Scientist seeking seat in Congress
Democrat Sanders opposing Republican Rokita for Buyer’s District 4 seat
BY BOB BRIDGE (7/7/2010)
BEDFORD — David Sanders figures Congress has an ample supply of attorneys. He believes Washington could use a life scientist. Sanders, in Bedford Tuesday afternoon to meet with several local leaders before campaigning door to door, won the Democratic Primary in May and is running opposite Republican Todd Rokita for the District 4 Congressional seat currently occupied by Steve Buyer. Buyer is not seeking re-election. Sanders, who opposed Buyer in 2004 and 2006, wants to bring jobs to Indiana, plus a new set of ethics to Washington. An associate professor of Biological Sciences at Purdue, Sanders received his Bachelor of Science from Yale in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He conducted his Ph.D.
research in Biochemistry at the University of California at Berkeley.
Sanders noted a scientist could come in handy when dealing with the aftermath of the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.
“Neither the government nor the oil industry were properly prepared for this,” he said. “There was a failure at both levels. This is an area where I can help. I can evaluate issues such as this and determine when we should be doing something differently. “Another example is the pandemic. We’ve been dealing with this issue on an ad hoc basis. We are reacting instead of preparing for these things. “I am not saying everyone needs to be a scientist. The current congressman and my opponent are both attorneys. Scientists start with facts and look for policies that agree with those facts. Most people in politics start with an ideology and then look for the facts that agree with that ideology.
“I will evaluate each issue on the facts. Most of the issues I’m interested in are not partisan. For example, tens of thousands of Americans die each year from bacterial infections they acquire in the hospital. They did not have that infection when they went in, yet they died. There are things we can do
about that. There are well understood protocols that can be put in place. We can save lives. “There are no other life scientists in Congress. I would be the only one.” Sanders credited Sen. Richard Lugar for his forethought and work on the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention program participation. Sanders participated in the project, inspecting the site of biological-weapons development in Siberia. “We can’t just look at today’s problems,” Sanders explained. “We have to look at what kind of problems we are going to be facing in the future. We would have been in a much worse situation post 9/11 if Sen. Lugar had not had that foresight. I respect him for that.” Sanders promised, if elected, to serve his constituents, not lobbyists. “My congressional office will be for my constituents,” he said. “The general policy of the office will be if you are a special interest representative and you want to meet with me, you will have to have a constituent along with you.” Sanders also pledged to meet with constituents on a personal basis. “If you want to meet with me, you can,” he said. “You won’t just meet with staff member. You can meet with me in Washington or here at home. If elected, I will have an office here in Bedford.”
Asked about America’s ever-expanding national debt, Sanders said he endorses a pay-go policy. “I believe that is the principle by which government should function,” he said. “I am willing to hear all ideas. I have scheduled a meeting with the Tea Party in White County, which is a very active group. I am not afraid of questions. I am not afraid of dialogue. I had five town hall meetings before the primary, and everyone was invited. “I came to Bedford today. After my meetings I will be going door to door. This will the ninth of the 12 counties in the district that I have walked door to door. I didn’t come down here for a fund-raiser.”
Asked about the recent controversy regarding illegal immigrants in Arizona, Sanders said border security is extremely important. “I don’t think it’s the people that triggers the anger in Arizona,” he explained. “I think it’s the drug running, gun running and the rancher that was killed. “Clearly, this is not an easy issue. If we want to deal with this problem we have to improve border and port security. Not only are people being
smuggled in, but as a scientist I am worried about someone bringing in exotics that could potentially spread disease. It poses a serious agricultural threat. “But the best way to solve this problem is to uniformly enforce labor laws. It cannot be profitable for people to use illegal workers.” Sanders said he plans to stage a town hall meeting in Lawrence County in the near future and has challenged Rokita to a series of debates.