Rachel Ventura: Candidate profile
Office sought: U.S. House, District 11
Family: Twin daughters, Eve and Lily
Occupation: Business Director for Legendary Games
Education: Joliet Central High School; BA in mathematics from Benedictine University in Lisle. Later, I returned to school for a degree in Biology.
Civic involvement: Will County Board; the nature foundation of Will County; the Heritage Corridor Convention Visitors Bureau; member of Will County Regional Sustainability Network, the Multicultural Coalition and Will County Progressives; volunteer for Joliet School District 86, Girl Scouts, Educarious, and an active thespian at the Bicentennial Park Community Theater; lifelong member of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Elected offices held: Will County Board, District 9.
Incumbent? If yes, when were first elected: Challenger in this race
Questions and Answers
1. What have the past three years of Donald Trump's unconventional leadership taught us about politics in the United States? What is the best thing his presidency has done? What is the most significant criticism you have of it?
Donald Trump was elected because both political parties are currently serving their wealthy donors. More and more Americans are tired of seeing their hard-earned money go to corporate bailouts, privatization schemes, ad corruption. We are living through a period of "pendulum politics" that is defined by neither party addressing the growing wealth gap and growing levels of poverty in the United States. Desperate for change, American voters swing back and forth between the two major political parties each election cycle like a pendulum.
Donald Trump is a symptom of a broken political system that only works for the wealthy, and my political opponent is part of the broken "bought and paid for" system. We need to replace Donald Trump, but we also need to address the real problem.
My greatest criticism is how he has divided us. The defining day of Trump's presidency was the proposed Muslim ban. He said that he would overtly embrace racism and discriminate against some religious beliefs. Since then his administration has locked other humans up in cages, assassinated an Iranian military general and moved through an unprecedented level of staffing changes. It is difficult to define his presidency as anything other than chaos.
2. What needs to be done to get Congress to work constructively, whether that be senators and representatives of both parties working with each other or Congress itself working with the president?
Forty percent of the members of the United States Congress are millionaires, including my opponent. We need a new congress that is not bought and paid for. We need to elect people who are willing to serve the people and can get elected without corporate cash. We need people who come from working class families that represent the true fabric of America instead of the millionaire class.
As your next representative of Illinois' 11th Congressional District I will hold regular town hall meetings and stay in touch with my constituents instead of sitting on the phone constantly raising money. I will join the progressive caucus and help others seeking office who have a true willingness to serve the interests of the people.
3. What do you see as the most important issues to address regarding immigration reform? If you oppose funding for a wall, what steps do you support to try to control illegal immigration?
Immigration reform must start with a clear attainable pathway to citizenship for those who are living, working, and paying taxes in the United States. Unscrupulous businesses who exploit undocumented workers for cheap labor should be fined and include jail time. This cheap labor drives undocumented workers into our workforce. This exploitation must stop.
I would oppose funding for a border wall. I oppose for-profit prisons and detainment camps. I oppose separating families and placing children in cages. On Dec. 14, my opponent voted to fund Trump's wall. The barrier that has been constructed along the border has already been breached. This is an astronomical waste of taxpayer money.
The reality is that people are migrating to the United States because we have more economic opportunities and a higher standard of living. The most recent trade deal with Mexico pushed for a national average wage of $16/hour in Mexico. This average implies some wages can still be much lower. Trade agreements can be used to leverage other countries to raise their standards of living by making human rights, women's rights, workers' rights, environmental standards, and a democratic form of government a prerequisite for tariff-free trade agreements.
4. Please define your position on health care reform, especially as it relates to the Affordable Care Act.
Even after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, America still has 29 million uninsured citizens, and millions more who are underinsured. Those who have access to care can hardly call it affordable and many people avoid going to the doctor at all, even for checkups which can prevent future illness.
I support an expanded and improved Medicare for All system that would replace all premiums, copays and deductibles with a small payroll tax that is often estimated to be about half the cost of premiums and copays. It would be a health care system and not "insurance" against getting sick.
People could choose their primary care physician, dentist, eye doctor, or specialty care providers. All medically necessary procedures would be covered, including emergency room visits.
I had a very similar system as a military spouse for ten years of my life. Military families are eligible for TRICARE, a system that operates similar to but simpler than Medicare. I was able to go to any private doctor of my choosing and TRICARE, a government insurance system, paid the bill.
Two recent polls (August 2018 and May 2019) show that over 70% of Americans want a Medicare for All System.
5. What is your position on federal funding for contraception, the Violence Against Women Act and reproductive rights?
I believe that women must have reproductive freedom, reproductive justice, access to over the counter birth control, and the autonomy of their own bodies. I support federal funding for contraception as a necessary health care expense and it should be covered by a Medicare for All program.
We need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act for permanent consideration. VAWA needs to include language that outlaw female genitalia mutilation. I will strongly oppose any actions to overturn Roe v. Wade.
6. What do you consider America's role in world affairs? What are we doing correctly to fill that role? What else should we be doing?
The United States should play a peacekeeping role in the world through the United Nations and multilateral efforts. That being said, I have a much more ambitious vision for our involvement in world affairs.
Adversity can breed unity and challenges can bring us together. For decades the United States has been involved in military conflicts in the Middle East to facilitate the transfer of petroleum to western nations for use in our automobiles. We now know that fossil fuels are damaging our atmosphere and causing accelerated climate change.
The climate crisis is the next global crisis that could bring us together to address the challenge before us. Many nations are ahead of the United States in implementing changes to building codes, upgrading energy infrastructure and setting achievable goals for carbon reduction.
I see a world coming together to address a problem that threatens our existence. A world that shares technology, resources, proven strategies and works together to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, transition to renewable energy sources, reduce our energy demand, repair our atmosphere and sequester carbon through natural means.
7. Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
Most scientists, even scientists that work for the fossil fuel companies, understand that greenhouse gasses like Carbon Dioxide and Methane are causing the earth's atmosphere to heat up.
CO2, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels is the big contributor to climate change. The last IPCC report concluded that the industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric CO2 levels from 280 PPM to 410 PPM. Scientists have said that we need to reduce CO2 levels to 350 PPM.
The fossil fuel industry is going in the exact opposite direction by expanding oil extraction and production as well as expanding fossil fuel infrastructure like new pipelines from Canada to the United States.
I am supporting the Green New Deal (GND), the most serious and comprehensive legislation to address the climate crisis. The GND would offer incentives taxpayers to buy electric vehicles, make their homes more energy independent as well as constructing new, renewable public power sources.
The fossil fuel industry is lobbying hard to retain some profitability and is now presenting their own solutions like the Future Act and The USE IT ACT that use taxpayer subsidies to build unrealistic carbon capture devices.