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Spring Hill
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Home2022 ElectionGeneral Election 2022: US House of Representatives District 12 Candidates

General Election 2022: US House of Representatives District 12 Candidates

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Each candidate was given the opportunity to provide a 150-word bio and respond to our questions within 800 words.

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GUS BILIRAKIS (REP)

Gus Bilirakis
Gus Bilirakis

BIO:
Gus Bilirakis was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006 after serving eight years in the Florida Legislature. He is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Ranking Member of the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, and a Member of the Health Subcommittee. He served as Vice-Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee for 10 years, during which time he successfully championed several initiatives to improve care and benefits for Veterans. Throughout his tenure, Bilirakis has been strong, conservative leader and an ardent supporter of small businesses who fights to lower taxes, balance our budget, support seniors, secure our border, fix our broken mental health system, strengthen national security, remove regulatory burdens, and create an environment in which American innovation can thrive. Bilirakis is consistently ranked as one of the most effective Members of Congress and has won national awards for communication and constituent service.

What is your motivation for running for this office?

I’m a dedicated public servant with a proven track record of success. I want to continue my efforts to bring solid, conservative leadership in Congress while helping my constituents and strengthening our community and country. I’ve been recognized as one of the most effective lawmakers in Congress, with more than 60 bills I have authored since 2015 being signed into law. These are practical measures that help seniors, improve care and benefits for Veterans, reduce the price of Rx drugs, improve treatment for mental health and substance abuse, and ensure kids have access to quality care. I work behind the scenes, cut through red tape, and build solid relationships to secure favorable results. I’m also proud of my strong record of constituent service. Our office has won national awards for our casework and communication. I want to use my experience to give the people of Hernando county a voice in the legislative process and the best representation they’ve ever had.

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What caused you to get into politics?

I’ve always had a strong desire to help people and to give back to my community. I want to continue building upon that work, as these are very challenging times for all Americans.

Describe some critical issues that you will focus on and what potential policy may look like.

We must lower inflation by stopping the reckless spending, restore American energy independence by removing the barriers to domestic production, secure our southern border and hold the Biden Administration accountable for the poor choices it has made on the domestic and international stage. As the ranking member of the Consumer Protection and Commerce, with oversight of the Big Tech industry, I will also keep working to hold Big Tech accountable to improve transparency, ensure the equal application of rules for all users, and protect children who use their platforms.

How will you handle the political divide in Washington?

Politics is all about relationships, and I am fortunate enough to have great relationships with Members on both sides of the aisle. I’ve consistently ranked as one of the most effective and bipartisan members of Congress without compromising my conservative values and principles. I believe we can find common ground on many non-partisan issues that benefit all Americans, and I focus my efforts on making progress in these areas.

What besides your experience makes you especially suited for this office?
Experience, relationships, integrity and the ability to effectively communicate and listen are some of the most important qualities of a good representative. I also have an open-door policy, coming home each weekend to meet with as many constituents as possible. My staff and I are very active within the communities we serve and we are always willing to listen and learn from our constituents. We’ve won national awards for our efforts in this area and we will continue to build upon what we’ve already achieved.

What do you believe are the core responsibilities of this office?

In addition to the responsibilities outlined in the Constitution, Members of Congress have the responsibility to represent the interests of their constituents and serve as their voice in Washington. In order to do this effectively, I must stay in regular touch with those I serve to stay connected to the issues that matter most to them. Additionally, I have an obligation to govern with the best long-term interests of the country in mind; often making difficult choices to prioritize the well-being of Americans and ensure the sustainability of our republic.

Both sitting representatives and candidates for office hear many personal stories from the residents of their district. Is there a story that you have heard that you found particularly touching, memorable or impactful?

