Jack Digby is a Navy veteran and union iron worker from Capitola. His job as a structural welder gets him out in the open air on skyscrapers and bridges, but he wants to give that job up for a seat in Congress.
Digby is one of five candidates running to replace retiring Congressman Sam Farr. He’s running as an independent. Journalist Lewis Leader interviewed him about why he’s running and what being an independent means to him.
Lewis Leader (LL): Tell me why you are running for office?
Jack Digby (JD): Well I’m running for office because I want to be a Congressman. I’m not running because of fault or deficit and any of the other candidates. In fact, they’re all great people. I want to be a voice of the Central Coast. I want to fight for freedom and democracy. I want to fight oligarchy, aristocracy and oppression. I want to bring new blood to Congress from the 20th District. That’s why I’m standing up. That’s why I’m running.
LL: You said, it’s unacceptable the way that Sam Farr retired and has left his seat to Panetta’s son, Jimmy. Tell me more about that.
JD: If you look at the way that Leon Panetta gave the seat to Sam and now Sam is giving it back to Jimmy. The evidence of that is that no other reputable democrat has run. Look at Bill Monning. Look at Mark Stone. None of them have decided to run. Why wouldn’t they run? They’re qualified for that job. Why aren’t they running? The answer is maybe they don’t have as much courage as I do.
LL: Let’s presume you are elected. What are some of the initial steps you would take as a Congressman?
JD: Well the first thing I’m going to do is make sure that we get an adequate water supply here on the Central Coast. Water is very important. People don’t realize how close we came to running out of water last year. With a big agricultural base here, and a growing population. We need to make sure that we have water on the Central Coast.
LL: In addition to water, what do you see as pressing issues?
JD: Healthcare. I want to see all Americans have some access to healthcare. I want to see prescription drug prices go down. I’m tired of seeing old women in the grocery stores looking through their cart, holding their pills in their hands. I know they don’t have enough money to buy food and their medication. We owe more to the people. Who gave us this great nation than to see them suffer in poverty in their later years?
LL: Speaking of affordable health care, do you think the affordable healthcare act, also known as Obamacare, do you think it went far enough?
JD: I don’t’ think that it went far enough. However, President Obama has faced hurdles at every juncture of his presidency, so it’s really hard to hold it against him. It’s a step in the right direction, but I think single payer for all is the way to go.
LL: If you are elected, who would you presumable work with more closely? The Democrats? The Republicans? The Independents? How do you see yourself in Congress?
JD: I will work with those who fight for the principles of freedom and democracy whether or not they are a Republican or a Democrat or a Socialist. I will look for people who will work hard and will work hard with them.
LL: In the current Congress, are there particular people who you find yourself aligned with?
JD: Elizabeth Warren. I like Elizabeth Warren. I want to come after the big banks. I want to get rid of all student debt and I would definitely enlist my services with Elizabeth Warren.
LL: How would the government pay for the elimination of student debt?
JD: It’s easy. We live in a Federal Reserve world. The money doesn’t have any real gold value. It’s basically a merit system. It only has value because we believe it has value. If Americans believe there’s a value in our economy by erasing all student debt, it’s not going to hurt us.
You know I just want to be that candidate that’s going take money from defense and put it into education. People say that you can’t pay for progressive ideas. I’m here to tell you they’re wrong. I can pay for these progressive ideas. I can help Americans have more money for their retirement. I can help Americans get an education. I can help the American children rise the levels we’ve been at before. I can help us be number one again.
Jack Digby is running as an independent for the seat in California Congressional District 20, which represents the Central Coast. Also running are Republican Casey Lucius, Democrat Jimmy Panetta, Peace and Freedom Candidate Joe Williams and independent Barbara Honegger. Links to their interviews with Lewis Leader can be found below.
About the Interviewer: Lewis Leader is a journalist who was a longtime newspaper reporter and editor for 27 years with various publications including the Monterey Herald, San Francisco Examiner, Toledo Blade and Los Angeles Times.