Q&A with Gaylon Kent, Libertarian candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District
Bio: Gaylon Kent and his wife, Marian, moved to Steamboat Springs in 2011 before moving to Hayden in 2014. He is a writer and earns a living as a hotel night auditor and also works part time at Walmart. Past occupations include radio announcer, newspaper reporter and sports official. Kent served on an old diesel submarine in the U.S. Navy and served six terms as commander of American Legion Post 44 in Steamboat and currently commands American Legion Department of Colorado District 14 and Sons of the American Legion Squadron 89 in Hayden. He was the 2016 Libertarian nominee for this seat, and in 2014, he ran for the U.S. Senate. He is an accomplished high school sports official and enjoys reading in his spare time. Kent is self-educated and is originally from Los Angeles.
Q. What would be your top three legislative priorities if elected?
A. If I had a legislative magic wand, here are the three things I would do. One, a law mandating America only fights wars that have been declared by Congress. We have been at war continuously since 1989 — 30 years — and no nation has survived perpetual war, and America will not be the exception to that. We must give other nations the dignity of conducting their affairs without U.S. interference.
Two, I would overhaul our income tax code because we deserve something simpler. Right now, our tax code is nine million words long and confuses even the IRS. I favor a flat tax of 5 percent on individual incomes and eliminating the corporate income tax because that is merely an expense businesses pass on to us consumers. A flat tax would give us more money to spend, and our income tax return would fit on a single sheet of paper.
Three, I would sponsor a bill mandating a section in the Justice Department dedicated to freeing the innocent. This nation convicts the innocent regularly and sometimes executes them — things that should not happen in a nation conceived in liberty. Currently, there have been over 2,200 exonerations, with over 160 of them coming from death row. These are the numbers of a system that is broken.
Q. The cost of healthcare in Routt County is higher than the state and national averages. How can the federal government lower healthcare costs?
A. The very best thing the federal government can do is to get out of the health care industry. Both doctors and health insurers must be returned to the free market. This means doctors and insurers will have a direct interest in pleasing the consumer, which they do not have now. With a free market will come lower prices and increased innovation as doctors and insurers compete to offer products and services people need and offer them at prices consumers are willing to pay. We let the free market provide food, clothing and shelter, and we should let it provide medical care as well.
Q. What is your position on immigration? Do you support a clean DREAMERS bill? Do you think the U.S. should pursue building a wall on our border with Mexico?
A. I support the DREAM Act, but we should do more by allowing everyone currently in this country illegally to stay. Their only crime is crossing a border to look for a better life, and that is not the crime of the century; it’s something people have been doing since time immemorial. This country was built on the backs of immigrants. We were unable to keep them out, and we are equally unable to round them all up and send them home, so I support a work card program for those currently here illegally. This would not provide citizenship because that should be reserved for those who play by the rules, but if you’re here now and are working and building a life for you and your family, you should be allowed to stay. I do not support building a wall along the Mexican border.
Q. Wildfires have been a big issue across Colorado and the West this summer. Do you have a plan to prepare for and reduce the impact of forest fires?
A. Ensuring public lands, firefighters and citizens are prepared should be the province of state governments. Perhaps the federal government can coordinate communications and activities between states and provide some expertise, but this is a state issue.
Q. Do you believe climate change is happening and if so, is it caused by human activity?
A. I believe everything we do leaves an impact on Mother Earth. Some of these impacts are good and some our bad, and I do believe our planet is changing us humans are the cause of a lot of it.
Q. Do you support the current trade tariffs? Why or why not?
A. No, I do not support the current trade tariffs. Protectionism does no one any good, they raise prices for consumers and American companies deserve better than being subject to retaliatory tariffs on raw materials and their finished products. They are the utter antithesis of what is supposed to happen in the economy of a nation conceived in liberty.
Q. Washington, D.C. has become a place of extreme partisanship. Do you see value in finding common ground with the other party? And what efforts would you propose to reach across the aisle to get things accomplished?
A. Compromise and common ground are key elements to getting anything accomplished anywhere, from a local service organization to the U.S. Congress. In fact, as a Libertarian, my success as a legislator would be dependent on my ability to find common ground with others. My only goal is an America at peace and an America we can all be proud of and working toward that would be my offering to reaching across both aisles to get something done.
Q. Who do you believe own our public lands? Do you think previous presidents have misused the Antiquities Act?
A. Well, to argue over federal ownership of public lands is not particularly productive. It’s federal law. I would not oppose efforts, however, to give states more control over their public lands, but I am not an expert in this field. I think the power given the president of the U.S. by the Antiquities Act is too unilateral. It should be exercised in conjunction with state legislatures.
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