In advance of the June 3 primary, The Inquirer's South Jersey Commentary page is publishing op-eds on the issues by candidates in the First Congressional District race. Candidates who have not yet participated should send essays of 400 words to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I come from a working-class background. My grandfather was the illiterate son of immigrants, but he started a business and supported his family. My parents did not attend college, but, due to their work ethic, I had the opportunity to earn a degree. I have lived the American Dream and hold this to be a right for all. We live in a country where one generation should be able to set the next up for success. However, that promise is threatened. Social mobility has stagnated, and the middle class is losing ground under the burdens of growing inequality, a changed economy, and increasing student loan debt.
If elected, I will work with representatives from across the country to address these concerns. I will support proposals such as one by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) that would reduce the interest rate on college loans and free middle-class Americans to purchase homes and provide for their families. With increasing automation and the use of new technologies, manufacturing and the jobs of tomorrow will be different from the past. I will work with business leaders to identify the skills that are required for the modern workforce, and with educators to ensure we teach students those skills.
In Congress, I will fight for workers. While corporate profits and CEO salaries have soared, middle-class wages have stagnated, even fallen. Public- and private-sector unions are under attack, hampering their ability to protect workers. We need someone who is going to fight for these workers, even it if means spending countless hours each day speaking on the House floor to bring attention to this problem.
Finally, crises in Syria, Ukraine, and the East China Sea show us that, as we reduce our presence in Afghanistan and the size of our military, the world is still a dangerous place. As a veteran with close friends still serving, I will work to ensure our service members have the tools they need to succeed on the battlefield and that they are supported as they return home and take off the uniform. I will also work with both parties to ensure our national interests are clearly defined and that we do not use force and risk American lives unless these interests are threatened.
Frank W. Minor
Voters are primarily concerned about jobs. Those who feel their employment status is stable still worry for their children and grandchildren. Technology and globalization have allowed companies to be more productive with fewer workers. As a congressman, I will fight for public policy actions that put more Americans back to work.
I will work to incentivize hiring through targeted tax credits. I support a bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D., N.J.) that provides tax credits for hiring long-term-unemployed workers. I also support extending the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, which provides incentives for hiring veterans.
I will sponsor and support legislation to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Our bridges and highways are falling apart, and we can no longer afford to ignore the problem. Studies have shown that fixing the nation's infrastructure will create jobs more quickly than tax cuts will.
Even as unemployment remains high, many jobs go unfilled. That is because there is a shortage of trained workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. I will collaborate and partner with private industry to find ways to provide financial assistance, training, and apprenticeships to those wishing to pursue careers in these growth industries.
Voters are also concerned about our educational system. One of the sacred duties of a nation is to educate its children. As a congressman, I will push for continued research to determine what we are doing right, what we are doing wrong, and what we need to do to ensure that all of our children have access to a high-quality public education. One thing is clear: Student performance is tied to teacher quality. We have to attract the best and brightest to the profession, and provide them with the training and resources needed to successfully perform their jobs.
Health care is another important issue for voters. Republicans have been very effective at vilifying the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). In spite of that, millions of Americans have signed up and now have health insurance. I will work to identify and fix any problems with the act, but I will also fight to make sure that we do not return to the days when so many went uninsured due to preexisting conditions or outrageous premiums.
Jobs, education, and health care are important issues for voters and will be top priorities for me as a congressman.