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 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 has learned to work well with individuals of varying positions and approaches.
Corry Westbrook joined Oceana, the largest conservation organization in the world dedicated entirely to protecting the oceans, in August 2011. As Federal Policy Director, she creates and manages federal policy and legislation for Oceana. Many of the issues she works 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 works 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 energy and 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 and 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, 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 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 13 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 and Prague. 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:
End the tax loopholes that let corporations hide profits overseas and invest those dollars in small businesses that create jobs here in America.
Invest in a clean-energy economy and provide tax credits to spark manufacturing of wind turbines, solar panels, electric cars and other technologies here at home.
Put Americans to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, railways and ports, which are critical to our ability to compete on a global level.
We need to create an economy that is conducive to business growth and make sure the necessary resources to drive that growth are present. This includes readily available lending, transparent banking practices, relief from the bureaucratic barriers for small businesses and increased stability through reduction of the stress caused by threats of government default. Job-creation means removing unnecessary bureaucratic barriers to business growth, simplifying tax codes and easing the path to existing grants, 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 132,679 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.
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’s intent on undermining Social Security, seniors today are under unnecessary strain. 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 drastic 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. 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-$16 trillion national debt. We have cut our government to the bare bone and we must now find a clear path that avoids wasteful spending and invests 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.
Our government can save billions of dollars a month by extricating ourselves from Afghanistan and Iraq. These wars are expensive and cutting taxes while spending billions in the Middle East has hurt our economy. We should be building new schools, roads and hospitals in the U.S.
Getting Americans back to work 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. This will ensure that the next 10 years have us transitioning to a growth-based economy.
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
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, achieved some important and practical goals:
- Seniors get 50% discounts on brand-name drugs and the prescription donut hole will be completely eliminated within 9 years.
- If you have a pre-existing condition, you won’t be denied coverage.
- If you get sick, the insurance company won’t be able to drop you.
- Lifetime limits were eliminated.
- Businesses with fewer than 50 employees get tax credits covering up to 50% of employee premiums.
- More young people going to school get coverage through their parents' plans.
- New insurance plans must improve preventative care.
- New plans must now implement an appeals process for coverage determinations and claims.
In Congress, I will vote to protect this bill, unlike Republicans, who have voted almost 40 times to 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 $210 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
However, legislation is never perfect and there is room for improvement. As the bill is implemented, Congress should be ready to vote to correct any flaws that arise, in order to eliminate bureaucratic issues for businesses and individuals. Health care costs continue to rise for both individuals and businesses and I will work to improve the legislation in order to lower costs – without losing the necessary and extremely important benefits it has provided Americans.
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, beaches and wildlife. Good environmental policy isn't just a moral responsibility - it's good business for Florida. The 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-$20,000. 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? 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 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 ever happening again.
And 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. As a lifelong fiscally responsible taxpayer, I agree with Benjamin Franklin that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Protecting our environment while working towards energy independence
Unlike our current member of Congress, I will vote against drilling for oil and gas along Florida’s coast. We do not need a horrific oil spill off our shores, decimating our fisheries and chasing tourists away from our gorgeous beaches.
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.
It is time we switch to clean, renewable energy. I have a lot of experience in this sector, both professionally and personally. I had solar panels installed on my house in Washington, D.C. in 2010. They save me money by reducing the monthly electricity bill and, once they are paid for, they will provide me a nice profit. I want this same benefit for all Floridians.
I also want a robust offshore wind industry in Florida and I know how to get it going. Offshore wind could provide Florida with 16% of its electricity, enough for more than 3 million homes, and create between 10,000 and 17,000 permanent jobs. I want these jobs right here – in the 8th district.
It is time to invest in new industries that will save Floridians money, create good American jobs, extricate ourselves from reliance on foreign oil, and protect the planet for the next generation.
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.
Women earn about 57% of the undergraduate and 60% of the master’s degrees in the U.S., yet they 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 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 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 in the next decade will 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.
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 approximately 70,000 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.
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, including the educational and training tools they need for success in the private sector. 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.
In order to revitalize and maintain a robust space program in Brevard, we need to support the NASA family throughout the country. To encourage experimentation and state-of-the art scientific and technological advancement, we must invest in space. We have to move forward, beyond manned exploration, into a new realm of scientific research.
Many Republican members of Congress obstinately hold on to old, uninspired space program plans. Their refusal to work across the aisle, even with our broader NASA family, hurts this crucial industry. Making matters worse, 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.
As the Voyager spacecraft approaches the outer boundaries of our solar system, we as a nation need to recommit to breaching the outer boundaries of science and the imagination. We can accomplish this with increased funding for manned missions to the moon and Mars, unmanned scientific missions that explore our solar system, and stronger public-private partnerships that combine government know-how with entrepreneurial acumen.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (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.
Social Security & Medicare
Reducing the National Debt
Health Care Reform