February 28, 2024
Election


Election

Keith Pekau, US Congress 6th District 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

US Congress, 6th District candidate Keith Pekau

Full Name: Keith Pekau

What office are you seeking? US Congress, 6th District

What offices, if any, have you previously held? Mayor of Orland Park since 2017

City: Orland Park

Occupation: Mayor of Orland Park

Education: B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Arizona State University and an M.B.A. from Duke University, as a Fuqua Scholar.

Campaign Website: KeithPekau.com

What is your position re-establishing the Child Tax Credit at $3,500 per child as set in the American Rescue Plan?

We need to make the Child Tax Credit work for working families and the economy again. The adjustments Democrats made further exacerbated the job shortage for businesses as it eliminated the long-standing requirement for earnings, which turned bipartisan tax relief for working families into a government handout for those unwilling to work. This ends up hurting the people who need help most because it ends up costing jobs which results in higher prices and further inflation.

In just one term as Mayor of Orland Park, I cut operating expenses by 14%, paid down over $50 million in debt, and lowered property tax rates by 30%, all while more than doubling investments in the village’s infrastructure. This is the fiscally responsible leadership I will bring to Congress which helps create jobs and lower taxes for the middle-class and working families.

Do you believe that corporations pay enough in taxes?

We all pay enough taxes.

Would you support increases or decreases in the amount of taxes corporations pay? Why?

We need to lower taxes on all Americans, and that includes our over- taxed businesses.

Do the rich, defined as the wealthiest 1%, pay enough in taxes?

Again, I believe we all pay enough taxes. Federal revenues are 71% higher today than in 2010. Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

Would support changes in the tax code that would increase or decrease their tax burden? Why?

The tax code needs to be simplified, and we owe it to working families to provide certainty and relief whenever possible. We also need to act immediately to cut wasteful spending and bring inflation down. Also, as previously pointed out, everyone needs to have their tax burden decreased.

With reckless spending by Democrats leading to the highest inflation since 1980, working families are struggling to keep up. Everything is more expensive, including groceries, gas, utilities, and even eating at restaurants. This has a real impact on people’s lives.

The only people surprised by this inflation are Washington politicians. You cannot keep spending and printing money like drunken sailors without negative consequences. You can’t close businesses and disrupt the supply chain without causing a significant jump in prices. Paying people to stay home instead of working increases labor costs for businesses, which leads to price increases for everyone.

We need to bring common sense to Congress and stop spending more than we bring in.

Do you support raising taxes on capital gains and dividends? Why?

No, I do not support raising any taxes. Increasing these taxes reduces economic activity and reduces the amount of revenue the federal government receives. Additionally, if we increase taxes on capital gains and dividends, we hurt everyone who has a retirement account or is trying to invest their hard-earned money to keep up with the added cost of inflation. We must lower taxes for hard-working Americans.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a breakdown in this country’s supply chain. What would you propose to fix it?

The breakdown in our supply chain was driven by our reaction to COVID-19 rather than the pandemic itself. Business relationships and supply chains are established over decades. These connections were broken with targeted business shutdowns, businesses and workers deemed non-essential, paying people extra money to stay home and not work and never-ending rule changes of what was allowable.

It took mere weeks and months to damage the foundation of our economy by fracturing the relationships that took decades to build. This damage will take a long time to repair, but it starts with decreasing government regulation and allowing the free market to work. Good government policies will allow this to happen more quickly.

The government needs to stop flooding the market with currency, stop giving benefits to people that aren’t earned which keep them out of the work force and stop picking winners and losers by subsidizing some sectors of the economy which requires other sectors to pay for those subsidies.

Lastly, we need to bring businesses back to America by making sure that we are energy independent, the market place is fair for American businesses and that strategically we have production in every industry right here in America. As part of that we must hold other countries accountable, especially China, that try to push global economic policies that hurt American businesses and working families.

How would you bring back manufacturing jobs?

