Believing Hunter Will Be Disqualified, Republican Bill Wells Says 50th District Should ‘Move On’
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Credit: Courtesy of Bill Wells
Believing Hunter Will Be Disqualified, Republican Bill Wells Says 50th District Should 'Move On'
Bill Wells, candidate for the 50th District in the House of Representatives
KPBS Midday Edition is interviewing candidates running to represent San Diego County residents in an effort to give voters the information they need to decide who to vote for in the June primary election.
Republican Bill Wells is running to represent the 50th District in the House of Representatives.
The 50th District comprises much of San Diego’s East County from Fallbrook and Escondido to Lakeside and Jamul. It also stretches into Temecula in Riverside County. Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter has represented the district since 2009.
Wells is the mayor of El Cajon and owns Broadwell Health, a healthcare company that provides psychiatry and psychology services.
He joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss why he wants to represent the 50th District. Below is a transcript of that interview.
Q: What are your qualifications for this congressional seat and why are you running?
A: From a business perspective, I have worked in mental health all my adult life. I started off as a registered nurse, then I got my doctorate in clinical psychology. Along the way, I mixed my career with clinical and administrative work. And a few years ago, I started my own healthcare company. It’s called Broadwell Health and we provide psychology and psychiatry services to federally-qualified health clinics. Politically, I started working in politics about 2004. I was a planning commissioner first and did that for four years. I ran for (El Cajon) City Council in 2008. I was appointed as mayor, and served one year, finishing out Mark Lewis’ term. And I ran for mayor in 2014 and I won with 83 percent of the vote and I’ve been mayor since.
Q: And why are you running for the 50th congressional seat?
A: There are several reasons I am running. First and foremost I think I bring something different to the conservative Republican outlook, which is the right outlook I think for that district, certainly demographically, that most of the people living in the district share those kind of values. I share many of the same values. I share the same values on life, on national security, but I also think there are some things that are important to me as an individual that I think resonate well with people in the district, as well. Probably first and foremost my idea, and my dedication to mental health. When I talk about mental health issues, I think drug addiction is part of that, alcohol addiction is part of that, homelessness is part of that. I believe that there is a mental health crisis in America that Washington has fairly much ignored, and it’s getting to the point where I don’t think it can be ignored any longer. There’s room in Washington now for somebody to be a voice, speaking up for the need to increase the amount of treatment and funding for this problem.
Q: Congress has not yet passed a replacement for DACA. Would you support a clean bill that provided a path to citizenship for people brought to the United States illegally as children?
A: I would. You know when I think about any issue, I try to get past the rhetoric, I try to get looking at what’s really happening. I think if I were to be honest, and I had to cross into Canada in order to feed my children, and make sure they didn’t starve, I would do that, even if it was illegal. And if I was there and I built a life and I was paying taxes and I owned a home, I would want Canada to give me a way to make it right. And I think America needs to do that. I understand the frustration with people being here illegally and I do think we have to make that right. But, yes, I think there has got to be some kind of way for the people that have been living here, and living a good American life, to be able to stay.
Q: If you’re elected what would your position be on funding for the border wall proposed by President Trump?
A: I’m actually in favor of the wall, and I’m in favor of barriers and I’ll tell you why. San Diego built a border wall and it significantly decreased crime at the border, and it decreased illegal immigration, but there’s other problems at the border as well. I think methamphetamine is at the root of all these homeless problems, much of the methamphetamine is coming across the border, sex trafficking is coming across the border, so I like the idea of a barrier.
Q: Republicans in Congress last year mounted a big campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act, would you join in efforts to repeal Obamacare, or would you be open to fixing the Affordable Care Act?
A: Well, I think it’s really semantics whether you say you’re replacing or you’re fixing. I understand the impetus for the Affordable Care Act, but it went too far and it wasn’t well thought out. The unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act was that middle-class America was now no longer able to afford health care. To me it was a great redistribution of wealth, and a redistribution of a problem. Having said that, our old system wasn’t working very well either. So, I wish I could tell you exactly how we fix it — I don’t think it works that way, I think that smart people in Washington work with experts, and come up with a solution that is less politically based and less partisan and more a real solution that can help regular Americans.
