Earlier this month, our readers submitted questions for Patch's Ask the Candidates forum.
Responses from Kristin Cabral, a Democrat candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Virginia's 10th District, can be found below, unedited.
You can read responses from Kevin Chisholm here.
According to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Fairfax County has a gross county product of $108.7 billion. Ignoring the spinoff effect government contracts and defense industries provide to its local economy, what can Fairfax County do to attract and retain more local businesses that engage in commercial interests outside this sector?
On the campaign trail, I listened to many people, especially women and fellow mothers of school-age children, who have strong entrepreneurial spirits and would love to grow their businesses off their kitchen tables into storefronts conveniently near their homes. The first bill that I will introduce as your congresswoman is to grow the Office of Women's Business Ownership in the Small Business Administration. A modest investment of our hard-earned tax money into potent entrepreneurial programs will help grow these new, women-owned businesses that will create local jobs. Such small business programs will better empower our entrepreneurs with the knowledge of how to obtain capital, jump through legal & accounting hurdles, how to best advertise and market their goods & services, and give them access to bidding for federal contracts.
We also have to realize that our region is tied to the federal government and that major cutbacks caused the Sequestration and Ryan Budget — which my opponent, Frank Wolf, voted for — will greatly hurt our Northern Virginia families and local businesses. In Congress, I would not support such misguided actions. Rather, I will work to grow the development of more research and technology in our commerce centers of the Dulles Tech Corridor and Tysons Corner, hereby creating conditions that will attract businesses to locate here as a place to headquarter and create jobs.
One in 88 children is diagnosed with autism in this country. Will you continue funding for research, education and long-term care? If so, how? And Will you support and fund Individuals with Disability Act (IDEA)?
I will work to protect and grow funding for research, education, awareness, and long-term care for children and young adults who are diagnosed with autism. Autism is a very serious diagnosis, and many of our children are being diagnosed in numbers higher than prior generations. We cannot afford to stop aiding those children and families who are so affected. As a mother of a child who has an IEP and special education services in school, I am keenly aware of barriers that families face. I oppose the extreme cuts to IDEA that Frank Wolf supported by voting for the harmful Ryan Budget. Instead, I believe schools should get the necessary resources and training to work with students with autism and that we ensure these children get full services that they need and deserve.
What can you do at the federal level to make shopping local more attractive to consumers?
Over the course of the campaign, I have been to farmer's markets and fairs across the district where I saw a great interest in buying locally and purchasing from Virginian crafts-makers. As your congresswoman, I would promote and grow Virginian-made products that need to be brought more easily to the marketplace as well as exported. The USDA needs to promote the buying of local agriculture by consumers and schools. The Commerce Department and Small Business Administration need to make people more aware of businesses that are local and their beneficial ripple effect on an entire community (such as job creation as well as less traffic & less pollution for being nearby).
Should MWAA continue to have a permanent hand in Metro by controlling tolls on the Dulles Toll Road to pay for the Silver Line? Can or should the federal government help reduce the impact of the Silver Line on toll drivers?
I am a strong believer that the Silver Line is just not a local project, but a national one. The Dulles International Airport is a gateway to our nation's capital, and the Dulles Tech Corridor is a world-wide engine of innovation and commerce. Federal funds for the overall project are surprisingly lacking, especially considering Mr. Wolf sits on the Appropriations Committee and has almost 32 years of seniority. Transportation projects of this magnitude usually receive almost 40% of their funding from the federal government, and yet Mr. Wolf has only delivered a 14% federal input. As such, Mr. Wolf's failure to deliver has resulted in toll drivers being nickeled-&-dimed and an unfair burden on our state and local governments to come up with more than their fair share of transportation dollars — and that means less money supporting our excellent public schools. As your congresswoman, I will deliver your hard-earned taxes back into the district to work for you. That gridlock on Capitol Hill — caused by Mr. Wolf and his obstructionist Republican Party — has created gridlock on your roads. I will stop such failure to deliver by indeed delivering for you.
How would you address the timidity of bank lending these days? Specifically, we seem to have gone from zero down mortgages without even an ID requirement from borrowers to banks afraid to do anything. Can we set the wheel about where it was from WWII to 1985 and let us move on?
The issue here is ensuring access to capital for small businesses and growing confidence in the market. Right now, our economy is moving forward, but the approaching fiscal cliff that Mr. Wolf helped create is hurting confidence and this has the great potential to put us back into a deep recession. If elected, I will act to stop Sequestration with a balanced approach to the federal budget that recognizes we need to foster economic development and infrastructure — cuts to which that Mr. Wolf supported. Hurting the middle-class that was built following World War II must stop. The Ryan Budget and Sequestration that Mr. Wolf voted for hurt the middle-class even more so. Let us invest in our American people, like the federal government did in the 1940s & 1950s with educational opportunities like the G.I. Bill and transportation solutions like the interstate highway system. This way, the economic pendulum will continue to swing back so that banks will make reasonable loans that are less risky and hence further grow our economy.
Describe your leadership style. What is your approach in balancing what the people want with your own belief system?
