Richard L. Watkins: Since WWII, innovations in science and technology have been responsible for half of the growth of the U.S. economy and it is safe to say that science has also been responsible for keeping our nation safe and healthy.
From the Internet, to antibiotics, vaccines, GPS and cryptography, it must be clearly stated that science and technology are required for:
Improved public health
With science and technology playing such a critical role in the stability of our nation it is thus the responsibility of the US Government to stimulate science and technology.
Though technology transfer and translational research and other areas of applied research are important, basic scientific research is the backbone of innovation and thus must be supported. As a member of Congress, I will fight to ensure funding for basic scientific exploration.
Richard L. Watkins: Climate change is on a course to end human existence.
There is no issue more pressing than protecting the earth and the resources that keep us alive. Halting the effects of climate change will take an immediate and drastic response from those in power.
The following steps are critical and will be taken once I am in Congress:
Through congressional action, reinstate the regulations of the Paris Climate Accord
Make it clear and part of public discourse, that the communities that will be the first and hardest hit by the devastation of climate change are vulnerable communities, specifically communities of color.
Empower and protect communities as they transition to sustainable energy strategies
Support the American worker as they take advantage of the renewable energy economy
Richard L. Watkins: Privacy, as most Americans would like to imagine, is nonexistent. The modern-day connection to technology has made the vast majority of private American citizens public individuals. However, as a member of Congress, I will fight to reverse the trade of user information to third parties.
Cyber attacks cannot be prevented. All nations are in a cyber security arms race. I will begin to transform the United States into the most formidable cyber power in the world by supporting the expansion of our nation’s technological capabilities. Due to the international community’s dependence on encryption and cryptography for cyber security, quantum computing, which has the potential to render modern-day encryption-related cyber security measures useless, represents either a significant security advantage or a national security threat. Thus the US must to be the first to develop and leverage advanced computing capabilities.
Richard L. Watkins: Mental health IS health and thus will be covered under universal healthcare. Healthcare is a right, and I fight for the rights of Americans. I want to work to end our failed war on drugs and redirect those funds ($1 trillion over the course of 40 years) to our poorly funded mental health care infrastructure.
Millions of good, hardworking Americans are living, thriving and often suffering with mental illness, thus making its heavy stigmatization an American tragedy. As a member of Congress, I will support the passing of bills that protect the rights of those with mental illness as well as fight for a better-educated public, so that as a society we can help make support more accessible.
Richard L. Watkins: The current assault on public education is a direct assault on our future. Public education has to be made a priority. I will see that the federal government spends more in support of public education. Over the next 40 years, our country needs to invest over $1 trillion into public (k-12) education.
STEM education, specifically, is critical, and federal pipeline STEM programs need to be supported. Pipeline programs allow for the grooming and the cultivation of our nation’s raw talent. If we are able to support and protect a child’s creativity, curiosity and imagination, then innovation is not only encouraged but also guaranteed.
Richard L. Watkins: The continued crisis in Flint, Michigan is a national atrocity. I believe that as a North Carolinian and proud American, we are all collectively responsible for allowing this to happen in Flint. As a member of Congress, I will hold my fellow congressional representatives accountable for failing to act. What happened in Flint can happen anywhere in the United States, and all Americans must know how crucial water is in every aspect of our lives. As a member of Congress, I will also work to:
Stop companies from poisoning our water resources
Support the development of technologies that will treat water and make it safe for us to drink
Endorse or create programs to rebuild our aging infrastructure, which will also create jobs for Americans
Richard L. Watkins: North Carolina is a state whose proud roots are in agriculture so I support farms and all those who provide food for my state. I support the farmworker and I support the communities and families who support farmworkers. As an advocate for technology and the environment, I am also a proponent of increased farming efficiency and sustainable farming practices. As a member of Congress, I will work to:
Eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides that harm farmworkers and surrounding farming communities.
Support investments into the identification and development of alternatives that will replace the specific pesticides and herbicides that are dangerous to farming communities.
Support new farming approaches such as (but not limited to) vertical farming
Address the decline of the honeybee population as a threat to food security and the farmer and communities that supply our food
Richard L. Watkins: Due to the increasing severity of weather, the need for timely and detailed information has never been more critical. Advancements in earth observation have provided critical insights, allowing researchers to make increasingly accurate predictions regarding severe weather. NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) accomplishes just that. As a country, we should use the information generated by EOC and other observation technologies to directly inform our decisions.
America’s goals for space exploration are intertwined with those of the private sector. Together with the private sector, we need to continue to push both manned and unmanned technology further into the depths of space. We need to embrace the involvement of the private sector in space exploration, as they will undoubtedly produce technologies and strategies that can greatly advance our knowledge of space.
Richard L. Watkins: North Carolina shares its eastern border with the Atlantic Ocean. As a North Carolinian, I know that the health of our oceans is connected to our health of our communities. So many Americans depend on our oceans in order to live and thrive. As a member of Congress, I will:
Fight to increase the budget of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture in order to dramatically limit nonpoint source pollution, which accounts for about 80% of all marine pollution
Work to create legislation that better regulates commercial fishing
Enhance the investments in research aimed at determining ways to slow, stop, and reverse ocean acidification, and use the information from that research to develop and implement policy
Introduce legislation to suspend exploratory deep water drilling
Richard L. Watkins: Culture changes when individuals change, and we need representatives willing to speak truth to power. As a member of Congress, I will speak truth to power. Unfortunately, in politics money is power, and if science isn’t convenient or is not able to generate profit, then some politicians dispute said science. Those politicians, who support the special interests groups that are negatively affected by data, will inevitably dispute science. I will work to eliminate Citizens United and regulate corporate lobbying, which is the primary reason politicians debate settled science.
Also, I support science debate. I believe that by forcing candidates to have opinions on issues related to science and all things related to or affected by science, is important for advancing important public interests.
Richard L. Watkins: North Carolina is the home of Research Triangle Park and the finest institutions of higher learning in the world. North Carolina is the home of science. You cannot spell “science” without NC! Science improves health and the economy, creates jobs and keeps us safe. With that being said, I must say that a society that invests in and embraces science is a society that thrives.
The people of the 4th congressional district of North Carolina want healthcare and access to opportunities. They understand that the environment is important and that severe weather threatens us all. They also understand that to fully take advantage of tomorrow’s economy, their children need a quality education that focuses on STEM.
I love science and therefore love North Carolina!
Organizations Who Developed the Questions: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Physical Society (APS), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Council on Competitiveness, IEEE-USA, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Media Partner: Scientific American