Corry Westbrook for United States Congress District FL-8
Hi, I am Corry Westbrook and for over a decade I have worked to protect Florida's greatest treasure and most important economic driver: its environment. Now, I am running for Congress because it’s time we had a representative who cares about solutions for Florida families, not about rhetoric. I am running to improve the lives of the people of the 8th district and to ensure that every Floridian has a voice at the table.
I spent most of my youth in Florida, attending public schools and working in both the nonprofit and private sector. Growing-up in Florida made me committed to the issues so important to the families of the 8th district: creating jobs while protecting our environment and bringing common-sense solutions to stop the gridlock in Congress.
I will fight for a balanced budget plan that closes corporate tax loopholes while protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. I will work to protect women's rights and to ensure that women’s concerns are no longer second-class issues in Congress. I will also fight to increase transparency on Capitol Hill and to stop special interests from buying politicians and votes at the expense of the middle class.
Meet The Candidate
Corry Westbrook was raised in Orlando, Florida where she established her hard-working middle class value system and found her appreciation for nature and the environment. She’s taken those values to Washington, D.C., working to ensure the planet our children inherit is as good or better than the one we were given. She has worked with a wide variety of people with different world and political views to collaborate and deliver results that matter.
Corry Westbrook has spent most of her professional career in Washington, D.C. working to make the air cleaner, the water safer, and protecting our native wildlife. She has done this as a public servant, working grassroots throughout the south, and in the halls of Congress. Along the way she honed her persuasion skills while working with groups and individuals with varying positions and approaches.
Corry ran for Congress in Florida’s 8th district in the 2013-2014 cycle. Throughout the race she personally managed all elements of the campaign resulting in the collection of 5,128 certified registered voter petitions. She also raised $171,000 - more money than any Democratic candidate in the district in over a decade; generated successful press outreach; enhanced social networking through Twitter and Facebook; spoke at numerous events; and hired and managed full-time staff and a team of dedicated volunteers. She also brought together a diverse coalition representing all political parties and various stakeholders throughout the Space and Treasure Coasts, Florida, Washington, DC and across the country in support of her campaign. However she submitted required paperwork late to the Florida Division of Elections in Tallahassee and did not qualify to be on the ballot. As a first-time candidate she learned many valuable lessons.
Corry Westbrook has qualified for the November 2016 ballot and is running against Bill Posey to represent the 8th district in the U.S. Congress.
Corry will use her extensive policy and legislative knowledge of Congress to the benefit of all residents of Florida’s 8th district. Corry has first-hand experience writing and moving legislation through the complicated maze that is the U.S. Congress and she helped pass legislation that directly benefited Florida. Equally important, Corry also knows how to block harmful legislation. She has worked extensively with federal agencies, including Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure legislation becomes useful regulations.
Corry has worked to protect the Indian River Lagoon and has served on the Pelican Island Audubon Society (PIAS) board in Indian River County and the Marine Resources Council (MRC) board in Brevard County since fall of 2014. Working with PAIS, MRC and other community activists, Corry helped save some of the last remaining healthy seagrass in the lagoon by working to prevent the expansion of the Oslo boat ramp in Vero Beach. She also testified several times before local municipalities and organized rallies and press events to stop oil and gas exploration, known as seismic airgun testing, off Brevard coasts. At one time, Brevard County had more resolutions passed opposing seismic airgun testing than any other county in the blast zone. Due to her efforts, and thousands of others along the Atlantic coast, Florida is safe from oil and gas drilling through 2022.
Corry received the Pelican Island Audubon Society President’s award in March 2015 and the Bud and Eleanor Kleckner Award in March 2016 for her efforts.
In early 2016, Corry thought she was not going to run for Congress again. Since she ran for Congress promising to work to restore the Indian River Lagoon to health and protect the 8th district’s environment, she donated her remaining campaign funds to Pelican Island Audubon Society, Marine Resources Council and ORCA to continue their efforts to save the lagoon. However, due to changing political dynamics, Corry decided to run and qualified to be on the ballot in November 2016.
