By Chantal M. Lovell
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of two profiles of the candidates running for the 41st District seat in the House of Representatives.
A profile on incumbent Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, will run next Sunday in the Redlands Daily Facts.
Pat Meagher, D-Forest Falls, said he is running for Congress to address issues that have long been ignored.
Meagher is making his second run for the House of Representatives seat held by Republican Jerry Lewis for the 41st Congressional district. He secured the Democrat nomination for the seat running unopposed in the June 8 primary.
Now, his campaign is underway and he is on a mission to share with voters just what he plans to do if elected come November.
Meagher moved to California from Indiana in 1985, and to Forest Falls about five year ago.
He said he has always been a political activist and believes he can have the biggest impact on a federal level.
Among his top concerns are the wars in the Middle East, he said. Two of his nine children have served in the conflicts - a son in Iraq and a daughter in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Meagher said he supports a phased withdrawal policy similar to that of President Obama.
"I think the mission we wanted to accomplish in Iraq is over and it's time to give Iraq back to the Iraqis," he said. "In Afghanistan, I believe Bush and the Republicans blew their chance when they played down that war to emphasize the Iraq war. Now you're going to have to establish a peace and a status quo that we can live with and allows Afghanistan to be controlled by the Afghanis."
Meagher said the United States must be proactive in supporting long-term peace and can do that by creating a new department.
"You've got a Department of Defense; they conduct the War," Meagher said. "You've got a Department of State, which negotiates a peace. What we don't have is (a department) to maintain the peace."
Meagher said he would like to create a Department of Peace. It would have cabinet-level authority and, through unarmed forces, would maintain stability following a war or conflict.
On the home front, Meagher said he would fight for small businesses and local job creation if elected. The district can be the leader in energy efficient technology, which would bring more jobs to the area, he said.
"We need to focus more on small business, as opposed to the mega-corporations," Meagher said. "When it comes to jobs, we have to work on jobs that come out of small business."
Debbie Jacobs, a volunteer with the campaign, said Meagher won her over with his plan to fill empty industrial buildings and office spaces in the district with businesses and jobs.
"He really speaks to the heart of the people," said the first-time volunteer. "When I met Pat, I said `I have to get involved, I have to do whatever I can to get him elected."'
Health-care reform, Meagher said, is integral in maintaining a strong work force and society. He said recent legislation was the first step, but there is a long way to go to ensuring everyone is covered.
"Health care is not one of those issues that's going to go away and it's certainly not one of those things that one or two pieces of legislation can solve," Meagher said. "You want to beef up Medicare, keep the cost down to the consumer and enable the health-care professionals to do their jobs without interference from insurance companies."
In terms of immigration, Meagher said current representatives have long ignored it and are the reason for the problem.
"This is a federal issue, it absolutely has to have a federal response," Meagher said. "A state-by-state piecemeal approach is not going to cut it. That's not how you work a federal problem."
His solution: Secure the borders, then work on a comprehensive path to citizenship for those who are here.
As a lifelong educator, Meagher said education would also be a top concern.
"Public education is at the heart of this democracy," said Meagher, who taught in Fontana for 18 years and was principal of the Fontana Adult School for six. "If you do not have effective public education, you cannot have an effective democracy. We've got to make schools accountable to what they do and we have to do that in a way they will be successful."
Math and English can no longer be the sole priorities of education; more focus must be given to all subjects, including vocational instruction, Meagher said.
Meagher said he is getting a good response on the campaign trail and that voters are ready for a representative who will fight for them and address issues that other representatives have ignored.
"He offers great leadership for all parties involved and he is very fair," said Renea Wickman, who is running on the Democrat ticket for the 63rd Assembly seat. "He will definitely look at what is best for everybody, no matter what your party persuasion is. He looks at the big picture and he will fight for all."