Wikinews interviews Democratic candidate for the Texas 6th congressional district special election Daryl Eddings, Sr's campaign manager

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Ron Wright, whose death in February 2021 opened the vacancy.
Image: United States Congress.

Wikinews extended invitations by e-mail on March 23 to multiple candidates running in the Texas' 6th congressional district special election of May 1 to fill a vacancy left upon the death of Republican congressman Ron Wright. Of them, the office of Democrat Daryl Eddings, Sr. agreed to answer some questions by phone March 30 about their campaigns and policies. The following is the interview with Ms Chatham on behalf of Mr Eddings, Sr.

Eddings is a federal law enforcement officer and senior non-commissioned officer in the US military. His experience as operations officer of an aviation unit in the California National Guard includes working in Los Angeles to control riots sparked by the O. J. Simpson murder case and the police handling of Rodney King, working with drug interdiction teams in Panama and Central America and fighting in the Middle East. He is the founder of Operation Battle Buddy, which has under his leadership kept in touch with over 20 thousand veterans and their families. He was born in California, but moved to Midlothian, Texas. He endeavours to bring "good government, not no government". Campaign manager Faith Chatham spoke to Wikinews on matters ranging from healthcare to housing.

An Inside Elections poll published on March 18 shows Republican candidate Susan Wright, the widow of Ron Wright, is ahead by 21% followed by Democrat Jana Sanchez with 17% and Republican Jake Ellzey with 8% with a 4.6% margin of error among 450 likely voters. The district is considered "lean Republican" by Inside Elections and voted 51% in favour of Donald Trump in last year's US presidential election. This is down from 54% for Trump in 2016's presidential election, the same poll stated.

Interview with Faith Chatham on behalf of Daryl Eddings, Sr. (Democrat)

Interview with Congressional candidate Daryl Eddings (Part I).
Image: J.J. Liu.

Could you please introduce Mr Eddings and his history more broadly?

Daryl J. Eddings, Sr.
Image: Daryl J. Eddings, Sr..
Panama in December 1989 after the US invasion.

 ((Faith Chatham )) Okay. Daryl J. Eddings Sr is a retired senior non-commissioned officer. He has 26 years of military experience, and then part of that time he was also working for the US federal government. So, he had 30 years of federal law enforcement experience, and he's only 60 so that's pretty incredible. He's a highly decorated veteran; we can't talk about this really ((*))Clarification from Faith Chatham: ‍A news story can mention the medals including the purple heart but for adv[ert] purposes a campaign cannot mention them without prior approval of the Pentagon. We are instructed to refer to his decoration as "highly decorated senior non commissioned officer retired"., but if you look at his uniform, there's not even a place to put another medal! Just about anything you could give him from a Purple Heart, he has earned. He lives in Midlothian, Texas. His family ties, his dad's family, goes back six generations, but he says by an accident of birth he was born in California. So, he graduated from high school in California and went immediately into the military. And then, when he came out of the military, he became a single father and so he went back to California where his children were. And went into the National Guard in California and, at the same time he went to work for the US federal service. So, with the US federal service he was the non-commissioned officer, operations officer, on the back — he wasn't the commander of the plane, but he was the person that was in-command of everybody on the plane with US national service.

So he had fourteen deputies under him, and then he was supervising people on three different federal agencies. He basically, I found he'll say "oh, I was in the military" and then when I peel it down and I peel it down it's so much more complex. There is a time he basically went back to California thinking he'd be closer to his kids, but that was during the George Bush years. And if you remember what happened to people who go into the National Guard during that period of time, he was deported more during that period of time than otherwise. He was sent to Panama on drug interdiction, he patrolled the US southern border on drug interdiction and he was the operations commander for emergency management with the state of California while he was there.

He was the senior non-commissioned officer reporting to a one-star general during the Rodney King riot, the O. J. Simpson riot, earthquakes, forest fires. He supervised an aviation unit that flew to this big state, you know, surveying it for wars, he was responsible for moving troops and equipment and people and personnel. And also his team was directly responsible for the security of the governor and the mayor and their staff during the O. J. Simpson and the Rodney King riots. So, he has an incredibly wide range of experience.

In his foreign deployments, and he's been deployed all over the world, he was the provost marshal in Iraq, and there was a tactical team that was under his command that was looking for the top generals of the Revolutionary Guard, you know, right after Saddam [Hussein] and you know, that kind of stuff. He was being a provost marshal, it was the equivalent of being the police chief over a city of 50 thousand and a 75 mile (121 kilometre) radius. So, he's always been the person that was responsible for the people above him and below him. He's always been the person that they went to to find solutions. Whatever was needed, he was the one that was supposed to figure out how to get it and how to take care of it, and this is what he continues to do.

The storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Image: Tyler Merbler.

 ((WN )) What would he consider the powers of the US representative?

 ((Faith Chatham )) The power of the US representative, in his thing, is the ability to deliver for the people what they need. He thinks that what most people are doing is not really, you know, that's not really; it upsets him to see so many of our representatives representing a very small number of people instead of really looking out for the majority of the people. He takes very seriously; he decided to run, he'd been thinking about it for a long time but he made up his mind January 6, because he doesn't believe that there are, he believes that there are too many in Congress that don't understand what their oath of office is. They don't understand that their loyalty is to the Constitution of the United States, not to any one person or a party.

He knows that there were too many of them up there that are applauding what [Donald] Trump did, and are saying that it was just a demonstration, or it was just a riot. And he's been in riots; he knows what a riot is and he knows this was an insurrection. He believes very truthfully that one of the greatest powers that we have is the power to vote, and this was an attempt to abridge the right of people to vote. And so, a person that's in Congress is a representative of the people that have elected them. And that's the power: the people are the power. We've lost it, it's been lost because of dark money and gerrymandering and many things in that area. And there's many attempts right now to abridge the vote even further. And so, he really feels like that we have got to regain more of the seats so that we can protect what he and his friends have fought so hard and given so much to give us, you know.

So, that's, I guess that's about as good of an answer I know I can give for him. We've been through this stuff so much now, I've almost got to memorise it.

Representative Louie Gohmert.
Image: United States House of Representatives.

 ((WN )) Alright. He's running as a Democrat in a house district which is controlled by Republicans since...

 ((Faith Chatham )) He is a life-long Democrat, he's been very active in the Democratic Party; he was the chief of staff and the security officer for Dr Shirley McKellar who ran three times against Louie Gohmert down in East Texas, and he helped to organise East Texas, and he was very much in favour of Hillary Clinton, and so he was working to try to help, you know get out the vote for Hillary during those years that we was working down there. And he's participated in the state convention and in the national conventions for the Democratic Party.

 ((WN )) Alright, well, my question was he's running as a Democrat in a house district which has been controlled by Republicans since 1983, it's being contested by the Republicans and the Libertarians and an independent. Why do you think Texans would choose a Democrat this time?

