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HD Media is running submitted questionnaires from candidates in the 2020 elections.

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NAME: Paula Jean Swearengin


PARTY: Democrat


HOME CITY: Mullens

HOME COUNTY: Wyoming County

ENDORSEMENTS: Brand New Congress, Blue America, Women for Bernie, Silvers for Sanders, 90 for 90, WV for Elizabeth Warren, Down with Tyranny, Save Main Street.

PERSONAL STATEMENT: I'm a coal miner’s daughter and granddaughter. America was built on the backs of Appalachians. Like so many, my family paid a steep price for coal. I lost many of my family members to cancer and black lung. West Virginia's most valuable resource is our people. We are determined, hard-working and smart. When we band together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. I’m ready to fight for my family, my neighbors and my state to deliver the prosperous, healthy future that we deserve.

Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:

1. What suggestions do you have for improving bipartisanship and cooperation in Congress?

We’ve seen representatives from both parties who are bought and paid for by big corporations. We have to work together to get things done, but, we also need a Congress that will do what’s right, even if that means breaking with the party. It means working with others to find real, lasting solutions. And it also means putting people over profits.

2. What new measures would you support to help middle-class families deal with the rising costs of health care, housing and higher education?

I support Medicare for All, a federal jobs guarantee, and federal funding for our community colleges, state universities, and trade schools so that all West Virginians can live healthy and productive lives.

3. What should be the role of Congress in addressing the challenges of climate change?

West Virginians have been impacted by pollution for years. The industrial revolution was built on the backs of Appalachians. Our waterways, mountains and health have paid the price. Climate change is impacting us now. Congress needs to take it seriously by supporting the Green New Deal, and the Reclaim Act. I’ll fight for federal funds to support states like ours.

Additional questions from The Herald-Dispatch:

4. What steps, if any, would you propose to prolong the solvency of the Social Security and Medicaid trust funds?

The solvency of Social Security is easily fixed by lifting the cap on incomes over $137 thousand. But solvency isn’t the real problem. We need accurate and adequate cost of living adjustments now for our future generations, we need to bring back unions and strengthen our social security so all of us can have comfortable retirement.

5. The national debt keeps rising. Do you think that’s acceptable, and if not, what action should be taken to bring it down?

We are in a national crisis that we have never seen before. We need to talk about how we are going to help the millions who’ve lost their jobs. We need to talk about investing in our healthcare workers, hospitals and our safety, by any measure we can. We need to bail out the people, not big corporations.

6. Do you think term limits should be placed on those serving in Congress?

Primaries are the voters’ opportunity to kick out politicians that aren’t working for them. Right now both parties prop up and protect their incumbents and undermine primaries. Gerrymandering, voter suppression and corrupt millionaires and billionaires have done all they can to keep their power. More people need to run for office and we as voters need to hold our representatives accountable.

7. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?

The COVID-19 crisis has shown us how critical access to internet is. To operate in the 21st century we need access to modern telecommunications. Our state doesn’t have enough revenue to make these changes our own. As a U.S. Senator, I’ll fight for funding for our state to expand broadband to grow small business and bring modern communications to West Virginian families.


8. What changes would you recommend for responding to any future national emergencies such as COVID-19 which would increase overall preparedness and assist those affected by the emergency?

Right now we need relief like the HEROES Act, which has been languishing on my opponent’s desk for months. To prepare for future pandemics, we should draw on our current experience to plan coordination of supply chains, create guidelines for what equipment (like PPE) should be stockpiled, and streamline the process for approving tests during public health emergencies.

9. What do you believe should be the role of the United States in global affairs such as trade, immigration, and the environment?

Our role should be creating the same relationship we strive to have with neighbors at home: we want a neighborhood of justice, compassion, and respect. It’s not our place to judge private affairs as long as everyone is safe. And we’ll lend a hand to help feed hungry kids or less fortunate neighbors, if our own family is well-fed.

10. Do you support recent weakening of EPA regulations concerning air and water quality? Why or why not?

First, let’s not call them “regulations.” They are protections. Second, no one should remove the protections and safeguards that keep your family safe. The only reason this happens is that our corrupt politicians are for-sale to the highest bidder. It’s their job to protect us, but they’re more interested in keeping their jobs than doing their jobs.

11. Considering the issues raised by COVID-19, what changes need to be made at the federal level to make affordable healthcare available to all Americans?

I support Medicare for All. Anyone who wants something incremental is someone like Capito who has never watched a loved one suffer without proper healthcare, or someone who's never been worried about being unable to afford healthcare for themselves.

12. What changes to current election laws would you recommend to make voting safer and more accessible?

We need automatic voter registration, universal vote-by-mail, and we should make Election Day a national holiday. If we care about democracy, we need to fight to make sure everyone can participate in it.