Meet Suzanne Scholte, GOP contender for Congress

From InsideNoVa:

Suzanne Scholte has worked for years to secure human rights in North Korea and Western Sahara, but lately her thoughts have turned to crises facing her home country.

“All the work that I’ve done for freedom, democracy and human rights abroad doesn’t matter if we lose America,” she said. “I really think that our country is at a very serious crossroads. We’re definitely losing influence around the world rapidly.”

Scholte in May secured the Republican nomination to run against three-term U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-11th) in the Nov. 4 election.

The GOP candidate is concerned about the national debt’s size, the shrinking of the country’s middle class and by what she called the “toxic atmosphere” prevailing in Washington, D.C.

“The inability for us to resolve problems is what hurts our country more than anything,” she said. “My whole life’s work has been working with people from different political parties, from different cultures and from different backgrounds to save people’s lives and lift people up.”

If elected, Scholte pledged to work to introduce free-market reforms to the Affordable Care Act, help small businesses, cut the national debt, restore military spending cut during the recent budget sequestration, simplify the tax code, reform entitlement programs, cut corporate taxes, reduce governmental waste and protect benefits of military veterans and federal employees.

“I’m a person who believes in the Constitution, in contracts and the rule of law and that we shouldn’t break promises to these folks, whether it’s the federal government workers or veterans,” she said. “If the government does not fulfill those things, we’re not the America we’re supposed to be.”

Scholte would try to roll back regulations – for example, some pertaining to the environment – by subjecting them to Congressional votes rather than having them promulgated by agency administrators.

The impending retirement of U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) also prompted Scholte to run for Congress.

“Losing that voice for persecuted people all over the world, which he represents, was part of my motivation, because that’s what I’ve been doing,” she said.

An admirer of Ronald Reagan and Frederick Douglass, the candidate said if elected she would limit herself to five terms, or a total of 10 years in office.

As president of the nonprofit Defense Forum Foundation, Scholte has advocated for human rights in North Korea and Western Sahara. She has won several honors for her work, including the Seoul Peace Prize, Walter Judd Freedom Award, Sungnye Diplomatic Service Medal and the Sanders Peace and Social Justice Award.

The candidate in July conducted a town-hall meeting on health care and held another in August on veterans’ issues. She hopes to continue holding such gatherings monthly to learn about what concerns area residents the most.

“Part of what’s happening in Washington is people are feeling that they’re not being heard, not being listened to,” she said. “We’ve gotten to this really dangerous time in our history because we’re not willing to work together as a people.”

Scholte said she tries to bring people together, while incumbent Connolly is partisan and has a divisive personality. Connolly’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.

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