By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
ATLANTIC CITY — In an exclusive interview with Front Runner New Jersey.com, Democratic Congressional candidate Carolyn Rush accepted an invitation to address some of the issues affecting the local and national African American and Latino communities.
Rush, an engineer by trade and mother of five, is running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House Second Congressional seat currently held by Republican Jeff Van Drew.
Born in Camden, Rush earned a bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University in 1985 and has worked one of nation’s premiere engineering companies in Lockheed Martin.
Rush has been affiliated with the League of Women Voters, American Promise, South Jersey Democratic Women’s Forum, ALS Association, and with the Association of Scientists and Professional Engineering Personnel.
Here are the answers to the questions asked by Front Runner New Jersey.
FRNJ: The Buffalo, N.Y. shooting by an alleged white supremacist highlights the continued issue of racism in the U.S. What do you think can be done to address continued systemic racism in the U.S. and particularly in the district?
Carolyn Rush: We need to call out hate speech. We need to apply pressure to those who give hate speech a platform (i.e. Fox News, Twitter, Facebook). We need to organize and boycott their sponsors. Only financial penalties will make these organizations wake up and take action. As the Second District Congressional Representative, I will hold town hall meetings every month. This would be a topic to discuss. I’d like to hear from the people of the district about what could be done locally to address racism in our area.
FRNJ: The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare healthcare disparities in New Jersey and around the country, where Black and Latino were disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. What can Congress do to help address these disparities? How would you as a U.S. Representative speak out on such issues?
Carolyn Rush: Congress can work to make “Healthcare for All” a reality — for now that means expanding the Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare). As a U.S. Rep., I would move to make Single Payer/Universal Healthcare a reality. It will take time but there are steps that can and should be taken. We need to move away from Employer Provided Insurance so average citizens will be less resistant to a Single Payer System. This can be done by offering government incentives to corporations to put the money they would normally spend to offer private insurance for their employees into a government insurance fund. The employees would then be moved to a government plan – this would happen over time and would break down the resistance that has made Single Payer Insurance an unachievable goal so far.
FRNJ: Some states have banned so-called Critical Race Theory but it has challenged the way Black History and the history of other marginalized communities are taught. What is your thought on such legislation and do favor measures to protect the teaching of Black History and history of other races in the United States?
Carolyn Rush: I absolutely favor measures to protect the teaching of Black History and history of other races in the United States. We need to stay away from the phrase “Critical Race Theory” because the Right has hijacked it and turned it into an effort to make White citizens feel guilty. I understand that this is not the intent of teaching Black History and the history of other marginalized communities. We need to teach HISTORY — the good, the bad and the ugly — not some sanitized version of U.S. history. For example, I only learned about the Tulsa Massacre decades after I finished school. Something this significant should be taught as part of U.S. history. Many other examples could be provided. We need to make sure all parents attend school board meetings and make their voices heard — not just the parents who want to falsely claim teaching REAL history will make white children feel shame and guilt. Our children can handle the truth. They deserve to be taught the full story.
FRNJ: What role can Congress play to improving race and ethnic relations?
Carolyn Rush: It is difficult to legislate people’s behavior. Additionally, given the First Amendment, it is difficult to control hate speech. Education is part of the solution but is not a quick solution. I would be open to suggestions from citizens of my district — town hall meetings will provide opportunities for people to share their ideas with me. Please see my response above to Question No. 1.
FRNJ: Immigration reform has been uneven in this country for decades and has increasing been used as a political tool as witnessed recently how Ukrainian immigrants have been treated compared to immigrants from Central America. What can be done to make immigration fairer and more even-handed?
Carolyn Rush: Comprehensive immigration reform legislation is needed. Members of Congress are quick to politicize the issue but avoid doing anything to resolve it. Central American immigrants have always enriched out society. We need immigration laws that are clear and enforceable. We need more judges assigned to hear the cases of asylum seekers so their claims can be processed quickly and fairly. Also, applications for admission to the U.S. should not be based on the immigrant’s ability to pay a large fee. We need to be welcoming to the poor, not just the wealthy. There will always be circumstance that arise creating refugees from disasters (both natural and man-made). It’s not wrong to welcome those refugees. What IS wrong is to be so unwelcoming to our neighbors to the south who want a better life and have so much to offer to our society.
FRNJ: Since the death of George Floyd, there has been a call for social justice in policing and other areas with the predictable push back in supporting the police. How can that balance with struck where the police are supported in protecting our communities yet also held responsible when questions of brutality arise?
Carolyn Rush: I would like to see the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act be passed in Congress. In addition, I will introduce a bill to develop national de-escalation standards. The bill will include funding for law enforcement agencies to grow their de-escalation expertise and enforce the new de-escalation standards. With de-escalation in use, difficult behavior is dealt with in the safest, most effective way possible. We have seen too many cases where police resort to the use of deadly force before employing de-escalation techniques. According to the American Bar Association, “at least 25% of people who are shot and killed by police officers suffer from acute mental illness at the time of their death.” I believe mental health professionals need to be part of the law enforcement team. I believe 911 calls should be funneled through a regional call center where a team of health and law enforcement experts determine if the appropriate dispatch is law enforcement, social workers or both.
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