Congressional Primaries

Election season is upon us and the Primaries are just around the corner. With that in mind, San Eli News reached out to the candidates in both the 23rd and 16th Congressional Districts with a list of questions.

The questions for the candidates within the 23rd Congressional District were gathered from members of our editorial team as well as members of the community.

We gave each candidate until 14 February to respond.

Between the two districts only two candidates replied: for our district, the 23rd we have a reply from Cecil B. “Burt” Jones, Republican; Tony Gonzales, Republican. From the 16th, which covers El Paso, we have a response from Samuel Williams, Republican.

We are presenting their answers here, unedited. We hope this helps you in making an informed decision during the Primaries.

Jaime Arriola did reply to our reqeust. His answers, however, did arrive on the 14th. Even though they arrived after our 5 p.m. deadline we are including them here.

PELASE NOTE: We’ve listed the candidates in the order their responses were received. Additionally, we are presenting this for informational purposes. This does not constitute an endorsement for any candidate.

Answers from Cecil B. “Burt” Jones

1.      If elected, with will be your first order of business – what would you like to achieve as soon as you take office.

I realize that the President has proposed a $4.8 Trillion budget, but I think that it is important to start the task of balancing the budget immediately, not later.

2.      Do you think it is more important to introduce and pass legislation or to work to repeal legislation that has been passed by your predecessors?

The legislative process is and should be a two-way street.  We should introduce and pass legislation to benefit the American people and at the same time rid ourselves of that legislation which is burdensome and irrelevant.

3.      There is speculation as to who, or which country will be our next threat. Some say it’s China, others say it’s Iran. Who do you see as our biggest threat?

I only wish we had to worry about a single threat.  As a career professional counterintelligence officer, I know we will continue to face threats from Russia, China, Iran, and other non-state actors.  Our intelligence services need to be overhauled and re-focused on the threats to our national security.

4.      What will you do to bring awareness to San Elizario and west Texas? For example, what bill would you introduce that would bring cross-border business to our region or strengthen our infrastructure.

I recognized early in my campaign that San Elizario and West Texas deserve a better economic future.  In November 2019, I was the only Candidate for the 23rd Congressional District who attended the Texas A&M San Antonio sponsored USMCA Forum.  There I met and discussed the economic benefits of the USMCA with the Mexican General Director for Commercial Agreements.  She was very supportive of the USMCA, but due to my status as a candidate for Congress, she could not engage in any substantive conversation with me.  If elected, I will recontact her and do my best to set up a meeting between the leadership in San Elizario and other West Texas communities to start the process of new cross border economic development.

5.      What is your view on border security.

I do believe in border security.  A physical barrier is necessary.  That physical barrier must be supplemented with technical means in order to fully secure the border.

6.      How will you shape or change our current immigration laws.

Our immigration laws are a bundle of incomprehensible patch work, which favor the connected and influential.  The laws need to be rewritten to address the economic needs of our nation.  Currently by different estimates we are short anywhere from 1.5 million to 4 million workers.  We need a well-developed Guest Worker Program, patterned after the old Bracero Program and the current guest worker program now in operation between Mexico and Canada.

7.      How would you protect Social Security for today’s seniors and strengthen it for future generations.

Social Security is perhaps the one entitlement that is sacrosanct.  Social Security is two funds, the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund. No one, not even Congress should be able to use the Social Security funds as a public fund source for Congressional projects.  President Bush withdrew $2 billion from the fund to support Iraqi Freedom.  The government has not paid back those funds.  First thing I would do is introduce a bill in Congress to have those funds restored to the Trust Fund and at the same time put new limits on the government’s ability to access those funds.  I do believe a modification could be made to establish a small stock fund sector and allow the trust fund to invest some of its assets in solid performing stocks.  This would potential provide the much-needed boost to the Trust Funds and guarantee future benefits for our seniors.

8.      How would you put Medicare on stronger financial ground and protect today’s seniors and future retirees from the burden of rising health costs?

Although I am young in my political career, I am a Senior and do understand the need to put Medicare on a stronger financial footing, thereby protecting all seniors and future retirees.  I sincerely believe in reviving the Public Health Officer Program and recruiting young, potential doctors from places like San Elizario and West Texas, offering them medical scholarships in exchange for returning to their respective communities to serve for 10 years.  This is a dream which needs to be nurtured and promoted.

9.      What is your view of the Constitution?

The Constitution is venerable document, which contrary to a lot of critics, has stood the test of time.  It is possibly the only legal document that has and will continue to stand the test of time.  As a trained lawyer, I understand the Constitution and I am a stronger supporter of the rights and privileges guaranteed by it.