 ((Faith Chatham )) This district has been going purple. In 2014, we made a turn in that district. In fact, the Tarrant County — Tarrant County is the largest part of the district, and it is now purple. The two smaller, in fact the last three elections the Democrats would have won if it hadn't been for the Republicans in the small rural counties of Navarro and Ellis. He lives in Midlothian, and that's the part of the county that is — Ellis County — that's been turning blue, and he has a lot of support in that part. And the Democrats that are running are not running against each other; they're running together. And they're not in there attacking each other, they're basically running together, and so the district has been turning steadily blue. There's enough people that are, there's been, you know, it's a matter of building infrastructure. You build political infrastructure year after year after year, and I believe they really began building that political infrastructure in 2012 in that district, and it's been by certain, it's been by candidates that have run and lost, but they have put certain things in place that the next one can deal with. And so, there's a possibility. It's not a done deal.

Ronald Reagan and, among others, Phil Gramm at the 1987 signing of the Federal Debt Limit and Deficit Reduction Bill.
Image: Reagan White House Photographs.

But this district, in case you remember, this is a district that Phil Gramm; Phil Gramm was a Republican who went to work for — he lost, he ran for Congress as a Republican and lost, he went to work for a Democrat. Then, he ran as a Democrat and won, and then he immediately went in and partnered with Ronald Reagan to get trickle-down economics passed. And, he made Tip O'Neill mad, and he pulled him off of all of his committees, and he took his marbles and became a Republican, it's been Republican ever since. Trickle-down economics has not worked in that district. The district, especially the two rural counties have got poorer and poorer ever since that happened, and one of the things that really caused that is that trickle-down economics and also the GOP tax cuts that had no-strings-attached meant that companies no longer invested in employees' education and training. They no longer had to invest in upgrading their infrastructure, on upgrading their own [...] on investing here in America. We lost American jobs, and Ellis and Navarro counties are two counties where they really have lost a lot of jobs. And, there's been a lot of things that have happened in that district: the housing costs have gone up rapidly, they have less access to healthcare.

Official photograph of Joe Barton.
Image: United States Congress.

So, there's been a real price. Now, there's also Joe Barton, who was of course Phil Gramm's protégé, and Ron Wright was Joe Barton's chief of staff during a large part of the time that Joe was on the Energy Committee. And the main thing Joe did was protect the energy companies. And here in January, we had a very bad storm here, and the protection that had been given to the energy companies really meant that a lot of Texans really lost their life, and many others basically lost, you know, were out in the cold literally; because they didn't force them to winterise, they set up a scheme to where if they didn't produce the energy — if you don't deliver energy you can profiteer and charge much higher rates.

So, some people are waking up on this. There's also, there are people that are very staunch, this particular race in particular, you have a real divide between those that are all for Donald Trump and those that aren't. All twelve of the Republicans voted for Donald Trump in November. There's only one out of the twelve that says he no longer deserves to be the leader of the party because of January 6. So, you have a real agreement on Trump's policies, and you also have a great many of them that really believe that the insurrection was just right, you know it was just fine and dandy. There are a lot of people that don't believe that, and so that's basically what we're saying, you know, is that there's a difference in, and there's a difference in ideology, there's a difference in thought.

Now, no one can say that he's anti-law enforcement because he is law enforcement. No one can say he's anti-military because he is military. He's not anti-gun; he is in favour of background checks and controls on assault weapons, but you know this is someone that is the very fabric of this nation. But yet at the same time, he values civil rights; he worked for immigration for a brief period of time but he's flown the entire border. He's also been down in Central America so he understands what the root causes are. That's why these people are coming across the border now. He sees that there's no simple fix and he knows that it's not the policy of the current administration that's causing that. He knows that these are factors that would have driven them north no matter who was president.

And, there are situations that we've got to change. So I think that there are enough people that these issues resonate with now, that they may have been oblivious to them before January and before the storm in February, but they're not as oblivious as they were before. I think there's some Republicans that will stay home. And this is also another different story. Usually a Congressional race is only in November. This is a local race. We have no way of knowing what's going to happen, because most of the people that vote in the primary and in the general election never show up and vote in a local election. So, it's going to be real interesting to see what happens with this one. I've worked a lot of elections, but this one is the strangest I've ever come across.

But basically, if you look at the demographics, the district has been steadily turning blue.

 ((WN )) All right. Moving on to the reason of course that this election was called at all, the death of Mr Ron Wright, what does he feel about his governance — the governance of the late Ron Wright?

 ((Faith Chatham )) Ron Wright was the mayor pro tem in Arlington for a number of years, and at the same time he was the chief of staff of Joe Barton. So, Ron Wright is basically just a shadow of Joe Barton. He was only in office one year. He did not have the opportunity to really make his own mark on that area because, for one thing he was battling cancer, and he was denying COVID-[19] and ended up, you know, sadly dying from COVID-19. He was doing quite well, from what I understand in battling his cancer, and then he contracted COVID and was dead almost immediately. But he was very extremist in many areas. Mr Eddings is a very devout Christian, but he doesn't go around thumping the Bible, he doesn't go around using his religion as a tool. Ron Wright did.

Ron Wright as the, now, I don't know if Mr Eddings would say this, but I would say this, but as the tax collector of Tarrant County he had In God We Trust put on all the envelopes so when you got your tax notice from Tarrant County you got it and it said 'In God We Trust'. He had that clearly on the side of the vehicles, and I'm a Christian too but I don't think that was the appropriate thing to do in those places. And it was done in a very area, but also when he was the mayor pro tem of Arlington, he helped to push through a very extreme gas drilling programme. The way they did that is that they came in, and they first of all leased the city's property, the county's property and the school district's property, and they had the flat prod[uction well]s and the wells already in all of these neighbourhoods. And then they came to the people and they said "oh, if you don't sign the gas contract, we'll take the gas anyway." But, you know, you've already got this industrial waste dump in your neighbourhood.

Tom Vandergriff in 1959.
Image: University of Texas at Arlington Photograph Collection.

And so Arlington had, by the time he was no longer mayor pro tem, there were over 300 gas wells in the 99 square miles of Arlington. I used to live there, and I had to leave because I couldn't breathe, the air quality was so bad. I had watched our former Congressman, a wonderful man: Tommy Vandergriff, who was also a Democrat, then Republican, but I have watched him work for years for where we had a good zoning, where you knew when you built a house what was going to be next to you. And in that one administration, you know, when Ron Wright was there, they managed to — and of course he was basically also working for Joe Barton — to push this through for the energy companies. And they basically just completely ruined the entire zoning of Arlington. And, you know, it's made a real problem for homeowners in that area.

So, there's a lot of problems with Ron Wright in what he did, and he basically did not do anything for the people. There wasn't anything that he fought, he voted time and time again against healthcare, and this district has a higher infant mortality rate than most third-world countries. It has a higher maternal mortality rate than most third-world countries: you're more likely to die within a year of giving birth if you're a woman living in Tarrant County than you are if you live in most African countries. So, he basically is voting against healthcare and voting against birth control, saying that he's pro-life while he's putting in place policies that are causing women and babies to die, and not doing anything about it.

