U.S. Senate Candidate: Peter Wenstrup

U.S. Senate Candidates

What is your campaign website? Which social media accounts can people follow for campaign updates?

  • WenstrupforLA.com
  • @WenstrupforLA on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

What top three issues do you think deserve your immediate attention in office? How would you compromise with members of opposing parties?

My name is Peter Wenstrup, and I am a husband, father, and longtime Louisiana school teacher. In the classroom, I learned that a strong classroom must empower students to be at the center of their growth. It is time we sent a Senator to Washington who understands that lesson.

Time and again, we trust politicians with the power to represent our great state, and time and again they enrich themselves AND concentrate power in Washington. We must fight for a new politics, not left or right, but of and for the people. We must empower communities across Louisiana by delivering resources and decision-making directly to our parishes and families. A politician will never do that, because it takes away their power to grift and grandstand. That’s why it is time to send a Teacher to the US Senate.

As your next US Senator, I will empower faith-based organizations to support a brief, 17-day lockdown followed by a full-reopening with bi-weekly on-site testing for students, teachers, and essential workers. We must empower the people – not large corporations – with the stimulus: three months of $2000 checks for people to spend supporting our businesses while we prepare a federal infrastructure program to put people back to work on our electrical grid and rural broadband. We must empower principals to attract and retain teachers with higher salaries, teachers to deliver instruction without dictation from Washington, and students to develop through well-funded after school programs.

What are your thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement?

When the government kills Black men and women like Trayford Pellerin and Tommie McGlothen without conviction or trial, our Black brothers and sisters are forced to choose between believing in their own self-worth and believing in America. 

As a teacher, I saw firsthand the impact of racism – most often the presumption of violence or ignorance in young Black men and women – in struggle that all young people face in forging an identity that is positive, affirming, and healthy. Watching a video of police killing a Black man or women makes that harder, and it does tremendous damage to our national project to create the greatest experiment in freedom and prosperity in the world.

What needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?

In the past forty years, economic progress for most Americans has stalled. The lawyers and doctors we have sent to Washington are the exception. Teachers, nurses, and essential workers have felt this broken promise.

  Real wages for most Louisianans are roughly what they were in 1980. Meanwhile, cultural and racial progress has moved forward at a slow but steady pace. Many white Americans are upset at their lack of progress. Many Black Americans are frustrated that while we have Black Americans on commercials and in public office, wages and living conditions are at unacceptable levels. These broken promises weaken our faith in the collective potential of our great nation. The death of unarmed Black men and women breaks that faith.

Long-term, we must give every American a stake in our national project, and that means re-balancing our economy so that all of our children – not just the multi-millionaires- see higher wages and higher standards of living than their parents.

We know that education and fair wages are proven paths towards racial equity. As our next US Senator I will increase funding for teacher salaries and after school programs to give all children the opportunity to thrive. I will fight for a $15 dollar minimum wage. I will fight for policies that put folks back to work; a low unemployment rate for everyone disproportionately helps People of Color.

When all Americans are confident in the path forward, we can be more open and more resolute in facing our past, including influential groups that advocated white supremacy and the impact of residential racism on Black wealth.

Should police departments reconsider any of their policies in response to recent events? If so, which policies deserve priority?

The fundamental problem with our policing is that we pay officers in job security and convoluted pensions instead of dollars. If we want a job done well, we need to pay people a good salary and move on from people who don’t perform.

 My public safety plan would double the average salary of police officers in Louisiana while making them work at-will and civilly liable, like the rest of us. The officers that reduce crime and treat people with dignity deserve dollars, not car stickers and signs. Officers that are dishonest on legal reports or are verbally or physically abusive to citizens need to go. 

In addition, my plan would empower local governments – not Washington DC – to design smart systems to respond to people in crisis by adding social workers, mental health workers, armed officers, addiction specialists, and others to their forces.

How would you rate the state’s and the nation’s coronavirus response? What would you want done differently?

The answer to this question depends on what you think of America. If it is just a place to live, well, then I guess if you are alive you’re doing alright. 

However, if we believe that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world- the country that put a man on the moon, that defeated the Nazis, that pioneered the internet – then we must believe that we can defeat this virus. We must believe that the difference between losing 300,000 lives and losing 500,000 lives matters and that by coming together we can make that difference. 

As your next US Senator I will fully reopen schools and businesses after a 17-day lockdown complete with 150 million tests, 300,000 contact tracers, and supported isolation for positive cases. Then, I will provide on-site bi-weekly testing for teachers, students, and anyone making less than $15 an hour in close quarters.

Would you support any changes to the current healthcare system? What parts, if any, need change?