10.   How would you define success, if elected to office.

Success would be to reduce the National Debt and create a balanced budget.  In order to achieve that there would have to be a renewed bipartisanship in Congress.  As an experience liaison officer, I have successfully dealt with other government agencies and foreign governments in support of Army intelligence operations and missions.  This experience will serve me well as a Congressman.  I know I can effect change in Congress.

11.   To a potential voter, please explain why you feel you are qualified for Congress. Please give examples of past or current initiatives and/or potential legislation you would sponsor/co-sponsor. What would be the impact or significance of said legislation?

I am the most experienced candidate now running for the Texas 23rd Congressional District.  I was an Army Reserve Officer and service 28 years (3 years active) and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.  i served on Active Duty in Germany during the Cold War and was an Executive Officer of an Interrogation Company, which was the only Active Army interrogation company conducting a live debriefing mission.  This gave me the opportunity to learn and understand a great deal about communism and the concurrent problems associated with socialism.  I have a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Juris Doctor in Law.  Both these degrees underscore my experience and support my candidacy.  While a Reserve officer, I also had a concurrent career as a civilian Army Counterintelligence (CI) Agent.  I recently retired after 32 years of decorated service.  Throughout my career I worked tirelessly to defend and safeguard our country from all enemies both foreign and domestic.  I played a significant role in five national level espionage cases, worked intelligence operations against foreign adversaries, and trained and coached literally hundreds of young Army agents.  I have had tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Korea, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize.  I have also conducted CI inspections in US Embassies in Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Chile.  I have world-wide experience and will use this experience to serve the citizens and residents of San Elizario and West Texas.  Please review my webpage:  www.cecilburtonjones.com

12.   Give your closing thought. You may respond however, you wish as it will be printed in full.

I have been hard on the campaign trail since early September and have not been able to personally reach out to all the voters in the 23rd Congressional District.  I’ve made it to Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Brackettville.  I only wish I could have made to all the towns and villages of the District.  I do want to encourage each voter to learn more about each candidate and then make an informed choice based on experience and commitment to public service.

Answers from Tony Gonzales

1. If elected, with will be your first order of business – what would you like to achieve as soon as you take office.

            As soon as I take office, it will be my priority to establish myself as a fighter for my neighbors in District 23. Advocating for NGOs who fill the voids left by government and free enterprise is an important measure when creating a strong foundation for the next generation of leaders in America. NGO’s and small businesses need a dedicated defender in Washington, and I intend to set the tone as that defender the day I step foot on The Hill.

2. Do you think it is more important to introduce and pass legislation or to work to repeal legislation that has been passed by your predecessors?

I believe in a balanced government that reflects the needs of the people. It is my duty and number one priority, as a public servant, to listen to the concerns and dreams of my friends and neighbors in my district. I will listen and act based on what I hear. That being said, government regulations are crushing the small business owner in the United States; this constricts a growing economy. Regulations should be placed to protect small business owners, not make their lives more difficult.

3. There is speculation as to who, or which country will be our next threat. Some say it’s China, others say it’s Iran. Who do you see as our biggest threat?

            I believe in a strong military, but an even stronger diplomatic network. I see the biggest threat to our way of life here in America coming from across our Southern border, and from within through the growing opioid epidemic that kills thousands of Americans every year. We must turn our attention to protecting our own here at home, and not be distracted by small leaders of big countries across the globe.

4. What will you do to bring awareness to San Elizario and west Texas? For example, what bill would you introduce that would bring cross-border business to our region or strengthen our infrastructure;

5. What is your view on border security.

            A strong and secure border wall, guarded by our excellent patrol agents, should be a top priority when it comes to securing our borders from the very real threats of drug and sex trafficking.

6. How will you shape, or change our current immigration laws.

            I intend to put Americans first when I am in office. Immigration laws in this country should be evaluated, as they have not been appropriately audited and molded according to the opportunities we have for immigrants in this nation that have evolved dramatically since the 1990s.

7. How would you protect Social Security for today’s seniors and strengthen it for future generations;

            I know this is a main concern for a majority of my district, not only for seniors, but also for their children. Social Security is a promise our government has made to the American people, and continues to make when every paycheck is taxed. I will fight to keep that promise.

8. How would you put Medicare on stronger financial ground and protect today’s seniors and future retirees from the burden of rising health costs?

            Technological advancements in healthcare, especially with eHealth systems, are lowering the cost of healthcare for all Americans. I will focus my efforts on lowering costs by exploring these growing options, and providing educational resources in order to get these into the hands and homes of my senior constituents.