I will work in Congress to create an environment in which businesses can succeed and thrive so they can grow and create good-paying jobs for American workers.

A key part of my plan is to make us energy independent and bring manufacturing back. Right now, we are relying on countries for our energy and manufacturing that may not be our friends, today or in the future. We should be a global leader in energy production of all types which will allow us to be an energy exporter. This inexpensive and reliable energy, along with the best labor force in the world, will bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

Too often we enter into “free” market trade policies where only American businesses play by the rules. We need to hold other countries accountable and make sure that trade markets are fair.

Lastly, America has a strategic interest to have production capability in every industry so that we cannot be held at a disadvantage by our enemies. Our federal policies should ensure that our strategic interests are aligned with American manufacturing.

What plans do you have to help the lower and middle class?

We need to bring common sense to Congress and stop spending more than we bring in. We must lower taxes for hard-working Americans. And it is critical we get our national debt under control. We can do all this without negatively impacting services by holding spending flat and becoming better and more efficient in everything government does.

Just as I have as Mayor of Orland Park, I will lower taxes for over-burdened Americans, which history has shown improves the economy and increases tax revenues for government. Working families would be able to keep more of their hard-earned money to put towards their kids’ education, paying bills, or even taking a vacation. Businesses could grow and hire more employees. With inflation under control, everything would cost less.

I will also fight to create good-paying middle-class jobs so more can provide for their family and create opportunities for them to pursue their American Dream. The jobs that have vanished over the last 30 years are manufacturing jobs. We have pushed our economy towards services. These jobs tend to either be on the very high end or very low end of the wage scale. Bringing manufacturing, and the good paying jobs that go with it, back to America will broaden our middle class and help everyone in America.

Do you support the idea that government can require immunizations against COVID-19 or other communicable diseases?

With regards to COVID-19, government can and should inform the public and provide data so they can make fully informed decisions for themselves and their families, as we did in Orland Park under my leadership.

Historically, state governments have required certain childhood immunizations with appropriate medical and religious exemptions. These have been and should be legislated by elected bodies, not instituted administratively by one person or by non-elected officials. In this way, all facts are brought to the table and the issues are fully debated before making a decision. Additionally, this happens after vaccines have been proven safe and reliable through years of testing and many years on the market. If certain vaccines, like smallpox and polio, are required they should be approved at the state level by the appropriate legislative bodies.

How do you feel about mask mandates?

As Mayor Orland Park, I stood up against unconstitutional mandates including the mask mandate. The Village of Orland Park refused to institute or enforce any of these mandates and we did so by legislative action, not by one person fiat.

Instead, we took steps to operate more safely while allowing people to make decisions for their own families. I’ve been a strong advocate for keeping our kids in schools, businesses open, and giving people the facts and data so they can make decisions based on what is best for their families.

Is America prepared for either another round of the current pandemic, or the next one?

Americans are prepared for any challenge. The real question is, did the government learn their lesson from this pandemic?

Our businesses, children, working families, communities, and economy and as whole are still recovering from the overly burdensome restrictions and mandates by the government. It’s led to record inflation, a loss of jobs, and a struggling economy. We must put individuals in charge of decisions for their families—we did that in Orland Park and were able to keep our community and economy thriving while keeping COVID cases and deaths lower than in surrounding communities.

The CDC and NIH have lost their credibility. Their policies were constantly changing and we now know that there was no data to support those positions. Rather than being honest with the American public the CDC and NIH were deceitful.

The most important thing that needs to be done is for the CDC and NIH to rebuild their reputations and to regain the trust of the American people. At some point, there will be another pandemic and we need to know that these organizations are not political and instead are based on facts. I believe this starts with a review of their actions during the pandemic and significant change in personnel and leadership. Only then will the CDC and NIH be able to start regaining trust.

Do you support new laws or regulations to safeguard people in the event of another pandemic?

