On the Record: Congressional candidate Joby Bernstein

San José Spotlight asked readers what they want to know about the candidates running for Silicon Valley’s competitive Congressional District 16 race. We received more than 100 questions from readers for the candidates and narrowed it down to eight questions that capture a range of critical national issues — from immigration to foreign policy and partisan gridlock in Washington.

Read all the candidates’ answers.

Here are Joby Bernstein’s full, unedited answers:

How will you work “across the aisle” and overcome the challenges facing our political discourse?

As a successful investor and businessperson, I know how to get stuff done. I’m a proven leader. I’ve started and led two corporate sustainability programs, I’ve led investment teams, I’ve been an effective activist and environmentalist.  And I’ve done it all through cooperation. Somehow, cooperation has become a dirty word in Washington and we’ve all seen the results.  We must reclaim what was once one of our nation’s most notable successes. My platform is focused on innovative policy ideas that have received bipartisan support in the past. I believe I’m also the only candidate who has worked for Democrats and Republicans. I have worked for Senator Portman (R-OH) as well as Republicans in the state legislatures of NH and VT. I plan to join the Problem Solvers Caucus once in Congress.

What will you do if Trump is re-elected fairly and then he violates the constitution again through his decisions and actions? 

Despite Trump’s ever-increasing delusional behavior, he is not above the law.  If he is re-elected,  it’s essential that Congress be filled with courageous lawmakers willing and able to hold him accountable.  If impeachment becomes necessary it is critical that both the House and the Senate are brave enough to do their jobs.

Do you believe in, and will you publicly support, a two nation resolution to Israel and Palestine?

Yes, I believe in a two state solution that results from direct negotiations between Israel and legitimate representatives in Gaza.  Both sides need to accept the other’s existence and recognize grievances that have festered over the last 75 years.  There is a role for the United States and the international community in these negotiations, but a lasting peace can only come from agreement between the two sides.

What will you do to reduce the federal deficit?

Let’s first focus on non-discretionary spending, which are the biggest pieces of the pie. Currently healthcare is 24% of the budget and social security is 21%. For instance, research from McKinsey has demonstrated that if we improved health care administration, we could save a quarter of a trillion dollars. We need to modernize entitlement programs – not gut them. Plus, it is time we address tax loopholes and deductions that only favor the wealthy.

How do you plan to help our region, state, and country to kick the reliance on fossil fuels as we make our way to a carbon-free energy future?

As the climate candidate I am dedicated to paving the way for a carbon-free future; not just in our district, but across the country. We are the district with the most climate startups, most famous climate researchers, and my favorite climate activists. It is time for us to have real climate leadership in DC so we can flex what this district does so well. My climate plan calls for a carbon cash-back system (think universal basic income, but to help those who are most vulnerable to climate change), fixing the grid, improving efficiency, investing in American jobs, and ending oil & gas subsidies. Learn more at jobyforcongress.com.

What would you do to remedy the root causes of homelessness, such as providing better mental health and addiction services?

There is homelessness based on lack of affordable housing and homelessness based on factors like drug addiction and mental health issues.  They are related but separate problems that require separate solutions.  We must increase the overall housing stock while continuing to protect the environment. We need more houses, more density, and more public transit. The solutions aren’t far out of reach, we need faster permitting, a reduction in single family zoning, and lower building taxes.  Mental health is a key part of healthcare that our system fails to provide. We also need sufficient facilities offering rehab, therapy, clean-living and eventually reintegration for those recovering  from addiction and severe mental health issues. It’s time to bring humanity and dignity to this issue.

Will you support fully funding BART to San Jose and the High Speed Rail projects?

Yes, but I will bring my investor toolkit.  We need to ensure we are focused on the biggest bang for our buck,  providing quality public transportation for those most likely to use it.  High-speed rail is  expensive and dependent on high-ridership for sustainability.  We must be sure the ridership will be there for ANY publicly-funded transit systems. Lastly, we must always consider equity and environmental justice in future project development.

What are your solutions to the border crisis and do you believe we should have an open border for any and all to be allowed into the country?  

On the border, we need more security, more immigration court funding, and more border town community support. However, I believe more legal immigration would decrease illegal border apprehensions. For instance, tens of thousands of Chinese and Indian immigrants crossed into the US from the southern border last year. This makes sense when the visa processing period is 134 years for some Indian immigrants! Our immigration system is outdated and broken. I am willing to focus on securing our border if we can ensure that we can bring in talented workers from abroad to fill our 9 million job vacancies, make DACA permanent, and ensure that those who come here to study have a path to remain employed here. I’ve watched the smartest minds from abroad in search of the American dream be kicked out of our district. I want everyone to see the talent from abroad, my colleagues and friends, that are the essence of American innovation.

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