9. What is your view of the Constitution?

            It is the law of the land and should be respected and followed without question. Our founding fathers set forth this nation knowing we would face problems within, and the Constitution provides us with a pathway to internal diplomacy.

10. How would you define success, if elected to office;

            My success would not only be defined on the accomplishments in office, but on the connections I make, and the smiles I see down in Texas when they see me as an advocate for their way of life.

11. To a potential voter, please explain why you feel you are qualified for Congress. Please give examples of past or current initiatives and/or potential legislation you would sponsor/co-sponsor. What would be the impact or significance of said legislation?

            I am your neighbor in this district now, and I hope to become your representative on the Hill that will fight for what you and I both believe in. I believe in small government and lower taxes, and I do not think it should continue to be so difficult to reach across the aisle to make compromises that benefit everyone of our American neighbors. The problems in Chicago are nothing like the problems in San Elizario. I will address the concerns of the people of this community, and all communities in my district, without bending to the will of the urban masses. District 23 and my neighbors will come first, always.

12. Give your closing thought. You may respond however you wish as it will be printed in full.

Our district isn’t just a dot on a map, it is filled with real people, real lives, and real problems.

As a Navy Master Chief, I have faithfully served my country for 20 years defending the Constitution of the United States of America. I know what it means to serve others and further American values.

As a pragmatic leader, I will continue to serve in Washington by crafting solutions to everyday problems for Texans. I will ensure people in this District have access to more resources than ever before – more opportunities for jobs, higher education, and better healthcare.

My family and I are in this fight with you. Are you ready? Let’s do this!

You can get more information about Tony Gonzales at https://tonygonzalesforcongress.com/

Answers from Samuel Williams

1.            If elected, with will be your first order of business – what would you like to achieve as soon as you take office. 

First item on the agenda will be to procure the funding for a full-service VA Hospital for El Paso and the surrounding area. The nearest full-service VA facility is 4 hrs. drive from El Paso. We have approximately 98000 Veterans within 100 miles of El Paso. Veterans were promised quality healthcare for their service to the people of the United States.

2.            Do you think it is more important to introduce and pass legislation or to work to repeal legislation that has been passed by your predecessors?

There are many pieces of legislation that must be repealed to return the power to the people. The Federal Government has created laws and regulations that infringe on the individual rights and State rights. It will require legislation to repeal those laws and regulations.

3.            There is speculation as to who, or which country will be our next threat. Some say it’s China, others say it’s Iran. Who do you see as our biggest threat?

China is the biggest existential threat to the United States both economically and militarily. China has increased its military capabilities heavily over the past decade in response to lessen US presence in the Far East.  China has also been buying US debt and one of the biggest holders of US debt.

4.            What will you do to bring awareness to El Paso and west Texas? For example, what bill would you introduce that would bring cross-border business to our region or strengthen our infrastructure.

The first thing would be to request Federal funding to revitalize the degraded infrastructure. Promote El Paso a central transportation central hub for all imports and exports to and from Mexico.

5.            What is your view on border security?

As a Nation we must secure our borders both north and south. A nation without borders is not a nation.

6.            How will you shape or change our current immigration laws?

We must move our immigration Judges back under the judicial branch. Currently the legal power of our immigration Judges is limited. These limits of the legal power are the cause of the Sanctuary cities and States. Change the 8 CFR to state that Asylum may only be claimed at a legal port of entry not anywhere that the individuals are apprehended as it is in the current version. Anyone that is apprehended for illegally must be return to their country of origin there is no provisions in the Constitution for non-legal residents to be protected under US law or have due process.

7.            How would you protect Social Security for today’s seniors and strengthen it for future generations?

I would first call for an audit of all current social security payments to ensure that we are only paying out to seniors that are still living. Social security fraud has risen over the years and there are many people collecting payments for people that have died creating over payments on those accounts.

8.            How would you put Medicare on stronger financial ground and protect today’s seniors and future retirees from the burden of rising health costs?

As most of us already know there are many issues first, we must negotiate for fair drug pricing that is on par with what the same drug cost anywhere in the world and only pay the average price for such drugs. Veterans and Military retirees that are receiving health care benefits though Tri Care of the VA be exempt from Medicare. Under current rules a Veteran at age 65 must apply for Medicare even though they are fully insured by both Tri care and VA.

9.            What is your view of the Constitution?

The Constitution of the United States in not a living breathing Document it is a framework to allow the Sovereign States govern. Over the past 150 years it has become more of a relic as career politicians have perverted the intent to allow the States to self-govern. With the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913 make Senators elected by popular vote thus remove the voice of the States from the Federal Government. This has also caused the great overreaching power by the Federal Government.

