As part of an effort to inform Alaskans about candidates and their positions on issues important to Catholic voters, the Catholic Anchor solicited responses to a questionnaire from the four candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives: incumbent Republican candidate Don Young, Democrat candidate Forest Dunbar, Libertarian candidate Jim McDermott and Republican candidate John Cox. All candidates responded. Some answers have been edited for length. These questions and answers are provided for informational purposes only; the Catholic Anchor does not endorse candidates for political office.
Would you oppose the use of capital punishment?
DON YOUNG: The death penalty can act as an effective deterrent to violent crime, and I am generally supportive of its use in the most heinous incidents.
FOREST DUNBAR: Yes, except in cases of national security or war crimes. I am opposed to the death penalty in other contexts. There is no clear evidence that it serves as an effective deterrent.
JIM MCDERMOTT: Life is a precious gift from God and I employ my Irish Catholic sagacious indoctrinations to support my stance against the death penalty.
JOHN COX: I oppose it. Man will make a mistake in judgment of life. Only God has the power and right to call man to his kingdom.
Would you support overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion on demand?
DON YOUNG: Absolutely. Abortion is a great moral disaster.
FOREST DUNBAR: I am opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade and limiting the constitutional right to privacy. I am pro-choice, but would like to work together to actually reduce the number of abortions. The way to do that is through contraception, sex education, and expanded adoption, not forcing abortions underground.
JIM MCDERMOTT: Ethically yes, our government can’t even put together a balanced budget, and then who would want government regulating the pro-life and pro-choice issues?
JOHN COX: As one of only two candidates endorsed by the Alaska Right to Life, I will support overturning this ruling. Life begins at conception. No exceptions.
Would you support legislation to prohibit federal funding of research in which a human embryo is destroyed?
DON YOUNG: A human embryo is a precious gift and taxpayers should not provide incentives to destroy these gifts.
FOREST DUNBAR: I would support legislation that prevents the creation of human embryos specifically for the purposes of stem cell or similar research that might destroy them. However, it makes sense to use embryos that would be disposed of regardless.
JIM MCDERMOTT: This is a moral decision based on our belief systems and excessive government involvement on this topic is what led to these terrible situations.
JOHN COX: We were given life by God, and it is wrong to take that life. The human embryo is life. It is the beginning of life.
Would you support legislation to provide federal education tax credits or vouchers to allow more students the opportunity to attend private and religious schools?
DON YOUNG: The responsibility to provide core academic funding for students, and the decision whether to offer student vouchers, should rest with state and local governments.
FOREST DUNBAR: I do not support federal dollars being used for private, for-profit, and religious schools. Strong public schools, which accept students of all abilities, incomes, and creeds are instrumental for our democracy.
JIM MCDERMOTT: I champion cyber schools, home schools, charter schools, vouchers, and I’m willing to look at other out-of-the-box quality education delivery thinking.
JOHN COX: I would support legislation for both tax credits and vouchers for private and religious schools. In addition mandate that religion return to the public schools.
Would you support legislation to prohibit federal funding of non-governmental organizations that perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood?
DON YOUNG: Yes. I am concerned that the organization fails to satisfy federal law mandating that they keep taxpayer funds separate from accounts used to perform abortions.
FOREST DUNBAR: Health care providers such as Planned Parenthood offer a multitude of programs that promote public health, including contraception, treatment/tests for sexually transmitted diseases, cancer screenings, and other women’s health services. I support federal funding for those programs.
JIM MCDERMOTT: To force pro-life tax payers to indirectly fund abortions puts all of these same followers of Jesus Christ in a possible tough situation concerning salvation.
JOHN COX: I would lead the way on this issue! Be it non-governmental or sponsored abortions clinics I would ensure that no funding is funneled towards them.
Would you support legislation to permit undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for a number of years, have worked and built equities in our country, and who do not have criminal records, to register with the government and take steps to earn legal status?
DON YOUNG: Following secured borders, implementation of an effective visa overstay tracking system, and expansion of electronic employment verification, I would consider a path to citizenship.
FOREST DUNBAR: Yes. We are a great nation today because of the joint strength of our indigenous and immigrant communities. Unless one is Native American or Alaska Native, their heritage comes from the latter. There should be a legal pathway to citizenship and I am committed to working on comprehensive immigration reform.
JIM MCDERMOTT: I suggested a liberal work card visa allowing peaceful and loving immigrants working in the USA to do so while simultaneously working towards American citizenship.
JOHN COX: We are a nation of laws and those must be followed. Where do we draw the line and allow people to break those laws?
Would you support legislation to increase aid for refugees who are fleeing from persecution abroad and to provide adequate funding for the U.S. refugee admissions and resettlement programs?
DON YOUNG: I support robust funding for refugee resettlement programs.
FOREST DUNBAR: Yes. As the grandson of a refugee, who also worked with the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project in law school, these issues strike home for me. I am hugely appreciative of the work that Catholic Social Services and similar organizations have done in helping refugees resettle in our nation.
JIM MCDERMOTT: I believe the USA should allow citizens escaping the threat of harm or worse, a liberal passage to safety as long as credibility is vetted.
JOHN COX: I cannot support it. Funding must come from the private sector in the form of donations. The Federal Government is operating in the red.
Would you oppose legislation (i.e., the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act) that would make sexual orientation and gender identity or expression protected classes equivalent to other protected classes (e.g., race, religion, sex, etc.)
DON YOUNG: Yes, I believe federal intervention on this issue is unnecessary and this legislation would expose companies to notoriously difficult-to-prove lawsuits.
FOREST DUNBAR: No. In fact, I would be an original cosponsor if given the opportunity. I will fight for laws that ensure Alaskans of all races, religions and sexual orientations are protected equally under the law.
JIM MCDERMOTT: Oh, I believe Jesus Christ would challenge me to love all. If you love those who love you, what reward will you have? (Matthew 5:46)
JOHN COX: I would oppose it. A person should be hired based on their merits not their lifestyles. I have practiced this my entire military career.
Would you support legislation to prevent the government from discriminating against a health care provider that declines to provide, pay for, or refer for abortions or contraception?
DON YOUNG: I strongly support conscience clause protections and the religious freedoms of employers.
FOREST DUNBAR: A patient should be able to trust that a doctor will at least refer them to another health care provider, if they do not provide the care they seek.
JIM MCDERMOTT: Of course, I am the pro personal liberty candidate representing the Alaskan Libertarian organization. Live free.
JOHN COX: Definitely! Abortions are morally wrong in the eyes of God.