We do not need new laws and regulations. We have them already. It is called the United States Constitution and elected officials and government administrators need to remember that their job is to uphold and support the laws of the Constitution of the United States. If they had done this during the pandemic, the damaging actions of the pandemic would have been avoided.

Should Medicare be expanded to include dental coverage for older Americans?

We need to make sure any decision for Medicare lowers costs, makes it more effective and efficient for the recipient, and delivers quality health care services. Before we expand Medicare we must make sure that we are providing high quality medical care in a cost efficient manner and have eliminated the fraud, waste and abuse that is running amok within the existing system. If we can ensure those things, then we can consider expanding coverage without raising costs.

What are the top two threats to our national security?

China and Russia.

What should be done to eliminate them?

We must operate from a position of strength. We are the best country and the greatest force for good in the history of the planet and historically we have been able to accomplish this by acting from a position of strength. Every time we have weakened our position globally in the last 120 years we have witnessed more worldwide unrest.

Recent events have shown why it’s critical to our national security and interest to focus on being energy independent. When we rely on other countries, we are playing into their hand, leaving our residents to foot the bill for increased costs. We should be a global leader in energy production of all types so that we are an exporter rather than an importer of energy.

We need to bring manufacturing back to America and must ensure that we have an American production presence in every industry. This is a strategic imperative. Also, we need to make sure that trade markets are fair and we must hold countries accountable, especially China, when they try to push global economic policies that hurt American businesses and workers.

Lastly, we must have strong military in the event that our diplomatic and economic efforts need enforcement. I’ve served in the Air Force, including 1,500 hours of flight time, 45 combat sorties, and 150 combat hours over Southern Iraq—I know what is at stake and I know we have the strongest military in the world who will defend our national security and the safety of our allies and partners.

What is your position on climate change and what should be done about it?

The climate has been changing since the beginning of time on planet earth. We all agree that we want a clean environment and to live with the comforts that the modern world affords us.

It is the ultimate arrogance to think that humans can stop the climate from changing. However, as we identify environmental challenges, I think humans have the ingenuity and engineering know how to respond to them.

For example, there are clean coal technologies that allow us to utilize coal in an environmentally friendly way. Additionally, trucks can be easily modified to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) that is much cleaner than diesel. Many companies have converted their fleets. Why has the US not invested in CNG filling stations throughout our interstates so that semi-trucks could do the same.

The best thing America can do is to become more energy efficient and independent as a nation. Our country has been a leader in transitioning to cleaner energy through private sector innovation (e.g. LEDs). I support these efforts while still utilizing our full capabilities to become energy independent to protect our national security.

However, this must not come at an unreasonable burden for Americans already dealing with a struggling national economy. Workers are especially hurting in Illinois, where unemployment remains among the highest in the nation.

What we should not be doing is subsidizing energy choices in the private sector. This results in tax subsidies for wealthy people to buy electric cars and install solar that are being paid for by the lower and middle class.

The federal government should be investing in research and development to meet our strategic energy needs, such as defense and space. Companies should then be allowed to bring that technology to the private sector as it becomes economically viable. We have a long track record of this with agencies such as NASA and DARPA.

This type of investment will bring alternative energy efficiency products and energy generation to the market place when they are economically viable without picking winners and losers. This not only ensures that we generate new energy solutions, but do so in an economically viable way that will ensure a smoother transition and less disruption for the public.

What is your position on nuclear energy expansion?

We have only brought two nuclear reactors on line since the Three Mile Island incident in 1979. We have taken zero advantage of the significant improvements in nuclear power safety, efficiency and waste generated in the last 40 years.

Nuclear energy is the cleanest, large scale, viable base load energy source we have and we should be using more of it. It is an important part of our energy future that I fully support as part of our energy plan to become more energy independent and an energy exporter.

Should America invest in other forms of renewable energy? Please explain.

The federal government should be investing in research and development to meet our strategic energy needs, such as defense and space. Companies should then be allowed to bring that technology to the private sector as it becomes economically viable. We have a long track record of this with agencies such as NASA and DARPA.

