Albert Wiley (R)
10th District Candidate
Event: April 18, 6:30-8:00pm, West Asheville Library
I am a physician, but in recent years, I’ve been retired from my profession of 45 years as a cancer specialist, a radiation oncologist, working at several Universities. Mostly at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, for about 20 years, and then later on I came to East Carolina, where I was the director, and asked to start a new cancer center back in the 80’s. Then on 9/11 I retired and accepted a job with the Department of Energy, a group called the National Nuclear Security Administration. This was 12 years ago. I’ve been working until 2016 as director of a nuclear medical emergency response group, which is headquartered in Oak Ridge Tennessee, where we responded to nuclear accidents for the Department of Energy. Also in the last six years, I was head of the special team we took around the world to train, primarily people in the US Embassies, and other people around the world, on how to manage incidents such as dirty bombs, and decontamination from radiological accidents.
In that role, I was deployed to 25 countries, like Israel, Korea, Japan, Iraq, China, Russia and many countries in the Middle East and Asia. So it’s been an amazing experience, getting to understand problems in other parts of the world. I was at Chernobyl and also Fuqua Jima. I came to understand other cultures and what they have to deal with.
We also did a lot of training in this country in major US Cities, New York, Chicago, for the police and fire departments on radiological decontamination.
I was in the Navy reserve for 30 years. Then in the Vietnam era, I was called into active duty where I served as the medical director of the largest Naval Laboratory, The Navy Radiological Defense Lab. The purpose was to find ways to protect our soldiers from a nuclear or biological attack.
Nothing is simple. The devil is in the details. That’s the thing where I think, I would do a great job. Ronald Regan endorsed me as a candidate for Congress back in the ‘80s, primarily because he thought we needed more people in congress who really understand technology, and can’t have the wool pulled over their eyes by bureaucrats and the K-Street lobbyists. I’m one of the few candidates that’s running that knows about science, technology and medicine.
I never accept donations in the primary election. I fund it myself. And the reason I do that is, I’m convinced that all this money in Congress and government is not a good thing for our democracy. If I won the primary, I would be very careful about any PAC money. I’m not going to sit there dialing for dollars my whole time in Congress. I’m going to be working on issues that need to be solved.
Albert Wiley on the Issues
1- Preservation of American Democracy
I spent some time at the University of Virginia, and got to know Mr. Jefferson pretty well. He founded the University of Virginia, because he thought it was absolutely essential, in order to protect American democracy, that we have an educated public. And I think that’s still true. If we don’t as a society, if we don’t make rational, factually based decisions, then we’re not going to function very well. So I think education is the best way to protect our democracy.
Of course there are countries around the world that don’t wish us well, and we have to be able to defend ourselves. Provide for the common defense as the Constitution says, or Declaration of Independence.
Regarding the recent Russian attacks on the election, I think that’s nothing new. I think many countries have tried to attack our election system over the years. It’s something we have to be especially aware of now, because the facility of doing that, we’re on a cyber based voting system, and computers, as we all know, are easy to hack. As long as we’re computer based we’re going to have problems. There are always bright people out there that are going to find their way into it.
As for attacks on the Press, that’s all just politics. It happens all the time, and unfortunately I think sometimes our Politicians lose their rationality and maybe their honesty at times. Right now it’s something we have to work with, and when the questions come up we have to figure out a rational approach to what the problem is.
2- The Environment
I was born and raised in Forest City, Canton, spent some time in Highlands growing up. So I’m a native of Western North Carolina. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to get out into the woods, and trout streams with my parents and grandfather growing up. This is a beautiful, special part of the world. I’ve been all over the world, and I think this District from Asheville, to Gastonia is a very special part of the world. It has a very fragile environment. We really must protect this environment.
Specially, I have a pet concern about water supply. If the water supply isn’t healthy, then the people aren’t healthy. Same goes for air too, but the water supply of this District is especially unique and valuable. With the runoff from the Blue Ridge, into all the aquifers, and streams and rivers and lakes. This is a specially fragile type of environment that, if we’re not careful, it might not be the wonderful resource that it is now to future generations.