He didn't do anything about bringing good jobs to the area, he was so determined to use Joe Barton's vote to protect the big oil companies that he didn't do anything about — he kept their subsidies in place, and did nothing to subsidise the new industries that could create jobs for people. And so, these are some of the problems, what he failed to do. And then, the way he managed to, you know, who his friends were. And there is a place for — Daryl Eddings is not anti-fossil fuel, he's not anti-energy, he just says, you know, we've got energy companies that have been here for a long time, we don't need to subsidise them. They're already here.

What we need to do is we need to go in and help the new industries get started so people can have new jobs that are here, and we need to revise our tax code and restore, you know, the top per cent shouldn't have the amount of tax breaks they have. We have to get a working middle class again. He would prefer to see us go back to the policies that were similar to what [Dwight D.] Eisenhower had, you know. Eisenhower put in the Interstate Highway System and it opened commerce for the nation. We've got to put in a really robust Internet system so that people can work at home. In Ellis and Navarro County, there were lots of people that their kids couldn't study at home because they didn't have the Internet connectivity. People have trouble working from home because the Internet is so slow. We've got to get it to where every home in America has reliable connectivity so that we can move into the new way of working and the new way of studying.

 ((WN )) What are some of the most pressing issues Mr Eddings would raise to Congress if elected?

 ((Faith Chatham )) Healthcare. Housing — affordable housing. Healthcare, housing and education. The cost of healthcare, housing and education has escalated much more rapidly than peoples' paycheques. We also have to address the national debt; the way we do that is to get people at work, at good-paying jobs. People say "oh, $15 minimum", well he's not just interested in a $15 minimum, he's interested in people who are not working to be able to get a good-paying job. And then, the ones that are working, to have an opportunity to get the college and the training that they need, so they can qualify for higher-paying jobs.

So, if we get people back to work, and then we get people that are underemployed employed better, and have a career ladder. Most people don't have a career ladder anymore. I'm an old woman and there was a career ladder when I was starting out, but you know, when you create a world like has been created by Phil Gramm and Ronald Reagan and those that have followed them, where independent contractors are about the best you can get, that you can get your college degree and you can be one of the best data people in the world but you're competing with people on the other side of the world, and the employers here are hiring them in India, in China, instead of hiring them here in your own community. We've got to change that. What we have done with our computer jobs, we're going to have new industry technologies that we haven't even thought of, and they're going to be the jobs that are going to employ the next generation. We have to make sure that those patents and those jobs are here in America.

If we do the R&D [research and development], we need to get them and have them here in America. And the only way you do that is by revising the tax code so that it's not an incentive to invest abroad, but there is an incentive to invest here, and to invest in research and development and upgrading technology and employees, you know, in the training and the education of your employees. These are things that need to be restored to the tax code, and it can be done out of that percentage of tax that has been gained, has been given in these Republican tax cuts recently that have given us such a hard time. And when we do that, that's going to go ahead and help us rebuild the middle class, and it will help us get over the debt that we're going to have to go into to take care of COVID-19.

 ((WN )) Your website states "Tea Party Republicans have neglected residents" and "Ronald Reagan's trickle-down economics leaves too many people out in the cold". Could you please elaborate?

 ((Faith Chatham )) Quite truthfully. And a lot of what I was just saying. Trickle-down economics was originally when Phil Gramm and Ronald Reagan basically said "we're going to start giving tax cuts to industry because if we give a tax cut to industry, then the businesses, their profits will trickle down." But it didn't work that way. They gave the no-strings-attached tax breaks, and instead industry either — the people that got the tax breaks — either just banked it, and usually offshore, or they invested out shore, instead of investing here. So, that's where we are. And in doing that, we lost those jobs. There were lots of people in Ellis and Navarro counties that had union jobs, they had security, they had retirement, they had training, they had healthcare and they knew that they had a job for as long as they did a decent job. And all those jobs have just gone away.

But the others didn't come in, you know, they really did not come forward. Now, Daryl Eddings is a small business owner, and so, you know, he's not anti-business. But he comprehends that we have got to be able to get our American workforce with some level of protection, and the way we have to do that is we have to outfit investment: we have to invest in our own workforce, and people aren't going to do that unless, you know, it's a shame that it's altruistically and wisely, they're not doing it. But what we've found is we've found a lot more of these businesses have just been sold, you know, off by, you know, somebody buy it and then sell it to make a profit, buy it and sell it to make a profit, buy it and sell it to make a profit, take all the profit out of the good ones.

There's nothing left for the people. A good example is media; a very good example. I started out in newspaper when I was a young woman, and we never made a lot of money in newspaper, we thought we had a hard time but as I have watched colleagues of mine that work for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Dallas Morning News and these others: every time their newspaper gets sold, they get less and less and less. And also, it's now gotten somewhere they have cut. There are very few newspapers in the United States that really even have an investigative journalism team. And of course, everybody else always, which, the newspapers find out what the background was before they got on the television and they got on the radio, and so it's hurting on almost every level, but that's just one example.

We've got to get to the point where we have a tax code that encourages people to invest in our companies here, and invest in our workforce here. And where workers and where companies look up and say "you know, our workers are valuable." And it used to be that way. Workers used to be: you wanted to retain your workers, you didn't want to just have them be a contractor and walk away. And so we've gone over the cheap and it's cost us dearly. And it was very obvious with COVID. We didn't have the supply chain in place to be able to have the equipment we needed to take care of our people.

The 2017 Tax Day March in Washington, D.C. protesting Donald Trump's tax returns.
Image: Ted Eytan.

So, it's a national security issue, it's a jobs issue, it's an economy issue, it's a moral issue and it's not right for the middle class to be the one that's bearing the brunt of the taxes, and those who are the most wealthy not paying their fair share. So, you know, and of course, Donald Trump always talked about "I paid all these taxes". Well, he's talking about employee taxes. He didn't pay any income taxes, he paid employee taxes: that was the money he collected from the employees out there with only! [Laughs] It wasn't his paid taxes, you know! And so they look at it and say "well, I want the cheque".

And I've been a business owner too. I know how hard it is to write those cheques when it's time to pay your employee interest. But your employee taxes, it's not employment taxes, you know; what you collect from your employees you're passing on. We've got to get to the point where it's not the employees that are bearing the brunt of it. We need to share it around better, we need to be fair, it needs to be more equitable. And so this is something that's going to have to be debated, and it's not going to be popular, but it has got to be done. People have got to stop running away from that, and face it: that we do not have a workable tax code.

Interview with Congressional candidate Daryl Eddings (Part II).
Image: J.J. Liu.

