We here at Madison County Democratic Women are very excited to have so many great Democrats running in the upcoming special election! Our members sent in some questions they wanted to hear the candidates answer. We chose three questions and sent them to all seven Democratic candidates. Here are the questions and the answers we have received thus far (exactly as written by the candidates).
- Do you support equal pay for women?
- Alabama has one of the highest rates of single-parenthood in the nation. Women head the vast majority of these households and they are much more likely than their two-parent counterparts to live below the poverty line. As U.S. Senator, what do you plan to do to support single parents?
- What will you do to ensure that all women have reproductive choice?
Candidate Answers: (alphabetical order)
1. Yes I support equal pay for women and men.
2. It is first and foremost to protect these women and there families in all areas including: physically, emotionally, mentality and financially. I would grow and develop programs already in place. This goes back to my platform on economic investments and development accompanied with a better educationally system and further progression in public schools.
3. I would use the interstate commerce law to enforce the law of the land including the protection of women’s health rights and reproductive health. The Supreme Court has decided these laws. Thus can be enforced with federal money, government power etc.
1. Yes – 100%. The state of gender pay inequity in today’s society is both alarming and disheartening. Our social progress in this area has fallen short of expectations. We cannot rely on employers alone to simply comply with the spirit of the law and objectives set forth, including increases to the median wage of women vs. men in comparable jobs. We must publicly demand and require more transparency from corporations to reveal these trends and have measures in place to hold management responsible when the results fall short of the targeted figures. We must also not forget that women are the subject of discrimination and workplace hostility at a rate far greater than men, leading many to choose less-lucrative employment opportunities to escape unacceptable work environments.
2. There is perhaps no social issue that I personally understand more than being a single parent. I am a widowed, single father of a child with special needs (rare syndrome and autism). My wife passed away suddenly and without warning just short of 6 years into our marriage. I have been raising my daughter on my own, making every healthcare, education, and childcare choice for the past 5 years. Over time, I have learned to adapt and use the resources at my disposal more effectively and efficiency, allowing me to maintain my personal focuses while always ensuring that my child’s needs come first. Solutions to many of the largest inequities can throw off the balance of life and self-care, leading to further challenges with extended family, stress management, and general health outcomes of the parent.
The incredible responsibility of being a single parent is hard to convey to others who may not living in this world. In many ways, it can only be appreciated fully if you have direct experience in this area. I pledge to the single moms and dads in Alabama that as their United States Senator, I will fight for those issues that mean the most to our unique group, including healthcare, access to employment choices that fit the parent’s needs, a livable wage for single-income households, education, proper choices for childcare, respite care/Medicaid, disability rights, pay-equity, improved benefit structure for part-time employees, mandatory paid flex-time for employees to accommodate family needs, and more. I can state with absolute certainty that I will be a champion for single parents in the United States Senate.
3. First, I will fight to maintain the funding for Planned Parenthood in any revised healthcare legislation or budget. This funding has become a political tool that the GOP uses to attempt to drive wedges between voters in elections. I believe Roe v. Wade is settled law and believe that a woman’s right to control her own healthcare decisions and work toward outcomes that allow continued access to contraception is in the best interest of women and the family unit. At the same time we seek full control over making these decisions, we should also seek to continue the strong education and counseling practices that accompany such a decision, including offering alternatives such as adoption.
1. I absolutely do. Our economy suffers from discrimination against many groups, including women. Today, a woman still averages making 80 cents on the dollar for a job done by a man. I am committed to making such discrimination illegal. It is because of that unwavering commitment that I received the endorsement of my longtime friend and hero Lilly Ledbetter.
In the Senate, I will work to extend the spirit of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to make if mandatory that two people, doing the same job with the same qualifications are paid equally – regardless of their gender. The shenanigans around the 2016 campaign must be pushed aside and full equality for women made the law and the norm in America.
2. Families (including single parent families) trying to survive in today’s economy need to see rising wages and a well-run, properly-funded social safety net to begin to work their way to the middle class. As recently as today, government data shows that wages are stagnant even as unemployment falls. One of my strongest priorities is support rising wages including raising the minimum wage to a true living wage. Even a higher minimum wage does not ensure equality of opportunity, though.
Funding job training with accompanying programs the allow a single parent to actually attend and learn from these efforts is critical to giving people a path to the middle class. Families struggling to make ends meet and move upward need a properly funded safety net of health insurance and housing. Children must be provided with quality education (including Head Start), nutrition and enriching after-school care. This structure allows a single mother or a struggling family opportunities to provide a living and expand their skills for the 21st century workforce while knowing that their children are safe, well-nourished and being well taught to expand their own future opportunities.
Our nation has been at its greatest when it provided this pathway to a middle class lifestyle through efforts ranging from the WPA and TVA to the GI Bill and Pell Grants. We have to once again believe that, done well, government can be a positive force in helping people improve their lives.
3. I strongly support a woman’s freedom to make her own health and reproductive decisions. I will oppose legislative efforts to weaken Roe v. Wade including allowing states to enact legislation that places an undue burden on a woman enacting her constitutional rights.
On legislative issues involving healthcare policy and appropriations, I would strongly advocate for increased access to birth control as part of comprehensive women’s healthcare including full funding of Planned Parenthood. Education and wider availability of contraceptives have proven to work. In 2014, the number of abortions in the country was the smallest since Roe v. Wade forty years earlier. Most encouraging is that teen pregnancy rates have fallen 60% since 1990
Understanding this is an area where people of good will disagree, I believe the vast majority of Alabamians share the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The right way to do this is through education and access to health care and contraception rather than criminalizing women’s reproductive decisions.
Robert Kennedy Jr.
1. I started my professional career in the United States Navy. In the military, basic pay is calculated using a combination of rank, time-in-service, and warfare specialty (e.g., pilot, physician, lawyer, etc.). This pay-calculation formula ensures that all services members receive equal pay for equal work. The military model, with its focus on transparency, provides a successful benchmark that could be used by organizations in the private sector to ensure pay fairness for men and women.
2. I am a fiscally responsible Democrat who is the product of a government program that worked. Government programs can positively impact lives; however, every government program should have the following three components: a) a goal, b) an evaluation timeframe, and c) a success criteria. Government programs that meet their goals during the evaluation timeframe should continue to receive funding. Programs that do not meet their goals should have their funding revoked.
I know a lot of single-parents are struggling financially to take care of their families. As a US Senator, I believe our federal government should provide temporary assistance and encourage state governments to do the same. However, our long-term goal should be to help single-parents find permanent solutions by focusing on the following: a) improving public education, b) providing access to affordable healthcare and housing, c) encouraging employers to accommodate single-parents with flexible work arrangements, and d) ensuring equal-pay for equal-work.
3. As a matter of public policy, I believe that the difficult choice to end a pregnancy is a family decision that specifically resides with the woman. As a person guided by faith, I believe our goal should be twofold: a) reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies though education and family-planning resources, and b) provide the women who experience unplanned pregnancies with the support and pre-natal resources to carry babies to term, if they choose to do so.