This type of investment will bring alternative energy efficiency products and energy generation to the market place when they are economically viable without picking winners and losers. This not only ensures that we generate new energy solutions, but do so in an economically viable way that will ensure a smoother transition and less disruption for the public. We should continue to invest in research on alternative power sources including hydrogen which is the most attractive future energy source that has the potential to provide base load power to the grid.

Our country has been a leader in transitioning to cleaner and more renewable energy sources through private sector innovation. I support these efforts while still utilizing our full capabilities to become energy independent to protect our national security. For example, solar power is economically viable in certain regions as it augments the grid to reduce black outs and brown outs during peak demand periods.

However, our efforts must not come at an unreasonable burden for Americans already dealing with a struggling national economy.

One part of the equation that you have not talked about is our electric grid. We must continue to modernize it and expand it so that it can handle our future needs as well. Without this, power generation cannot be effectively delivered.

Should pregnant women have the right to get an abortion?

Because the US Supreme Court provides the prevailing ruling on abortions, let’s focus on doing everything we can to make abortion as rare an occurrence as possible. I was adopted 7 years before Roe V. Wade and the most loving act of my life was a 15-year-old girl carrying me to term. The second most loving act was the adoption of two giving and loving parents who were at best lower middle class. Today, it is far too expensive and cumbersome to adopt a child.

I want to work on making the process of making adoption the preferred option, make it easier and more affordable so that the average American can afford to make that choice.

Is the immigration system a problem in this country? If so, what is your plan to fix it?

As a proud American, we need to start by agreeing that we can’t fault anyone for wanting to live in the best country on earth. However, it is simply irresponsible and impossible for us to not follow our immigration laws.

Most importantly, our immigration system should prioritize those immigrants who provide benefits to America rather than vice versa. Additionally, immigrants must go through the process legally, and we should not incentivize illegal immigration. Right now, it’s easier to come into our country illegally than legally.

Before addressing any changes in our immigration system, we must control our borders. This includes our physical borders, but also it means identifying and stopping people who over stay their visas. If and only if this is addressed, we can then start tackling the issues of those who are already in the country illegally and make changes to our immigration system going forward to ensure that those who we allow into the country are a benefit to America and its people.

Lastly, we are a nation of immigrants and immigration will continue to be an important part of nation’s vitality provided the immigration is in accordance with our laws. I believe every community is better off welcoming legal immigration because it makes everything from our neighborhoods to schools to economy stronger.

Do American cities have a crime problem?

Crime has risen to record levels in the US and Chicago, and suburban families are experiencing frightening increases of crime in our once-peaceful communities.

American families shouldn’t have to live in fear. Yet that’s what’s happening. People aren’t going downtown to see their favorite sports team play or eat at a restaurant. Suburban drivers are forced to seek out busy and well-lit gas stations so their vehicle isn’t stolen while they’re pumping gas. Parents aren’t letting their children ride their bikes through the neighborhood. Crime has become a part of our daily lives.

Why is this happening? Because politicians like Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx are letting violent criminals run free. Through progressive policies like defunding the police and no cash bail, they’re more interested in protecting criminals than victims and law-abiding citizens.

85% of the criminals we arrest in Orland Park are previous felons and/or are out on bail, and nearly every single one of them comes from Cook County. You ask the average person what will happen if you let a career criminal with a long history of violent crime back onto the streets, they’ll tell you it’s obvious—they’ll commit another violent crime. This isn’t rocket science. I will fight to keep our families safe and neighborhoods secure.

If so, what is your suggestion to solve it?

In Orland Park, we’re fighting back so we can keep our families safe and neighborhoods secure. We’ve reduced crime to the lowest rate in 27 years. With the lowest violent crime rate of cities over 50,000 in Illinois, Orland Park was rated the safest city in Illinois in 2020 and the 8th safest small city in the United States in 2021—despite being mostly in Cook County.

