NEW BREMEN – The Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, and Janet Garrett, of Oberlin, debate Tuesday night at the New Bremen American Legion high-lighted the ideological divide between the Democratic and Republican parties. Each side at times offered post-election views that predicted an undesirable future. Garrett is the Democratic candidate facing Jordan in the Nov. 6 election for the 4th Congressional seat.
The event was sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of New Bremen/New Knoxville, St. Marys and Wapakoneta.
The forum had candidates answering questions that had been submitted by the public. Debate questions were fielded from the public, members of Auglaize County chambers of commerce and government students in Auglaize County schools. Questions were then distributed to candidates one week prior to the event.
From the opening comments, the candidates made it clear there was little similarity between the two parties.
In Jordan’s opening statement, he said, “The Left today: they applaud Kaepernick, embrace Maxine Waters. They will impeach the president. The choice is very clear where each party wants to take the country.”
Jordan said electing any Democrat would mean socialized medicine, raising taxes, disrespect of the flag and no borders.
Garrett said in her opening statement she came out of retirement after a 35-year-career as a teacher because of her concern about the deep divide in the country.
“He describes an apocalyptic future,” she said.
Garrett said her goals were to “heal the divide and stop fear mongering.” She said Republicans were trying to distract voters from the intent to remove social security and medicare. She also questioned his voting record on bills to deal with violence against woman or equal pay.
On the question of instituting a national firearm registry, Garrett supported the idea of a registry, saying she felt they should do everything they can to help law enforcement. Jordan disagreed, saying that he was not interested in limiting 2nd Amendment liberties of law-abiding Americans.
In regards to the border wall proposed be built between the United States and Mexico, Jordan said that “as a sovereign nation we had a right to protect our borders.” He used the example of a caravan of several thousand mostly Guatemalan people coming through Mexico toward the US border. He said that tightening borders and censoring sanctuary cities that harbor illegal immigrants would help with the drug and gang problems in the United States.
Garrett said she felt the wall was “a slogan, not a policy,” and that “a person does not see walls between other countries.” She felt the country’s tradition had been to open its borders to those fleeing oppression and that the estimated cost of $25 to $35 billion it would cost to build would be better spent on education or health care.
On the issue of of a free press, Garrett said a free press was essential to democracies and that she was very concerned about rhetoric used by public leaders, finding it unhealthy.
“Words (from public officials) matter” and it was important for leaders to set the tone (of the debate), she said.
Jordan said although he has often been portrayed inaccurately by national press, he is working with Jamie Raskin, who he termed an “extreme liberal,” to create a Press Shield law that protects the press from having to divulge their sources to agencies such as the FBI or Department of Justice. Jamin Ben “Jamie” Raski is the U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 8th congressional district.
In a related question about President Donald Trump’s tweets, Jordan said because of main stream press bias, the public would never know of his party’s accomplishments and that it was better to directly communicate with the people.
In response to Jordan’s declaration that the country needed to have the will to cut expenses due to a $21 trillion national debt, Garrett said, “He couldn’t have been more clear, folks. Social Security and Medicare are on the chopping block. Me? I think we need the political will to make the rich pay their fair share.”
Garrett charged Jordan with voting many times against coverage for pre-existing conditions, “something the people need the most.” Jordan countered he had supported legislation to ban exclusion of pre-exising conditions. He also maintained that the Democrats want all health care managed by the federal government, when he said people should be allowed to pick their own coverage.
Although both candidates had relatives affected by Alzheimer’s, the costs for research and care for approximately 220,000 victims in Ohio showed a marked difference in outlook.
Jordan said they need research money to find a cure for the disease and the question under-scored the need to cut other costs. His example was that despite low unemployment, 6 million able-bodied people still received food stamps.
Garrett said the reality of caring for Alzheimers patients was another example of why Medicare coverage was needed by everyone. She said, “my opponent wants the Affordable Care Act repealed. He is taking us backward.” She said the United States is the only industrialized country without care for everyone.
On the question of how to deal with an American poverty rate of 16 percent, Garrett said she supported the need for raising the minimum wage and access to health care to “help the poverty-stricken live a life of dignity.” She said to avoid negatively impacting small businesses, increases in minimum age would be done gradually and that national healthcare coverage would help small business when everyone had access to health care.
In answer to this question, Jordan asked if the crowd remembered their first job, relating how they learned to manage their money and develop skill sets. He feels government programs take away learning those skill sets, that able bodied people need to work and be taught fundamental principles.
A question about why either candidate would want to go to Washington, a world Trump described as one of lies and deceit, Jordan said he wants to keep the USA great by limited government. He said his trips are to Russia, Cuba and other more oppressive nations where free enterprise is not allowed to flourish. He said he wanted to promote election protection and that the left wanted the federal government to run elections. He said three things are needed to protect election integrity: a paper trail, photo ID and electronic scans.
Garrent countered it is evident the Russians had interfered with the 2016 election, and although individual districts were given funding to protect the ballot, they may not have done enough. She said she also did not favor centralized voting, she wanted to make sure elections were fair and easy. She did not approve of the photo ID requirement.
In regards to how farmers are affected by the current trade tariff fight with China, Garrett said farmers did not want a handout and that the country should stop doing self-inflicted wounds (with trade war). She said the two sides should sit down and work things out. Jordan countered that when Trump spoke in Quebec Canada about trade inequities, he said “Let’s compete.”
In their closing statements, Jordan and Garrett re-emphasized what they felt was at stake.
Jordan recalled a statement of Dodger player Orel Hershiser who was quoted as saying, “I am proof that great things can happen to ordinary people if they work hard and never give up.” He particularly emphasized the words ‘ordinary people.’ He said he would fight for the things “you care about, that he wanted to make the country special and that that would not happen if the Democrats had their way.
Garrett reminded the audience that rather than living a quiet life after her retirement, she was in the race because of concern for the future of the children who wanted jobs, careers and a good life. She said she regretted that “my opponent continues to be a fear-mongerer.” She said the Democratic party was one that worked for the average people.