Birthdate and place: March 23, 1960, Philadelphia, PA

Residence: Silver Spring, MD

Family: I live with my wife, Emily Piccirillo, and our cats Domino and Snooper.

Education: BA in Psychology, Brown University, 1982

Professional experience: Executive Director, NJ Peace Action, 1991-1995; National Executive Director, Peace Action, 1996-2001; National Field Director, Public Citizen's Congress Watch, 2003 – 2006; Project Coordinator, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 2007

Community experience: Founder and Coordinator, Iraq Pledge of Resistance (now National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance), a national nonprofit network devoted to using the nonviolent methods of Gandhi and King to oppose the war in Iraq, 2002-2007

Key issues: Energy, Economy, Environment, Global Warming, Foreign Policy

Web site:

E-mail address:

Telephone: 301-589-2355

Link to federal campaign finance database

Congress, Dist. 8

Gordon Clark (Green)

Q. How would you have voted on the $700 billion bailout/rescue package that Congress just approved?

I would have voted against the bailout. It is outrageous that after doing nothing to address the growing financial crisis for the past year or more, Congress was stampeded into this gargantuan taxpayer-funded bailout for Wall St. by the same administration that told us we had to go to war in Iraq. There were no alternatives discussed, no amendments, no hearings of any kind, just 72 hours of secret negotiations followed by an up or down vote. This is a terrible way to make any policy, let alone decide on the largest government intervention in the markets in U.S. history.

The limits on executive compensation for firms receiving the bailout are negligible, despite Congress' statements to the contrary. The bailout also provides only limited ownership for the public of the firms we are bailing out, and no control. Given the "toxic" assets the government would be buying, there is no guarantee that we would make our money back. Worst of all, the bailout did nothing to address the two major causes of our financial crisis: it did nothing to re-regulate the financial industry to prevent the same thing from happening again, and it did nothing to address the housing foreclosure crisis.

Q. Is the bailout package a slippery slope? Can we expect other industries to need/request similar massive help and, if that's the case, how should the government respond?

Yes, the bailout sets a dangerous precedent, and in fact the same thing is already happening with other industries. While we were all focused on the larger financial crisis, in September Congress very quietly gave $25 billion in loan guarantees to the auto industry.

Our economic situation is very serious, and while federal help will continue to be needed the government needs to look at industries asking for help on a case by case basis. Most importantly, for any companies or industries which the federal government assists with taxpayer money, the public needs to assume substantial control (not simply limited stock options) to guarantee that the same problems do not re-occur, and to make sure these industries begin meeting pressing social needs. For instance, the banks receiving bailouts should be required to use that money to help struggling homeowners and small businesses needing credit – the bailout legislation does not do this – and no money should go to the auto industry without ironclad requirements that they start producing gas-free electric cars and other high efficiency vehicles.

One final but critical aspect of the problem is that members of Congress need to stop taking money from the very industries they are supposedly regulating or assisting. [Chris Van Hollen, representative of the MD's 8th district, has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from the securities, banking and real estate industries, and helped to raise millions more, before voting in favor of the Wall St. bailout.] This is a clear and overwhelming conflict of interest.

Q. Some, like Sen. Cardin, have called for a Manhattan Project-type effort to address the nation's energy needs and to get the U.S. off foreign oil? What do you believe should be done?

The core of my campaign is the urgent need to move from a fossil fuel based economy to a renewable energy economy. This must be our generation's New Deal, Marshall Plan and Apollo Project all rolled into one. It will create millions of new jobs, strengthening our economy while simultaneously dealing with out energy crisis and the climate crisis of global warming. It will also help keep us out of wars over oil.

The four major components of such a transformation need to be:

1) conservation (we currently use twice as much energy for the same net product as do countries like Japan or most of those in Europe);

2) conversion (other countries around the world are years ahead of us in the production of solar, wind, tidal and geothermal energy);

3) re-investment in rail mass transit (again, other nations have clean, cheap systems for national and metropolitan travel which put ours to shame);

4) a government initiative for the mass production of gas-free electric cars (once again, other nations such as Germany and Israel are years ahead of us on this, providing strong incentives for the production and purchase of electric vehicles).

Q. What are your top three priorities for the next two years, if elected?

1) Jumpstarting the transformation of our nation from a fossil fuel-based economy to a renewable energy economy (see above)

2) Ending the war in Iraq, which is a humanitarian and foreign policy disaster, as well as an immense financial drain on our nation (costing approximately $200 billion a year, with a long-term total of close to $3 trillion including incurred costs such as veterans health care)

3) Moving toward a single payer national health care system with free choice of doctor and hospital (see below)

Q. How would you rate the performance of the House of Representatives: excellent, good, fair or poor? Why?

It is poor. For the past two years this House of Representatives, [of which our current Representative Chris Van Hollen is a leader] has not stopped the war in Iraq; it has done nothing to prevent the current financial crisis; it has done very little to address our energy crisis or the crisis of global warming; and it has done virtually nothing to address either the health care crisis or the plight of millions of Americans losing their homes to foreclosure. We are in the situation we are in today to a large degree because of the inaction of the current Congress.

