Editor's note: Based largely on reader sentiment, the News-Sentinel editorial board has decided to forego candidate endorsements for the June primary.
Instead, as something of a pilot project, we are presenting an Opinion Page series on candidates for the 11th Congressional District. Each segment includes brief background information, responses to a set of questions, and our quick assessment of each candidate. The segments are running in alphabetical order. We begin today with candidate Tony Amador.
Amador recently retired as U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of California. He previously served as a Los Angeles police officer, chairman of the Youthful Offender Parole Board and as director of the California Youth Authority. He is a member of the California Public Employment Relations Board.
Attended University of Utah; graduated from McGeorge School of Law.
Married to Evelia; they have four daughters and 13 grandchildren.
"Obama has done a silent dismantling of our country."
Here is an edited version of our interview with Amador:
On health care:
"We must repeal Obama's health care program. We need competition among states for insurance coverage. We need to get the fraud, abuse and waste out of the system; that accounts for up to 30 percent of health care costs. We need to address defensive medicine."
"We can't begin to address immigration issues until we control our own borders. … We have porous borders and if we need to deploy our troops to secure them, I am not opposed to that. We need to complete the fence and use the military to back up ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement.) I won't talk about the other issues regarding immigration until we are controlling our own borders."
On cutting the federal deficit:
"We can't tax our way out into a balanced budget. We must reduce taxes wherever we can. We must invest in small businesses. At the same time, let's look at federal agencies, do we really need them all? What about the federal Department of Education? We need sunset clauses to make sure some of these programs don't outlive their usefulness. We cannot create more entitlements. We can't encourage this idea that the government will take care you from womb to tomb. The whole idea that 'government is your daddy' is terrible … ."
When do we declare victory in the war on terror?:
"Iraq is a good example. We did a good job there. Victory is fighting terror over there, not here. Victory is defined by not insulting our allies, such as Israel, which is the only democracy in the Middle East. We must have a strong national defense. Victory is having a leader at the top who doesn't apologize for who we are … . Iraq now does not represent a threat. But Iran does. We must use all of our tools, including the nuclear threat, to make sure Iran does not become a safe haven for terrorists. … Obama is naive if he thinks there are people who, just because he talks with them, will like us."
On water and recharge issues:
"Let me be frank — I am no water expert. But I believe we are misguided when we let two-inch smelt take precedence over farms and jobs and people. That's a mistake. I don't believe we've done what we need to do to provide for water storage. I believe in a clean environment. But I also believe we have too many environmental regulations that are a threat to businesses, including the local wineries here in Lodi. We have 60 to 70 of them and we to need to protect them from regulations that might be based on research that's overblown.
On federal earmarks:
"The incumbents have a whole list of earmarks and some of them don't even seem related to the 11th Congressional district, they seem like they are there as a favor for a campaign contribution. Earmarks are bad, but some projects are good. The good projects should have their own bill, should be discussed on their own merits, and not tucked into an unrelated bill."
On a mistake you've learned from:
"To err is human, to forgive divine. I am sure I have made errors in my career, though I can't (think) of any I can point to offhand."
Amador talks tough and has the bearing of a leader. He's played responsible management roles in law enforcement and government service. He moved into Lodi to secure residence in the 11th Congressional district but scoffs at suggestions that his recent arrival here makes him less of a candidate: "Tenure does not equate to talent." He's a good verbal communicator and staunch in his views. His grasp of issues seems solid in some areas (defense, immigration) and less so in others (water, health care, federal spending.)