My leadership style is that the people's priorities are my priorities. It is never about me. Congress is broken because career incumbents like Mr. Wolf cater to their party first and their constituents second. Partisanship is at an all-time high. Compromise has become a dirty word. We need to clean house of those like Mr. Wolf who are opposed to good ideas just because of their party affiliation. I will work across the aisle and work with President Obama to ensure that the people's priorities are put first, such as job creation, protecting the middle-class, and solving the budget deficit responsibly. Mr. Wolf has ignored job creation by instead focusing on partisan crusades against women, eviscerating programs like Pell Grants and low-interest student loans that middle-class families rely on, and supporting the job-killing Sequestration. He is out of touch — and I am not because I understand your life of making a mortgage, paying student debt, seeking child care options, and fighting traffic. I will work extremely hard to protect and grow the educational and job opportunities that the families of my district need and deserve. Whether as an attorney, mother, or community leader, I have been a proven problem-solver who works with whomever to settle the issue at hand. As your congresswoman, I will advance this approach in our Congress that sorely needs members that will work with all party factions and across the aisle to solve our many challenges.
Explain your philosophy on the federal government’s role in our local and regional problems. We seek federal money for major projects like the Rail to Dulles, but where would you draw the line?
The people of the Tenth Congressional District are my primary concern, first and foremost. As a congresswoman, I will be a federal official who will also be concerned about the issues facing our commonwealth, nation, and world. I am a believer that, at times, the federal government should partner with local and state governments and regional authorities in doing what is best for the people of the 10th district and their neighbors. This means working to direct your hard-earned federal taxes to vital projects with great local and regional implications, such as the rail to Dulles. Your federal tax dollars have been helping other such projects around the country (like the "Big Dig" in Boston that helped the New England economy) — it is about time your money comes back into Northern Virginia to work for you. State and local governments are better situated to address projects like parks, playgrounds, and parking lots The federal government can help achieve national goals that have implications on the 10th District and the region — like getting the federal budget & debt under control and making investments in education and infrastructure projects.
A major difference between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney is how they would handle the defense budget over the next four years. Would you, like Romney, vote to shift funds spend on the war in Afghanistan to the Pentagon’s base budget? Or would you, like Obama, want to see that money spent on deficit reduction or other non-defense needs? Or do you have a different plan for the defense budget?
We need to acknowledge that as we ended the War in Iraq and draw down our brave U.S. forces Afghanistan, the traditional needs of the Department of Defense will be decreasing but that its priorities will be shifting. The Pentagon agrees, submitting plans to refocus our efforts on other threats around the world. First of all, the peace dividend that has come with ending our 9/11 wars should be dedicated to both decreasing the national debt and for important spending projects by our self-government such as growing educational and job opportunities and building infrastructure — all needed by the American people to make their lives easier and more successful. Next, I am very concerned about our cyber-security and thus cyber-terrorism. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta smartly is warning of a "Cyber Pearl Harbor" where bad actors (of another nation or stateless actors like terrorists) attack our communications networks and our power grids for electricity and water —essentially, do us harm by bringing the United States to a grinding halt and damage our basic systems. This new threat means that we need to turn our armed services into an efficient "lean, mean, fighting machine" that embodies a "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick" adaptability towards threats to our national security and the security of our allies. This use of a budgetary scalpel is very different from Mr. Wolf's votes for across-the-board defense cuts with the Sequestration and the Ryan Budget — cuts to defense programs regardless of our need for them or their effectiveness. As your congresswoman, I will make smart cuts and smart investments in keeping our nation protected.
What are your thoughts on No Child Left Behind? Would you like to see it repealed, modified or left alone?
As a mother of two school-aged children who has been active in the PTA, it is sad that congressional bickering and extreme partisanship have stopped the re-authorization of No Child Left Behind. Vitally, though, the program must be modified to ensure student achievement is taken into consideration and that teachers do not have to teach to tests in order for local school districts to maintain federal funding and local control. The Education Department has moved forward with granting waivers to states that petitioned to be exempted from No Child Left Behind's more misguided aspects. I think that Congress should pass a bi-partisan bill that reflects the needs of teachers and school districts. We need to ensure that they have the resources to see that our children are prepared to achieve a higher education to enter our 21st century economy.
I want to serve in Congress to help maintain and grow the educational opportunities that I accessed and that many middle class families rely upon, such as Head Start, low-interest student loans from the government, and Pell Grants. We have to ensure that better guidance is available for students and that course work aligns with higher educational attainment — so that America can regain her high standing in the world in mathematics, sciences, and engineering. Moreover, we have to see that schools and local businesses are able to create partnerships with community colleges to train students in trades that will directly lead to employment in the community. This job creation will correlate with the growth of domestic manufacturing that I will advocate for as your congresswoman.
Explain your religious backgrounds and what role that plays in your policy decisions.
This nation has no religious test for holding elected office. That said, I am a child of God and a woman of faith who is a cradle-to-grave Catholic. I was raised Catholic and married in the Church and go to weekly Mass with my family. My husband and I are raising our children in our faith (they attend CCD Sunday School). My faith is the wellspring for my values of inclusion, equality, diversity, and compassion — values that make me a proud Democrat. Importantly, I would never impose my religion on others, and I would never let my religion — or anyone else's — interfere with my constitutional duties of serving all Americans regardless of their religion and background.