Paula Jean Swearengin

Candidate for US Senate

Morgantown/Kingwood Branch of the NAACP 2020 Questionnaire

A. How do you plan to improve access to health care and public health information for minority communities in West Virginia? 

We must give minority communities a voice in what should be done about addressing disparities, rather than taking direction from the same system that has produced these disparities. We do this by developing a commission in which minority communities can be advised of the data we have, and use that information to develop solutions we can enact. It’s a tragedy that communities of color face COVID outbreaks at higher rates, and even exceedingly high maternal mortality rates. This has to stop. There must be no second class citizens in our state. 

B. In what ways should police departments and bystanding police officers be held accountable for their officers’ violent acts and misconduct?

Officers of the law must be held to a higher standard. I’ll fight to pass laws that require intervention when officers witness excessive force. Another important thing we can do is to create a federal database so officers who use excessive force (or who fail to intervene when they witness excessive force) don’t just get hired in another district and continue the behavior. We don’t have justice unless there is justice for all of us. 

C. In what ways have you fought discrimination that targeted people of color either in the workplace or in the community?

Communities of color and poor communities have always borne the brunt of environmental and industrial impacts while others walked off with the profits. As corporations look to shift costs onto local residents, they often target vulnerable minority and poor communities, because they have disproportionately low representation of their interests in our government, and they are also less likely to have the resources to fight back. I have spent my life fighting for vulnerable communities, and I’m done waiting for sold-out representatives to stop working for the corporate oppressors.

D. What actions will you take against voter suppression?

Among other things, I will advocate for automatic voter registration, universal access to vote-by-mail, making Election Day a federal paid holiday, independent redistricting commissions to prevent gerrymandering, the elimination of the electoral college, and any other efforts to make certain we have a government of the people–all the people.