The goal of our healthcare system must be to empower all Americans to live happy, healthy, and productive lives. Our current system enriches insurance companies and the Wall Street private equity companies that are taking over our health care systems. They make the decisions, and they leach profits from the doctor-patient relationship. Meanwhile, small business creation is down in the last forty years, partly because it is too hard to cover rising health care costs.

As your next US Senator I will empower seniors to choose between costly, privately-made generic drugs and cheap, safe publicly-produced generic drugs – made right here in Louisiana. We must empower all Americans to choose between their current private insurance and a cheaper public insurance program. I will empower folks on Medicaid with more choices by increasing Medicaid reimbursement to providers by $10 per visit. We must empower families with easier access to care by expanding school clinics. Finally, we must empower young people, aged 18-30, with access to Medicare so they can go back to school, start a business, or switch jobs. Our economy can’t afford to weigh down our innovators, dreamers, and risk-takers with overwhelming health care costs.

Where do you stand on gun ownership and the Second Amendment?

I support the Second Amendment. We must empower citizens with their full Second Amendment rights and empower local law enforcement with tools like Universal Background Checks to protect communities.

Do you think our nation’s immigration system needs adjustment? What changes would you support, if any?

We must empower communities, not Washington DC bureaucrats, with decisions on who joins our communities. I advocate a place-based visa program that would allow local governments to request visas for immigrants when, and only when, the town or city decides they would like to let in foreign entrepreneurs, college students, experts, or workers. These visas would require immigrants to stay in the community for five years. As a teacher, I understand that our nation is strongest when our communities are empowered to make decisions.

What steps would you support to strengthen the nation’s security?

We must empower our military to attract and retain its best men and women. Bill Cassidy voted against a pay raise for our troops in 2018, and in 2017 he voted for a bill that would have cut health care for veterans.  As a teacher – not a politician – I understand the value of rewarding and empowering the people who do the work.

What are your thoughts on climate change? What, if anything, should Congress do about it?

Climate change is the lived experience of most Louisianans. We’ve all experienced worsening floods, retreating coastline, and strengthening hurricanes. 

At some point in the next fifteen years, Congress is going to pass a climate change bill. The question is whether Louisiana has a seat at the table. Common sense says that you negotiate with a soft yes, not a hard no. Bill Cassidy has voted with his party 95% of the time, so the Democrats won’t bother negotiating with him. Louisiana will get nothing. 

As your next US Senator, I’ll fight to make sure Louisiana’s oil and natural gas revenue stays in this state; Mr. Cassidy thinks it’s fine that we get less revenue that most other states. 

I’ll fight for automatic investment in job-retraining and green infrastructure whenever the price of oil falls below $50 per barrel, so that we’re not cutting good jobs, but we’re adding work when folks need it. 

I’ll fight to make sure that green energy – the fast growing sector in our economy – comes to Louisiana. That means funding to keep our universities on top of energy-engineering programs. That also means replacing our dirty diesel busses with electric busses whose parts are manufactured in Louisiana. 

Would you vote in favor of spending bills that add to the deficit?

If you believe in your business, and you get a good interest rate, then you invest in your business. Now, your investment must be wise and efficient, but if you believe the best days are ahead, you’ll invest to keep growing. Your future bigger business can manage the loan payments.

If you believe in America, and the interest rate is good, you invest in America. We must believe our best days are ahead of us, and that wise investments in our infrastructure and our children will lead to increased prosperity and growth. 

Do you believe our current political system, namely on Capitol Hill, lacks civility? How would you encourage civil discourse in Congress?

Our discourse lacks civility because of the tremendous amount of money in politics. Incumbent politicians answer to wealthy donors and the most extreme elements of their party apparatus. Raising money requires extreme positions, endless negative television interviews, and dishonest attacks on your opponents. You can tell easily from Mr. Cassidy’s statements when he’s being a genuine person and when the Washington lobbyists are feeding him negativity and half-truths.

As a non-politician, a teacher and a member of the community, I’ll answer to the people of Louisiana first, and I’ll fight to get money out of politics.

What other issues would you fight for in office?

Education is at the core of every challenge we face: low wages, poor health outcomes, attracting big businesses, fostering small businesses, racial inequity, civic participation, and so many others. It is the only proven path out of poverty. Yet over and over again we send politicians and their promises to Washington and over and over again we find ourselves at the bottom of the education rankings. 

As our next US Senator, I will fight for higher teacher salaries – especially in areas of high poverty- as well as electives, vocations, and after school programs. Louisianans know that if you need to fix something, you should trust someone who’s actually done the job. It’s time to send a Teacher to the US Senate.

Courtesy of Peter Wenstrup

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