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Get to know Congressman Cook
The newly drawn 8th Congressional District was won by former Marine Paul Cook in November. Cook was recently appointed to serve on the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as the Committee on Veterans Affairs. His district encompasses the High Desert, Yucaipa, half of Redlands and parts of Inyo and Mono counties.
Q: Tell us about your background.
A: I was born in Meriden, Conn. I graduated from Southern Connecticut University and received a master’s in public administration from California State University, San Bernardino, and a master’s in political science from University of California, Riverside. I spent 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring in 1992 as a colonel. I served in the Vietnam War and was awarded two purple hearts and a bronze star. I live in Yucca Valley with my wife, Jeanne.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I enjoy riding horses, sports, reading and spending time with my family.
Q: Who is someone who had a big influence on your life?
A: Many people have had a major influence on my life. In the Marines, there were many great leaders who taught me valuable lessons, notably self-discipline and how to get things done.
Q: Who was your hero as a child? Do you have a hero today?
A: My uncle. He served in George Patton’s 3rd Army. He taught me the value and importance of serving our country and inspired me to do so.
Q: What are the top three issues facing the 8th District and what is your take on them?
A: The biggest challenge right now is the economy and, more specifically, jobs. We have high unemployment here in the desert. One way we can bring jobs to the area is to find a balance between protecting our natural resources and making use of them for jobs. Additionally, we must continue to fight tax increases and look for ways to encourage businesses to create jobs in our communities.
Second, as a retired Marine colonel, I’m concerned about the possibility of reductions and closures of military installations in our region. With my background, I’ll work hard to build a coalition of community, business and military leaders to make the case in Washington that our installations are essential. I don’t want to see a repeat of what happened when they closed George Air Force Base.
Third, we need public officials to work together to put our community above politics.
Q: What could the America of yesterday teach the America of tomorrow?
A: As a student of history, the America of yesterday was created out of hard work, self-reliance and a spirit of entrepreneurship. Americans by nature are hard-working individuals who want to succeed, but, unfortunately, government often smothers those who want to succeed. I think the biggest lesson for today is to remember these principles when passing laws.
Q: What is the ultimate issue facing the United States and what’s your take on it?
A: The economy — particularly in our area — continues to face significant challenges. In order to strengthen our economy, we need to reduce unnecessary regulations and offer real tax reform. Small business owners are the real job creators of our economy, and these are the folks who are struggling today. Too often regulations are passed without thought as to what impact they will have on jobs. The tax code penalizes small business owners even more. We need a tax code that is fairer and simpler.
Q: Now that you are in Congress, what have you learned? Have you gained any new insight on issues the district faces? The state? The country?
A: While I’m optimistic about our country’s future, I’m concerned about the lack of desire to work together to offer real solutions for our most pressing problems. As a former small-town mayor, I worked with the Town Council to enact measures that helped our citizens. Many of the folks in Washington could learn from local government, where we work together every day to solve problems. I’m ready to work on any good idea that offers real solutions.
Q: What do you hope to achieve during your term in office?
A: I hope to continue to make an impact on veterans and military issues. I want to be sure new veterans never face the conditions we did when we returned from Vietnam. I’m proud to represent a district with five military installations. We rely on our armed forces to protect and defend our country, and we need to ensure we take care of them.
Q: How can readers get a hold of you?
A: I am available through my office at (202) 225-5861. I also invite constituents to go to my website at cook.house.gov, where they may submit their concerns.
Lynnea Lombardo may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at LLombardo@VVDailyPress.com.