What do you think are a couple of things that help you set you apart from the other candidates?
CM: I think for one thing my education. I went to the University of Massachusetts, most progressive university in the country. At the time I was there, most of my degree requirements fulfilled there was English, education, sociology, psychology, history, and education. I think this gives me a great perspective of what's going on around me immediately, and around the world, and in our country. Also, I believe the activities in all the ones I've been involved in, all the ones that I mentioned as to where I came from coming up as an American, living in this country, participating in this government. I think I've had a lot more experience than my candidates in that line. I think that also I have a great awareness of what's going on with what I think are the main issues in this country now, the same issue that's been... we've been in this country for 100 years now, and that's health care reform. So I have a lot of experience in that issue.
JW: What do you think are the biggest issues facing Southern Arizona?
CM: I think the main issue in southern Arizona is what the biggest issue in the country is, and that is health care. If our health care system comes to a point, and comes to a capacity, where we have to read in the Arizona Star that there aren't enough doctors to take care of the patients in the city, I think we got a great dilemma, and it hasn't improved that much from there. Of course there are other issues that are going on in southern Arizona that we have to pay attention to, that of course is border security. We definitely have to pay attention to that. The immigration idea what's going on with that. Our educational system in regards to program studies, we have to pay a lot of attention to that also. We also have to pay attention to what going on in our environment. We have to do the best to rectify the problems going around in our environment, such as scarcity of water. Whatever is happening we have to pay a lot of attention to environmental issues also.
JW: There are a relatively low number of Green Party voters registered in the district. How do you get some of those Republicans and Democrats to vote for you?
CM: Well, as I said on Arizona Illustrated, I'm here onto this race under the Green Party banner. I have a lot of respect under the Green Party banner. I think they've done great things for the country, especially on there emphasis on social justice, but in reality I'm not a Green Party member, I am an independent, I just did a strategic move into this race. Good 'ole American ingenuity to accomplish something you want to accomplish.
JW: Have you had the chance to set up a website yet? We hadn't seen one. We were just curious how you're going to get your name and your message out there?.
CM: As of yet I haven't. I'll be doing that soon. I thought of strategic reasons to wait before I develop that. I've been going out into the community a lot, and meeting with a lot of people and a lot of events.
JW: Lets talk a little bit of border security. We're wondering whether you've had a chance to visit Mexico?
CM: No, I haven't, but I read a lot about what's going on over there.
JW: What would be your plan to secure Arizona's border with Mexico?
CM: Well I think we do have to put a wall within the border, but I don't think we have to go to the expense it seems like we have to go to. I think we should get interaction with the engineers with the University of Arizona; they are ranked within the top ten of the country. I think we should get together with them, see if there are some different compositions we should go with the border to put it up. Also, when it is put up, whatever way it's put up, I think we do need to have troops there, a certain number of troops, and I think it would be good to have border security, people already there, and even some possibility we could have some civilian groups there. But, if the civilian groups are going to be controlling the border, they have to have really good training to people who know what's going on, and also we patrol it by horseback. I think it might be good to bring in camels into the picture because their more endurable, go without water for a period of time. Their easily to maintain and may just cut back the expense of that.
JW: We have to take a poll with border patrol agents and see whether their ready to ride camel back.
CM: Yes, but they are very efficient animals and might save us money.
JW: Let's talk about immigration a little bit; as you look at our current immigration law, do you see the need for change?
CM: Looking at the current immigration law, no I don't think we need change at this time. I think we have to do things around it that would make it better, make it a little easier for the process to be obtained for the citizenship for one thing, and do watch what's going on, and interact with the.... whatever is going on in the border efficiently, and keep the country secure, and not keep an overwhelming amount of people coming in who aren't legally set to come in.
JW: On the topic of education we have a viewer question, Sally Chandler says, "I'm sick and tired of our children graduating from high school without knowing basic skills. No child left behind has, if anything made things worse, do you have plans on changing that, and how are you going to pay for it?"
CM:Well again, I think we can reach out to the University community, and see if we can get to little programs happening through the University. Like having students who are majoring in Psychology, students who are majoring in English, and mathematics, or reading. Bring in our very talented high tableaus students into the schools to help offset the problem over there.
JW: When it comes to the economy how big of an issue do you see it to be for us, and what would you do to create jobs in Southern Arizona?
