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U.S. House District 1: Fortenberry vs. McClure

(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Oct. 12, 2018 at 3:25 PM CDT
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Candidate responses are posted exactly as we received them and have not been edited.

Incumbent Jeff Fortenberry and Jessica McClure are running for the U.S House District 1 seat. District 1 includes Lancaster, Seward, Cass, Otoe, Saunders, Butler, Polk, Platte, Madison, Stanton, Colfax, Cuming, Thurston, Burt, Dodge and Washington counties.

Jessica McClure

Political Party: Democrat

Hometown: Ludington, MI

Current City: Lincoln, NE

Jeff Fortenberry (Incumbent)

Political Party: Republican

Hometown: Longtime Lincoln resident

Current City: Lincoln

Previous work experience:
McClure:

I started my career as a chemist, but moved out of the laboratory and started working with federal regulations related to my profession. This work prompted me to go to law school. In the last few years I've worked with EPA, FDA, USDA, and customs compliance. I was a member of the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics while I was working. My last job was a Regulatory Compliance Specialist, but I left that job to run for office full time.

Fortenberry:

Sandhills Publishing, business executive, Lincoln City Council member

Family/family background:
McClure:

I have one daughter, her name is Audrey and she is 4 years old. I met my husband, Chris, when I first moved to Lincoln after graduate school. We were married in the Haymarket in 2010.

Fortenberry:

I am married to Celeste, and we have five daughters. We have a beagle and an Australian shepherd puppy.

What was your very first job?
McClure:

I was a locker room attendant and lifeguard in high school.

Fortenberry:

Bagging groceries

What life achievements are you most proud of?
McClure:

I'm very proud of my daughter because she's amazing. Graduating law school in 2.5 years was quite an achievement for me as well. I was a nontraditional student, and getting back into academics in my thirties was very challenging at first!

Fortenberry:

Perhaps I should say my service in Congress, but honestly, I am most proud of my wife and lovely children.

What would be the first thing you do once elected?
McClure:

Work on legislation to improve our health care system, and address the rising cost of prescription medication.

Fortenberry:

I would return to serving on the Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives with frontline responsibility for effective government within reasonable budgets and work to complete the Farm Bill.

Why should voters choose you in this election?
McClure:

As a scientist and law school graduate, I will bring a unique perspective to Washington DC. I also spent the last year and a half traveling the district, talking to Nebraskans about their needs. I plan to take those conversations with me to DC, so I can truly address the needs of people in this state.

Fortenberry:

The job of a representative is two fold: to make good policy for America and serve the needs of the people of Nebraska. My priorities are national security, economic security, and family security.

THE ISSUES The responses from the candidates below have been transcribed from our on-camera interview.
What do you think is the best way to tackle illegal immigration?
Fortenberry:

It's a complex multilayered problem, and this week you see the manifestation, the latest manifestation, with a caravan of people trying to come to the United States. No one is entitled to enter America illegally, and so there are four principles at stake here. First of all, is robust border security. We've worked on that, but more needs to be done. Secondly, it is interior enforcement of our laws. Third is, it's changes in modernizing our immigration system so it is truly updated and beneficial to people, creating again a modern version of what has been a hallmark of America. The ideal of coming here and bettering your life, if you have just and good reason, and that also means humanitarian exceptions for those who are caught in difficult circumstances, such as kids who are brought here through no fault of their own. And finally, the fourth point is we have to get the debate off the Mexican-American border, the one yard line. And, have public policies, foreign policies focused on the Central American country so they can create conditions for economic well being as well as just governance to prevent this economic migration, which is occurring. So those four principles, border security, interior enforcement, modernization of immigration with humanitarian exceptions, and finally foreign policy considerations to get us off the one yard line about this debate.

McClure:

Illegal immigration, well you need to balance both the human rights aspect of immigration and also how many people we want to let in here and make sure we're bringing in people who I guess are contributing members of society. And so personally I think programs like DACA need to result in citizenship and just the people we've let in with that program have been properly screened and they are paying taxes and they kind of deserve citizenship. That's a good starting point.

Does America need tighter restrictions on gun ownership, manufacturing or sales?
Fortenberry:

I'm a strong supporter of responsible gun ownership and the second amendment. And of course, held in balance with keeping our community safe. So, one of the things we've done in Congress is to robustly fund the Stop School Violence Act, creating safer school environments, we've also enhanced the background check system to get rid of some of the glitches that were there. These are very important measures that Congress could take at the national level to both protect responsible gun ownership as well as our schools and communities. I'm also sponsor of another law it's called, A Red Flag Law, if police see if someone is in imminent danger of harming themselves of someone else they can take that weapon from them. There's then a court process, justification process, by which the person could get it back. This has been passed in a number of states, so we are part of this legislative initiative nationally.