I will never forget the stories of Veterans who have given so much for our country, only to come home and be forced to battle their own government to get the basic care and benefits they have earned. Stories like those of Lauren Price, who developed a terminal illness after toxic burn pit exposure in Iraq, will forever be etched in my mind. Despite knowing that she would likely not live long enough to see the bill signed into law, she worked tirelessly with me to craft legislation that would create a presumptive status for such illnesses. She knew it would help her fellow brothers and sisters in arms. She died last spring, 18 months before the PACT Act was signed into law. Similarly, the story of Lonnie Kilpatrick will also stay with me forever. He fought the VA for years to prove that his exposure to Agent Orange in Guam was the cause of his terminal cancer. However, since his service records were classified, he could not do so. Through my personal intervention, I was able to get the DOD and VA to confirm his exposure, and days before his death he was approved for retroactive benefits. Before his death, he pleaded with me from his hospital bed to fix the problem so that other Veterans didn’t have to endure the same battles. This issue was also fixed in the PACT Act. Because of Lauren and Lonnie’s tireless advocacy, other Veterans will be spared similar struggles.

KIMBERLY WALKER (DEM)

Kimberly Walker
Kimberly Walker

BIO:
Kimberly Walker is a fifth-generation Floridian who was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. She served eight years in both the U.S. Army and the Florida Air National Guard. She previously served as a correctional officer for the state of Florida. Kim took a hobby and turned it into a career and has been working as a software engineer for several decades. She graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology with a Master of Science in Information Technology. Kim is currently a government contractor for the Department of Treasury and the Department of Defense. She is running for the U.S. Congress in order to prevent pharmaceutical companies from abusing the patent system, to provide affordable healthcare to low-income Americans, and to help veterans suffering from PTSD.

What is your motivation for running for this office?

The reason I decided to run for office is because of my cousin and my mother. My cousin could not afford health insurance and died at the age of 49 from a massive heart attack. If Florida’s elected officials had expanded Medicaid, my cousin could have received the preventive treatment that might have possibly saved her life. My mother had a hard time keeping up with the ever-increasing cost of her prescription drugs. So, my brother and I banded together to pay for her medication.

What caused you to get into politics?

I love this county and believe in freedom, and equality for all Americans. I have spent a significant portion of my life in the military safeguarding and preserving our democracy and will continue to do so if elected. I want to create opportunities for all Americans, restore hope to communities, and advance the best of America into the future, ensuring that the United States remains a beacon of freedom around the world.

Describe some critical issues that you will focus on and what potential policy may look like.

Fixing the abuse of the patent laws:
Our pharmaceutical companies are extending the drug exclusivity rights by stacking the time periods of multiple patents of the same product creating a prescription drug monopoly that is detrimental to consumers and the healthcare system. My plan would modify the current patent law in which each patent is its own unique patent, and each variation of an existing patent cannot exceed a maximum term of twenty years. By amending these patent laws, generic drug companies will have access to these medications, thereby lowering their prices and making them more affordable for consumers.

Expanding mental health resources to our National Guard and Reservist:
Members of the National Guard and Reserve Component of the Armed Forces are an important part of our military. These vital members of our military must have access and support to mental health care. My plan will grant access to mental health and tel-health resources for all Guardsmen and Reservist including those never federally activated or called to active duty.

Tackling the housing crisis:
I would like to tackle the Housing Crisis by strengthening the medium and low-income housing tax credit by enacting the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act to boost production of affordable rental housing.

How will you handle the political divide in Washington?

It has been proven that veterans are more likely than non-vets to work with their colleagues in different political parties. I will always put my country before my party and reach across the aisle to work with any Republican.

What besides your experience makes you especially suited for this office?

My life experiences due to the intersections in my life have provided me with a unique perspective in regards in viewing the pollical world combine with solutions that will help Americans.

What do you believe are the core responsibilities of this office?

To enact laws that will affect Americans daily lives.

Both sitting representatives and candidates for office hear many personal stories from the residents of their district. Is there a story that you have heard that you found particularly touching, memorable, or impactful?

I spoke with a young woman from Hernando County whose mother had recently passed away. Her fifty-year-old mother lost her job and her health insurance. She ultimately died due to acute bronchitis that progressed into pneumonia. It was again another reminder of how valuable life is and that health care should be a right for all Americans, not a privilege.

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