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Kansas’ Patrick Wiesner Completes #PwDsVote Senate Campaign Questionnaire

Patrick Wiesner headshot in front of bookshelves and an American flag
Patrick Wiesner

Washington, Sept. 29 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, has asked Senate candidates on both sides of the aisle to fill out a questionnaire on disability issues. Patrick Wiesner, a Democrat challenging incumbent Sen. Jerry Moran to be the next U.S. Senator representing Kansas, responded to the #PwDsVote Disability Campaign Questionnaire for Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates for people with disabilities.

RespectAbility is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

RespectAbility also has sent the questionnaire to the campaign of incumbent Republican Sen. Jerry Moran, who is running for re-election. We will post his responses when we receive them.

We are presenting Wiesner’s answers in full below:

QUESTION 1: Do you have designated advisors and clear processes for making decisions on disability issues? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: No. I don’t have advisors. My experience dealing with disabilities comes from my sister who had spina bifida. She was never able to walk. She had 16 operations on her spine, brain, and legs. After one surgery, she lost much of her memory due to an extremely high fever.  We took care of her in our home until she was 12. She died of seizures at age 14. My sister’s difficulties have given me family level insight on coping with disabilities. I rely on my own situational awareness.


QUESTION 2: Is your campaign accessible and inclusive to people with disabilities? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes. I attend specific political forums where people with disabilities are able to ask questions of me.


QUESTION 3: Do you have a proven record on improving or a plan to improve the lives of people with disabilities? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes. When clients with hearing or speaking disabilities arrive at my office for legal counseling, I pay for the sign language interpreter; my building is handicapped accessible.  If unable to come to my office, I drive to their home.


QUESTION 4: Do you have a plan/commitment to reduce the stigmas about people with disabilities that are barriers to employment, independence and equality? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes. I support affirmation action for those with disabilities in government contracting and employment. Our economy is not set up for people with disabilities.


QUESTION 5: Do you have a proven record on enabling, or a plan to enable, people with disabilities to have jobs, careers and to start their own businesses? Do you have specific strategies for youth employment for people with disabilities and/or sector strategies such as jobs and careers in STEM, hospitality, healthcare and elder care? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: No. I have not previously held elected office. So I don’t public have a record on this subject.


QUESTION 6: Do you have a plan to enable students with disabilities, including those from historically marginalized communities and backgrounds, to receive the diagnosis, Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and accommodations/services they need to succeed in school and be prepared for competitive employment? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: No. I need more information before I can formulate a comprehensive plan. My goal is full employment for the disabled who want a job. I believe education is the way forward. My plan will be based on evidence provided by experts in the field.


QUESTION 7: Do you have a plan to reform the benefits system (Medicaid, Medicaid buyin) to enable people with disabilities to work to the best of their capacities without losing supports they need to work? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes. If not provided health insurance through their employers, I support Medicaid for those with disabilities. My proposal would not require a buy in; it would an entitlement.


QUESTION 8: Do you have a plan to ensure people with disabilities are eligible for affordable health insurance regardless of preexisting conditions? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes. If not provided health insurance through their employers, I support Medicaid for those with disabilities.


QUESTION 9: Do you have a plan to provide home and community-based services to people with disabilities who would rather live in their own homes instead of institutions, and have the community attendant supports they need to work? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: No. I need more information before I can formulate a comprehensive plan. My goal is for the disabled to live with their families or on their own if possible. My plan will be based on evidence provided by experts in the field.


QUESTION 10: Do you have a plan to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive services that would prevent them from being swept up into the criminal justice system, divert individuals with disabilities who are arrested to treatment options in lieu of jail where appropriate, receive needed accommodations in the criminal justice process and while incarcerated, and offer appropriate reentry support to help individuals with disabilities leaving jails and prisons reintegrate into their communities and secure jobs? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: No. I have not given any thoughts to the relationships between those with disabilities and the criminal justice system.


QUESTION 11: People with disabilities are twice as likely to be victims of crime as those without disabilities. People with disabilities also are far more likely to suffer from police violence, partially because manifestations of disability can be misunderstood as defiant behavior. Do you have a plan to address these issues? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: No. I have not given any thoughts to the relationships between those with disabilities and the police.


QUESTION 12: Both children and adults with disabilities are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault. Do you have a plan to address this issue? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: No. I did not know persons with disabilities were at a higher risk for rape and sexual assault.  That fact is a tragedy.  All persons, especially the disabled, should enjoy the equal protection of our laws and government.


QUESTION 13: Do you have a plan for veterans with disabilities facing barriers transitioning from active duty to civilian employment? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes. I support the continued leadership of Secretary Robert McDonald. I think he is the right person to lead the VA in delivering needed training, counseling, and health care services for our disabled veterans.


QUESTION 14: Do you have a plan for accessible, affordable, integrated housing to allow people with disabilities to live in the communities where they work or are seeking work? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: No. I need more information before I can formulate a comprehensive plan. My plan will be based on evidence provided by experts in the field.


QUESTION 15: Do you have a plan to address the lack of accessible transportation options that is a barrier to work for people with disabilities? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: No. I need more information before I can formulate a comprehensive plan. My plan will be based on evidence provided by experts in the field.


QUESTION 16: Do you have a plan to advance innovations (i.e., assistive technologies, devices) that can help people with disabilities become more successfully employed, productive and independent? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: No.  Not at this time.  I know our country is wealthy enough to support the truly unfortunate.  A paralyzed or brain injured person cannot make a living.  Many times care costs $7,000 to $10,000 per month and very few families can afford that. Relieving families of the financial burdens of caring for the physically impaired is a proper role for our government. We should spare no effort to find meaningful employment and training for the disabled who want to work.  In exchange for good work to the best of their ability, our government will ensure basic care is available for those handicapped who are in need of government help for food and shelter.


QUESTION 17: In your foreign policy and national security plan, do you plan to continue America’s tradition of standing up for the rights of oppressed people, including people with disabilities, around the world? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes. America is generous with its wealth. We can deploy our resources to help those with disabilities. There is no social, economic, or political benefit by tolerating the oppression of the disabled.


RespectAbility has asked all the candidates for Senator on both sides of the aisle to complete the same questionnaire. We will share responses from additional campaigns as we receive them.

The RespectAbility Report is a nonpartisan political commentary on the 2016 U.S. elections with a focus on disability issues. The RespectAbility Report has covered all of the Democratic and Republican candidates for president and has begun coverage of down ballot candidates. Coverage can be found at http://therespectabilityreport.org/. The RespectAbility Report is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates.

Published in#PwDsVote 2016 QuestionnaireDemocratsSenate

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