CM: Economy, yes it's definitely... I think it's a big issue. With the lack of jobs that's going on, this affects the economy, and it affects the spirit of the people. I think a way it could really improve what's going on with the job situation is to address the main social problem within the country, and that is the lack of proper efficient health care, and the way we could do that is by developing task forces that would go out into the economy, and work with it, and while we the task force is going on, we can also develop preventative care programs going on, bringing in wellness, and as far as a direct affect on the economy goes we could see to it that we clear up the fog exist in Medicare/Medicaid also, and see that we make the system competent. Right now it's very incompetent. We have electronic mechanisms in 70- 80% to our hospital's. There functioning on 80% efficiency. Then we could get the paper work out of health care that would save 20% of the overall cost. So by doing this hear we would start opening gap parquets and clusters that would be clearing up the deficit. We could actually reduce the whole deficit if we improve our whole health care system in the few ways I mentioned here, which would have outstanding effects on it, and also in other ways, and one I do not want to mention is task forces will see why are minorities solo on the totem pole existent longevity, it would be another thing in which we could do. So it would be an emphasis on preventive care, and working on improving accompaniment.
JW: Getting back to the question about jobs, how would you go about making sure we have plans to create jobs? How do we create jobs in Southern Arizona?
CM: This whole plan would really be bringing in a lot of people into work because, there bringing them into task forces, so they would have to be functioning within the society, within the realm of health care, and people can check on people's blood pressures. We can have people that took people into wellness programs, we can have people who are companions with the senior citizens, and any other people who need care out there.
JW: We have another viewer question; this one is from Keisha Richardson, if elected would you vote for HB 4161, this is a bill sponsored by Raul Grijalva, that would aim to keep the Cherrybelle postal processing center open in Tucson? Would you support that?
CM: Yes I would, I think it's been doing a lot of good for the community as far as mailing processes and systems go, very conveniently located, and pretty much from either part of town. And I think it's a good ole tradition to have the post office functioning.
JW: We talked about health care a little bit, but I just want to circle back for a moment, we have a viewer question from David Jones, he says what is your opinion of Obamacare? If elected would you vote to repel it?
CM: Well I think there are a lot of good things in Obamacare, and actually I think we should face the reality, it's really not Obamacare, the plan was put in by the House of Representatives. So it's a House of Representative plan. I think there are a lot of good things in it, but I think there are a lot of negative things in it also. We don't really need Obamacare, or House Representative care. We really don't need that. Cause right now existent in the country we have 23 plans that are better than this plan. They have plans that are affecting single care, something that the American people expressing would like to have for decades and decades. Their, enrolling the citizens and giving them health care to the tomb of 92% to 98.2% in Massachusetts. So I don't think we have to rely that much on House of Representatives plan that's in existence now.
JW: So you would allow in states to adopt their own?
CM: Well, I would believe the government taking a look at the states, and seeing what states' programs are functioning in the state level capacities, and seeing if they can increase the level of capacities of those states that are doing so well.
JW: When it comes to capacities, Social Security, and Medicare. Would you be in favor in eliminating either program and if not how would you like to reform either of them?
CM: Definitely would not be in favor of eliminating either one of those plans. Ways to make them better would be to get the fraud out of Medicare, and also Social Security it exist there too, and prove it in those ways in development.
JW: When it comes to our military we know that president Obama has announced withdrawal dates for combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Do you support that plan?
CM: Yes, I support that plan.
JW: Do you feel the timing is right? Do you feel the actual making of an announcement was something that was warranted?
CM: Yes, I think it's good to be doing that. We were promised this 2 or 3 years ago. I think that we're in a capacity were we could be doing that. I think we should try to get out of there as soon as possible and be careful about going into other countries in a war mode because we have our own battle here that's been going on for a hundred years. It's the battle of health care reform, and I think it would be good to have those resources of money and also the resources of personnel to improve what has been really the main number one issue with people in this country for 100 years.
JW: Staying on the issue of foreign policy, let's talk a little bit about what you think the United States' role should be in preventing hostile nations from acquiring nuclear weapons, how should the US be handling that potential hostile situation?
CM: Keeping an interaction going with a global community and approaching those states that are involved with that and let it be known the world is set against that kind of development and keep an eye on what's going on, and then decide according to each scenario which way we should go.
JW: We are facing a massive deficit in the US. Arizona's budget by most accounts is balanced. We're back in the black here according to the Governor. If you had to work on balancing a budget what services would you consider cutting? If you're looking at ten programs, and you got to cut three, what do you cut first?