And there's things that we get in place, and they're myths that have existed in this country about Ronald Reagan that the facts don't back up. And we need to go back honestly and look at the facts, and see what happened and where it started — and it really started with Ronald Reagan and Phil Gramm right here in US Texas 6, and I would like to see it end in US Texas 6. And let's have a new beginning. People will come in and really look at, and it will be better for Democrats, it will be better for Republicans, it will be better.

And he's not running just to represent Democrats — he's running to represent people. He will be there for whoever. He will be there for whoever. He's not going to be there patting people on the back if they say that it was an illegal election because it wasn't an illegal election. Once you have exhausted all of the legal appeals, recounts and you've gone through the courts, then you accept the outcome. You don't go in and try to bludgeon the security officers at the Capitol, because your guy didn't win! I've been very unhappy many, many, many times when the election results came in, but I never went out and was violent, I never went out and committed treason, you know, I never tried to do a palace coup. That's what we saw happen in January, and it's really time to bring that back, yeah.

We need people in office that will not be leading tours of the Capitol for people who are planning on coming in and kidnapping the Speaker of the House and the Vice President of the United States, to keep from the certification of votes. This is the reality, you know. We have Texas, we have congressmen from Texas that literally led tours the day before that insurrection, and it was a time when the Capitol was supposed to be closed; there were not supposed to be any tours! The only ones that were on tours were these people that were, you know, yelling with Trump. And so, we've got to get back and change that around.

The other thing that's really important is we've got to stop dark money in our elections, we've got to — and this is a very bipartisan area, the Koch brothers don't like it, but they have done surveys of most of the Republicans, and most of the Republican base said "we need to know who the millionaires are that are financing our elections; we need the transparency." That's a very bipartisan issue. He's very much for revoking Citizens United and getting dark money out of Congress, out of our elections, and we need to have an independent body, an independent body, not elected officials draw the barriers, the boundaries. Elected officials picking their voters is not how this was supposed to work, you know. That's not how we're supposed to be doing it, and so there's some things that need to be done on election reform, and they're reasonable things.

And I think in the long run, a lot of Republicans will buy into it. The people in the glass room, some of them in the office won't because it, you know, it protects them in office. But we need to get it to where we're really protecting the people, not protecting the ones who are in front of us.

 ((WN )) Your website also [says]: "I served within the chain of command under the commander-in-chief, but I did not swear an oath to any one man or political party." Could you please elaborate on that?

 ((Faith Chatham )) Okay, there are a lot of people, as of January 6, that are putting Donald Trump — and I mean, this is appalling to see what some of the churches have been doing — they've been putting the golden Trump up there like he is some demigod; and there are members of Congress that, instead of recognising how serious it was, they have been very frightened of going against Trump. Several of the Republicans have stated that if it had been a secret vote, that they would have voted to remove him. The repercussions, you know, the repercussions on it. Donald Trump is not to who we swear. You don't swear a code of allegiance to the president of the United States. The commander-in-chief is charged with leading our military, but our military swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. And that's also the oath that the president takes, and that's what Congress takes.

Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.
Image: The White House.

But instead of looking at what we do to protect the Constitution of the United States, which was to have a peaceful turnover of the government, there were too many of them that continued to say "this is an illegal election", "it was not fair", you know, and even though the judges by and large were Republican appointees by Donald Trump, they were saying "oh this isn't fair, some Democrats have done it", they put out too many lies and they instigated a level of doubt and discord and disharmony that destabilises our country — and actually led to a large number of people, many of whom were law enforcement agents, and many of whom were veterans that stormed the Capitol with a military plan. It was very clearly executed, this was not spontaneous, it was a plan to go in and forcibly stop the certification of the vote to turnover the presidency to the man who had won the election. And this is not how it's supposed to work. Every one of those people in that building has sworn an oath to the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the United States outlines what the process is when we have a question about it, how we answer it, what the process is with the courts. And when it is settled, which it had been, we peaceably turnover power to the next elected administration. It always has been that way except under Donald Trump.

Donald Trump delivering his farewell address on January 19, 2021.
Image: The White House.

Daryl Eddings came back from Iraq in a coma. He spent eighteen months in a military hospital undergoing multiple surgeries and years of rehab to get to the point where he could work and make a living for his family. He lost people over there that he cares about who were fighting for this country, and for him to sit there and watch what happened on January 6, and to hear the words that came out of the mouth of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and Louie Gohmert and a lot of other elected officials that basically were lies. He knows what it is to be in countries where there are palace coups. And to sit here and see this going on in his own country? Can you imagine what kind of a reaction he has? Can you imagine how it hits him in the gut? How he would decide to put his life on the line?

This is a man that has always been very private. There were very few photographs of him because he was a US marshal, and he worked on drug interdiction, and he knew that there were people that might recognise him from those missions that were not nice people. And he didn't want them knocking on his door with his family. And he sat down and talked to his family about it and decided to put his face out there, and put his name out there and run for Congress because his that worried about where our nation is right now. He's that worried for his neighbours: Democrats and Republicans, independents and Libertarians.

 ((WN )) How would Mr Eddings handle the vaccine rollout if elected?

 ((Faith Chatham )) He's very pleased with how President Biden has done it. The vaccine rollout has been — Donald Trump was good about getting it accelerated on making it, but he did not have in place a real plan to distribute it. Daryl Eddings, he spent, you know years in emergency management, you know. He's been working on another Master's [degree] in emergency management, but he would be working very much like what President Biden has been doing. He'd be working with the scientists, he would be working with the supply chain, he'd be working with the military, he'd be working with the nurses to get it out to as many people as possible as fast as possible, and as efficiently as possible. And that's one thing he's very efficient is when there's something that needs to be done, he knows how to move the people and move the resources and assess the problem and get the job done.

And so on that area, he's been much more relieved to see what has happened this year than what we were watching last year.

 ((WN )) How would Mr Eddings help the economically disadvantaged if elected?

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010.
Image: Pete Souza.

 ((Faith Chatham )) Jobs. Very definitely jobs. Jobs and access to education, and also expansion of healthcare. Right here in Texas, the Texas Legislature and the Governor refused to expand Medicaid but we're basically paying for other states to have Medicaid! There's so many things: everybody that has held a private health insurance policy is paying a higher premium because we have so many uninsured people in Texas. He would be working to, you know, to expand it, to look at the ACA [Affordable Care Act], see what the problems are instead of revoking it like Joe Barton has tried to do; he would basically be working to look at it, to see what the problems are and to find a solution to make it work for as many people as possible — not to eliminate the options for private healthcare, not at all — but yet to give more people an opportunity to.

Also, he would be looking for ways that people could have an opportunity to buy a home again. Housing cost is a big problem. We have too many families that are being pushed out of their housing, and we have too many veterans living under the bridges, and he has worked on veterans' housing with a number of non-profit organisations for years; that's been one of the things that he's worked very heavily on is veterans' housing. And, he also has been very active on veterans' mental health issues, and so a lot of families are suffering because of mental health issues and they don't have the opportunity to have the drug treatment on demand that they need there. If there's a long waiting list for it, when you get ready for it there's a waiting list, and you know with an addict, somebody that has a substance abuse problem, if you don't strike when the striking is hot, if they have to wait then they're not ready to go in and do anything about it.

