Last week, 12-term congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) claimed members of Congress were underpaid at $174,000 per year. U.S. Term Limits sat down with his 2016 opponent, Republican Jay Bonner, for a brief Q & A. Bonner was the first candidate of the 2016 campaign cycle to sign the U.S. Term Limits Candidate Pledge.
Hastings and Bonner also squared off in the 2014 midterm elections.
USTL: How’s the campaign going?
Bonner: I’m really in a much better position the second time running. The first time that I ran for Congress I spent a lot of time asking, “what should I do,” meeting with consultants, talking to people. And having actually gone through the whole candidate process come November the fifth – one day after the election of 2014 – I was already up and running and campaigning. I didn’t stop. The key initiative right now that I’m working on is collecting candidate petitions, which means running for Congress knocking on doors to meet people in my district. To qualify for the ballot I need $10,440 or 3,781 candidate petitions. So I got about a year before the qualifying date which is May of 2016 — about a year from now. So if I break it down on a weekly basis, I need to gather 80 petitions a week. So you’re talking about touching base and getting signatures from 80 voters per week.
USTL: Are you on pace to do that?
Bonner: Yes I am. I’m very pleased with what’s happening, matter of fact after this I’m going to go out and knock on doors. That’s what I’m doing nowadays. The interesting dynamics and how this fits into the discussion of term limits, and the concerns USTL has and as we as a people have- is that the people that I’m talking to are in need. There’s a tremendous need. One gentleman I met is scared in a community that has a low economic impact and he’s living alone. He has a large, huge pit bull that’s his protection and basically yells at the door and through the window and tells you, “get out of here!” because he doesn’t want to speak or see anybody. You can see from his actions that he’s terrified. He’s scared about the condition of his community and living there. I left there really kind of sad about that. Then there’s the real activists out there who want to take the country back by force. There are huge dynamics I’m looking at, but in terms of the campaigning in terms of running and the support that I have, through the Republican Party of both Broward and Palm Beach and Henry counties; it’s well established and in good shape.
USTL: Tell us a bit about your personal background.
Bonner: I’m a professional land surveyor and have lived in Palm Beach County since 1963, grew up in the community and am fed up with our federal government. We have a government gone wild, $18 trillion in debt; it’s absolutely insane. We have professional politicians in Washington today that just have no connection with the people – they’ve lost connection.
USTL: Have you ever been an elected official?
Bonner: I have never been an elected official, but I have extensive voluntary service within the community through the Department of Juvenile Justice. I’ve served as Chair of the Circuit 15 Juvenile Justice, which is a legislatively established board, and have been in involved with the Department of Juvenile Justice and the needs of these kids and the community for over a decade.
USTL: In your view, what has been the impact of a Congress run by professional politicians?
Bonner: The complete disconnect. There’s an agenda that is contrary to the Constitution. The concept that the Declaration of Independence was very clear on, says that there is a God, our rights come from God and that we established government to protect those rights. Well, what’s happened is that we have an agenda in Washington today that has removed God and has replaced them as the caretaker of our rights. We as American citizens, we have got to take back our country. The only way I see that currently is by voting the new guard in, but we also have to put a protective factor that would protect the new people who go in from becoming corrupt and that is term limits.
USTL: Rep. Alcee Hastings thinks he’s underpaid at $174,000 per year, is he right?
Bonner: (Laughs) You’ve got to think about this. He is an employee of we the people and I asked my wife to do some research in terms of the Census. We have a 2013 Census report; there’s 12 cities in this congressional district that I have on this report. Now, the average income per individual is $20,715. Then, you have the average median household income in these 12 cities averaged out at $42,251. So, what I have is a congressman that’s representing me and this congressional district that is crying poor mouth at $174,000 a year. And he’s representing a community that makes over $20,715 on average. You’re looking at, he’s making over eight times what his constituents make and he’s crying to us “I can’t make it on $174,000”? These raises don’t actually end up helping the people.