02/20/04 — Mock Press Conference

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Mock Press Conference

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on February 20, 2004 2:02 PM

During a mock press conference Thursday, Wayne County 4-H'ers had the opportunity to get U.S. Rep. Walter Jones' opinions on a variety of subjects.

Questions ranged from What can be done to reduce taxes? What can the government do to renew faith in public education? What can young people do to become more involved in politics and government?

Before the news conference, the youths attended a briefing where they received a press pass and specifics on the process of asking questions. John Tart III was the moderator.

Some questions and answers included these to the Republican congressman, who represents the 3rd District, which includes Wayne County:

Jonathan Stutts: What is your stand on the war in Iraq?

Jones: I know that Saddam Hussein is a very evil dictator who killed thousands of people in his own country. I feel that going into Iraq was justified. I would maybe have waited a couple more months before going in though.

Matthew Arensmeyer: What can be done to reduce taxes?

Jones: I trust the American people to spend that money more than I trust Congress to spend it. We've got to reduce spending.

Joel Sullivan: Would you comment on your views on homosexual marriages?

Jones: I believe that it is a sin against God. What is happening in San Francisco (same sex marriages) is in my opinion the beginning of the end. There is no future for American if we do not have morality.

Alexander Hooks: Is Seymour Johnson Air Force Base on the closing list?

Jones: As long as we can stave off encroachment and maintain those bombing ranges in northeast North Carolina, I think the base is in very good shape. But we shouldn't take anything for granted.

John Tart III: How can young people get more involved in politics and government?

Jones: Get involved in local, state and national campaigns. You need to understand how a campaign works and what it takes to put a campaign together. That's one of the best educations you can get at no charge.

Kate Nichols: What can the government do to renew the faith in public education?

Jones: I believe the federal government needs to get out of education. I have faith in state and local leadership and the parents within that local leadership. Public schools are required to do more than they should. A lot of children now that go to public schools are not fortunate to come from loving families who care about them and their future. Teachers are having to do things today that 15 and 20 years ago they didn't' have to do.

Sara Andrews: How do you feel about prayer in school?

Jones: I'm definitely for prayer in the schools. I believe if we had prayer in schools, we'd have less problems with teen pregnancy, teen drug problems and all the violence that's going on. Prayer is comforting. Prayer is hope. I would love to see prayer returned to the schools.

John Tart III: How do you feel about the lottery?

Jones: I am opposed to the lottery. It's never an easy fix to economic problems. What we need to do as a state is learn to deal with the problems and find out that you can't spend money on any and everything.

Elizabeth Rowe: How can we get prayer returned to the schools?

Jones: In October 2001 I put a bill in, HR239, that said that children in schools should have a moment of silent prayer. I never dreamed that anybody would be opposed to it. But six organizations, including the national PTA, were opposed. Don't ever shy away from your feelings. I believe as long as I'm listening to God and hearing Him, we can do things like return prayer to the schools.

Kim Joyce: Do you think that having prayer in the schools would compromise other religions?

Jones: I believe there are ways you can do this and still be respectful to other religions. I believe that as long as we are respectful and tolerant of people who don't have the same faith as we do, then we shouldn't be penalized for our faith. Be proud of your faith, but also respect other faiths.

Jeremy Jefferson: How do you feel about cutting funding to state parks and recreational areas?

Jones: We're doing the best we can. The federal government is in about as bad a shape as the state government. This country has got to get a handle on its spending. We will always do the minimum of what it takes to keep the parks up.

Michael Atkins: How do you feel about teachers pushing kids to learn excessive amounts just for the end-of-grade tests?

Jones: I believe any system that is so concerned about end tests is not teaching the children. I'm not in favor of testing being the criteria to say whether you have achieved or have not achieved.