Hillary O’Connor Mueri
J.D., University of San Diego School of Law, 2010 B.S. Aviation Engineering, The Ohio State University, 1999
Public Defender, Cuyahoga County (1983-1984) Public Defender, Geauga County (1984-1988) Prosecutor, Geauga County (1989-2012)
Given our experience with Covid-19, what precautions would you put in place to allow for safe, secure elections whereby voters are not choosing between their health and their right to vote, especially in November? Include how you would fund any necessary precautions and changes.
The CDC spells out clear recommendations for holding safer elections in light of the COVID-19 crisis. The risk for infection is highest when circumstances force larger crowds to congregate indoors for longer wait times. Lower risk scenarios include having a wide variety of voting options, longer voting periods (more days and/or more hours), and other means of reducing the number of voters congregating indoors. Polling locations should be set up to maximize adherence to CDC recommendations, including mask use, social distancing, and hygiene. Further, we should invest alternatives to in-person voting, including extended absentee voting and the placement of ballot deposit boxes, placed in an equitable manner based on population and travel time from population centers.
The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) Act combined with 2002’s HAVA (Help America Vote Act) provide over $825M in available funding; however, most estimates place the cost of a safe, secure election closer to $2B and the shortfall ought to be covered by Congress via a further stimulus package. Additionally, the Postal Service must be fully funded as part of our election infrastructure. The right to vote is one of Americans’ most basic Constitutional rights and Congress has a sworn obligation to ensure all citizens have the ability to safely cast their ballots.
Describe what you have done to work across political differences to solve problems and foster trust with the voters you represent.
As a Navy combat veteran, I have always had a country-first, mission-oriented focus. I believe in service — service to country, and service to constituents. In Congress, I will continue the ethic of service that I have demonstrated throughout my career to serve my country and my District.
It is no coincidence that division has peaked in our government as the number of veterans in Congress has reached historic lows. According to The Lugar Center’s Bipartisan Index, veterans, especially younger ones, score better than other members of Congress on their willingness to work across the aisle.
The incumbent in this office has demonstrated his unwillingness to work across the aisle with his strikingly partisan voting record (exceptional even in our currently divided era) and voting with the current administration over 95% of the time. I will always work in service of my Country and my constituents across political differences to solve problems and foster trust with the voters I represent.
What would you do to safeguard our elections and ensure free and fair voting access for all?
Voting is a fundamental right of citizens. The House of Representatives has laid out a great framework for ensuring free and fair voting access and for securing our elections with its passage of H.R. 1. Among other provisions, this bill: -Requires states use paper ballots -Requires states to establish & operate an automatic voter registration system -Limits voter purges -Enables registration corrections at a polling place -Establishes same-day voter registration -Requires states to allow online voter registration -Makes Election Day a federal holiday -Establishes cybersecurity standards for voting systems vendors -Funds grants for states to improve and maintain the security of their election systems -Requires the President to produce a national strategy for protecting democratic institutions -Creates a National Commission to Protect United States Democratic Institutions.
Beyond the direct election security measures, H.R. 1 also addresses the poisonous role of current campaign finance rules. Transparency in campaign finance is absolutely necessary in order to ensure our elections are secure from the influence of foreign nationals, special interests, and deliberate misinformation. H.R. 1: -Expands the ban on foreign nationals contributing to or spending on elections -Expands disclosure rules for organizations spending money during elections, campaign advertisements, and online platforms -Revises disclaimer requirements for political advertising.
How would you address immigration policy?
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…The United States is a nation of immigrants, creating not just our identity, but also a necessary component of our economic success.
Our system is undeniably broken with arcane rules, years-long backlogs, and no identifiable ‘line’ amongst numerous problems. Current toxic discourse has led to the US shirking its duty under international law to care for refugees, locking children in cages, separating families, removing people from the only home they’ve ever known, and even deporting military veterans.
Perhaps it is not pragmatic to conceive of rebuilding the system from the ground-up, but it is obvious that wholesale reform is necessary.
The most immediate reform necessary is a return to the rule of law. Due process in immigration enforcement. Adherence to international treaties. A return to decency and fair play and rejection of unnecessarily cruel and punitive enforcement actions. Our focus and investment should be in combatting the flow of illegal drugs, weapons, and human trafficking.
Where do you stand on efforts to protect our water, air, and land?
If we fail to act soon, climate change will damage our economy and leave a difficult and uncertain future for future generations. Climate change is hurting our community in important ways including damage to agriculture, health, and damage to Lake Erie that can’t be fixed with a few dollars of cleanup efforts.
Further, I believe our military leaders when they tell us that climate change is a national security threat. For example, many naval bases are highly susceptible to sea level rise. Further, climate change will exacerbate conflicts around the world and may lead to mass migrations of people escaping the ensuing conflict, drought, and famine.
As Americans, we have the ability to face and overcome any challenge, and climate change requires our unique American ingenuity, spirit, and can-do attitude. What’s more, we’ve had historic successes using policy––in cooperation with business and markets––to solve major environmental issues. Despite dire warnings that solving these problems would harm the economy, the economy grew as the solutions were implemented. For example, our heavily polluted rivers, dramatized by the Cuyahoga River fire in Cleveland in 1969, were cleaned up through industry’s innovation and federal legislation (Clean Water Act).
Taking on this challenge can actually benefit us. Environment vs. economy is a false choice—the clean energy economy creates jobs in green infrastructure that can’t be shipped overseas.
What legislation, if any, would you suggest to address gun safety?
As a combat veteran I will unequivocally say that weapons of war do not belong on our streets. This does not translate to ‘anti-gun;’ firearms are necessary tools and belong in the hands of trained law enforcement personnel and hunters amongst others. We can prevent guns from getting into the hands of criminals through common-sense regulation which respect the 2nd Amendment and are in keeping with historical precedent.
Priority one is universal background checks. Background checks have the support of over 85% of Americans. They work and have prevented over 3.5 million sales to people who are prohibited from owning guns, such as felons, abusers, and fugitives. Simply put, background checks help keep weapons out of the hands of criminals making our streets safer for us, our children, and law enforcement. Universal checks close the loopholes in the system. Over 30 states—including Ohio—do not require a check on unlicensed sales.
We must reinstate the 1994 prohibition on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and institute a voluntary buyback of those in circulation. This prohibition made our streets safer and is consistent with historical regulations dating back to our nation’s earliest days.
Finally, the gun industry’s immunity to most civil lawsuits, established by PLCAA, must be revoked so they reap the costs of selling their products, not just the profits.
What solutions do you propose to address challenges in the healthcare system, women’s reproductive rights and maternal and child health?
Health care is a human right. In the richest country on Earth, it is inconceivable that people are forced into bankruptcy by simple accidents and forced to extremes like insulin rationing in order to make ends meet. All Americans should be able to count on affordable, available, quality health care. In pursuit of universal coverage, I support “public option” insurance in which a government-run health plan would compete with private insurers. Market forces should lead to better prices, better coverage, and better service for all Americans. Further, I support an expansion of the National Health Service Corps to increase access to doctors in high-need areas.
The Supreme Court has recognized abortion as a Constitutional right longer than I have been alive. Polling data shows 71% of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, including a majority of Republicans. Women’s health requires access to reproductive care; one need look no further than Ireland and the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar to understand the consequences of involving the government in a woman’s health decisions.
Severe maternal complications have more than doubled in the last 20 years with the US rocketing to the top of high-income countries. Expanded access to health care to care for expectant mothers, new mothers, and newborn babies beyond the paltry 60 days provided for by Medicaid is necessary to ensure a healthy start to a new family.