And so that's one of the big problems he'd be working with, very much. He's done a lot on suicide prevention and mental health issues and PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. And these are issues that are not Democratic or Republican, they're not black, they're not white: these are problems that, because every time we have a lot of veterans that come home, and then there are a lot of us that are suffering from PTSD that were in military, you know, they are military things; people that have been in school shootings or in different areas of that area have PTSD. And so, we need a better network, a better social network.

And then, we also have to strengthen our retiree social network. Retired people shouldn't be paying some guaranteed student loans out of their Social Security cheque, and when somebody has been working for a company they should be able to take their retirement plan with them. And what we've allowed is in there are too many cases of corporations declaring bankruptcy to get out of paying the retirement for their employees, and then they leave it to the federal government to take up the slack. We may need to go with something like what we have for workers' comp where there's an insurance: it's an insurance policy instead of a pension plan, and that it goes with the employee wherever they're going, so that after you've worked twenty years if you've worked at five or six or seven different jobs, you still have some security.

And we have to keep Social Security, you know. Social Security is a — we can't do it, but the way we do that is by putting in work, you know. People have to work: them ore we work, the more we pay in, the stronger these systems are. But as long as our jobs are offshore, as long as employers can just, you know, call you in as an independent contractor and let you go, you know, whenever it suits them and not, you know, not in that area, as long as we have no protection for our employees and there's no investment by the companies into our workforce, we're not going to have the resources we need for people to have the retirement as necessary.

Houses, jobs, retirement, access to infrastructure, health rights: those are the things that everybody needs. Those are not Democrat needs, and Republican doesn't. Those are the things everybody needs, and that is exactly what he is, that's exactly what he'll be working for. And also, everybody's vote must count, and we need to know that it's counted fairly, and that when that election is over that you can go through the process and you may find out that some of it was wrong and you can correct it, but if you find out that it wasn't wrong, then you just, you know, you just take it on your chin and you just wait for the next election. That's the American Way, and that's where we need to go back to.

 ((WN )) What are his opinions on President Biden?

 ((Faith Chatham )) He is relieved to see the things that President Biden has been doing. He feels like reversing most of President Trump's executive orders was a good move. He is pleased to see the calibre of people with experience to accept the mission of the departments they're being appointed to, that'll be his appointees, you know. Because we found under Trump people that had no credentials whatsoever were appointed, that was mainly cronyism, and they were appointed to destroy the departments, not to build them up. Daryl Eddings believes in good government, not no government. That doesn't mean that government gets to do everything, you know, but basically we always try to do better.

We had a bureaucracy that basically, our civil service was designed so that it didn't, you know, the civil service and the Hatch Act worked for us; my mother was still in civil service. I didn't even know she was a Democrat until she was dying, I thought she had voted Republican until she was on her deathbed because she took the Hatch Act so seriously. [Laughs] She didn't even let her kids know what her partisanship was. But because a federal employee is supposed to be non-partisan in the way they conduct their business, we had a steady transition, and we also had experts who knew what was going on, was there to continue running things until the next one is in place. That's been really tattered and shattered, you know, in so many areas.

One good example is the post office department, you know, the post office department. There's no for-profit business that's ever going to make profit serving every community in the nation, you know. No company is going to make a profit serving every community in the nation. And yet at the same time, they're going out of their way to destroy the United States Postal Office that basically services every community in the nation. And so, we have to go back in and look at that, so it's good.

He's for people that are science, data, look at the facts, go with the facts, use your science, use your data, rely on the experts, get the politics out of it and make the decision based off what will work. That's Daryl Eddings. Make the decision based on truth, the best information available, verify it and put people in charge that have a background and the expertise to do the job, and who believe that the mission, as is set out in our legislation of that agency, is what they really have a commitment to. If they don't have a commitment to the mission of that agency, they should not be put in charge of that agency. And so he sees Biden trying to do that, you know, more so. And in the last administration, they wouldn't.

 ((WN )) Well, we've talked about Mr Biden, so what are Mr Eddings' thoughts on former President Trump?

 ((Faith Chatham )) Oh...he never called him the commander-in-chief, as he was out of the military by the time, he was retired by the time he came in, but he never called him the commander-in-chief, he called him '45' because he never earned his respect. There was not any reason for Donald Trump to be leading our troops. Donald Trump was putting too many people at risk on a whim without reading the intelligence briefings, without listening to his generals, without, you know, unless it was an echo chamber that was feeding his ego, he had no time for it. And it was dangerous, it was dangerous. He's relieved that he's no longer, you know, I mean it's not that he was a Republican, it was that he was a danger, and that he was a danger to this nation, he was a danger to the men and women who are putting their lives on the line to watch out for us.

And also, he violated some of our greatest allies, you know. The things that he did to our allies was unconscionable, and it wasn't just the ones that were our peacetime allies; he basically betrayed some of our allies when they were, with their lives were in danger and they were literally fighting for their very lives. And so the betrayals, you know, it's very difficult for a man who has had the kind of life that Daryl Eddings has to watch what happened under Donald Trump, and not be appalled.

 ((WN )) What are his thoughts on the ongoing crisis at the Southern border?

The Central Processing Center for illegal border crossers in McAllen, Texas in May 2018.
Image: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

 ((Faith Chatham )) Well, he worked for immigration. And, at the same time he understands, and then he also worked on drug interdiction, so he's flown from the top to the bottom, but he's also been in those countries. And he knows that it's not what our policy is that is bringing them here. What's bringing them here is what's happening in their countries. It's the terror, the crime, the severe poverty and it was bad enough because they're always having hurricanes and disasters, they're just knocking them off the line, but when you get down to it you also have COVID-19 that's on top of it. But he knows that if someone is terrified, and they believe that they or their children are going to die if they stay in their neighbourhood, they're going to go somewhere else. And, they're not going to be able to keep them back; they're going to go wherever it is they think that they will be safer — maybe not safe, but safer.

The US Food and Drug Administration checking for illegal and unauthorised drugs in March 2018.
Image: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

So he knows that those are situations that — it's a humanitarian problem, but it's going to have to be solved on a multi-pronged attack. It has to be solved in co-operation with the countries to help the countries counter the drug and the terror and the gang activity. They also have to be helped in a way that deals with the poverty. And then, we have to be as humane as we can in receiving those who came. We had four years of the United States government refusing to process asylum applications in a timely manner. We were already understaffed before this happened, and then he made that to try to make it as a punishment. You can't make it as a punishment.