Q: Would you support something that might look like MediCare for all?
A: You’re talking single-payer, government controlled healthcare? No and the reason being is I’ve seen what happened. If you look at Europe that is a giant fiasco wherever it’s been tried, and frankly government doesn't do well at that kind of thing. You look at how the VA system is being handled, which is a form of government healthcare, it’s a disaster. My son fought in Afghanistan and I’ve been very frustrated since he came back, with the amount of care that he’s provided, the obstacles he has to get care.
Q: Would you support creating additional regulations on gun ownership?
A: Yes. I would say that I am a great defender of the Constitution, in general, and that certainly includes the Second Amendment, and I believe the founding fathers were not unaware of the problems associated with gun ownership. They also believed that it was very important to have a free nation, that people have the right to bear arms. Having said that, it doesn’t give you carte blanche to do anything you want, and I think that a reasonable society has to have some limits.
Q: Your views on homelessness were in the spotlight after the El Cajon City Council banned groups from providing food in public parks to the homeless for awhile. If you’re elected, what kind of initiatives do you have in mind as a member of Congress for addressing the issue of homelessness or increasing the amount of affordable housing?
A: Well first off, the reason that we didn’t allow people to feed people in the parks is because we didn’t want to spread Hepatitis A. I certainly think that any approach to homelessness has to be a two-pronged approach. One of those prongs has to be the ability for those people to get off the streets, for them to get services, for them to get help in transitioning from a homeless lifestyle to a housed lifestyle. I really think the answer has to do with some kind of housing that the government provides. I think you have to expect at this point, that there are some people that are never going to be able to provide for their own housing, but I also think it’s OK to have some parameters around that housing. I think if people are coming into government housing, they should be at least working towards not using drugs and alcohol and that should be a goal, and there should be treatment involved in that. I think people should have some responsibility for behaving in a way that makes them good citizens in that housing community. Having said that, I think that the federal government, first and foremost, needs to take a serious look at the mental health crisis in America. There is too many people with mental illnesses on the streets. When we closed down the psychiatric hospitals, that was a giant misservice to the community.
Q: Why are you challenging the Republican incumbent in the 50th District? Why shouldn’t Duncan Hunter continue representing the district?
A: I think the question is that, will Duncan Hunter be able to continue? When people ask me, ‘should I be loyal to you or should I be loyal to Duncan?’ I said, first off, don’t be loyal to any of us, it’s not my seat, it’s not his seat, it’s the people’s seat. But, even more importantly, I think you have to look realistically at this, with everything that I have seen happening with the Department of Justice and grand juries and all the other things, it seems very unlikely to me that he will be able to be a congressman for very much longer, and I think that it would be the best thing for the district as a whole, to choose a new leader, get behind that new leader, and move on.
Q: Congressman Hunter has shown himself to be a strong supporter of President Trump and his agenda. How would you describe your level of support for President Trump?
A: I would say I am a strong supporter of President Trump. He’s not my cup of tea always, the way in which he handles diplomacy is certainly not the way I would handle diplomacy, but I think the most important thing to look at in a leader is the results in what he’s doing – the policies. When I look at his policies, I am not offended by his policies. I think he is doing a great job with the economy, I am very happy with what he has been doing lately with North Korea. I think that he is taking a hard stance with Iran. I like his view on trade deficits and him fighting for us to have some equity in those trade deficits. I think a lot of the other complaints about him are distraction and white noise, and I don’t think it does either party any good to continue down that road. We can get in this habit of trying to attack and destroy the person from the other side always, certainly I understand people felt that way about President Obama, that he was always under attack like that. It didn't do the Republican Party any good, and it’s not going to do the Democratic Party any good, to attack the President Trump, I think we need accept the fact that you’ve got a new leader, and try to work with him. We should really come at things from our commonalities before we come at things from our differences.
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