CM: I would really have to look at that closely, I haven't had an opportunity to be looking at that. I would have my task force taking a look at that, and since we have, like, in the realm of so-called entitlement, since we have hundreds of those, I think it's gong to take some really good research to look and go and see what is what and what should be done.
JW: Are there programs that, or services that you would deem to be less important than others you would cut first?
CM: No, I think the relating I've seen are mostly very important programs that are going on, so I'm not prone to be moving to cut any of those programs.
JW: Let's talk a little bit about the 2nd amendment; this is an issue that has come up since January 8th. The right to bear arms and the discussion around people who possibly should not have the right to bear arms based on criminal background or mental or psychiatric problems. What is your take on that? and how would you argue the right of people to bear arms based on predetermined factors such as mental conditions or criminal records?
CM: I think in regards to arms we should keep a close look at whose applying for an arm and do a very good close check on them as to what their about, and make sure their not an active criminal, mentally deranged, and may go out and hurt somebody else. I do feel that arms should be allowed, but it should be in a way we realize, the way they should, and we should use them in self defense, in defense of others that are around us, and anybody who is relating to an arm really be good for them to have a program of training, and so they would be more safe around people that are with them, but I'm more of an advocate of pepper spray as a weapon because actually it's more accurate a lot of times and it can give you... you have a 15ft range of pepper spray, and six shots, and you don't kill anybody, you just put them into a laughing state for 15 to 20 minutes, and that way you would be using what Mark Twain says, if the man doesn't use the creates weapon he has, then that's not enough and that's humor.
JW: All right let's talk about politics. All of the candidates said they would reach out across the isle to try and get things done,with the other party, and we would like to know specifics on how you would like to handle. What would be some pretty intense moments and debates on the issues on capital hill, and why should the voters believe that you above the other candidates would be able to actually accomplish this?
CM: Well, I think I've proven a capacity to be able to do this personally and character wise, and socially, and I could even say maybe spiritually, because I was a deacon of a church here in Tucson, a wonderful church. Unfortunately we had two of the tragedy members of January 8th come from that church. but while in that church, which is about 80 to 90 percent Republican, interacted constantly with these people, with the most challenging thing I could interact with and that's the study of the bible, and we got along quite well. They decided to nominate me and elect me as a deacon, and even though we had some really strong debates around the Bible, and also a little later, they decided they would like me to be an ambassador for the church, so I think that's quite an accomplishment on showing the capacity to be able to interact people who have different varying opinions above things.
JW: If you are elected to this district, how would you handle the pressure of special interest and lobbyist, people who would be looking for you to help them in their special projects?
CM: I'm running in a campaign that's really for the people now. I haven't even got into the financial realm, and any last capacities at this time at all. I know that's who I want to represent. I'm not into representing interest groups, I'm representing we the people. I would also keep that as a prerogative and I would always flow as a scenario as representing we the people.
JW: Finally do you have any last special message for the voters in CD8? Anything final you would like to say?
CM: I'd like to say I kind of feel, as far as the CD8 district goes, I think I kind of inherited possibly the right to be in it as a representative, and the reason I say that is because in my political activism, which I had a lot of in the last two years while going on. one of my political activist maneuvers was to get on the Jon Justice show, the night before the election, or the day before the election, here in this district, and at that time Jesse Kelly had a high level of voting going his way, it looked like possibly he may take it, so I went on at that time, and I encountered Jon Justice and went on as the name of Chaz, that's my acting name, I've done some acting and I've done some singing, and confronted him about the way that the health care system was controlled by the Republican party at that time. I mentioned how at that time it was a machine that had developed in 1994 that developed memos that came from bill Crystal the campaign manger republican party at that time. That said, when the people were saying we want the same thing you have as congress, when a lot of people were really emphasizing that fact these memos came out that time that said as far as health care reform goes do not let it happen, confused the people making them angry, and in conjunction to insurance companies at the time it succeeded. So the very things that I'm telling you about now I was sitting on the John Justice show, and I made a rallying appeal to reach across not just the isle but the whole district, and the whole state to independents, republicans, and democrats, or any other party, to not vote for the republican candidates at that time, and I think since it was a very close election, that transpired that time. I think that this political movement for my country for we the people had a lot to do with Gabrielle Giffords' being elected into office. So I kind of think I naturally politically actively inherited, this district.
JW: So you're saying the reason your running is to try and take votes from Jesse Kelly?
CM: No, the reason I'm running is to represent we the people and show that I can do that best.
JW: Okay, Charlie Manolakis, thank you for your time in this special Red, White, & Blue coverage.