U.S. House, District 6: Independent Tom Lewellen says repairing Social Security, Medicare are top issues

Independent candidate Tom Lewellen, a technology industry executive and entrepreneur, says he hopes to attract disconnected voters as he vies for a seat representing the District 6 in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Photo courtesy of Tom Lewellen campaign)

Candidate name: Tom Lewellen
Political affiliation: Independent
Position sought: U.S. House of Representatives, District 6
City of residence: Scottsdale
Age: 69
Career: Technology industry executive, entrepreneur and author of several books on economics and politics

With the election just days away, Cronkite News is profiling candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot.

How would you rate Arizona’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Lewellen described the response as “kind of up and down.”

“This is an experiment every day,” he said. “I think the governor probably figured out pretty early on that it is a good foundation of things that you need to do and that we need to do. If you do those well, things turn out right.”

Overall, Lewellen rates the response a B+, and he expects more bumps in the road in upcoming months.

“This is probably one of the more amazing events in the history of our country,” Lewellen said.

He said his background makes him a good candidate to help find solutions.

With degrees in math and English, experience in creative writing, knowledge of management information systems – all of this knowledge could help when analyzing what can be done differently, Lewellen said.

Among other things, Lewellen said he would like to see random “checks” across the U.S. to see how pervasive the virus is in any given community.

If elected, what steps would you take to mitigate the impact of this disease?

“We really have to communicate well,” he said.

Respecting “whether it’s wearing a mask and being 6 feet apart, as well as having a sense of urgency for those around us” will help control the impact of the disease, he said.

He said there also needs to be great communication on city, county and national levels.

Do you have concerns regarding the security of our election?

Once the internet was invented, all sorts of security problems emerged, Lewellen said.

“We are 20 years behind at the federal level,” he said. “I have worked with the information technology community at state and local levels. There is a huge amount of potential problems from a cybersecurity point of view that we should be worried about.”

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How could race relations be improved in Arizona?

It all goes back to education, Lewellen said. He explained how there is a disservice, especially to people of color because there are thousands of failing and underperforming schools in the U.S.

“If you go to a bad school long enough, it actually lowers your IQ, which is not good,” he said. “If you go school, a good school, it will raise your IQ.”

With this being said, as people “get better educated, they become more civil.”

Better race relations needs to begin with better education, he said.

What is the greatest issue Arizona residents face, and how would you address it?

He said main issue is repairing the Social Security and Medicare systems.

Lewellen predicted that college graduates entering the workforce now will see their Social Security and retirement taxes doubled from 7.65% to 15.1% to address the trillions of dollars in underfunding.

This creates a big problem that keeps rolling down the road, he said.

“The problem doesn’t get smaller but gets bigger,” creating issues for the people joining the workforce.

“The bigger tragedy is you have two political parties that are so partisan,” he said of Republicans and Democrats. “They’re so focused on power mongering for themselves instead of looking at the really, really big issues.”

What other issues are important to you and your campaign?

He noted that innovation is the currency of success in this country because the pace of change happens rapidly.

“When you look at the government, we are stuck with still operating in the 1990s,” Lewellen said. “The government is so far behind in terms of being able to support an effective government that works and innovation that will make us bright.”

Government, politics need to be more innovative to make progress, Lewellen said, to fix the Social Security, education and health care systems.

With new ideas, the government will work and operate better, Lewellen said.

He’s advocating for “a new way to do politics.”

What in your past work, political or volunteer experience makes you a better candidate to hold this office?

Lewellen said one thing that makes a great leader in this country is not just education in general, but to be “smart” in different kinds of subjects: art, history, economics and others.

“The one value I bring to the table is that I believe in education for life,” he said. “I’ve been educating myself nonstop since I went to college. … If there’s an IQ index, I know I have probably a 100 because I’m not that particularly intelligent. If there’s a curiosity index, the willingness to learn, find new ideas, and do critical thinking, my IQ is 160 there.”

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What is a personal challenge you feel you need to overcome?

As part of his campaign, he is the founder of a new party he has launched called CIVIL. It is not a recognized party by the state, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The goal is to move the economic needle from 2.0% to 4.5% growth with 10 initiatives. The growth of the economy relies on these initiatives to create change and innovation.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and this is not a one-time effort,” he said.

The creation of this new political party will still happen no matter what happens in his run for Congress, Lewellen said.

This is his biggest, yet most fun challenge, he said.

Please share a quote or advice that you live by

Lewellen cited a quote from “The Evolution of Everything” written by Matt Ridley, a British journalist.

“The Renaissance was a time when ideas were having sex with ideas,” he said.

Lewellen added that the Renaissance was a time when great things were happening for economics, trade and everything else. He said we are getting to that point now: “How do we make sure that we’re feeding that kind of Renaissance renewal that we need in this country?” he asked.

Campaign website: tom4congress.org.