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Scientific Integrity

The main motivation for my campaign was to unseat Congressman Lamar Smith, one of American politics’ principal opponents of objective reality and fact-based scientific inquiry. Even though we have helped Congressman Smith see that it was time to retire, as an Aerospace Engineer, and father of three, I cannot stand by in silence and watch our political culture continue to slip into a crisis of doubt where people choose tribal loyalty over facts to base their decisions.

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Every facet of quality of human life has been improved through scientific inquiry and technological advances. To devalue the concept of objective reality and to demean or obstruct scientific inquiry, as Smith and the Trump Administration have, is a certain path to slamming the brakes on human progress.

There can be no half-measures here—we cannot begin to address the enormous existential problems we face without agreeing on basic lines of reasoned inquiry. This narrative against science must be attacked on multiple fronts.

First, by instilling inquiry-based education from the earliest years, enhancing STEM education for all students, and offering meaningful experiences for students who show an aptitude and desire to work in STEM, we can build a generation with a stronger and deeper appreciation for the pursuit of truth-based innovation and knowledge.

Second, by increasing investment in technology on multiple critical fronts, from space exploration, to energy storage, production, and efficiency; climate change mitigation; and fronts that we can’t yet imagine, America must resolve to be the tip of the spear to the bounds of both imagination and scientific inquiry, resulting in myriad benefits worldwide.

Finally, one can draw a straight line from donations, spending by lobbyists, and dark money from individual billionaires and corporate hegemonic donors to policies and rhetoric that ignore truth and scientific evidence. So long as billions of dollars flow annually to control the outcome and bribe the actors in the political-industrial complex at the expense of objective, fact-based inquiry and our collective future, we cannot defend against fiction being peddled as truth loudly and often. To truly achieve lasting progress on any of these fronts, we must move toward replacing private financing of elections with true campaign finance reform based on public funding, and we must end the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street.

Space

Pursuit of the infinite possibilities of space exploration has captured the imagination of the human mind since the inception of the American space program. Space exploration and innovation stemming therefrom, as well as satellite observation and communication, has had an enormously positive impact on human life in the last 70+ years and has broadened our knowledge of the physical universe.

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Today, America has a new critically imperative objective of earth observation. Earth’s climate is undeniably changing, and our ability to observe quantifiable truth is critical to a strategy to mitigate the consequences to humanity, and is essential to weather observation and accurate climate modeling.

As questions of the universe transcend national boundaries, space exploration will continue to have an international component and robust cooperation between nations will become increasingly vital. Maintaining America’s role as the global leader in space while fostering international cooperation will have the ancillary benefit of helping rebuild America’s falling standing in the world.

Further, a strong space program has national defense and intelligence applications that must be supported. I believe that we can pursue major projects that stretch the bounds of human exploration and knowledge, such as manned excursions to Mars, through the development of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft.

Many aspects of space travel and exploration, such as low level orbit, certainly have a place for commercial development and contribution, but projects beyond the scope of present human achievement can only be achieved by sufficient investment in and development by NASA and its international partners.

I was a kid in the 1970s as the Apollo missions were coming to an end. SkyLab was capturing our attention at the time, but it was the birth of the Space Shuttle program that drew me to math and science. To think, even as a kid, that one day I could be a part of NASA and our nation’s space exploration caused me to work hard and study in school. Later, as an Aerospace Engineer at West Point, I spent a summer working at the NASA Ames Research Center and met several astronauts while there. It was a dream come true. I want young people everywhere around the globe to look up into the stars and share the same enthusiasm and wonder that I did when I was young. (And I still feel that way today!)

Oceans

The ocean covers the majority of our planet, controls various weather patterns, provides us with 70% of the oxygen we breathe, and generates trillions of dollars in economic profit. As can be seen from this question, the issues that affect the ocean are abundant, creating a complex challenge that no single person can address. Therefore, the first step in improving ocean health is uniting all sectors in society for that purpose. We must prioritize uniting stakeholders and providing financial support, and we must do so quickly. A vision of long-term improvement must be adopted, as we move away from the focus on immediate returns. Marine protected areas must increase in size and number, and regulations surrounding fishing and recreational aquatic activities must be tightened. While this may limit income for those who rely on the ocean initially, research has shown an increased return over a short amount of time.

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Additionally, there must be changes made on land if we hope to improve ocean health. Plastic is among the top objects found in marine debris cleanups. Carbon emissions are increasing the rate of ocean acidification. Agricultural runoff creates a plethora of adverse effects. America must invest in alternatives to plastic and fossil fuels, and create incentives for businesses to switch to environmentally friendly practices. Similarly, corporations should be required to monitor and report their effects on ocean health.