There are some special issues with regard to nuclear waste storage that I would want to work on as member of Congress, not only for this District, but the rest of the country. I’m very concerned having been in Chernobyl and Fuqua Jima, for our water supply with waste storage the way it is now. There is a safe way to do it, and Congress has been negligent for 30 years. I was on the Wisconsin State Radioactive Waste Board 25 years ago. We reviewed these issues in detail. I worked with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as a consultant, trying to clean up a nuclear waste dump in another state. I’m concerned that spent fuel elements, fission products, are being stored at the nuclear power plants all over the country.
Offshore drilling - in general I would be against that. I’ve seen some bad things. When I was in the Navy, I saw a bad spill in Santa Barbara, and you don’t want that off our coast. However, I’m a scientist by training, and I think drilling, not for the production of oil, would probably be ok. We need to learn as much about the Earth as we can. Who knows, 200 or 300 years from now, they may need more oil. Not for fossil fuel burning I hope, but for manufacture of other products. So I think it’s good to know where the deposits are. But I don’t want to see active drilling. In the same sense I don’t want to see fracking in most parts of the country. I don’t want to see fracking in this state. I’m not a geologist, but it worries me as far as water contamination and earthquakes.
Paris Climate Accord: Again falling back on my scientific background, I've learned to collect as much data as possible, then have a thorough analysis of the data. I think we should record climate data and periodically do big reviews of it. At this time I’m not convinced that it’s anything out of the ordinary. We’ve had climate changes going on for millions of years. We’ve had ice ages, and warm ups. Whether the current trend towards increased temperatures is due to man made activities, or not, I think may still be up to question. Volcanic action is still quite prolific on this planet. So it still needs to be studied. I don’t think it’s proven enough to cause us to redistribute world wide income, which the Paris Climate Accord wants to do. It wants to transfer carbon tax from us, to underdeveloped countries. I think aid to underdeveloped countries is fine, but I’m not sure that’s the way to do it. The problem is how to pay for it. There’s an economic penalty for the United States. And the president is looking after the United States.
Changing Focus of the EPA: There is a new approach to it. I think frankly, that the EPA is an extremely important agency. The best way to regulated it is up to evolving science. And we don’t know what the threshold and limits are in certain areas, of what’s harmful and what's not. We need to continue to study that. As I mentioned, radioactive materials can be harmful to people, and we need the EPA to strictly enforce those levels that are known to be harmful. It would be nice to enforce it so we don’t have any of it. But we may not have much of an economy. And an economy is important if we don’t want to freeze to death in the dark. I think we want a certain quality of life. And we may have to pay a price for it in allowing what’s known to be non harmful amounts. For example, there are definite limits of what can be in the air and water and food, of radioactive materials and many chemicals. These levels must continue to fluctuate based on evolving knowledge.
On Nuclear Energy: I’m a nuclear engineer. I trained at NC State before I went into medicine. And I thought nuclear energy was just the best thing since mother and apple pie. I was young. And I still think we still need it for a certain amount of time. Our larger cities, in particular will not have a quality of life if we just cut off nuclear energy entirely right now. Over a period of time we’ll have fusion and better ways of producing large amounts of energy without contamination and nuclear waste.
3- Gun Violence
That’s a tough one. Certainly these recent shootings in our schools are absolutely unacceptable. We have to do something to protect our children, our most important resource.
I spent a fair amount of time in Israel. And I’ve seen how they handle terrorists in their school systems and their population in general. They have a strategy in their schools that works. I don’t know enough about it except to say that the attacks on their schools have gone to zero. They were quite significant some years ago. I think it mostly has to do with a hardened school entry system. It may be something like the TSA has designed with metal detectors and corridors where you can be monitored in several ways. Our schools need to spend some money on modifying their entrance structure. It works in Israel, and I would hope some current Congressman or school administrators, would go over there and study that in more detail.
