Five Republicans are running in the August primary to challenge incumbent Democrat Haley Stevens in the general election. Only Eric Esshaki responded to Downtown's questionnaire.
Eric Esshaki of Birmingham has a bachelor's degree in integrative studies from Oakland University, his law degree from University of Michigan Law School and a nursing degree from Oakland Community College. An attorney who previously worked at Howard & Howard, he has not held political office before.
RESPONSE TO COVID-19 CRISIS
How would you rate the response by the Trump administration to the coronavirus crisis that has gripped the country? Specifically, the national supply of personal protection devices and critical supplies for the medical first line responders. Likewise, was there a clear and timely national policy response on containment of the virus? And what about a national policy on reopening the economy?
As a former medical professional there have been several distressing things about our country’s response to the pandemic. This should not be a politically polarized issue. Health officials should have been the lead on guiding the public, but the press would not let that happen – that has been true as it relates to the president, or the governor of New York or Michigan. Politicians are famously not precise and political. Now, health officials have stumbled as well. Ventilators turned out to be less helpful than originally thought, and the World Health Organization has been unduly influenced by China, oftentimes sending conflicting information about this virus. On the other hand, America’s health care system, doctors, nurses, and general medical staff have proven themselves during this crisis. They have risen to the occasion at great risk. They have not been given enough credit. But our political leaders are still failing our most vulnerable. There is no clear policy and support system for nursing homes. Nursing home residents are consistently the most at-risk. I don’t think a national system for re-opening is the solution. We have a massive country and the appropriate re-opening standard in rural Montana is not the same as Detroit. What we do need is for the leaders of the country to have adult conversations with the public, explaining why it’s unlikely that we will have a quick magic medical cure and what that means for all of us. We need to be having conversations about what we can do to stay safe and limit the spread, while simultaneously re-opening our economy.
When President Donald Trump came to office, he and his administration began to rollback a number of environmental regulations enacted by the administration of President Obama, and reversed a number of decisions from prior administrations dating back to the Clinton era that were designed to promote a cleaner environment. The last count put the total at over 100 environmental rules that have been weakened or eliminated by the Trump administration. Do you support what the current administration has done on this front? Explain.
Caring for our environment is important and we have a responsibility to protect it. There have been successes with mitigating damage like removing DDT. Environmental regulations are important, but we need to ensure that those regulations make sense, are science-based, and that they work. The superfund law, for example, has spent a enormous amount on litigation, not mitigation. We have to ask ourselves how we can strike a wiser balance. Details matter, and I support a rolling review of all regulations to make sure that it will continue to advance the goal of a clean environment and make economic sense. This will result in a shift based on science, not politics.
NATIONAL HEALTH CARE PLAN
Despite attempts by the current administration and Republican members of Congress, a substantial number of persons continue to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare. What is your position on the current Affordable Care Act and the issue of a national health care plan in general?
We have the greatest healthcare system in the world. We must continue to work to improve that system while also ensuring that everyone has access to quality affordable healthcare. The increasing costs of healthcare continue to serve as an impediment to universal access. The high costs have disproportionately hurt the middle class, who are spending more and getting fewer benefits in return. I was a nurse for nearly ten years and witnessed first-hand the failures of Obamacare. Obamacare failed to address the rising costs of healthcare and has actually caused those costs to continue to increase. Further, ObamaCare is forcing the consolidation of medical providers into ever larger big companies (insurance, hospital and individual doctor networks). Big medicine is not a remedy to cost or quality. Healthcare is complicated, and we need to start having serious conversations about driving costs down. Medicare-for-All, and other similar proposals are not the answer. They will inevitably give Americans fewer choices, and lead to increased costs and decreased quality.
GUN CONTROL LEGISLATION
What is your position on the need for added gun control legislation? Which, if any, of the following gun control measures could you support: Requiring expanded background checks? Background checks at gun shows? Banning bump stocks? Raising the age on the purchase of weapons? Banning military style weapons?
I am an attorney and a constitutional conservative. I support the Constitution. The rights of law-abiding citizens must be protected. But we must also do a better job of enforcing the laws that we currently have to ensure that firearms stay out of the hands of criminals. We have numerous tragic cases where a person was reported to law enforcement as a threat, but there was no follow-up. Congresswoman Stevens voted last year to not report illegal immigrants who try to buy a gun to ICE. Suicide is another area where guns can be an issue, yet we continue to treat mental health issues very poorly on all levels. These are examples where we should be able to find common ground to reduce gun violence.
REASON FOR RUNNING
You must think there are failings with the incumbent Democrat or you would not be seeking office. What failings to do you see?
Our Congress is broken. My opponent, Haley Stevens, epitomizes the problem. She claimed to be a moderate and pledged not to follow the Democratic party line. Now she votes with Nancy Pelosi 100 percent of the time, and every policy that she supports calls for bigger government and higher taxes. She is one of the most partisan members of the Michigan delegation. These policies will crush our economy and continue to add to our nation’s debt. She supports a range of policies that will damage our health care, our economy and just violate common sense. Her health care plan will eliminate 100,000 doctors and nurses. That is a stunningly bad idea. Endlessly larger government is not the solution to our problems. But that is Haley Stevens’ answer to every issue we face. We need leaders in Congress who will end the partisan games and focus on fixing real world problems like health care and our economy.
WHY VOTE FOR YOU
Why should primary voters support you in this Republican primary? Be specific when offering comparison with others on the August ballot.
I am running for Congress because we need leaders who will stop playing political games and actually solve problems. These days, politicians don’t even attempt to have a reasoned conversation. They just yell and spout talking points. Congresswoman Stevens claim to fame is yelling at constituents and on the floor of Congress, where her own party had to yank her away from the microphone. For over eight years as a nurse, I helped by caring for people in crisis. As a lawyer, I work tirelessly to solve complex problems, promote justice and right wrongs. Today the politicians in Congress seem less concerned with finding solutions for the people that they are supposed to serve and more concerned with pandering to the special interests funding their campaigns. As a nurse, I fought for my patients everyday. As a lawyer, I recently took on Governor Whitmer in federal court where four judges, appointed by presidents of both parties, agreed with me that her actions were unconstitutional. I’ve proven that I’m willing to stand up and fight for the principles that have made this country great. I will continue doing that in Congress.