2014 is an election year in Mississippi, and Examiner.com is sitting down with some of the candidates for key races so that the voters will be able to make informed decisions. The next in this series is a phone interview with congressional candidate Cindy Burleson, the Independent Party nominee for Mississippi’s Fourth Congressional District.
Burleson began the International Sibling Society, a charitable organization with international reach. She served in Iraq as a civilian member of the Coalition Provisional Authority. She worked as an advisor in the Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sport while there. In 2009, the United States Olympic Committee chose Burleson as the only American representing the United States at the International Olympic Academy in Greece. She is still active with both her charity and the International Olympic Academy.
Burleson responded to our questions via email regarding her run for United States Congress.
Why are you running for office?
I’m ready to return to Washington to help all people, businesses and industries of Mississippi’s
fourth congressional district. I hope to diplomatically encourage investment of all types in the
future of South Mississippi.
What are your qualifications?
The following information is taken from our campaign website:
Early on in Cindy’s career, she lived and worked in Washington, D.C. In time, she began The International Sibling Society, a small charitable organization with a large international reach that she continues publishing through till this day. Eventually, Cindy was politically placed through White House Liaisons in the (George W.) Bush administration to serve in Iraq as a civilian member of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) under the leadership of Ambassador Paul Bremer.
In Iraq, Cindy worked as an advisor in the Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sport, where she first came in contact with coaches, athletes and academics involved in the Olympic Games. In 2004, Cindy returned home to Hattiesburg where she began writing about her experiences in Iraq and how she personally witnessed the power sport holds over conflict.
In 2009, the United States Olympic Committee chose Cindy Burleson as the only American representing the USA at the International Olympic Academy in Greece. Cindy continues to participate in the International Olympic Academy through her involvement in the International Olympic Academy Participants Association, in addition to presenting at international conferences on matters surrounding the Olympic Truce, sport and peacekeeping.
Third party candidates have a reputation for being spoilers for the two major parties. Do you agree with this assessment? Why do you think that you have a better chance than past third party candidates?
In the recent past, running as a third party candidate was considered a political death sentence. Now Independence sports the strength of Gibraltar. Voters are increasingly disillusioned with political parties and more and more interested in individual candidates. That is not to say that much of the same still does not apply, because the unified voice of many still gets their way in Washington. It is just that our political parties are steadily losing their unified voices. Voters are ready to send candidates to Congress who are willing to unify their voice and work together to move our country forward. Americans are tired of being held hostage to political gridlock.
Same-sex marriage appears to be heading toward legalization in most states. If elected, how will you ensure that the LGBTQ community will gain equal rights?
I will not ensure that the LGBTQ community will gain equal rights, that is up to the LGBTQ community itself. With the help of groups outside of our state, the LGBTQ community in Mississippi is standing their ground pretty well. I do have great empathy for their fight and find myself silently cheering along with their every victory. On a personal note, I can ensure that love will find a way, with or without marriage. I say this as person who has never been married. As a matter of fact, marriage has not presented itself as a legal option for me either. That being said, current law has not kept my son’s father and me from successfully parenting our now nine year old son. I can genuinely understand the heartbreak many in the LGBTQ community must surely feel being forced to live their lives outside of marriage. I believe those of us doing it have a much more challenging life than those who are not. Oftentimes public assistance is the only option available to mend the gaps between those who are legally able to marry and those who are not.
What is your opinion on oil fracking? Do you have any environmental concerns about it?
Fracking is great until so much natural gas leaks into the water supply that tap water ignites when lit.
Do you support an increase in alternative forms of energy, including green energy such as solar and wind? If so, how would you support them if elected? If not, why not?
I very much support an increase in alternative forms of energy, including green energy such as solar and wind. In Mississippi, we are still struggling for net metering legislation on the state level that will allow Mississippians to plug their alternative energy sources into the grid, effectively putting Mississippi families into the energy business by harvesting energy from their own solar panels or other energy sources, in essence selling this energy back to power companies to sell to their customers. We are close to passing the appropriate legislation in Mississippi. It is just a matter of educating legislators about the tremendous benefits of moving forward on these issues.
Do you support the legalization of marijuana? Do you believe that the legalization has been a good thing overall in areas where it has been done? Do you have any lasting concerns about the regulation and safety of marijuana? Do you think that the legalization of marijuana will lead to other drugs becoming more acceptable?
With the full support of the pharmaceutical industry, the legalization of marijuana will continue moving forward with little opposition. Without the full support of the pharmaceutical industry, the moral debate over the legality of marijuana will reemerge.
What is your opinion on gun rights? Would you support any further gun control legislation, or the repeal of any existing laws? If not, how would you attempt to prevent tragedies such as the Aurora Theater shooting?
When we start limiting the right to bear arms, we strip Americans of an important right our constitution ensures. However, when Americans stand up to those packing, the debate boomerangs straight back to the right to protect oneself, family and property. We all want to live and work in a place where we feel secure.
What, if anything, will you do in order to make the Affordable Care Act more palatable to your constituents?
I will continue to actively engage with consumers, health providers and industry stakeholders to improve Americans access to affordable healthcare. So many in our district, across all social and economic lines, from business owners to young people, have gone without access to affordable healthcare for far too long. Bridging the gap between those who have health coverage and those who do not will not happen overnight, but we are making progress.
Do you support school choice in the form of vouchers? If so, do you have a plan for how to enact such programs while in office? If not, how will you improve our schools?
I look forward to working to improve the quality of education in our district. I also look forward to doing everything I can to ensure our schools have adequate federal funding in place to achieve our educational goals and aspirations.
Do you support an increase in the minimum wage?
Yes. However, what is most important to people in our district is that large corporations and multinational organizations operating in Mississippi pay Mississippians wages that are more in line with what they are paying in other states. We have moved so far away from sustainable wages in Mississippi that there is little difference between wages paid and public assistance.
Increasing the minimum wage moves us one step closer to securing sustainable wages for people in our district.
How would you handle the current immigration crisis? Do you think that your state should do more to stem the tide of illegal immigration?
I would support a quick and speedy humanitarian response to safely remove currently detained unescorted refugee children from harm’s way, while at the same exact time support robustly armed efforts to secure our borders. These direct actions will pave the way for long-term diplomacy that will influence American foreign policy with the countries involved.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Mississippi traditionally falls behind other states in an array of different areas. However, exciting things are taking place with time banking in our district. Families in Mississippi’s Fourth Congressional District are taking their own plight into their own hands, boldly moving past traditional barriers that held Mississippi back in the past.
For more information about our district’s timebanks, click here.