10.         How would you define success, if elected to office?

To at a minimum get El Paso recognized as an integral part of the overall success of Texas and that we are relevant to every issue in the United States we represent the diversity that the United States was founded on.

11.         To a potential voter, please explain why you feel you are qualified for Congress.

Please give examples of past or current initiatives and/or potential legislation you would sponsor/co-sponsor. What would be the impact or significance of said legislation? I have work in the Federal government as a career Soldier. As a member of the United States military I have worked a diverse and at time a very contentious group of people with strong views that when necessary were able to put their differences aside for the success of the mission. Former and current military members have a better understanding of what America and American values are. Senior military members are tasked with many of the hard decisions that must be made even if it is not the popular one.

12.         Give your closing thought. You may respond however, you wish as it will be printed in full.

El Paso has been under the leadership of those who have had a self-serving political agenda for far too long. Their political antics have led to El Paso now being one of the highest taxed districts in the nation while also being one of the slowest growing major cities across America. We are ranked 14th among cities in the United States that have the highest poverty rate with almost 10% of households living off an income of $10,000 or less. Although these eye opening statistics paint a dismal picture of our current situation, we do not have to keep it that way. The past cannot be altered but the future is ours to change.

I served on 5 continents and in 15 countries during my 29 years of military service including El Salvador, Honduras, and Colombia. All around the world I have seen firsthand how politicians have manipulated the citizenry for their own personal gain. Unfortunately, this same type of manipulation is occurring right here in El Paso. Please take a moment to ask yourself why your taxes continue to rise and never go down. Then ask yourself why no matter how much you protest and speak out; they disregard your concern and instead do as they please. Finally, ask yourself why you are working harder today but still unable to build a solid savings account. The answers to these questions are clear. The government is not concerned with you or your family’s best interest. Care and concern only exist at election time.

My promise to El Paso is one of hope. My goal is to give the government back to you. As a representative, I answer directly to you, not to a political party that exists for big banks and corporations. It’s time to realize that neither Democrats nor Republicans are here to serve our families. It’s time for a change.

If you want a brighter future for your family, a city that can provide opportunity for your family’s success, and a place where your children can thrive to reach their full potential, then I ask you to consider all of what you have just read before you place your vote for the person who will represent you in Washington D.C. In addition, please read my position in the Platform section below.

El Paso is a beautiful city built on the pride of a rich Hispanic culture. The only obstacle preventing El Paso from achieving true greatness is our current government. It’s time to replace the government that has failed to bring prosperity to our city for the past 30 years and more. It’s time to vote for a representative who desires the same for his family as you do for yours. It’s time to show America what the people of El Paso can accomplish when the government is on their side.

El Paso, the choice is yours. Keep the same government and hear the same empty promises with the same empty results or make a change that will give us a chance at real prosperity. It’s time to leave behind the days of poverty and a stagnant economy. Only together can we solve the problems that have plagued El Paso for generations. Only together can we take El Paso to another level!

For more information on Samuel Williams visit his website www.SamForEP.com

Answers from Jaime Arriola – these did arrive on Friday, just after our 5 p.m. requested deadline. As they arreived on the 14th we are going to include them.

