Read this candidate profile of 3rd District Candidate Joe Grandanette. He was interviewed as part of IPR's 2014 Primary Voter Guide series.
Give me an example of an experience you had as a teacher that you believe prepared you to be a member of Congress?
All my life experiences have prepared me to run for office. I’ve run for office before. I’m a public servant, a school teacher for 26 years, elementary Physical Education teacher for 26 years, and that's prepared me for office. I've been a coach -- basketball coach, baseball coach. I've owned my own business, up until last year. I shut it down. Fourteen years, business owner so that's prepared me. Helping political candidates, Steve Forbes and Governor Tommy Thompson, I was Polk County Chair, and Rick Santorum, my presidential candidate. So many things have put me in position to win this election. And, so, unlike all the rest of the candidates, I'm the outsider. Everybody else are political insiders and I'm the outsider and because I'm the outsider, and I'm the common man, the rest of them are high-profile candidates. I'm the common man and I keep hammering away at that, that you can trust me to tell the truth. There's a big difference between my candidacy and the rest of the people that are running.
What do you think is the one thing you can do in Congress to help create jobs in Iowa?
Change the laws. The federal government has just come down hard on the small business owner and corporations. There's so many laws anymore that it's convoluted and you have to jump hoops just to own a business anymore. Make it simple for them and so that they don't have to come up with so much money just to open up a business anymore. And the tax structures have to change. It's just too hard. I've been a small business owner, between local city codes and the state codes and federal codes. It's just very difficult to open a business anymore. And in addition to that: tell the truth. That's what business owners want to hear. They want the truth out of Washington. The environmentalists have got everybody star-struck and they can't do anything anymore for whatever reason. And it's put them in a position of power, the environmentalists. And of course it's affecting the business community all around the United States.
A March Iowa Poll shows 65% of those polled support an increase in the minimum wage. Would you support a minimum wage increase?
Absolutely not. As a small business owner, it'll kill everybody. It'll be less jobs. Minimum wage right now, $7.25, it's just a level-entry position, scooping cones at Dairy Queen, is all it's for. And no one ever said that $10.25 was--who came up with that idea, that that's supposed to take care of a family? It's not. And it still wouldn't. And I would never support that. It'll cut jobs and businesses will close because they can't afford the help if it's mandated for all the small businesses. So absolutely not, no increased minimum wage. Let the market take care of itself. If the employee's a good worker, she or he will get more money and whether it be working for McDonald's or Dairy Queen or working for Principal Insurance Company. They'll make what the market can bear.
The U.S. House has held dozens of votes to either repeal, defund or otherwise dismantle the Affordable Care Act. President Obama will not sign legislation repealing, defunding or dismantling this legislation. But, the law remains unpopular… with most polls showing more people opposed to, rather than in support of the law. What are your ideas for revising the law?
We have to get rid of the whole thing. We gotta start all over. And the problem is the people that are in office. And what I've said along the campaign trail since I challenged Mr. Latham here back in November, is that if people do not, anybody that's in office, did not come along with doing what's right for the people, vote them all out of office. Every Democrat, every Republican should be primaried in the House of Representatives, in the Senate, and we will get people in there that will do their job and will do it the right way. That's the solution because I don't know, once I get into office, and I will call out people that are not doing what they're supposed to and not making this so that the Affordable Care Act is affordable. Right now it's not affordable. That's exactly what it's not. It's a higher deductible and higher premium and people. This summer a lot of people, businesses, will be making that decision so, if they're going to carry them or not and on their insurance. And I think we're going to have a big awakening this summer after a lot of businesses decide if they're going to keep their insurance for their employees. The solution is, we can sit down at the table. But if no one is going to budge on the left, then vote them all out of office. And if there's a Republican, vote them out of office, too.
The proposed changes to the renewable fuel standard seem to signal that the administration may move away from grain-based alternatives to conventional fuels. What would you do (in Washington) to work in a bipartisan manner on energy policy that would benefit Iowans and still have national appeal?
Well, you know the administration, Mr. Obama and all of his subordinates, they've, and with the help of the environmentalists, put our energy at a cost to the public that we can't afford anymore. We need to develop the pipeline. We need to develop all fuels, all types of energy, coal. They've taxed coal people where they can't even be in business anymore, with all the different regulations. That's shameful. We should develop solar. We should develop nuclear, if all of France is nuclear now. We should develop all forms of oil, whatever it takes so that we can be self-reliant and independent of the Middle East. All of the things that we've been involved in the last 10 or 15 years with these wars all have to do with oil because we need to have oil come to our country. So if we developed all forms of energy so we could be independent of the rest of the world, then a lot of our problems would be solved.
You’re campaigning to join Congress at a time when its approval ratings are some of the lowest in history… hovering in the low to mid-teens in most cases. This has been called a do-nothing Congress. In what areas can you imagine compromising with the other party to get something accomplished for Iowa?
