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Walter West: Five reasons I am voting for Democrat Lauren Baer

In preparation for my trip to the voting booth Nov. 6, I did some extensive reading on the election in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, between Republican Brian Mast and Democrat Lauren Baer.

While this midterm election is obviously a vote of confidence (or disapproval) of the Trump administration, I really tried to concentrate on some critical issues that matter most to my neighbors here in South Florida and me.

Five reasons Mast lost my vote:

GUN SAFETY

Mentally ill individuals are getting a hold of military-style assault weapons and gunning down large numbers of innocent Americans on a regular basis. There was a horrific school shooting like this just down the road from us this year in Parkland. Seventeen innocent people were murdered for no reason. This past weekend there was another random killing of 11 innocent people with an assault rifle at a synagogue in Pennsylvania.

Mast has not followed through on any gun safety measures, and he supported the idea that we should just arm our teachers to deal with school shootings. He takes money from the NRA, whose primary mission is to promote the sale of as many guns as possible.

Baer has vowed to deliver on comprehensive gun safety legislation and at least eliminate the sale of military-style assault weapons. She does not take money from the NRA.

I believe that Americans should be able to own guns if they chose, but I just can’t find a good reason to allow the general public to buy military-style assault weapons. We just have to take immediate steps to do something about the mass shootings in our country.

HEALTH INSURANCE

Mast voted to repeal the ACA (“Obamacare”) which would have left thousands of people in our community without health insurance. One of my neighbors would have lost her insurance because she is self-employed, and another because he had a pre-existing condition from previous back surgery.

Mast lost my vote here by showing a disregard for thousands of local citizens he would have been abandoning with no health insurance options.

Baer accepts that the ACA needs some improvement to be affordable and sustainable. She plans to achieve that goal via new incentives to purchase health care on ACA markets which will boost enrollment and spread risk among providers.

She also supports solutions via an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid. Baer believes that health care should be a right for all Americans.

I believe that everyone should be able to go to the doctor.

ENVIRONMENT

Mast takes donations from the big corporations who are actually the ones guilty of polluting our environment. The blue-green algae blooms have tripled in size in the two years that Mast has been in office, and the recent red tide at the beach near my neighborhood was the worst I have ever seen.

Mast proposed some legislation to deal with the pollution issues recently, but it seems like he did that just in time for the election.

Baer does not take money from the corporations who pollute, and she has committed to pushing for stronger environmental protections, and for the funding that is needed to clean up our waterways.

I want to be able to walk on our beaches without choking from the red tide. I want to enjoy our waterways without encountering an invasion of blue-green algae and extensive dead marine life. I believe we must maintain a clean and healthy earth for our children and grandchildren.

ECONOMY

Mast voted for the tax plan that is adding $1.9 trillion to our deficit. He will likely support a Republican plan to put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block to actually pay for those tax breaks that were given to corporations and special interests.

That approach is not sustainable and just makes no sense.

Baer has vowed to support a more balanced tax plan that includes helping the middle class, and lowering the deficit. She wants to protect Social Security as a top priority.

I do not feel comfortable with the recent direction of the U.S. deficit, the stock market and our economy. I do not want to see any seniors lose a penny of their hard-earned Social Security benefits.

LEGISLATIVE RESPONSIBILITY

Brian Mast rode the Trump wave into office two years ago, so it appears that he is continuing to be a yes-man to the Trump Administration to get re-elected. As a legislator, Mast is supposed to serve as a check and balance to the executive branch, not just go along with whatever he is told to do.

In two years in office, Mast has not adequately done his job.

Baer has promised to work with the Trump administration as much as possible to get things done, but is also ready to stand up to the executive branch when needed, no matter who is president.

Baer is highly educated, experienced, and seems like a far better choice to make a difference as our representative in Congress.

I believe in the three independent branches of our government, and I believe that it is time to get some balance back in Washington.

___

Walter West, a graduate of Georgetown University, is a freelance journalist based in Jupiter, Florida.

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