ESCANABA - With the upcoming election closing in on campaign time, U.S. Representative candidate Gary McDowell made a brief stop in Escanaba Thursday on a trip through the Central U.P.
"It's getting close to the end," McDowell said during a interview with the Daily Press. "I'm talking to as many people as possible."
Earlier this week, the Democrat was in Petoskey, Traverse City and Gaylord. He had campaigned in Menominee earlier on Thursday and met with local business in Marquette.
McDowell is running against incumbent Republican Dan Benishek.
When asked why McDowell considers himself as the best candidate for the job and why voters should elect him on Nov. 6, he replied, "I've grown up here. I know the struggles of small businesses. I'll fight for Social Security and Medicare. I want to create middle class jobs. I'll work to get the deficit under control by cutting wasteful spending."
McDowell said the first issue he would work on once elected to the office would be to get the nation's deficit under control by cutting unnecessary spending.
"We need to cut the deficit and cut wasteful spending but not on the backs of our seniors and working families," he said.
McDowell offered specific ways to reduce the deficit, citing many long-time government programs which don't meet current needs and several which have duplicate responsibilities.
"We need to look at every government program to see it has value today," McDowell said.
Other ways he would work to reduce the deficit would be to decrease foreign aid to countries which don't favor America such as Pakistan. Reducing travel costs for government employees could save an estimated $7.5 billion a year over one decade, he added.
McDowell said he is seeking the Congressional seat because there are many issues that really matter in the District and need to be protected. Examples include Social Security and Medicare, he said.
While Medicare needs to be maintained, McDowell also believes the country could save $156 billion by negotiating with pharmaceutical companies rather than continuing to allow Medicare to dictate prescription costs.
McDowell said he is also concerned about health care for small businesses, which should not have to take on additional costs.
"I will work toward affordable, accessible and quality health care," he said, also noting uncompensated care in hospital emergency rooms needs to be addressed.
The creation of jobs is a major priority in the district, especially for the middle class, McDowell said.
"We need a Congressman who can fight for the people... work and create good-paying jobs," he said. As a five-generation farmer in the U.P., he knows people want to work and retire here, McDowell added.
Improving educational opportunities goes hand-in-hand with job creation, he noted, saying the state needs to make proper investments in schools and colleges. Student loans and grants need to be maintained so individuals have opportunities for higher education, he said.
Michigan's natural resources also offer opportunity for job growth, not only in supplying mills but also in their recreational value, McDowell said.
The candidate said he is very interested in protecting the Great Lakes for the state's benefit.
"The Great Lakes are a treasure and define us a people," he said, noting 526,000 jobs in states bordering the Great Lakes are related to these waters.
McDowell, who was a state representative from 2005-2010, said he is willing to "work across the aisle" with Republicans to make the best decisions in the next two years.
With the Congressional position being only a two-year term, McDowell said he knows he would have to get started in Washington right away to get work done for his constitutes.
"You've got to represent the district and the election (two years from now) takes care of itself," he said, saying he will choose to finish work rather than take off early for campaigning.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org