Corry currently works part-time for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries and supported by 1.2 million members in the United States and close to 5 million globally. Specifically, Corry is a Lead Specialist, Oceans Policy, working to safeguard healthy oceans and marine livelihoods by preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Previously, Corry Westbrook worked for Oceana, the largest conservation organization in the world dedicated entirely to protecting the oceans. As Federal Policy Director, she created and managed federal policy and legislation for Oceana. Many of the issues she worked on are very important to the 8th district: fisheries management, stopping harmful new oil and gas leasing, mitigating ocean acidification, increasing clean, renewable energy off shore, eliminating foreign government subsidies for commercial fishing, and protecting endangered wildlife. Corry worked with members of Congress, Administration officials, fishermen, the conservation community, activists, and other stakeholders to move legislation and policies forward to protect our oceans.
Before joining Oceana, Corry served as Legislative Director for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), where she worked with sportsmen, federal and state agencies and other partners to save wildlife across America and in iconic places like the Florida Everglades National Park. She also worked on climate and energy legislation, Clean Water Act campaigns and to increase funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System nationwide, including the four in the 8th district.
Corry was a contributing author to the book Cane Toads and Other Rogue Species, and served as NWF’s liaison with the Department of Defense. In 2005, she wrote a report entitled “Under Siege: Invasive Species on Military Bases” which explains how invasive species impede military training and readiness. The report was used as a resource guide for training new military installation natural resource managers.
Prior to joining NWF, Corry was a Regional Grassroots Coordinator for the National Audubon Society, managing an eight-state region that included Florida. Before moving into the nonprofit sector, she worked as a public servant, both at the Environmental Protection Agency as a Policy Analyst in the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, and as a Peace Corps Volunteer on the island of Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean.
Corry holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, with a minor in Biology, from Florida International University and a Master’s degree in Environmental and Natural Resource Policy from the George Washington University.
Corry grew up in Orlando and attended public schools, including Maitland Junior High, Winter Park High School and Valencia Community College. She moved to Vero Beach in 1995 and has traveled back and forth between Vero Beach and Washington, D.C. ever since. In 1996, Corry had the opportunity to run with the Olympic Torch in Indian River County when she was selected as a “community hero.”
Corry has run 14 marathons in various cities throughout the U.S. and abroad, including Washington, D.C., Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Portland, New Orleans, Edinburgh, Prague and Paris. She is currently registered to run the Space Coast Marathon, as part of the Big Bang Series, in November 2016. Corry has traveled to all seven continents and visited all 50 states. She loves adventures and has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and hiked the Inca Trail in Peru.
Creating New Jobs
Congress must work to create opportunities for job growth by doing the following:
We need to create an economy that is helpful to businesses that create good jobs with good pay in America. This includes readily available lending, transparent banking practices and the removal of unnecessary stress caused by threats of government default by the U.S. Congress. Job-creation means removing unnecessary bureaucratic barriers to business growth, simplifying tax codes and easing the path to existing federal grants and contracts, all while ensuring helpful safeguards to prevent harmful economic bubbles and unscrupulous business practices.
Keeping the Promise to Our Seniors
Over 188,000 people in our district receive Social Security. With over 132,000 retirees living in the 8th district, we have the third-largest retirement community in the state. Our retirees’ Social Security benefits contribute more than $2.7 billion to our community. There are approximately 158,000 Medicare beneficiaries in our district. Together, Social Security and Medicare infuse billions of dollars into our area by providing funding for food, shelter and health care. This money is not an “entitlement” but a promise.
I will vote against any changes to Social Security and Medicare that will harm our seniors. With Medicare costs continuing to rise and a Congress that is intent on undermining Social Security, seniors today are under unnecessary stress.
I will oppose any attempts to privatize Social Security or divert it into other programs. I will fight against attempts by House Republicans to change the way Social Security is provided and any proposed cuts to the program. Social Security is a promise that must be kept, now and in the future. Democrats and Republicans must work together to maintain the program’s long-term solvency.
I will also oppose any weakening of Medicare, including Republican attempts to force seniors to shop on the open market for health care coverage. I will also work to simplify Medicare. The complicated paperwork can seem daunting to our elderly citizens, making it easier to be abused by unscrupulous people in the medical industry.