I actually own a gun myself. My father was a big bird hunter, and I used to love going out and hunting birds. There are legitimate rights for owning guns, and I do believe the 2nd Amendment was established to protect our democracy, as well as citizens as individuals.
Basically I think we need to have control of our immigration. The country I think has expanded by something like 100 million in the past 35 years. If we continue at that rate, and we may, because everybody wants to live here, the problem is, is that practical, and what kind of quality of life are we going to leave for our children. Because there are only so many resources in the US. Environmental resources as well as food will be exhausted. We can’t afford for immigration to continue at the rate it’s been going for the past 30 to 35 years. In order to protect the quality of life, of current and future American citizens,.
Other people in the world have terrible problems, and I think we should try to help them, with things like the Marshall Plan instead of inviting them all to live here. Many of the countries that you go to, I got called to help the Ambassador to Venezuela for a while, Venezuela is a beautiful country. And I can see why people would want to live there if they had a stable government. But the economy is destroyed because of their government. They have the resources, they have oil, and food, but their government is terrible. Somehow, some smart people should be able to come up with ideas on how we can help these countries overcome their atrocious governments, rather than bringing them all here.
But there are people from all over the world coming in from the southern border. All you have to do is fly into Mexico, and walk across the American border. There are some real hazards, to having a border like that. Nowadays people can carry weapons, even nuclear weapons, in a knapsack across the border. We’ve got to protect ourselves from terrorism. Drugs, human trafficking, these people are terrorists, and they’re destroying our country. I think they’re got to be kept out.
We’ve got to find some way to control who comes in here. We’ve fought two wars with Mexico, about these types of issues, the latest one about 100 years ago. I don’t think we need to fight a war, but I think we need a wall. And I think it should be built as quickly as possible.
5- Health Care
Unfortunately, and I’ve said this for years, it is a very complex, multi-parameter issue. And there’s no one thing that’s going to fix it. The insurance companies dealing with it like they were, prior to Obama Care, were working reasonably well, except they needed to be reformed in some ways. One of which is, it’s very expensive to carry low deductible insurance for all medical issues. One way we could do this, and I would need to sit down with a panel of experts, I think they ought to look at everybody having two types of insurance. One for basic illness with a low deductible, and another for catastrophic illness with a higher deductible, but less expensive. Putting catastrophic diseases into a different category would help a lot.
On Single Payer Medicare for All: I saw routinely, when I was at the University of Wisconsin, people coming here from Canada, because they couldn’t get an MRI, or other test, done for at least six months. And they may be dead by then. And the system your talking about is the system they have in Canada. I would worry about the accessibility of care for major and immediate health needs. Delays are a real thing in Canada. That’s been my experience. Some also say it would drive medicare broke and be much more expensive.
I also believe competition in most systems promotes a better quality product.
Quality of education depends on locality. Some localities invest a lot more money than others in their education system. And when you do that, you do get better teachers. Money motivates everyone I guess, and people who make a lot of money are motivated to do a better job, that seems to be how it works. So, you want to pay school teachers more, there’s no question about that.
I don’t think everyone needs to be a college graduate. In fact in my day, when I was in High School, we had vocational training, for people who didn’t want to go to college, and in most cases, couldn’t afford to go to college. Now days, with the higher technology industries coming in with bio technology, computer technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, that’s the future of vocational training. Make that an option in High School, for people who don’t want to go to college. I think the importance and dignity of work in the vocational technology field should be recognized and promoted. I think that’s the way to build back our middle class.
What Committees would you want to work on?
There are a number that I would oversee. That’s something Congress has been very negligent on and it’s very important. If you don’t oversee the bureaucracy in Washington, they’re going to create bigger and bigger programs that work less and less efficiently. You need Congressmen doing oversight work on these bureaucracies, not dialing for dollars. It’s just human nature, everyone wants to build their own little empire, and they pull the wool over Congress’ eyes.
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