Name as it appears on the ballot: Howard Staley
Date of birth: March 23, 1955
Campaign website:
Occupation & employer: Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.

1. What do you see as the most important issues facing North Carolina and the nation? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?

The three most important issues I see facing North Carolina and the Nation are the economy in general, the war in Iraq and health care. I want to assure that this economic downturn does not lead to increased homelessness. I do not want a long-term presence in Iraq. I would like to see a health care system that is reliable at all times of a person’s life.

2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective in the U.S. Senate? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.

As a practicing podiatrist for nearly 27 years, I have experienced most all of the pitfalls of our current health financing schemes from the viewpoint of a health care provider, as a small business providing health insurance for employees and as a patient. My experience would help to avoid more mistakes in the expected upcoming legislation to change our system of health insurance.

3. How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I describe myself as a moderate progressive. I believe that small changes in direction will lead to great changes in the future. I believe that we should keep things that work and change things that are inappropriate without causing severe disruption.

4. The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle and North Carolina. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.

I support a more efficient and usable public transportation system, based on local needs that would relieve road congestion, decrease pollution and limit foreign oil consumption.

5. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

All officials should take a position of authority that allows them to utilize their expertise in issues that are for the betterment of our society. All decisions are not going to be approved of by all voters at all times. In my specific platform, however, I would like to see a health care system that is available for all residents of the United States at all times of their lives without causing a noticeable redistribution of wealth. Any workable solution will be somewhat unpopular with all groups involved, including patients, doctors, hospitals, pharmacists, insurance companies, taxpayers and in some way just about everyone. There is no perfect system, but a health care system that is equally unpopular among all parties involved would probably achieve the goals stated above.

6. If these issues haven’t been addressed above, would you please comment on:

a. The U.S. has been fighting the war in Iraq for five years. Was the decision to invade a mistake?

Yes, I was opposed as was most of world opinion. We invaded Iraq on false claims of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Certainly, Saddam Hussein was an evil and deranged person.

b. What should our policy in Iraq be today? Should we base substantial military forces there for the foreseeable future? Start to withdraw now, or if not now, according to a plan (i.e., on a timetable)? Which, if any, of the congressional resolutions introduced so far on Iraq do you support?

Our policy in Iraq today should be to achieve stability no matter what the solution be that reunifying Iraq or splitting Iraq into regional areas, but we need to stabilize it as soon as possible. Since we destroyed Iraq, we do have some responsibility to maintaining a necessary military presence. I would rather leave the decision of when to withdraw to the President, who is the Commander and Chief and who would have the most flexibility to make these decisions as to when to withdraw. I would look forward to working with the new Administration. I am not in favor of a long-term military presence in Iraq.

c. Evaluate the war in Afghanistan. What troop levels and funding should be allocated to fight that war?

I think we abandoned the war in Afghanistan by insufficient troop levels, and no clear victory by starting a simultaneous war in Iraq.

d. What is our goal there, in your view? What should our policy be? What legislation should be introduced to address those issues?

Our goal in Afghanistan was to completely destroy terrorist organization and to depose the Taliban. The terrorist groups moved slightly to Pakistan, and the Taliban is now seeking a resurgence. Luckily, we now have some NATO assistance to stabilize the government; however, I fear we may need to aggressively confront the remaining enemies. I also feel this should be conducted by the military under control of the President. I don’t think Congress should be involved in the daily management of the war. It should be left to the military under ultimate control of the President. We will also need much greater assistance from Pakistan to avoid our own troops being accused of entering their sovereign territory.

e. Economic inequality in the U.S.: Is a major problem? If so, what steps do you advocate shrinking the gap between rich and poor?

Is it a major problem? Yes. The gap between the rich and poor has once again led to an aristocracy in our Nation at the expense of the middle-class. A great difference in wealth is a self-perpetuating cycle of higher prices for the lower income levels. This is most noticeable in the cost of college education – especially at private institutions. The only effective method to address this would be a more progressive income tax – especially when CEOs are making more than one hundred million dollars a year.

f. Universal health care: Do you support a program of universal health insurance? If so, is your model for it closest to Sen. Clinton’s? Sen. Obama’s? Some other plan? Or do you favor a free-market approach like Sen. McCain’s?

Yes, I support a health plan that would always be available at any time of a person’s life. I define universal health care as covering all medical services for all persons at all times, and I do not feel we can afford a system of this magnitude. We need a basic and well-defined plan that has aspects of government guarantee, available private insurance and free market control by required co-payment.

g. Infrastructure: Should the U.S. undertake new investments—and if so, how much? — in highways, bridges, transit systems, water and sewer systems and the like?