Q. Do you have a timeline on when the U.S. should pull out of Iraq?

The key element of our withdrawal from Iraq is not the specific timeline, but the fact that it should be a complete end to our military occupation of Iraq. This includes the withdrawal of all our troops, not just some, the withdrawal of armed, unaccountable private contractors, and the closing of all U.S. military bases. Many in Congress [(including Chris Van Hollen)] talk about "ending the war," but are actually planning to keep tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

Our first step should be to announce the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces, to make it clear that we have no long-term intentions of occupying or controlling Iraq. This should be followed be quick and deliberate steps to implement that withdrawal, coupled with increased economic aid for reconstruction and bolstered diplomatic efforts to involve other nations, as needed, in the stabilization and recovery of Iraq.

Q. How should the government pay for the War on Terror and is it working?

A "war" on terror will never work – waging war to stop terrorism is like putting out a fire with gasoline.

We need to realize that the extremists in other countries (and the people who sympathize with them) don't hate us for our freedoms, they hate us for our airstrikes. (And indeed, our military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan are killing increasing numbers of civilians, including children.) Our militarization of the struggle against terrorism has created more terrorists, not less.

Terrorism needs to be addressed as an international criminal issue, not a military struggle that involves us in one war after another. Addressing it as a criminal matter would be far more effective and cost far, far less than the current strategy of endless war. Substantial increases in economic and reconstruction aid, which will turn enemies into friends, should be part of this effort, and it should all be paid for with the funds that are currently being used to wage war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. (And to repeat, it would cost far less then the current wars do.)

Q. Would you make any changes to the way the Department of Homeland Security is run?

The formation of the Department of Homeland Security was one of the largest re-organizations of government in U.S. history, yet there has been virtually no review whatsoever of whether it's been effective or successful. Congress should initiate such a review. Particular attention needs to be paid to the process of computerization of records, which was a dismal failure at the FBI.

In addition, many of the most common sense recommendations of the 9-11 commission, such as safeguarding of chemical and nuclear plants, have never been carried out. These recommendations need to be revisited, and the priorities of the Department of Homeland Security rearranged to address them.

Q. What should be done to reform Social Security, Medicare?

The latest estimates are that the Social Security system will be solvent until at least 2042. Many of those who have been calling to reform it have been doing so in an attempt to privatize it – and given the current Wall St. collapse, we can see how extremely dangerous this would be. The creation of Social Security was the single biggest factor in the reduction of poverty in this country, and since it is not in any immediate financial danger extreme care needs to be taken – including full deliberation and public hearings – before any reforms are made.

One reform that should be instituted quickly, though, is to raise the limits on income taxable for Social Security. Right now the limit is at $100,000, which means that people making millions of dollars in income pay the same Social Security tax as those making $100,000. This is blatantly unfair, and having the wealthy pay Social Security taxes on their full income, or at least much more of it, would further secure the system's funding.

As for Medicare, the answer to our nation's health care crisis is to move toward a single-payer national health care system with free choice of doctor and hospital (see below).

Q. Should SCHIP be expanded? If yes, how would you pay for an expansion? If no, how would you ensure that people who need health and dental care get it?

The goals of SCHIP are admirable, but increasing health care for children will be only a band aide on the larger problem if their parents don't have health care as well. (Right now medical bills are the #1 cause of personal bankruptcy in this country.)

The way to deal with our nation's health care crisis is to move toward a single-payer, national health care system with free choice of doctor and hospital. The crisis will never be solved while the system is left in the hands of private insurers who have a financial incentive to deny coverage. (Health insurance companies are corporations whose primary function is to make money – and the fewer medical procedures they pay for, the more money they make.) A national health care system like this would also save hundreds of billions of dollars currently being wasted on duplicative bureaucracy. (Private insurance creates three times more bureaucracy than government systems such as Medicare.)

Basic health care should be a right, not a commodity available only to those who can afford it. Many other modern industrialized nations, including Canada and those in Europe, have such a system and they have none of the problems we have with our health care. We can't we have such a system here in the U.S.?

Q. What is your position on the death penalty?

I do not believe that killing people who kill people is a way to show that killing people is wrong. Moreover, far, far too many individuals on death row have been proven innocent by DNA testing and subsequent retrials. I oppose the death penalty.