McClure:

Manufacturing, I think that's a big one. So, I realize we're in Nebraska, which a lot of my friends here own guns and I kind of took some heat over that in the primary because I'm like well this assault rifle ban. I kind of don't like the idea that we're telling people we're going to take their guns. I don't think that's necessarily the right message but we do need to address mass shootings. It's a problem. I'm scared for my daughter who's going to be entering public school shortly here in a few years and it's a problem we really need to solve. And so manufacture liability would help take care of that and some other resources for combating breaking the cycle of violence as well.

Should medicinal marijuana use be regulated by the DEA and FDA? Why or why not?
Fortenberry:

Well, I think it's very important to make a distinction appropriate uses of chemicals that may be used in marijuana, versus recreational use. I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. I have supported research that would look into the possibility again, the chemical compound in medical marijuana if they are beneficial to people who are sick.

McClure:

Well, its going to have be regulated by the DEA unless we decide not to schedule it. I think descheduling it down to a Schedule II substance would probably be the best first step so that we can make sure it's easier to do clinical trials so that we can properly prescribe and get the recommended dose and concentration of medicinal marijuana for people to actually use as a treatment. It kind of needs to be deregulated at the federal level a little bit so that it's legal and we can have states bring in medicinal marijuana if they so choose.

How will the President's trade policies including tariffs impact Nebraska?
Fortenberry:

Well, trade is not free if it's not fair. We've had significant trade imbalances for many many years now. So it was important to renegotiate these trade agreements. The last one was NAFTA, now we have a new U.S., Mexican and Canadian agreement. The biggest impact in Nebraska is on our farmers. Look, farmers are good Americans, they want the best deal overall for the country. And they know over long the term this will also be good from them. So, we've encountered a bit of uncertainty of light with the tariffs, farmers have been very patient. But we've got a new agreement that looks pretty good between Mexico and Canada to replace to old one. Bigger issue of course is China, a huge trade imbalance. China cheats, they pollute their environment, they have lax labor laws. These are all indirect subsidies that create and imbalance like this and it has to be addressed.

McClure:

Well they are already impacting Nebraska. I mean the retaliatory tariffs are hurting an ag industry that already was hurting before the tariffs were in place and so even with bailout that's not really enough to fix the problem. I want to see trade negotiations done in a reasonable manner that aren't going to be hurting our bottom line so much here in Nebraska. We need to make sure those retaliatory tariffs are in place so that we can properly sell our products here--our ag products.

Does more need to be done at the federal level to protect the rights of the LGBTQA community? Why or why not?
Fortenberry:

Well, I believe that no one should live in fear or fear of harassment.

McClure:

Yeah, actually I was real excited when the marriage equality act passed and was expanded to all 50 states. Some of my friends were finally able to get married and with the way the current administration is going, my friends are extremely worried their marriages won't be recognized anymore. It's a tough topic, a lot of people feel the hostility from the presidency and what they're doing - what this administration is doing. I would like to see some updates to the Civil Rights Act to include LGBT community.

What can be done to sustain low unemployment and economic growth in America?
Fortenberry:

Yeah that's a great question because right now we are seeing low unemployment and what that means is there is increased access to meaningful work. And, when people have access to meaningful work, better wages, good opportunity, they not only provide for themselves and are gratified by what they are making with their own two hands or intellect, they provide for their family and it creates a cohesion in community, and momentum for entrepreneurs. It builds on itself as well as tax revenue to the federal government. This is one of the best things Congress can do, and again to create this community interconnectedness, and provide real hope, real opportunity for people, particularly those who have been left on the sidelines. So in that regard, it is a very exciting time. And by the way, manufacturing, U.S manufacturing, is back. And this is a very important component to again right sizing the tax code as well as the right regulatory environment to keep this momentum going.

McClure:

Well, I think some additional tax cuts for the middle class while making sure we are doing something about the national debt is addressed. So middle class working families help stimulate the economy when they have tax cuts where as those big tax breaks we just gave corporations are sort of draining the federal government financially and we need to correct that.

The President has called the Russia investigation a witch hunt. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Fortenberry:

Well, Congress has approved the special counsel investigation into whether or not there was Russian collusion. That needs to be completed. I hope that it will bring final clarity to the issue of whether or not there was collusion with Russia. Now this is important to make some distinctions though. Clearly Russia interfered in our election. To date there has been no evidence of collusion with the Russians in terms of the elections, and third is we need to continue to be in dialogue with the Russians. They can kill us in an instance, we can kill them in an instance. Reviving somehow, regenerating smart diplomacy between the two countries is essential. Unfortunately, these issues get all commingled. There's the distinction between interference which was clear, that's a fact. Collusion, the special investigators looking into it. I hope it wraps up quickly to bring final clarity, because there's been some questions that have undermined the legitimacy and law enforcement in this regard. And third is, the diplomatic engagement with Russia, which is absolutely critical. It's important to keep these things separate. Unfortunately, they get entangled and commingled, but they are separate issues.

McClure:

Well, I think we have to absolutely be careful of foreign interference in our elections - whatever administration is in office. It needs to be investigated until there is a point where they know there is no evidence. If there is evidence and there seems to be because indictments are coming down, then we investigate because if there is any sense of wrong doing with another country impacting our election system that absolutely needs to be addressed.

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