Interview with Roland Straten, Republican Candidate for Congress, NJ District 8

This may come as a surprise, but it looks like there are some decent conservative candidates running for office this year in the very blue state of New Jersey. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting my interviews with a few of them. For those who live in liberal states or communities, these individuals should serve as an example of how the conservative movement needs to be fighting.

For the first time in a while, conservatives in one of New Jersey’s most liberal districts can feel comfortably represented at the ballot this year as they pull the lever for their pick for Congressman. In what might be considered a challenging race against incumbent Congressman Bill Pascrell, Roland Straten has run a thorough, dedicated campaign, complete with non-stop speaking engagements, regular emails to district residents and an updated blog covering topics from the economy to education to local politics. He’s spent much of the past year traveling around D-8’s 21 towns to get your message out, and the warm welcome he has received is an impressive sign of the support he’s gained.

Wanting to find out more about Roland, I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions. Here is what he had to say.

Q1: According to your website, www.rolandstraten.com, you have quite a notable resume with an engineering degree from Duke University, an MBA from Dartmouth College, service in the Navy, and a successful business. What are a few things you’ve accomplished in life that you are most proud of?

When one reaches a certain age, one’s children and grandchildren are number one. Both my wife and I are very proud of our children and the fact that all three have developed into fine young adults. The second is building Associated Fire Protection from a very small operation with 5 employees, 4 of which were part timers, into what I consider the best fire protection service company in the state. I am also proud that I was able to serve on many non-profit boards and was able to contribute to the community.

Q2: What is one lesson you’ve learned from your success that helps to make you a strong candidate for the position for which you are currently running?

How to get things done and how to separate the important from the unimportant.

Q3. As a relative newcomer to political office, what it is that has driven you to enter into this current race?

I passionately believe in the issues that I have written about. I also strongly believe that someone needs to step up and address the problems that face our nation. This may seem trite and hackneyed, but we need good people in government and good people are reluctant to step up. I asked myself the question: If not me, who?? And could not come up with a good answer.

Q4: I noticed that you did an interesting thing on your website – you listed out a set of nine ideals you have for America, or, as you put it, your “vision” describing “the way the country would be if everything I want to do got accomplished.” In one, you state:

We have learned to become energy efficient and independent. The reliance on fossil fuels is a thing of the past. New technologies using hydropower, nuclear power, and solar power have been developed and provide much of our energy. The few fossil fuel plants left are clean and efficient and are primarily coal fired.

What is your plan to help the U.S. achieve this vision?

Before I go too deeply on how this vision can be accomplished, let me preface my comments by stating that a vision is just that – a vision. That is how I would like to see things, but I am not going to come out and lie to you saying that I have a plan and the wherewithal the see this vision accomplished. I can say that I will utilize this vision to guide me when voting on specific bills. Having said that, here are some of the things that can help us achieve that vision:

Educate people to be energy efficient — Don’t forget I am an engineer and efficiency is one thing we strive for.

Cut out the nonsense, the rhetoric, and the counter productive legislation –Just today there was a hearing in the NJ legislature about extending existing building permits because the economy was slowing down some project. “Environmentalists” testified against this saying that delaying the construction was bad for the environment. It appears to me that they would prefer to slow down projects, rather than force developers to speed them up. If the environmentalists had had their way, it would have been worse not better. I assume, however, that their intention was to deny the developers the right to complete their projects. Who knows? But it is this kind of nonsense that creates inefficiencies.

I also refer to you to the section on global warming and the environment where I go into a lot of detail on how we improve efficiency.

Q5: You’ve laid out a strikingly detailed platform of issues, with the aim to explain each issue “comprehensively, accurately, and honestly.” I think you’ve achieved this to an extent that reaches beyond what politicians even attempt to do, and it’s a considerable credit to your campaign. With the current state of both our nation and New Jersey in mind, what specific one or two issues do you feel should be at the forefront of this race, and why do you believe they should be a priority?

“Forefront” in the race and “forefront” for the country are probably two different things. I will give you three that are extremely important to the country:

1) Education,
2) Deficits and spending especially for health and social security, and
3) Reducing the size of government, reducing regulation, and giving people more choice in how they run their lives.

Frankly, I am not sure that these are the issues that will win me the election and I might for a practical matter concentrate on other issues that are important to the voters.

Q6: Aside from all the politicking you’ve done recently, what is an interesting fact about yourself that you’d like voters to know but that they haven’t already learned?

That I exist!

Q7: Finally, I’d like to give you a chance to plug your campaign. Your website, www.rolandstraten.com, is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about what you are doing. For those who might be interested in supporting your efforts and/or getting involved, what can they do to help?

List of what can be done to help:

Encourage – This is at the top because campaigning is not easy. To keep going at full tilt, one needs plenty of pats on the back and “you can do it.”

Publicize – Name recognition will be a key factor in winning this race. Even if I am right on all of the issues, people will not vote for me unless they know who I am. Tell people about me any way you can, in person, over the phone, mail, or email. Writing an email to your email list or forwarding my emails works very well.

Feedback – I welcome comments and improvements on the webpage and the emails that I send. Sometimes, I do not always get it right and need to have input.

Volunteer – As the campaign progresses, I will need volunteers to organize the campaign, write, design literature, work on the webpage, make telephone calls, ring doorbells, stuff envelopes, and do all of the work that needs to be done to win an election.

Contribute – While I am trying to run a low budget campaign just as I want the government to not spend a lot of money, you need money to run a successful campaign. Contributions can be direct contributions, requests to friends to contribute, and holding a fundraiser for your friends who believe in the campaign.

Since contacting Roland a while ago for this interview, I’ve run into him constantly in different towns and even counties as he makes rounds on the campaign trail. I’ve heard nothing but good about him from those who have met him, and all are impressed with the devotion he has to his cause. It’s now up to the concerned residents of District 8 to show their support; let’s help Roland Straten help New Jersey.

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