With just a few days left between now and the election, it is a wonder that Jack Trammell would be able to respond to the copious amounts of emails and phone calls his campaign receives daily, let alone have time to sit down for an interview with The Yellow Jacket.
In his typical laid-back style, Trammell took a moment at the beginning of the interview to recall a unique meet-andgreet he had.
“ I think my favorite moment was when I was going through a crowd shaking hands with people,” Trammell said, “and all of a sudden, I was shaking the hand of someone very familiar to me, and it was a friend I went to college with that I hadn’t seen in 25 years. And I thought, how cool is to be a candidate and just start meeting people you haven’t seen in years.”
There is a lot of pressure in his position to reach out as much as possible to as many people as possible. He has had a lot of visibility in the district thus far, and has had a lot of support from the R-MC community as well.
“The Randolph-Macon community has been very supportive, and I imagine they have been very supportive of the Brat campaign as well, and I think when you go to a small school like Randolph-Macon, it’s like a family – you get to know people,” Trammell said. “Just because I’m on a leave of absence right now doesn’t mean I’m not part of the family.”
In regards to education, Trammell’s plan is to change standardized testing.
“There are some systems in Florida that I understand spend one in five days in the school year on lockdown in standardized testing for the whole day,” Trammell said. “And to me, we’ve just lost our way a little bit and we need to return to some fundamental questions: What are the skills we hope our students come out with in the twenty-first century workforce?”
In discussing education, Trammell said some education standards have strayed from their original meanings, and reform is something he would like to look into.
“I think it’s good to have standards,” Trammell said, “but again, I think you can take things too far, and I think the Common Core and No Child Left Behind have gone away from their original purpose and instead have become a means of taking control away from local schools and essentially saying when you fail, we’re not going to let you do anything differently, and that’s just not a recipe that’s going to work.”
Trammell said he is in favor of raising the minimum wage, but he does agree that there needs to be a threshold where the increases need to be capped.
“I think there is [a threshold] and I don’t know what that number is,” Trammell said. “But I know when I look at the data, that it is true that if you raise the minimum wage far enough, you start to lose jobs and you start to have a very negative impact on the economy.”
Trammell said modest increases to the minimum wage have helped the economy and lifted up citizens enough to get them on track in attaining the “American Dream.” Trammell has said in the past that he is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but he does recognize that it needs to be changed.
“When I’m in Congress, one of the first things I’ll change is the way the ACA impacts small businesses,” Trammell said. “We need to expand exemptions and expand the definition of what a small business is. I’m hearing loud and clear from small businesses all over the district that the ACA is hard on their business and I want to fix that.”
Trammell said he does not see a problem with citizens having guns, but wants to figure out how to combat gun violence in the lens of mental health.
“One thing I point out to people,” Trammell said, “is that a good deal of gun violence in this country is related to our mental health epidemic, and so I would like to see us address gun violence and the prevention of gun violence through mental health initiatives and dealing with the root cause, rather than being- not tricked- but being misled into thinking that simply regulating guns would simply prevent gun violence.”
Trammell said that in his approach to solving America’s immigration system, he supports the proposal that was passed in the Senate in 2013.
“We have to do immigration in a comprehensive way, and that’s what the Senate package
was trying to do,” Trammell said. “We’ve never failed at immigration reform before; this is the first time ever. The question is, is it because immigration became an unsolvable problem? Or is it because this Congress just chose to not act on it in a bipartisan fashion? The answer to me is obvious: immigration is not unsolvable; we just chose not to solve it this time for various reasons.”
In discussing foreign policy, Trammell noted that he supports an active role for the U.S. in combatting ISIS.
“I’m very hesitant about ground troops, but I do support trying to protect our national interests and American citizens and friends of America,” Trammell said. “But I point out that we’ve been to Iraq once, we’ve been to Iraq twice. The idea of going to Iraq a third time starts to say more about us than it does about Iraq. We need a careful examination of what we hope to accomplish and why we didn’t accomplish that the first time.”
Trammell said he recognized the U.S. is in a unique position of strength to take on the threat ISIS presents, but he also said that as a country, we have to keep in mind how much we budget for foreign wars.
“We have a terrific military,” Trammell said. “If we want to talk about what we spend on the military, we can talk about what’s in the budget, and that’s something we can have a conversation about. But a bigger problem is, we keep spending this money that’s not in the budget, and it’s going straight into the deficit in fact. What have we gotten out of that?”
Student loans represent another educational issue important to Trammell, and it was clear he had spent plenty of time thinking about how to make the case for reform.
“I talk to doctors and many of them come out with $300,000 or more in debt on their student loans, and they plan to pay it off by the age of 60,” Trammell said. “Sixty! Can you imagine? Why would you want to become a doctor if you know that’s the kind of debt burden you’re going into, and you’re 29, and you come out and that’s in front of you. So I really think it’s a crisis of sorts.
“We need to reform interest rate disclosure rules,” Trammell said, “and we need to expand forgiveness options because sometimes we make it so difficult to get that forgiveness that we’re wasting opportunities for people who are going into high-needs fields like medicine or general practices in particular like people who are teaching in high-needs schools, and we need quality teachers in those schools.”
-Henry Ashton ’15, Senior Politics/Opinions Editor; Naoko Branker ’15, Editor-in-Chief