Randall Olsen, Candidate for U.S. Congress, 16th District

Candidate Full Name: Randall W. Olsen

Office: U.S. Congress, 16th District

Party: Democrat

Email Address: olsn@ymail.com

Web Site: www.electrolsen.com

Campaign Name: Committee to Elect Randall Olsen

Campaign Office Mailing Address: PO Box 66, Ottawa IL 61350

Phone: 815-713-7000

Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)

1. Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.

I was born and raised in Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois. I was educated in the public school system, and attended universities, except for seminary, part-time while I was in the military. I returned to the 16th Congressional District upon retirement from the Air Force and have lived and worked here ever since.

I earned my BS (Bachelor's Degree) in Psychology from Troy State University, and was awarded an MS (Master's of Science) in Psychology from Auburn University, both in Alabama. My MDiv (Master's of Divinity) degree was awarded through Luther Seminary in St Paul, MN.

I am a product of the 16th Congressional District. It is my home. I have a sense of belonging my opponent will never have. I care about my home and will always strive to be the best steward possible and will care about its constituents, because I am one of them. I did NOT come here to fulfill a "gerrymandering" requirement. I have met all of the physical requirements of citizenship and residency. I am well-educated and more than able to fulfill the intellectual requirements of the job.

2. What are your thoughts on President Obama's plan for military action in Iraq and Syria?

In general, I agree with Mr. Obama's current plan. I support the air strikes he's proposed and is carrying out. I would prefer drone strikes to manned flights, but 100% drones strikes are not practical. I wouldn't object strenuously to high altitude bombing if defined targets could be determined.

I don't support American ground troops fighting a long protracted campaign in the Middle East. I don't believe a ground campaign is optimum, especially if we are the only fighting force "on the ground." My support for a protracted ground campaign is dependent on a full-cadre of coalition troops. ISIS is beatable with enough troops and a major escalation in combat. I am not willing to send American troops to face them alone, at least not when the Iraqi Army has such a poor record for defending themselves.
We've lost almost 4500 American young people in the Middle East. We can't even agree on how to calculate casualties so we will never know how many have been wounded; affected and changed for life because of the middle-eastern wars we've been fighting, and for what reason?

A tactic I haven't heard many people talking about is going after ISIS's money. It was effective against Russia in the Ukraine crisis. Let's see this group buy another hostage when their checks start bouncing. Let's see them reload when they don't have cash for bullets.

Generally speaking, I vote "YES" to supporting the war veterans we already have and "NO" to creating more of them.

As I write this Pres Obama has started air strikes in Syria. I am wary. I am afraid the funding approved and the weapons supplied will be used against coalition forces and, in particular, on American forces. I am really leery of our Syrian partners but I am cautiously optimistic.

3. Several major retailers recently disclosed they experienced data breaches. What can Congress do to help prevent this?

I sympathize with the people who are caught up in this mess but I'm not sure petitioning the Congress for relief will work. First off, we have these problems because we want the convenience of shopping on line, paying later, or not carrying cash until later. The last thing I want is 500+ people making rules about something they probably don't know anything about, and then they want to fool around with the rules about MY credit and debit cards. I VOTE NO!!!

The people who should be fixing this are the businesses. If you want me to spend money in your store, then you should pay the expenses of fixing your system so hackers can't get my credit/debit card data. If you don't take responsibility for keeping my data safe, I will not shop in your store. Believe me, word will get around when your store isn't safe and I won't be the only person avoiding your products. Congress (House of Representatives & Senate) can make rules but I don't believe they are the people that should fix the country's computer networks.

4. Can the budget deficit be controlled only by spending cuts or does the federal government need to raise more revenue? If you favor more revenue, should there be a general tax hike?

The budget deficit can only be fixed by adding to the revenue used to pay on the budget. Let's put it in the simplest terms: a personal credit card. When you have reached the credit card's limit; either a limit set by the credit card owner or a limit set by your money income. You can only reduce the debt by adding money to pay off the bill. You can't reduce your obligation by using your credit card less. If you tell the credit card company, the owner of the card, you intend to pay off your balance by using the card less and not sending them money to pay on your account, they will laugh at you, just before they cancel your account. You can't pay your bill by not adding to it. It makes no sense whatsoever.

The simplest way we can add revenue to the US Treasury is to repeal the Reagan era tax cuts. Though I don't think a general tax hike on everyone is the right answer. I think we need to reconsider the tax breaks given to corporate entities during previous administrations, forms of corporate welfare, and we should certainly scrutinize corporate subsidies of all shapes and sizes. Corporations should pay more and people who are doing well in life can surely pay more. There is no reason why those of us who are doing well can't shoulder a little more of the load so we can help up those who aren't doing as well. I think we are in danger of our country losing its heart by endangering the existence of the "safety net" that traditionally been in place for those less fortunate.

5. What are your thoughts on immigration reform?

I think it's a good thing the "Senate Gang of Eight" put together a bill that was generally accepted at a time when partisanship was in full-bloom. I like the fact there is a path to citizenship but the "path" is too long. In that bill someone who comes to the US has to wait 10 years just to qualify for a green card. There are several high dollar fines amounting to several thousand dollars as well. It is a requirement the fines are to be paid to qualify for the green card. They are too high and, I believe, are meant to be deterrents rather than fines.

It penalizes people who come to this country with no arrangement. My grandfather and my three Great Uncles came to America in 1897 from Denmark. They came because they wanted a better life, nothing more. By today's standards, they were illegal aliens. Because they just showed up at America's door. They were processed at Ellis Island and released from American custody on my Uncle Lars' sixteenth birthday. The only difference as I see our southern border is the people coming for a better life are Latinos. I see a problem in that some of the people coming are refugee children. We have a law promising due process (DACA) and it is actually being threatened by the extreme right wing of the Republican Party who wants to repeal the law and close the borders tight so, I believe, no more brown people can come across the border.

I believe the resistance to immigrants come from the fact we, the US, is suffering from a bad economy. This "no room in the inn" mentality has been experienced before.
I believe we need an immigration policy with reduced fines and a reduced amount of time in residence to qualify for the Green Card. There needs to be a path to citizenship and, possibly, amnesty aimed at the "dreamers."

We are a nation of immigrants. Everyone here, except the Native Americans, can trace their heritage to someone who just arrived at the door or was brought here by someone else. We are probably a nation of illegal immigrants by today's standards. It's time to end all of this foolishness before we lose our immigrant soul.

Related Topics:
meet the candidates
(Copyright ©2018 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.)