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Interview with Donna McAleer Democratic Congressional Candidate

21 April 2014
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 Christine Doxey, an intern to Only In Ogden, interviewed the congressional candidate, author, and veteran Donna McAleer. Here are some of her insights on why she is running for congress and what ideals are important to her.


Q. What made you want to be a candidate?
A. In 2011 I was asked to be a technical consultant on a film, The Invisible War, on the epidemic of rape. I didn't sleep for days. I was very concerned for what was happening in the military. It was my involvement in that film and the team that led to this. There were a group of women who asked if I ever thought of running for office. But why would you want to go into a field where nobody likes you and hates you? They said, "You're a veteran, you've done this, you've been an elite athlete. You've written a book, and been a coach." But everybody hates you, and there were other things that I dreamed about doing. All those things, publishing a book. Being in politics was not one of them. They sent me to a candidate basic camp called Real Women Run. After a day of that I wrote a blog called Real Women Run, It Is Time to Enter The Race. It was about all the excuses women use to not run. And I put this question- If not you, who? If not now, when? Somebody from West Point University wrote me back and said, "Mam that means you." I realized I was kind of writing to myself. Others believed in me and thought I could help.
Q. What do you think are the most important things to change right now?
A. We need to get away from ideology and extreme bipartisanship, and focus on people and getting things done. I think we need a budget. We need financial responsibility, but we can't balance the budget on military, social security, medicare, and medicade. We've got to agree what the goal is. Another big issue continues to be health care. It is now a law of the land that we have affordable health care. We need to give it a chance to work. They are trying to repeal it. That is a waste of time and energy. Let's give it a chance. Are there things that are probably going to be changed? Sure. But, we can't just totally obliterate it when it hasn't had a chance yet to work. Another critical issue is people's ability to work together. We [democrats] are developing relationships now in our campaign so we can take them to Washington. We also need to look at Minimum Wage. $7.25. People who are working full time need a better wage. $7.25 is not enough.
Q. What has being a veteran taught you about politics and the country?
A. Being a veteran has taught me about selfless service, integrity, and importance of building a team, trusting in a team, and focusing on a mission, putting other things aside, putting differences aside and putting people together to accomplish a goal. It's what politics should be. People join the military for a lot of different reasons, but it comes down to four or five: Serve the country and be something bigger than yourself, build set goals and characteristics and then take that to the private sector, earn an education, learn about leadership. I think that all of that comes together that we can use as veterans. And the other thing is why is it important that we have veterans in congress? Congress allows for anyone. We've got less than 20% of people in congress who have experience.
We have three tools in national policy- diplomatic, economic, and military might. And for the last couple years we've relied on military might rather than diplomatic and economic sanctions.
Another thing I think is incredibly important is our land and our environment. People come from all over the world to see landscapes and for outdoor recreation. We have the Antiquities Act, a bill signed by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, which designated land for conservation and national parks. Sixteen presidents in history have used it to designate land, and in this state alone, seven different presidents from different administrations and both parties have used it to designate places like Grand Staircase, Escalante, Bryce. If that hadn't been there, we might not have this wonderful, wonderful world in our backyard. Rob Bishop talked about more government, but then less government in that sector. That is a complete anomaly. I've worked in the travel and tourism industry. Every time I'm somewhere, I try to go to a national park. I was there at Washington D.C., and I wondered why Isn't Teddy Roosevelt who designated national parks, have his own monument? But he does! It's a little Island called Roosevelt Island. There's some wonderful quotes there. It's interesting because the setting is beautiful, but there's a lot of concrete. He would not have liked that.
Q. Who is your role model?
A. I have a lot of them. My first would be the women of the class of '80 in West Point. Those were the first women to enter West Point in '76. They were the vanguard of an entire generation of new leaders. Had those women not gotten out of their comfort zone and entered those gates, many of us would not have followed.
The second is Anna Maria Nagy Matturro, my mother. She and her father, my maternal grandfather, we called "Serbus Poppop", fled Hungary, lived in Austria and than came to the US via Ellis Island. She was born in Budapest in 1942. In 1943 the Germans began occupying the city and the Russians were not far behind. In the fall of 1944, they escaped Hungary in a diplomatic envoy to Austria crossing one of the last bridge of the Danuabe River before it was bombed. My grandfather worked various jobs wherever he could and many people helped along the way.........all did not succeed in escaping.
They were in Austria 5 years. There was an American connection to Senator Taft who was ultimately responsible for the go ahead to get them into the country. They arrived in New York Harbor on Sept 3, 1949 on the SS Gen. J.H. McRae (a wicked 10 day ocean trip with thousands of immigrants. Within 5 years they proudly became American citizens at the old Dodger Stadium in Ebbits Field, Brooklyn.
Talk about overcoming fear, adversity, the unknown and being resilient, tenacious and compassionate. She graduated from Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY with a BS in Biology. After raising three children (two of whom are adopted, Marlon, my brother who is Filipino, and Alison, my sister who is Korean.). She went back to school, earned a Masters in Pastoral Ministry at LaSalle University and is now a Catholic Chaplain working in the Boston Diocese.
The third is Eleanor Roosevelt. The former first lady and civil and human rights activist of the world. For her generation, she was unprecedentedly outspoken and made far more use of the media than previous First Ladys. She held 348 press conferences during her husband's 12-year presidency. She had an awesome ability to rise above adversity. Regularly she confronted hostility and criticism because of her controversial stands for racial equality, civil liberties and women's rights. All of which we continue to fight for today. One of my favorite ER's quotes, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do."