  1. I would like to work at removing current legislation that makes it hard for Americans to receive their medical services that they deserve and eliminate the ultimate power we have given to insurance companies.  These legislations put insurance companies before the American people and no one deserves to die because an insurance company refuses to provide medically necessary services.
  2. I believe that patching broken legislations does not fix the problem. We need to focus on removing legislation that performs a disservice to the American people and that allow the government to have an overreach into Americans lives and infringe on the constitutional rights of the American people.
  3. Currently I am concerned with the debt the US has acquired, especially when a large majority is owed to China. China has slowly been receiving land in other countries as payment and their strategy is to put ports on that land located near American Bases around the world. China is not just about brute force, but is also focused on strategic moves and economic power that could threaten the American people. As a country, this is something we need to turn our attention to. 
  4. By pushing for stronger and easier access to vocational schools in the area it will allow for a more competitive market in which goods, manufacturing and repair jobs will be able to stay in our border town.  Opening up better communication and creating a respectful channel between both countries when it comes to air waves, we will be able to better improve the wireless infrastructure that many times takes the hit on the American people due to poor planning and collaboration between telecommunication companies in different countries.
  5. Border security is essential to keep our country and its people safe. As a nurse I have had many patients who talk about how the barrier that was built, allowed them to have peace of mind when leaving their property, since many times they would come home to find their livestock had escaped due to broken fences from illegal activity crossing our borders.  But with barriers we need to make sure that we provide funding to those who are tasked with arming it. By providing better funding we will be able to take care of our border by creating a mesh of multilayer safeguards.
  6. As a first generation American, I understand that living through the immigration process is like. Both of my parents immigrated legally from Mexico and now are successful American citizens.  Current system is focused on rewarding illegal immigration by putting them ahead of those who have been already been going through the process in a legal manner. Not only is it expensive but it is lengthy. Instead of welcoming those who want to assimilate and become American citizens we make it difficult to where it seems almost impossible.  We need to stop patching the immigration system and instead create an immigration reform.
  7. Social Security needs to be refocused to its original purpose which is to provide the American people with a saving for when they retire.  The money that has been borrowed needs to be returned and the American people deserve to have the money they saved up, not a portion of it returned back to them when they retire.   Social security is not a savings account where money can be pulled out in whatever manner politicians see fit without asking the American people first.
  8. The Medicare billing model needs to be restructured and reestablished. The current system is wasteful and ineffective. Often times medically necessary services are being denied, that in the long run actually ends up causing more financial burden to the patient that in turn results in more tax dollars going to waste on things that could have been prevented. Medicare has suffered many unnecessary cuts that were focused on improving sustainability but instead it has created a health care disaster that is costing the American taxpayer. The system needs to be restructured to ensure that we do what is best for the American people.
  9. The constitution is the foundation of our country and it has been built on to ensure that it continues to provide for the American people, but in no way, shape or form should the original foundation be attacked, infringed and or changed.  The idea of the constitution is to provide guidance and fundamental rights to the American people that are not to be infringed and the ensure that the government doesn’t become more powerful the American people.
  10. By the economical, financial and overall health of those who I represent. If I can look at the communities and the citizens that I represent and I can see that there has been an improvement to their lives, then I have succeeded and that I have done what is best for them.  If I pushed to protect the American citizens rights, the American constitution and did not give up on my values then I have succeeded. I decided to run to be able to help my community and the American people and if at the end of the day I have created a brighter present and future for the American people then I have succeeded.
  11. We have many politicians filling Congress that have never worked in the medical field, that have never been an average American on a health insurance program and these are the people creating legislation on health care. I am not a career politician, but I believe that career politicians are what has corrupted the system. Congress was meant to be representatives of the people that could relate to the needs of the people. We need to take that part of our country back. I have worked as a nurse for a decade and in that time I have worked in everything from county hospitals, to behavioral health centers, military clinics, Veterans Affairs and home health to name a few. I have the experience in these real life situations, to know where the changes need to be made. I did not grow up privileged, I have seen first hand why we need immigration reform, justice reform and how the decisions of wealthy elite politicians cause an economic burden to the low income communities in our country. This is the type of life experience that is needed in Congress.    
  12. Currently the biggest issue in our country is politicians who refuse to work together for the American people. When choosing a candidate I believe it is important for people to pick a candidate that is willing to serve them by working with the opposition. I do not believe in mud slinging, judging a person’s party affiliation over their character and integrity and if elected I plan on reaching across the aisle to work with all members of congress to get the job done. We need politicians that will unite us, not divide us. I am not a one issue candidate, I have a diverse platform focused on taking care of Americans. Having been raised in the borderland my entire life, I am fluent in English and Spanish. I decided to run because I could no longer sit by while my patients and community members suffered. You can learn more about me by visiting my website jaime4congress.com and following me on Facebook. I am happy to answer any additional questions. Vote Jaime 

3 replies

  1. There are bunches of people running that are going to be there for us in San Eli and only 2 people answered you? In El Paso there was only 1 to answer? I am going to think none of the others care about either city.

  2. I have been voting for 65 years. I have seen every stipe stand for election. I am glad San Eli News took this step, attempting to elicit responses from those standing for election in the 23rd. I will now limit my decision on whom I shall cast my vote to to one of the two who responded here.

    For Mr. Williams, though I do not reside in El Paso, I wish you all the best. I looked at the number of those standing in that election and it saddens me to know that like our district, no others responded.

  3. Tony Gonzales, As being elderly, FYI, I paid into SS for over 50 years as well as all of my employers. I do not consider this an Entitlement. That is for the people that feel entitled to receive funds, even though they never paid into it. Some deserve these benefits, there are too many that can and are just unwilling to contribute to their future. Congress needs to leave this fund and not “borrow” from it and never pay it back.

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