The United States does need to encourage more usable public transportation to reduce the effect of excessive automobile use. Since the federal government has subsidized automobiles by subsidizing roads, it will probably have to play some role in developing public transportation systems although the ultimate decision will have to be made by local governments – states, towns, counties, and cities. The Nation and North Carolina in particular are straining their clean water supplies. I would be in favor of water projects to increase our supply of clean water for the future.

h. There has been an increase in unemployment, a rise in home foreclosures, a spike in food and fuel prices, a huge federal deficit, and other troubling economic indicators. What do you see as the primary sources of our current economic problems? What measures should Congress use to resolve address them?

The primary source of our economic problems is a war that is not being paid for except by borrowing money and an imbalance trade deficit – especially for foreign oil and Chinese imports, which are artificially under-priced due to China’s monetary policy toward the dollar. Also, American’s reliance on credit cards and other means of borrowing has not let wages grow to a level that would sustain our standard of living. There are several proposals to slow the rate of home foreclosures including government home purchase and interest rate assistance, but the features of these plans would be in the details, as we do not want to bail out reckless investors. All of these plans would help to some level.

i. How would you begin to reduce the federal deficit? What are some of the possible negative consequences of your proposed solutions?

At this time, the federal deficit is so huge that it will take years to reduce it. This can only be done either through reduced spending, or increased taxes – neither of which is popular. Government spending should not be reduced during an economic recession. This would require a microscopic examination of where the federal government may be able to reduce spending. I do not recommend an overall tax increase for most Americans.

j. Trade: What changes in trade policy do you advocate, if any?

For the most part I believe in free trade policy; however, we do need the ability to change unfair trade policies of foreign nations. I believe imported goods should be in compliance with the United States’ policies on pollution, workers’ safety and child labor laws. We have exported most of our industries that cause pollution to countries that do not have strict anti-pollution laws. We are polluting the rest of the world by purchasing these cheap foreign goods. At the same time, we have lost jobs. Artificial exchange rates, as with China, also need to be addressed. [See next question.].

k. The falling dollar: The euro and the dollar were equal not long ago. Now, one euro costs $1.50. What’s the problem, and what should be done to address it?

The falling dollar should be a wake-up call to all Americans – that America no longer reigns supreme economically. Foreign nations no longer want our dollar. This is due to an imbalance of trade and excessive borrowing. Unfortunately, nothing needs to be done because this more realistically aligns the dollar with foreign currency – especially China.

7. What is your position on capital punishment?

I am undecided. There have been serious and heinous crimes that probably deserve capital punishment [e.g. the 911 disaster.] There have been; however, too many cases of discovery of innocence of convicted death row inmates. Taking one innocent life is too many. If a convicted person chooses his or her own capital punishment in lieu of life-long confinement, I would probably not object. My main objection to capital punishment is that it can be overused. If we are to retain capital punishment, we do need to limit its availability to only the most deserving and undeniable crimes.

8. What is your position regarding LGBT rights? Please address whether gay marriages, or civil unions should be made legal in North Carolina, or as a matter of national policy; also, whether sexual orientation and identity should be added as a protected class under federal or state anti-discrimination laws.

There are rights in the U.S. Constitution that are afforded to ALL Americans. There are no special LGBT rights, and state constitutions vary. I would support adding sexual orientation or identity to hate crime statutes should that be found to be the cause of the crime. I do not support gay marriage because that implies an approval of unnatural sexual acts. The word marriage needs to be reserved for the union of a male and a female. I see nowhere in the U.S. Constitution that provides a right to marriage. If marriage were a right, it would not be regulated as it is by most state laws – especially noted in marrying your own relatives. I would like to think that civil unions of gay partners is an attempt to establish some type of family life. Everyone needs and benefits from a family organization. I would support legislation that would allow gay families under a term such as ‘assumption of family rights.

9. Do you support women’s reproductive rights, including the “right to choose” as set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade?

Yes. I support a woman’s ‘right to make a very difficult decision.

10. Should the nation’s labor-organizing laws be strengthened to better protect workers’ rights? If so, how?

I support organized labor, but I think organized labor would be better off bargaining for better rights, and strengthening their own position rather than relying on laws from Congress.

11. Where do you stand on retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that engaged in domestic surveillance without a warrant?

I do not like domestic surveillance without a warrant, but I feel the telecommunications companies felt they were complying with the law as re-written following the 911 attack. I would support the Senate version of the bill granting retroactive immunity for past actions, but not for current or future actions.