America is a better and stronger country for having Medicare and Social Security and I will protect these important programs for our seniors.
Cutting Waste While Growing Our Economy
I am a fiscally responsible taxpayer and I know we can’t cut our way out of our more-than-$19 trillion national debt. We have cut our government to the bare bone, and are suffering the consequences of these cuts. We must find a smart balance between making any additional cuts and investing in our future.
We need to invest in areas such as infrastructure, education, science, technology and energy independence. Our future growth is critical to the elimination of our nation’s debt. We need a broad tax base, which we can obtain by expanding our middle class. I will work in Congress for a smarter balance between cuts and investments.
Despite seven years of job growth under the Obama Administration, we need to create more jobs with better pay. Creating good paying jobs is crucial to addressing our national debt and we can do this by making high-impact, short-term investments here at home that kick-start our own industries, like offshore wind and solar in Florida.
We must address income inequality. Though the income gap has actually reduced in 2015 for the first time in decades due to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, the wealthiest Americans are still taking too much and leaving too little for the working and middle-class. By closing tax loopholes and updating the tax code for the wealthiest Americans, we can move forward in addressing the federal debt. I will also work to improve the IRS so it can obtain the estimated $3 billion lost annually to tax evasion.
We must also stop providing tax breaks to big oil and gas companies, the wealthiest companies in the world. They do not need taxpayer help. We pay them enough for their products.
Defending Existing Reforms
In 2016, a grand total of 12.7 million people either re-enrolled or bought a new health plan through the marketplaces established through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. The law has achieved many extremely important and practical goals:
In Congress, I will vote to protect this bill, unlike Republicans, who have voted over fifty times to gut or repeal it – without offering an alternative bill. The repeal of health care reform would be a step backward for the families and seniors in our district. Repealing the law would also increase the deficit by between $137 billion and $353 billion and leave 19 million people uninsured by 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
It does not make sense for any fiscal conservative to oppose Obamacare.
However, legislation is never perfect and there is room for improvement. Health care costs continue to rise for both individuals and businesses and I will work to improve the legislation in order to lower costs. I would like to see Congress move toward a single-payer system as health care is still too expensive. We must focus on removing theft, abuse and fraud in our medical industry and a single-payer transparent system would go far in achieving this goal. Too many people grow enormously wealthy in the complicated health care game and Obamacare has not gone far enough to reign in greed in the industry.
And, our health care system is not making Americans healthier, actually the contrary with chronic illnesses on the rise as well as medical mistakes leading to injury and death. We need to think differently and bring new expertise into our health care system. For example, we need to ensure all Americans exercise daily. Exercise reduces the risks from stroke, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, some cancers, falls, obesity, depression and Alzheimer’s. We must make exercise a major element of health care and I think bringing yoga instructors, personal trainers, and other experts in the exercise field into leadership positions in the medical industry will go far in making Americans healthier, while bringing down medical costs due to chronic illnesses. As a lifelong fiscally responsible taxpayer, I agree with Benjamin Franklin that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Protecting the most important economic driver in the 8th district: our environment
I was raised in Florida and the protection of our natural resources is critically important to me. In fact, I spent my career protecting our air, water, oceans and wildlife. Good environmental policy isn't just a moral responsibility - it's good business for Florida. A main reason we do not pay a state tax is due to our tourism tax. The environment is the most important economic driver in our state and district because it benefits most of our key industries, including fishing, agriculture, and tourism. Our beautiful natural resources also contribute to our quality of life and are why so many people choose to retire in our district.
I will work to ensure that Congress helps save the Indian River Lagoon. The lagoon complex is one of the most biologically diverse and productive estuaries in North America. It serves as the nursery grounds for over 700 species of ocean and lagoon fish and shellfish populations. It is home to more than 2,200 species of animals and 2,100 plant species. It provides habitat for the most diverse bird population anywhere in America and nearly one-third of the nation’s manatees live or migrate through the lagoon annually.