He also knows that there is no way to put a wall up, because he's flown from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico; just the terrain would make it totally impossible. And besides that, what are you going to do with a fence when you have two oceans on both sides of you, you know. So you're not going to keep people over. The higher the fence, they're going to come over. So, we have to find a way. But as a law enforcement officer, he really believes we have to be able to allow the people who are here to come out of the shadows, because as long as we have people in the shadows, and they're afraid to co-operate with law enforcement, it's harder to take care of the drug dealers in the cartels, and it's harder to take care of criminals that are preying on them.

And as long as a criminal can prey on somebody, and there's somebody there that was a witness or a victim, and they can't co-operate with law enforcement, we're all less safe. So, we have to do something to give them a chance to have legal residency so they're not afraid of being deported, so that they can co-ordinate with law enforcement here, and he sees that as a real nice thing. And he did go down to Brownsville with ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] when they were under the Trump Administration; he actually went into the courtroom and saw children that were being brought before the court, without an adult. He saw multiple immigrants, multiple people that were in orange shirts, orange sheets that were teetered together, they will all fly together as a mass thing to be deported, not even having an individual chance before a judge. He saw things that were not fine, as a criminal justice person, that was not fair, and that were not humane.

And what's happening now is very sad, but they're at least trying to take care of these children, they're trying to move them out of those shelters as fast as possible, they're trying to get them, they're trying to speed up the background checks — that's one of the big problems: they have to do background checks on these people that are coming forward to be their guardians, because they're children that have literally ended up being sex trafficking by people who claimed them, so you have to do that. It's not an instant process, but yet at the same time what you do with those children, and the mental health support that they have while they're in there, you don't go in there and tell them that their parents have deserted them. You don't lie to the parents and tell them, you know, those things, so we have to be honest, we have to be truthful with the people, we have to do the best job we can do, and our best job isn't good enough, but in the last administration it was cruel! You know, it wasn't that it wasn't good enough, it was that it violated the Geneva Conventions in almost every way.

And also, we test them. You know, they were refusing even to give those kids flu shots under Trump. We test them, and, you know, we do our best to take care of them, and we try to get them out of our custody as fast as possible, because the more you have together, the higher likelihood of sexual assault, or violence, or harm to one of them. And so, you have to process them, and get them out as fast as possible, and protect them because, you know, it's just a nightmare. But yeah, he was very concerned for the children; he's got seven grandchildren of his own, and what he saw as a former INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] person knows that was not how it was supposed to operate. And it still has a ways to go now, but at least they're trying to do it, instead of trying to do the opposite.

Interview with Congressional candidate Daryl Eddings (Part III).
Image: J.J. Liu.

 ((WN )) What are his thoughts on the size of the American military?

 ((Faith Chatham )) That's one question that we haven't discussed: about the size of the military. I can't really give you an answer. I do know that he believes very much in the military, he believes in the military; it is a peacekeeping operation, he believes that it is beneficial in that it is one of the ways that people who come from poorer families can get an education, can have a chance to buy a house with a reasonable area, you know. If you live through your military service, you have benefits, but also there's a lot of people that do not survive their military service.

He doesn't believe that the military should be used for everything, you know. We have reasons to use the military; we don't use the military just at the whim of the commander-in-chief. There has to be a valid reason to use the military, and so that's one of the reasons that he trusted Hillary Clinton more than he trusted Donald Trump, you know, on that area.

 ((WN )) What are his thoughts on the criminal justice system?

 ((Faith Chatham )) Well, he was an officer, of course. He believes in it, and he also believes that we have many wonderful law enforcement people, and we have some bad apples. We have too many racists that are in the, you know. White nationalists do not belong in law enforcement. There are some people that do not have the temperament to be in law enforcement. And he became a friend of Sandra Bland's mother during the time that she was trying to find out what happened to her daughter, what the real circumstances were of her death in custody, and he has looked very closely with her, over the years, that she actually came to Texas in 2018, I guess it was; maybe this was '16, 2018, and volunteered in Dr Shirley McKellar's campaign because of the relationship they established.

Greg and Cecilia Abbott with Donald and Melania Trump in February 2020.
Image: The White House.

He was very pleased to see the Sandra Bland Act signed into law by Governor [Greg] Abbott. It does some things that are important; he would like to see the George Floyd Act and the Sandra Bland Act, those elements of it be merged and passed nationally. The Sandra Bland Act has transparency, it has a lot of protection, it has a lot of things in dealing with the mentally ill and drug addiction; very often a jailer would just say they had gone by and checked on them when they didn't, so it calls for electronic monitoring so they have to push the button right there at the cell to show that they have checked on that person. It basically says that if there's ever a death in custody that you don't get to investigate it yourself, it has to be an independent law enforcement agency to do the investigation.

So those are the protections. Then, the George Floyd Act has some others that are important too; now the George Floyd Act basically goes in and says if there is a registry, then we need to have a registry of law enforcement officers that have been discharged because of not following the protocol. And so that's pretty controversial with it, but he also believes that we have to go in and address; he believes that everyone should be able; he believes in protecting the Second Amendment rights, obviously, he is a gun owner.

But, he believes that there are AK-47s, he believes there are military weapons, and weapons that can be modified to be military weapons, that belong on the battlefield, and that rifles and long guns should be used for hunting game, not hunting people. They shouldn't be worn around as a fashion statement into restaurants to intimidate other diners. We need to be able to have everyone licensed, everyone background-checked, everyone to have training. And we have to close the loopholes of gun purchases. There's still going to have the people that are getting a hold of the weapons illegally, but if you take care of that, you can then address the others. But, law enforcement are designed to shoot to kill if there is a threat: that's their protective life.

He believes that we have got to stop using our police for everything that we haven't got covered. They're not supposed to be the box we check when we don't have anything else to do it. Every 9-1-1 call should not be going to the police. If it's mental health, drug addiction, we should have people who are trained in mental health and trained in drug addiction do the first call on that. You might have a police officer with you, but you shouldn't, you know, those tiny areas. He serves on the Veterans Administration's Mental Health Advocacy Board; he's an officer on that. He works as a mentor, he volunteers as a mentor in a one-year programme, it's called the "Veterans Court" in Dallas, where you work with someone who has been in drug addiction or mental, you know, has just gotten in trouble with the law, and it's aversion programme, and you have a mentor and you work with that person 24/7 wherever they need them, and he does that. He works from down in East Texas, they realised that there were thirteen counties that did not have access to in-person psychiatric counselling, and social work counselling. He worked to see that they got it, and that the VA paid for it, so yeah, he has some real, real concerns with what's happening with the mentally ill, and the people that are falling through the cracks.

He knows that he's where he's at because people helped him when he came back, you know. And he sees a lot of veterans that are falling through the cracks, and he's very concerned about that. And then, there are other people that are falling through the cracks. And so, law enforcement, you know, law enforcement needs. And also, he's a black man. He's got black grandchildren. He's a law enforcement person; you know, the bias that goes, the more likely you're going to be shot by a police officer if you're mentally ill, or you're a person of colour. Those are things that would concern any father, any grandfather.

