U.S. House 3 candidate: Richard Ojeda (D)
NAME: Richard Ojeda
CANDIDATE FOR: U.S. House of Representatives Third District
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.voteojeda.com
HOME CITY: Logan
HOME COUNTY: Logan
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I spent 24 years fighting for this country including three combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. After I retired, I came back home to West Virginia and realized that our lifetime politicians did not represent us and were more interested in helping themselves than helping the people of West Virginia. I am tired of selfish leaders who only have their best interests in mind. Where I come from, you don’t eat until your troops are fed. It’s time for a representative that puts the people of West Virginia first. We built this nation and we deserve better.
EDUCATION: Logan High School, BA from West Virginia State and Masters in Business and Organizational Security from Webster University.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: State Senator
OTHER WORK HISTORY: U.S. Army
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: LEAD, American Legion
ENDORSEMENTS: United Mine Workers of America, United Steelworkers, Communication Workers of America, Social Security Works
FAMILY: Wife, Kelly Ojeda; and two children, Richard III and Kayla Ojeda.
1. What measures would you support to address the budget deficit and the national debt?
Addressing the budget deficit and the national debt is a priority for me and for our future generations. That said I will not put this burden on the backs of the middle class and our seniors. We must end fraud, abuse and waste in our government programs and close tax loopholes for big corporations that ship our jobs overseas.
2. What steps do you think congress should take to ensure access to affordable healthcare for all Americans?
I believe in a system where folks can buy into medicare if they choose; creating competition to the insurance companies who now write the rules. I would also advocate for Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices so that my constituents don’t have to choose between their medicine and the electric bill.
3. West Virginia has been especially hard hit by the opioid abuse epidemic. What do you see as the role of Congress in addressing this crisis?
Congress has failed to act and has abandoned our communities in this epidemic. I will fight to bring real consequences and seek convictions for drug company executives who dumped millions of pills into small town WV. I will also fight for rehabilitation funding to stop the cycle of addiction between generations and bring people back to society.
4. What measures could help prevent gun violence and mass shootings?
Americans need better access to mental health services regardless of economic status. We need to enforce the laws on the books and make sure our current systems are working.
5. What measures do you favor on background checks for gun purchases?
I believe the systems we have in place are sufficient and need to be enforced.
6. How do you think coal fits into the United States’ energy policy?
Metallurgical coal will be necessary for the future of this nation’s infrastructure needs and we need to let our miners mine it. It’s no secret that natural gas is threatening coal’s future in energy but today coal is still a vital part of keeping the lights on across the United States.
7. With the increased incidence of black lung disease in recent years, does more need to be done to protect miners’ health and safety?
I’ve always said that the most valuable thing to come out of a coal mine was a coal miner. Big energy companies must take responsibility for the health of the men and women who allow them to make millions. I will work with groups like the UMWA to strengthen protections from black lung in Washington. .
8. Do you support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline?
Pipelines and the Natural Gas industry put many people to work in WV and provide a good wage. I support these workers across the country and their ability to feed their families. With that said, I will be in favor of strong legislation protecting our natural resources, farmers in agriculture, and tourism industries from potential harm.
9. What can you do on the federal level to improve the economic situation in West Virginia?
In reality, we need broadband and infrastructure to entice businesses to come to West Virginia. In Congress, two of my top priorities will be working on bipartisan infrastructure bill as well as securing funding for broadband in rural America and Appalachia.
10. Do you support a reduction in Medicaid coverage?
I do not support any reductions in Medicaid coverage. Many of my constituents rely on this program and I don’t believe in forcing folks to use the emergency room for basic care.
11. Do you support immigration reform? What, if any, changes would you make?
I support a pathway to citizenship for those who are working and giving back to society. We need to know who these undocumented immigrants are and that they are paying their fair share of taxes like the rest of us. Those who have broken the law need to be sent back across the border.
12. What are the United States’ essential security interests and needed outcomes with North Korea?
We must do whatever possible to contain and eliminate the nuclear threat that is North Korea. While I would always keep all options on the table I will work to find a resolution that doesn’t put our young men and women in the military at risk.
13. Do you favor more federal aid to states to upgrade equipment and systems in order to protect election procedures?
In Southern WV we know what election fraud looks like and we must do everything within our power to maintain the legitimacy of our elections. I watched the first free election in Iraq and the integrity of our own democracy can never be compromised or taken for granted.
14. Should the federal government provide more funds for broadband in underserved areas? Why or why not?
Absolutely - How can we attract new business if they must go back in time when it comes to connectivity. We have received good news in the past few days about funding but more needs to be done.
15. Do you think the outline for infrastructure improvements from President Trump can be effective? Why or why not?
Trumps outline says “$200 billion in Federal funds to spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments with partners at the State, local, Tribal, and private level.” He also talks about spending in rural America specifically and I will support this plan wholeheartedly.