Kent Kanoy is challenging Congressman David Price in North Carolina's 4th Congressional District. He was kind enough to allow BlueNC to interview him about the journey he's undertaking.
You’re a busy man with a busy life doing important work. What on earth possessed you to run against a well-established incumbent with nine terms under his belt?
First, let me thank BlueNC for its interest in my campaign and for the opportunity to share my views with fellow progressives. Your question is a good one, and my wife continues to demand a good answer. Seriously, I have never held public office and have had no intentions or desire to do so until now. What motivates me to challenge David Price is my disappointment in the leadership (or lack thereof) of the national Democratic office holders.
I believe our country is experiencing a Constitutional crisis every bit as grave and dangerous as that suffered under the Nixon administration. David Price and the other national Democratic leaders have failed to confront the Bush/Cheney administration and hold it accountable for exceeding its powers granted under the Constitution. More recently, the Democratic Senate leadership fought to prevent Russ Feingold’s Censure bill from coming to the floor for a vote. There can be little doubt that the national Democratic leadership is adrift in a boat without a rudder.
How has your career in social work shaped your approach to politics?
My education and experiences in social work convince me that working class and lower socio-economic citizens share the same values and dreams as the rest of our more well-to-do citizens. What they do not share is the same good health, the same good education, and the same opportunity to build wealth and economic security. I believe it is the job of good government to remove barriers and create opportunities that will build a healthy, educated and wealthy nation from the bottom up, not the top down.
It’s clear you want to see George Bush impeached. If you were in the US House of Representatives right now, what would you be doing to make that happen?
I truly believe that if I were in the US House come next January, the very fact that the impeachment message had unseated a good and kind nine-term incumbent would serve as a clarion call to other members of Congress that Americans value the Constitution and do not want to compromise their freedoms. In terms of specific action, I will proudly co-sponsor H.Res.635 (the Conyers resolution). To date, David Price has been unwilling to co-sponsor this important resolution.
Let’s say America is ready for universal health care? How would we get from “here to there?” That is, what would actually have to happen for universal health care to become a reality?
Let me begin by saying that getting America ready for universal health care is no small feat. We hear about the evils of “socialized medicine” and the flaws in systems of care in countries like Canada and Great Britain. I have worked in the health field for thirty years as a provider of service. I have had to deal with all of the private insurance companies and government sponsored health systems. You know what? In terms of coverage and affordability, the Medicare system is far superior. So, we have a great model. The trillion dollar question is how to pay for expanding the Medicare model to cover all Americans.
I’m certainly no political wonk, but the United States National Health Insurance Act (HR676) seems like a good way to begin. Unfortunately, this resolution has been tied up in subcommittee for about a year. It has 62 co-sponsors. David Price is not listed as a co-sponsor. I would gladly so-sponsor this measure.
George Bush appears to be building a case for war against Iran in the same way it did with Iraq. What should the US House of Representatives be doing right now to fulfill its check-and-balances responsibilities to American citizens?
Iran provides Congress with an opportunity for a “do over”. The US House should reject any attempt by Bush to hype the danger of a nuclear Iran. The House should make it clear that Iran is years away from a nuclear bomb and that a repeat of the Iraq paradigm is dangerous and ill-advised. The House should inform the nation that the coming years must be spent engaging the global community in diplomatic efforts to negotiate a myriad of nuclear containment/disarmament agreements involving not only Iran but Israel, Pakistan, India, China, as well as the United States.
You’ve built a foothold of support among progressives who are frustrated with business as usual in Washington. What are you doing to reach out to others who may not focus on issues until a couple of days before the election?
Participating on the progressive blogs has been helpful to me both in getting my name out there and in raising my political awareness. My web site has been getting “hits” daily and people are very supportive offering to vote for me and volunteer. I met a lot of wonderful people this weekend at the Anti-war rally in Fayetteville. I am attending the impeachment meetings led by Al McSurely. I have been invited to several political forums including the Women’s League of Voters in Durham on April 18. Although unable to take a leave of absence from work, I am committed to using my vacation time in order to increase my campaign visibility. I believe that if 4th district voters know there is a candidate who is committed to impeaching the Bush/Cheney administration, who is committed to setting a time table for ending the Iraq War, and who is committed to health care for all, the voters will vote for that candidate.
I believe I have the right message for the voters in the 4th district and for the national Democratic Party. The major concern I hear from others is that I am not the right messenger, have no political pedigree, have never held public office and am not willing to fundraise or accept donations. I cannot argue with these concerns and let me toss in one more. I did not begin this campaign 12-18 months ago. Until the eleventh hour, I was hoping that David Price would step up to the plate on impeachment and ending the Iraq War. Short of that I was hoping a “legitimate” candidate might step forward to carry the banner.
I can understand why no challenger with hopes of a furthering his or her political career stepped forward. The personal and political cost is too great. Thus the paradox: only someone who has nothing to lose politically has the power to challenge an entrenched incumbent. At the same time, history says a non-politician without a track record will not be taken seriously as a candidate. That said, I will continue to reach out to the 4th district voters.
Anything else you want to add?
No matter the out come, this campaign has been a wonderful experience for me. I confess to feeling a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, even despair, following the 2004 election. However, through this campaign I have encountered so many who have the courage to act to revive our party’s values and restore integrity to our government. I want to thank BlueNC for restoring my hope and for setting an example for me to follow.
So there you have it. In a previous interview I said that no one wants to see George Bush out of office more than David Price. That may or may not be true. I sure as hell want Bush impeached. And so does Kent Kanoy.
PS If you've never run for office, you may have a hard time grasping how much work it really is. You put yourself out there with a big public commitment, and before you know it, everybody and their sister has something to say about you. They like you, they don't like you, they give you a hard time, they give you long odds, they give you more advice than you know what to do with. So for the record, let me say this: I admire anyone who's willing to take on this kind of challenge -- especially when the commitment behind their action is grounded in integrity and the common good.