And yet at the same time, the officers shouldn't have, you know, if an officer is at greater risk of being killed now because of the number of guns that are out there. How do you know, if you're in a grocery store, and someone comes in with a gun, if they're coming in just because they've got a licence and they're just shopping, or if they're coming in to do something. We used to be able to know that if somebody came into Piggly Wiggly with a gun, they didn't have a good purpose, you know. They can stop them close to do the door. Now, they're right up on the aisle with you, before you get a chance; they're right up on top of you, able to do a lot of damage. So, there's a lot more risk to law enforcement right now than there was before, we have to address it on both ways.

 ((WN )) What does he feel on Medicare?

 ((Faith Chatham )) Medicare? The best, most efficiently-managed healthcare delivery in the nation. It's not perfect, but it is definitely, when you look at the cost of administration for Medicare, it is the lowest of any insurance company, any insurance divider; even military is not as efficiently run as Medicare. But, he would like to look at possibly a buy-in for people that are 50, to where some people might be able to buy into it; he's not sure, but he thinks that something should be evaluated. He wants to put on the table of our system, and look at what the flaws are, see where we started with the Affordable Care Act, what we know now are the problems, the inequities, see how we can correct those, and how we can get more people covered, and it is by making Medicare go a little bit longer, or if it's a way of jacking up the Affordable Care Act.

But also, he believes that people should have dental coverage, you know. That's a way to find a way to make dental coverage affordable. So, you know, there's a lot of heart disease that's caused because of bad dentistry, and there's a lot of people that can't afford to go to the dentist, and it concerns him that people are working and they can't afford to, you know, they're too poor to go to the dentist when they need to, they're too poor to go to the doctor, they're too poor to get that psychiatric counselling that they need. And so, the way that we do this is we invest in our people, and that's one of the investments in the people.

We also have to see how do we pay for it. And that's the other chance it is not an easy solution. We have to look at what we can do, and what's reasonable and how do we pay for it. And those are questions that, instead of fighting over it we need to come to the table and solve, you know. Really look at them, and debate them, and research them and solve them instead of just asking the book when we're with them. He's a person that basically looks at it, listens and figures out a way to get it done. And he's done that since he's left — he's done that when he was in the military, and he's done it since he left the military. Operation Battle Buddy is an example, because when he was with Brooke Medical — now, there's two organisations: this isn't the K9 unit, this is the one that does the mentoring, but he founded that organisation. When he was the CEO of it, they were mentoring 20 thousand vets that had, you know, come through Brooke Military Hospital.

But he looks at it, he sees a need and he finds a way to get it done: that's what they need down in East Texas with the mental health services, and that's what he's done with some veterans' housing projects in different areas. So, and that's just as an individual. And so, as a congressperson I believe that he has the relationship with a number of people in Congress, and they'll look at him and they'll see his heart, and see his skill and see his willingness to solve problems. You know, you gravitate together: those who are really wanting to find solutions find ways to find solutions, and that's where he'll be; he'll be with the ones that are looking to find the solution.

 ((WN )) What are his thoughts on President Biden's recent talks with China [on March 19, 2021]?

 ((Faith Chatham )) I don't know, we haven't talked about that. So that's one, on all these mountains and mountains of things we have not talked about China, other than what's happened with trade. So, I can't even answer that one.

John Lewis with other civil rights activists meeting with Lyndon Johnson, August 6, 1965.

 ((WN )) What are his thoughts, then, on the rise in anti-Asian sentiment as a result of the pandemic and recent shooting in Atlanta?

 ((Faith Chatham )) Oh, it's deplorable. Hate and discrimination coming against any person is an abomination to him. He considers one of his proudest moments was when he was on the Pettus Bridge with the late honourable John Lewis. He does not believe in, you know, I mean if you're Muslim, if you're Asian, if you're LGBT, if you're a woman, if you're black, if you're Hispanic, you're an American, and you should be treated with respect as a human being. And no one, in this country of any race is responsible for COVID-19. Nobody here caused it, nobody here brought it over here, you know, there's some people that are responsible for not helping us deal with it in a timely manner, you know, there's some people that dropped the ball on it, but we did not cause it. And just because of your ethnicity, you know, you definitely should not in that area, so the discrimination in the attacks on them are very troubling.

Empty shelves on February 19 in Austin, Texas.
Image: Jno.skinner.

 ((WN )) The power outages of February left millions without power, sometimes for days, including of course, the sixth district. Its damages are currently estimated at US$195 billion and 111 estimated to have been killed. How will Mr Eddings prevent this from happening again, should he be elected?

 ((Faith Chatham )) On the federal level: require all energy transmission sites to be listed and winterised. Without protecting them out on the cheap, you know. I mean, instead of just keeping them from having to do that, here in Texas, we know that there's a piece of paper. They can just have them listed of which ones were supposed to get that, and also they did not have the winterisation. Our pipelines should have been buried deeper, but the pipelines doesn't require it. So, on a federal level we're probably going to have to go in and put some controls in on a federal level to address these issues, these issues.

And also, there has to be some kind of control put in on the profiteering schemes of energy. Here in Texas, Joe Barton, Greg Abbott and certain legislators have done their very best to protect their big donors at the expense of everybody else, and it's cost people lives. And you know, now Abbott's trying to deflect from it, you know, he's sent people down to the border, he's tried all kinds of things. He's done his math bit, all this stuff to deflect from the fact that he really blew it...but he really blew it, and he basically — they sat there and they knew, they knew from 2011 what was going to happen. They were told in 2011 what they needed to do, and every year in January my electric bill always jumped up even though I didn't use any more electricity.

And every Texan has paid through the nose because they have willingly taken compression stations offline so they could get those higher prices in January, and this time it crashed. And they still got them, you know. Two and three and sometimes even a thousand per cent higher: that's profiteering, that's schemes, and that has to do with the failure of politicians to look out for the people of Texas. And the buck rests not just with the PUC [Public Utility Commission of Texas] and not just when what was left, the buck rests with the Governor, and with certain people who have been in office that have been the real protectors of that sector at all costs. That sector is an important sector, but they should not be allowed to profiteer at the expense of the Texas citizens.

Survivors of Hurricane Katrina in the refitted Houston Astrodome, September 2, 2005.
Image: Andrea Booher.

 ((WN )) What sets Mr Eddings apart from other candidates in the Democratic Party; of course, there are multiple running, there are multiple Democrats, multiple Republicans, multiple everyone. So, what sets him apart?

 ((Faith Chatham )) There are some others that are veterans that are running on the Democrat and Republican sides, but none of them have the width of experience he has. None of them have the experience in emergency management. It was really a[n] eye-opener for me during Hurricane Katrina when I realised that I couldn't just call the people that were running the show in Arlington while we were receiving them, because they were locked in a, you know, in a secure area and the public had no access to the telephone in that area. A state of emergency, which is martial law is a very serious thing, and most citizens don't understand what happens during that.