According to a report by Hazen and Sawyer, a national environmental engineering firm, the annualized real estate value of properties within 0.3 miles of the Indian River Lagoon is $934 million. The area also produces 19,000 jobs, with another 2,096 jobs created by lagoon research, restoration and education and 156 jobs attributed to commercial fishing within the lagoon. The value, per acre, of lagoon seagrass to recreational and commercial fishing is $10,000. According to St. Johns River Water Management District, the lagoon is responsible for one-seventh of the region’s economy, with an annual economic value that was estimated at $3.7 billion in 2007.
Yes, I think that is all worth saving.
Who wants to own a $3 million home on a dying lagoon? Who wants another horrific fish kill? What is the resale value of any homes or businesses when tourists go elsewhere to fish and swim? We need to prevent our seasonal residents from wintering further down south or on the west coast by restoring and conserving our environment.
We know what is causing the problems and we know what we must do to solve them. We need leadership that will work together with local, state and federal employees to save our lagoon. We need leadership that is willing to roll-up their sleeves and work hard to guide a complex plan into full implementation and rapid completion. We need leadership that can easily work across party lines for the greater good of our community. Our scientists and local experts know the causes of the seagrass die-off and we know the best solutions to bring our lagoon back. I promise, when I am in Congress, to work with other members in order to find ways to fund our efforts to return our Indian River Lagoon to a healthy state. I will work with state, local and federal agencies to ensure that we have safeguards in place to prevent this catastrophe from happening again.
I will never take a campaign contribution from the sugar industry.
I will also work to pass invasive species legislation that will prevent new infestations and provide funding to stop ones already here, such as citrus greening and lionfish.
Protecting our environment while working towards energy independence
Unlike our current member of Congress, I have successfully worked to stop oil and gas exploration along Florida’s coast. We do not need a horrific oil spill off our beaches, decimating our fisheries and chasing tourists away from our gorgeous beaches.
We must address climate change by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases immediately. I will support a carbon tax to slow this impending environmental and economic crisis and I will have the courage to introduce and advocate for this legislation from day one on the job.
The state of our environment and our energy policies are intertwined. It is time we stop using energy sources that cause air pollution, water pollution, explosions, massive spills, earthquakes, increased asthma attacks, rising sea levels, extreme weather and ocean acidification. All of these problems cost our society an enormous amount of money, and the costs will increase significantly over time. It is time we switch to clean, renewable energy. It is time to invest in new industries that will create good American jobs, extricate ourselves from reliance on foreign oil and protect the planet for the next generation. Again, as a life-long fiscally responsible taxpayer, I agree with Benjamin Franklin that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
No Longer Second-Class in Congress
I want issues important to women to be elevated to the level they deserve and addressed as equal to any other issue. For far too long, women’s issues have been addressed by men, sometimes panels of men, deciding what is best for women. It is time for change.
In Congress, I will defend a woman’s right to choose. I am pro-choice and I fully support access to safe and effective birth control, emergency contraception and reproductive health services. I will oppose all attempts to restrict these rights through legislation. I will also support paid maternity and paternity leave when desired by new parents.
Women earn about 57% of the undergraduate and 60% of the master’s degrees in the U.S., yet we are often still paid less than men. I will work for economic justice for women on all levels of the workplace. This includes ending institutional discrimination by working on legislation that will require equal pay for equal work. I will also support all efforts toward a guarantee of equality in the U.S. Constitution.
Additionally, I will work to protect women (and men) who are serving in the military by supporting bi-partisan legislation that will ensure rape and assaults are treated as the hideous crimes they are. I will also remove some specific decision-making from the military chain of command and remove the institutionalized disincentives to report crimes. Congress must confront this problem immediately.
Unlike our current congressman, I support the Violence Against Women Act. I will go further and work harder to provide more funding to local police, to ensure rape kits are processed in a timely manner. The best way to prevent rape and assault is to make sure these criminals are taken off the streets and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
I also support equality for all Americans, regardless of sex, color, sexuality or religion. We are all in this together.