We’ve achieved this through a common-sense approach that holds criminals accountable for their actions. We work collaboratively as a community, with residents and businesses working directly with our outstanding police department. We hire good people, then hold them accountable by taking every complaint seriously and always striving to be better. We invest heavily in investigations so we produce so much evidence the state’s attorney has no choice but to prosecute criminals, and when needed we take cases to the feds to get violent criminals off the streets.

We utilize modern technology and fund programs that have been proven to work. We actively work to rehabilitate non- violent criminals and we hired mental health professionals to assist the mentally ill, which has decreased committals by 35% and saved lives.

We also use data to constantly change our policing strategies to be proactive rather than reactive. The results speak for themselves. Criminals know if they commit a crime in Orland Park, they will be caught and they will face consequences.

This work is personal for me. When I served in the Air Force, including three tours in Iraq, I didn’t put my life on the line to defend our country so families would feel unsafe in their homes. It’s time to do away with the political agendas and focus on keeping Americans safe.

Should police officers have qualified immunity in cases involving alleged excessive force or other misconduct?

Law enforcement officers should have qualified immunity and should not be punished for doing their job so long as what they do falls within training guidelines and department policy.

However, qualified immunity does not mean, and has never meant, that an officer is entitled to use excessive force or misconduct that is unlawful and outside of department policy. In those rare cases, officers should be, and here in Orland Park are held accountable.

However, we must support our police officers and they should never be punished for following policy and guidelines when doing their very difficult jobs.

Are there any limits to the Second Amendment?

I am pro-second amendment. Violent offenders should not be allowed to possess firearms, and we should work harder to take criminals who violate existing gun-laws off the streets, just as we do in Orland Park, even when Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx puts these violent criminals right back onto our streets.

We have gun laws currently that place limits on the Second Amendment but they are inadequately enforced and the focus should be on criminals not the tools they use.

Do you support any restrictions on gun purchases or other stricter gun control measures including citizens’ access to military style weaponry?

We do not need more gun laws, we need to enforce the laws that currently exist. The focus should be on criminals not on the tools and/or law abiding citizens.

Illinois, along with many states across the country, have legalized marijuana making it legal for people to buy and use it. Marijuana, however, is still illegal at the federal level. Do you support legalizing marijuana nationally? Why or why not?

No. The last thing we need is to legalize another recreational drug which leads to other societal problems. In my opinion, it was wrong for the State of Illinois to do so.

Did Joe Biden win the 2020 election?

Yes.

Would you have voted to ratify his presidency?

Yes.

What is your position on the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol?

The people who stormed the Capitol acted violently and broke the law deserve to be prosecuted for their actions. Additionally, those that are accused have a right to speedy and public trial as called for in the 6th Amendment which is clearly not happening over one year after the fact.

Was it an insurrection?

An insurrection is defined as “an act or instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil authority or an established government.” In a strict meaning of the word, every protest that turns into a riot against police or any government body could qualify as insurrection.

This certainly was not organized and was yet another example of a protest that turned violent with many people breaking the law. People have a right to peacefully protest and that right must be protected. However, the people who stormed the Capitol, acted violently and broke the law deserve to be prosecuted for their actions.

Should people convicted of a crime related to their participation in the riot ever be pardoned?

That’s up the to President of the United States.

Should voters be required to show an ID to vote?

This is a state issue and I support states handling this as they see fit with their constituents.

I want, and I think we all want every eligible voter to have easy access to voting and for every voter to know their vote is sacred, with only legal U.S. citizens being allowed to vote. I also think we all want every voter to know their vote will be counted among only legitimate votes.

Just like we need IDs for many uses in our daily lives, personally I believe voting should be one of those activities to restore trust in the voting system. We need to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. Election integrity should be a bipartisan issue.

Would you, as a member of Congress, ever vote against certifying presidential electoral votes submitted by states’ official voting authorities?

I can’t answer this hypothetical question.

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