He does, because he has worked states of emergency for years in California, and then the senior operations officer over there, so if something happens in the district and he's in Congress he's going to know what's happening, he's going to be able to put his hands on them, he's going to be able to know who to contact, how to contact them, what to look for, what usually happens where the break-down is, to take care of things: that's the level that he has. Also, he comes with them. This is a personal situation: I travelled with him a lot, and he was the security person on our team. And usually, we never, you know usually, if there was something we wanted it was no problem, but if it was something that had to do with security we always knew that if he nodded or said no that it was no, because he is always looking out for the security of everyone around him.

If you're in his neighbourhood, he's going to be as concerned about your security as he is going to be about his own wife's security. That's where he looks at. He looks at what is going to keep people alive, and at the same time respect their freedom to be the very best that they can be. That's how he is. He is the most — I'll tell you, he's a hard candidate to work for, because he's so modest! You know, I mean he's unlike any politician I've ever worked with because he's not a politician, he is a person that is — he's usually finding solutions and pulling other people together to make them happen, and then he pushes them to the foreground but doesn't take any credit for what he instigated, for what he did.

He's not out there to take vows for himself, he's out there to make things better. He sincerely is out there to make things better. You know, of course that's coming from somebody who knows him, and I wouldn't be doing this — I would not be doing this if I didn't know him as well as I do, because basically I said "I'm not doing this again!" I've done enough of that, you know, it's time for somebody else to look to own this ship, but yeah, he's just, he's a very rare individual.

And also, in the years I have known him I have never once had something the man told me that I couldn't take at face. He has never even covered up, you know, I mean he might not say anything about it but there's never been one field, one attempt to misdirect anyone I have ever seen in all the years I've known him. That's not something you come across in these politicians. I don't know how you put that in the story, but that's just not; he's just not your normal egg, you know. He's just not normal egg.

 ((WN )) How has COVID-19 affected the campaign?

 ((Faith Chatham )) Oh, enormously. Because for one thing, block walking: usually, you're out meeting people and rubbing hands and all that, and that's practically every interview, every meeting is by Zoom, you know, we're just now getting ready to starting with block walking where we're having to, you know, all of that we're trying to, you know, we'll try to get people vaccinated so that they can be out there. We've done the masks, social distancing and we have Dr McKellar, who is a RN [Registered nurse], who was a commander over military units in Iraq, in the Middle East, who has basically set down what our COVID-19 protocols are.

It makes all the difference in the world on how we did it; it made a big difference in just being able to file. Usually when you file, you go into different Democratic club meetings and you go to your neighbours, and you get your petition signatures. Well, when he said he was going to try and do petition signatures in three days during a pandemic, I said "it couldn't happen", but he got his veteran buddies out there and they basically collected the, you know 5500 signatures that we needed. We didn't use them, because we didn't have time to check them out to make sure they were valid, and we still paid the money but to be able to make contact with that many people is astronomical.

So, we're still doing the things that we can do, and you know, in next week we're going to actually start literature drops instead of, normally you go and you knock on the door, you try to talk to people, we're going to be trying to do literature drops. Somebody comes out and gets them to talk to them, but they'll be at distance and everybody'll have a mask and, you know, that whole kind of area. So, it makes it very different.

And also, people are hurting, you know. We're dealing with people who are in greater need, even if they have the roof over their head and the money isn't the situation, they've got emotional needs, they've got psychological needs, they've got grieving needs that have gone on. And so, everyone is in a very different place this year than they were last year.

And also, if it were not for COVID, two of the three seats that are coming up this month in Congress would not be having special elections. One of them in Louisiana was because the congressman took a job in the Biden administration, but the other one is because the young man died of COVID-19, and so did Ron Wright. So, COVID is making the difference politically and opening seats up, and that's not how you plan on running. It also means that this is the most complex election — we had fifty days to do what normally you do in eighteen months in a congressional race. And just to file the paperwork and get the checking account to do those kinds of things is astronomical.

And also, a candidate usually has months in which to get his one minute, his two minute, his three minute elevator speech, and to get all, you know all that kind of stuff, and to get the issues, and you did it all at the same time in very accelerated speeds. And you're running against — there's 23 people on the ballot, who knows what in the world that's going to do, and you can't judge, you can't go back and look at any other election and make a guess about what the turnout's going to be. Because, even if it was another special election it wouldn't have been a special election between these candidates, you know. And if it was a congressional race, it wouldn't have been a special election with your local candidate, so it's just a crapshoot, you know, who knows what's going to happen here.

But we do know this: that whatever we do, we will be building some infrastructure, we'll be identifying some voters, we will be engaging some voters that may not have been engaged, we will be bringing out some folks that voted in 2020 to a local election for a congressional race, and maybe some of these folks will get in the habit of voting in their municipal elections, and we have a difference, you know. And that may be a good one, because if they get in a habit when they're young, then maybe they'll continue doing that. So, you know, whatever happens — there's a good side and a difficult side anyway you check it.

 ((WN )) If Mr Eddings isn't elected this time, what do you anticipate his ambitions for the future would be?

 ((Faith Chatham )) He's already said that he's running in 2022, you know, if he isn't elected. In fact, we had a discussion today about his filing his FEC [Federal Election Commission] intention to run, you know, and I put it out to him, you know "you've already got your checking account, you've already got your ads clean, you've already got a lot of stuff done, and so, you know just go with it." Yeah, his intention is to run in the 20s, he's been thinking about running for a long time, he just hadn't thought about running this year because he didn't know this seat was going to be open.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2016.
Image: Supreme Court of the United States.

 ((WN )) Light-hearted question to end this: which historical figure would he identify with most and why, or which historical figure do you think he identifies with most and why?

 ((Faith Chatham )) Okay, he says the two that he admires most, and that he would rather fashion himself after would be John Lewis and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And that is because they each faced great discrimination, they each persevered and they each opened doors to segments of people that many people thought would never be opened, and basically he said "if it is necessary, it is not impossible." You can't afford for it to be impossible if it's something people desperately, finally need, and so you continue working for that as long as it takes to take care of it, and those are two conclusive of that, so he looks at that.

This man hasn't got a misogynistic bone in his body, I mean, it's just incredible, you know. I've asked him what he thought about Don't ask, don't tell in the military, and he said "some of the best soldiers I've ever known: men and women were under don't ask don't tell, and it was good for them to be able to come out of the covers on that type area." He's not at all, he has no problems with LGBTQ in the military. And he also truly has no problems with women because he was staunchly behind Hillary Clinton, and he has put the last eight years of his life on hold to try to get Shirly McKellar elected over Louis Gohmert down in East Texas.

So, he just, you know, he's a rare bird.

 ((WN )) Any final comments?

 ((Faith Chatham )) Well, I think I'm pretty well commented! [Laughs]


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.