Promoting STEM Education
Less than one-third of American students are proficient in math and science, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Many members of our existing high-tech workforce are getting closer to retirement each day, with more than half of Americans who have science and engineering degrees being over 40 years old. The fastest growing occupations over the last decade require expertise in the fields of science and technology and I will vote for legislation that supports and funds Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
The number of Veterans in the U.S. has grown by 2.8 million since September 11, 2001. We must support our nation’s veterans and active duty military because they have sacrificed so much for all of us. The 8th district is home to between 64,000 and 83,000 men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. I will work to improve the lives of the millions of Americans currently serving in our military and our veterans. I will improve access to benefits for our veterans and work to ensure that when active-duty service members return home, the educational and training tools they need for success in the private sector are readily accessible.
The transition from active duty member to retired veteran can be confusing and complicated. As thousands of men and women return from service overseas, it is vital that the process be easy and that service members have access to all of the benefits they have earned. Unfortunately, for many veterans, receiving VA benefits is a frustrating process. I will support legislation that will force the VA to take the initiative and actively reach out to veterans to ensure they are accessing their benefits. I will support legislation that would streamline the application process for VA benefits to ensure that the Department of Defense is providing information on exiting service members’ service and medical history. The process must be made easier for our military heroes.
I will also support more mental health support for our veterans. Veteran suicide rates are 22 per day, or one every 65 minutes, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (February 2013). However, the numbers may be higher as certain large states were not included in the report. This is tragic. I applaud Congress and President Obama for passing the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act and will work to ensure it is fully funded and implemented.
To have a robust space program in Brevard, we need to support the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) family throughout the country. To encourage innovation, experimentation and state-of-the art scientific and technological advancement, we need to invest in space. We need to move forward, beyond human exploration, and into a new realm of scientific research.
Many Republican members of Congress have adamantly held on to old, tired space program plans. They refuse to work across the aisle, even with our broader NASA family, hurting this crucial industry. The House Science Committee consists of many members who do not support science. Some members even deny the climate change crisis is happening, despite enormous scientific evidence. In Congress, I will bring science back to the Science Committee and work to ensure that our country, once again, looks to NASA for innovation, leadership and hope for what we can accomplish next.
NASA advances science, technology and exploration, in order to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality and stewardship of the Earth. The Kennedy Space Center is the largest employer in Brevard County. I will work hard to robustly fund NASA to ensure resources are available for the Space Launch System and the Commercial Crew Program, as well as more research into climate change. I will support the asteroid mission as a stepping-stone to Mars. I will reject the House Republicans’ funding cuts that would sacrifice important scientific research and cost jobs at NASA centers, including the Kennedy Space Center.
Everybody deserves equal treatment under the law, regardless of race, creed, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. All of us deserve the right to marry the person we love and to be free from discrimination in the workplace. In Congress, I will continue to fight for the equal rights of the LGBT community both here in Florida and across the country. I will proudly support measures to protect individuals from discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation.
I had a cyber-stalker throughout my 2014 congressional campaign and well after. In fact, I and hundreds of others continue to receive her lie-filled and hateful emails.
My cyber-stalkers repetitive communications state that I am under investigation. This one individual alone is the only person that filed complaints against me. Her complaints were investigated and were dismissed as groundless.
To be clear, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) deemed her complaints groundless and all complaints were rejected.
The reason I am putting this on my website is as a reminder that one obnoxious and obsessed person can damage a campaign and a person’s reputation. My campaign had to waste precious time, energy and money addressing her spurious accusations.
I ask you to take this into consideration when you hear or read anything about candidates. Ask the candidate. Do your own research. This harmful behavior stops good people from running and needs to be rejected and not indulged. Enough is enough.
I know this individual tried to convince people the reason I was deemed "not qualified" to be on the ballot in May 2014 was due to her complaints. This was never true. The only reason I did not qualify was because I missed a paperwork deadline.
The facts are I am not under any investigations and I did not commit any fraud at any time. This is not my opinion versus hers - it is documented fact.
I hope you will join me in completely ignoring her and her ridiculous accusations. If you receive her irrational rants just send them to spam or hit delete.
Now let’s move forward and win!
Social Security & Medicare
Reducing the National Debt
Health Care Reform