I'm not compromising who I am and what I'm all about. That's the problem in Washington. People are lying. They don't tell the truth. And of course the left wants everything. We've compromised ourselves to the tune of $17-trillion and no, not a balanced budget. And no one's solving any problems. They don't want to solve the problems because they don't want to offend their constituents, the left, and so in turn they've blocked everything. And the Republicans have helped out. They haven't done much better. And that's why I challenged Tom Latham. What a novel idea--go to Washington and tell the truth, and that's what you're supposed to do. People might not want you to. They might not want to hear the truth, and they might not want to do what's right in, when you tell the truth. But that's what you're supposed to do, and to solve the problems of our country. And everybody's disgusted with the federal government because they don't do anything because they don't tell the truth or they say one thing and do another when they get into office. And they're always looking for their next vote to get in office and that's not what you're supposed to do. I'm not - and you can quote this - I'm not going to Washington to make friends. I'm going to Washington to do a job. That's what you're supposed to do. Represent the people.
Nearly every candidate running for office says they want to cut government waste and bring down the deficit. Name a program or department you would cut, and why?
The EPA--they've just gone way overboard. At one time it was a good organization, when it first started. But the Environmental Protection Agency is so convoluted. They're an organization that thinks that everybody's out to get the public, and businesses are out to get the public. They don't have any idea what it's like to be in business. And all the money that people spend to be in business and all the rules and regulations they have passed down that's hurt the farmer. It's hurt the business community, and the small business community. The EPA has got to go. Of course we need to have oversight, somebody who's going to do what's right and tell the truth as far as what it's all about. For the most part, most people want to do a good job when they're in business. They're honest people. They've got their whole life invested in it, whether they be a farmer or they be a restaurant owner. They want to do what's right for the people because they need customers so they can make money. The EPA has got to go and then we'll decide. We'll get something, but somebody's going to do the job to make sure that everybody is following the rules, but not to the point of strangling everybody. For instance, the oil coming from Canada, everybody knows it's safe. We've got the, all the different tools to make it safe, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be going so we can have all that oil flow down to Texas. But of course the EPA, all the environmentalists, they've got it strangled. And Barak Obama wants his votes, and so he continues to block it. It's pretty simple to pass it. And of course, my solution to that is, he's still in office, but the next presidential candidate, they don't want to do it you don't vote anybody in office who's not going to do what's right for the people in this country.
Are we spending enough on national defense?
No. Not spending enough. We shouldn't even touch it because we keep the world safe, and we have a moral obligation to keep the world safe. We are the United States of America and the sequestration shouldn't have even been on the table. We've cut the budget where we can't even have the benefits of all the armed services. It's awful how we've treated the people who have defended our country and put their life on the line every day. And my dad served in World War II. And of course there's probably places in defense that need to be looked at and see if they're spending their money wisely. But on the other hand, we gotta make sure that we are a safe country. That's the number one thing. Everything else is...doesn't mean a thing unless our country is safe. We have an administration right now that has gutted it. It's the lowest since the 1940’s and 30’s. It's unheard of. There are so many other places that they can cut that they don't have to touch the armed services.
Immigration reform is an issue important to Iowa, but has stalled in Congress. What immigration reforms would you support?
Enforce the laws that we have right now. No amnesty. We're a country of laws. We have worker laws right now and we have millions and millions of people coming from all around the world here, coming illegally and we can't afford it. And I am married to a Chinese woman. I brought her over here legally, legally! It cost me literally thousands and thousands of dollars to bring her over. She just couldn't hop on a plane and come over to here just like a lot of people are coming on extended work visas, extended school visas, or just walking across the borders whether it be on the northern side or the southern side. Let's enforce the laws we have so we can be a sovereign nation and so that we can get people back to work. We've been inundated with so many people coming that it’s put a crunch on every hospital, every school, every county, city and state in this country. And we should enforce the laws we have now and put people on the border so people don't cross the borders illegally. If we can protect South Korea from North Korea with 30,000 men we surely can protect our borders so people don't walk across and then no one knows where they're at and then they also get in the system, and they're on the welfare payments and it's just a big mess. Enforce the laws we have now and protect our borders for one year and then if we have to change a few laws we will. But until then just do what we're supposed to do and we'll see how that works. Because we're not doing anything now.
According to figures from NASA, ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. Do you believe the science? Do you think government should act on this issue?
It's just weather is all it is. You're quoting a specific amount of scientists. Some people just say it's part of the cycle of our earth here for thousands of years. We've had more colder days here in the last... I don't know for sure, but in the last 3 or 4 years. And of course I don't have statistics in front of me so pardon me for this answer, but we do have scientists that have come to say, and now they've found that it’s not true. It’s not true. So for us in the United States to pass so many laws and the rest of the world doesn't even follow them is not even fair because we can't keep on a level playing ground with the rest of the people that are industrious, and not even following any rules. And so it’s put us at a disadvantage because of the climate change. They want us to put in more rules and regulations and we can't. Businesses can't open up and industries can't open up. We're shutting down coal factories. We're shutting down the oil. We're at a disadvantage with the rest of the countries around the world because they say of climate change. And so I disagree with the fact that 97% of, what 97% of scientists, who are they? There's just as many on the other side who say that there's no climate change. So I disagree with your premise to begin with. So that's my opinion.