Q. What is your position on abortion?

It is unfortunate that abortion is used as a wedge issue in American politics, when all parties should be working together to limit the number of unwanted pregnancies. Age-appropriate sex education is among the best ways to do this. In addition, it is problematic that all the focus is on women; we need, as a society, to also attend to the role and responsibility of men regarding this issue. Similarly, it is essential that such a subject is considered while respecting the spiritual diversity of America - no one should feel others are imposing their religious viewpoints on them.

I believe that every woman has the right to choose an abortion. She should also have ready access to accurate information regarding all of the options, so she can carefully weigh them with her doctor, friends and family as she makes her decision. The constitution protects her ability to make this decision about her own body and it is vital that this is upheld in order to keep these procedures safe.

Q. Do you support same-sex marriage?

While churches can and should be allowed to maintain their own traditions as they see fit, marriage as a civil institution, along with all the legal benefits and protections that come with it, should be a civil right, and should not denied to anyone based on who they choose to partner with.

We are all either drinking from the same fountain or we're not, and civil marriage must be a civil right for all members of our society to share equally in its benefits.

Q. Do you support the federal No Child Left Behind law?

No I do not. While the goal of accountability is a good one, the NCLB law is far too blunt and crude an instrument, and its almost obsessive focus on standardized test-taking has caused many school systems to stop teaching music, art and even social studies, subjects that are often the reasons many students stay in school in the first place. It also has the effect of being an unfunded mandate in many cases, and the criteria of constantly increasing test scores is an inherently impossible one to meet. Local school systems need the support of the federal government, not mandates that limit their ability to teach the best way they know how.

In addition, though few people know it, the NCLB law requires schools to send student information to military recruiters. This has to end, and it's another reason the NCLB act should be revisited and heavily rewritten, if not repealed.

Q. What, if anything, should be done to assist homeowners at risk of losing their homes because of adjustable rate loans?

Up to six million American families are at risk of losing their homes – many have already – and this is a major cause of our current financial crisis. Strong efforts should be made to assist these families and to stop the deliberately predatory lending practices which have ensnared so many of them.

While a number of ideas have been suggested, such as a moratorium on foreclosures, I support the Saving Family Homes Act of 2008. (H.R. 6116). The bill requires that any family facing foreclosure be given the option to stay in their home as renters, at the prevailing market rate, for up to 20 years. This would prevent these families from being thrown out, and since banks don't like to be landlords or sell properties that have renters in them, it would give the banks a strong incentive to renegotiate the loans - including changing the adjustable rate mortgages to fixed rates - so that homeowners could pay them. This is a way to address the crisis that would not cost a single payer of taxpayer money nor create any new bureaucracy.

Q. Should slots be allowed in Prince George's County? Should there be any form of gambling at National Harbor?

While this is a state and not a federal issue, I do not support the introduction of slot machines as proposed in the ballot referendum. Trying to balance the Maryland state budget by promoting a particularly addictive form of gambling that primarily targets low income working families and the elderly is both morally suspect and financially unsound. It also promotes other costly social ills, such as drug and alcohol abuse, and siphons money from more productive economic activity, including churches and local small businesses.

While I do not oppose all gambling, and might be open to other forms of it at, for instance, the National Harbor, the answer to current city, county and state fiscal crises lies in sound budgets, progressive taxation and re-prioritizing a federal budget that currently spends hundreds of billions of dollars on war and weapons systems while cutting social programs that must then be covered by state and local governments.

Q. Who should bear the costs of the changes wrought by BRAC?

Over the long run, spending less on military bases is good for the economy. In the short run, however, the jobs we lose when bases close are real, and they are generally good paying, union jobs. We need to use public-private partnerships to replace those jobs, turning closed military bases into development or enterprise zones, with tax breaks for businesses moving into them. The federal government should put up much of the seed money for such conversions, and it should come from the Pentagon budget. It also can't be an annual expenditure, but should be part of a five-year budget cycle, built into the base closure budget. Closures are planned out over time, and this can and must be part of the planning.

Q. What state transportation projects are a priority and how should we pay for them?

What is critical now, for environmental as well as economic reasons, is the development of mass transit. It is a sign of misplaced priorities that the Inter County Connector is being built – a highway project which won't even relieve traffic congestion, supposedly the reason it's being built – while the Purple Line is still being discussed. In addition to its harm to the environment and its inability to relieve congestion, a major danger is that the escalating multi-billion dollar cost of the ICC will use virtually all the state money needed for other transportation projects. I would favor ending construction of the ICC and using that money for construction of the Purple line and other local and regional mass transit.