Cottrell-Webster US Rep 11 race 2020

Dana Cottrell, left, and Daniel Webster

The race for Citrus County’s representative in Congress is a repeat of 2018.

Republican Rep. Daniel Webster of Clermont faces Democrat Dana Cottrell of Spring Hill in the Nov. 3, 2020, election in the 11th Congressional District.

Two years ago, Webster was re-elected with 65% of the vote in the district that contains Citrus and parts of four other counties.

The Chronicle sent four questions to each candidate. Here are their answers, edited only for length::

What is the biggest issue facing our country today and what is your role in solving it?

Cottrell: “I believe the greatest challenge facing our nation today is the lack of wage growth in the United States. Consistent positive wage growth has occurred in only 10 of the last 40 years. This has resulted in Americans being unable to buy a home, unable to save for retirement, unable to afford health care, and unable to provide for their families. COVID-19 has only exacerbated this situation as American workers have had to make the ultimate choice of safeguarding their health and the health of their family, or returning to dangerous work conditions. 

“My role in helping to solve this problem is to implement law that will: provide affordable housing, to pass Medicare as a public option, to promote innovative job growth that pays a living wage, and to make sure every American has access to debt-free vocational training or college education. These initiatives will not only decrease the lack of wage growth, but will move our entire economy forward.”

Webster: “The biggest issue facing our country right now is getting our economy back on track and hardworking Americans back to work after the lockdown to flatten the curve. I supported the CARES Act, creating the Paycheck Protection Program, which provided billions in loans to small businesses and supported more than 50 million jobs. We work with local, state and federal leaders to get needed medical supplies to our community. I believe in the ingenuity and creativity of the American people to reopen our economy and get back to work while also protecting ourselves and our most vulnerable.”

Please grade President Trump's performance in office (A, B, C etc) and explain.

Cottrell: “I, just like every other American, have never been 100% in agreement with every president; however, I have never experienced a president who promotes our fellow Americans as the enemy. I have never experienced a president who has disparaged our military and would ignore bounties put on the lives of our troops by Vladimir Putin. I have never experienced a president who makes fun of the disabled, who encourages people to beat up those with differing opinions. 

“As for economic policy, the average American is worse off under the Trump administration while the rich keep getting richer. … President Trump has failed on two promises he made to the American people, which would have drastically improved the lives of millions of Americans. President Trump promised a health care system that would be more affordable and provide greater coverage than anything we have now. Four years into his presidency and the Trump administration has yet to put forth one health care proposal. President Trump stated in his November 2015 victory speech, the country's infrastructure "will become, by the way, second to none, and we will put millions of our people back to work as we rebuild it.” Another empty promise to the American people. These are the facts; I leave it to you to grade our president.”

Webster: I give the president an A for keeping his promise to appoint judges who respect and uphold the Constitution; for keeping his promise to negotiate an updated trade deal with USMCA; for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem; and for his administration’s work to remove unnecessary and duplicative regulations that the Obama administration put in place to weaponize federal government to force their liberal agenda on small business owners and hardworking Americans.”

How well has the administration and Congress reacted to the COVID-19 crisis?

Cottrell: “Over 190,000 Americans have lost their lives, and we will lose many more lives due to the denial of scientific facts and a lack of a coordinated plan of action from the federal government. The federal government should enact legislation to secure the health and financial stability of the American people.  When COVID-19 first impacted our nation, I stated the government program should be a $2,000 monthly payment to every American over 18, along with a $500 monthly payment for every American under 18 in effect for one year. During that year all mortgages, credit card payments and loan payments would be on hiatus. This would have allowed Americans to safely shelter in place and for the disease to run its course without the current impact. I still support this initiative as we work toward a safe vaccine. What we are doing now is not enough to assist Floridians through COVID-19, and unfortunately, the economic, mental, and physical effects of COVID continue to negatively impact the people of the United States.”

Webster: “The administration took the crisis seriously and acted swiftly with unprecedented action to close our borders, marshal the ingenuity of our private market to provide equipment and supplies needed, and, working with Congress, created programs to help Americans during the lockdowns. Unfortunately, due to the Democrats desire to play politics and use the pandemic crisis to pass their socialist-liberal critical support was delayed and taxpayer dollars were spent on unnecessary items such as Kennedy Performing Arts Center in D.C.”

What is the biggest thing separating you from your opponent that voters should know?

Cottrell: “Daniel Webster has served in various political offices for the past 40 years. He has not had to work on the American economy as a member of the middle class. He has had health care provided as well as his retirement. I believe he is disconnected from the reality of his constituents. I have spent 28 years as a school teacher. I know what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck. I have felt the effects of rising medical and prescription costs, and yet, I know my family to be blessed with all that we have. As a teacher, I have witnessed every single day the plight of children in my classes coming from so much less. I talk to families that are unemployed and being evicted from their homes. I want to be a public servant, to continue policies that allow Americans to thrive, and to make necessary changes so that every American has the opportunity to prosper."

Webster: “I've stood up to the Washington establishment and fought to protect our Constitutional rights. I have a record of getting things done, working with members across the political aisle and keeping my word. I was named Audubon Florida’s Champion of the Everglades award for my leadership in Everglades conservation. I have saved taxpayers more than $3 million in taxpayer dollars out of my budget and every year roll back my congressional salary. I have a record of serving my district — since January 2017, my office has gotten more than $10 million in compensation, pension or retroactive payments returned to veterans in my district.

“Congressional District 11 has the largest share of seniors in the country and as a senior myself, I know firsthand and the issues and challenges they face.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.