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Tom Hill of Zirconia seeks local congressional seat

While some say it “doesn’t take a rocket scientist” or a brain surgeon to figure out some basic national policy problems, his backers suggest a trained rocket scientist such as Hill can logically help find solutions.

Thomas W. “Tom” Hill of Zirconia worked 35 years in aerospace including 20 with the Air Force. His stations included the Space Detection and Tracking System Center, and the Special Weapons Center. He analyzed costs and benefits of proposed and deployed space and high-tech systems.

Hill has been a semi-retired consultant in astrodynamics (motion of satellites and other objects in outer space) and space physics. He is writing a gravitational theory on planetary orbits and the earth’s “Chandler wobble.” Hill has a PhD in physics from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1965, and a B.S. in physics and mathematics from Wake Forest in 1960.

The lanky 6-foot-1 Hill was Hendersonville High valedictorian in 1956. His sons are Steven, Michael and Philip. Tom has five grandchildren. He is 76, but said he is in excellent health and capable of congressional duties.

This is Hill’s second run for Congress, and first time as Democrats’ nominee in the 15-county westernmost district. Hill defeated Keith Ruehl of Barnardsville by 54 to 46 percent on May 6, winning 16,819 votes.

Two years ago, he lost in a three-way primary and got 14 percent of ballots. He termed himself a “centrist” left of 2012 primary winner Hayden Rogers of Brasstown, who wanted less regulation of small business, but much less liberal than Asheville Councilman Cecil Bothwell. Hill depicts Meadows as overly-allied with Tea Party conservatives.

Hill departs from left-of-center Democrats in such as by his supporting nuclear energy, and opposing gay unions as official marriages with accompanying legal and economic benefits.

Hill has appeal as an outspoken Washington outsider. Hill is less known than Rogers, a Princeton grad and D.C. insider as prior Congressman Heath Shuler’s top aide (chief of staff). Rogers lost to Meadows by nearly 15 percent of the vote, in the 2012 general election. Meadows has fundraising power of incumbency. Also, the 11th District is rated “Solid Republican” by The Cook Political Report.

Undeterred Hill showed his tenacity a half-decade ago, in urging investigation of then-Sheriff Rick Davis’ alleged misconduct. A county probe resulted, and Davis departed. His anti-Congress quip is a campaign slogan “have you had enough?”

Hill in 2012 called for a halt in funding military operations in the Middle East, and before the militant Islamic ISIS’ rampage he said military political interests keep the nation in armed conflicts.

He has supported allowing work permits for Hispanic workers here illegally. He grew up in an apple farming family, and managed the family orchard starting in 1986. In this capacity, he grew aware of Latino workers working hard in farming, but with few benefits beyond charitable health care. His campaign website refers to “contributions of these workers to our society. He will work for equitable laws, to correct these ills.”Hill stated on his website that Meadows bucked Tea Party pressure to push for deporting undocumented workers, by voting for the Agricultural Act (H.R. 2642) which in part eased work visa barriers for undocumented farm laborers. But he said the tradeoff was H.R. 2642 doubling cuts in food stamp (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) spending. Hill opposes cutting such aid, especially in hard economic times and in disputing a GOP view of such relief as a crux rather than springboard for perpetual recipients.

Corporate tax rates is a chief issue. Hill claims 15 large corporations avoid paying any income tax, by shifting their operational base out of the country. “I will work to close offshore and other tax loopholes that are robbing our country of just revenues,” he stated. “The offshore solution is very simple – we change the tax law to require tax payments based on the location where profits are made, rather than where the home office is located.” He ripped Meadows and other Tea Party Republicans for blocking a bill in June that would end tax breaks for firms sending jobs overseas. “The Republican claim that corporations are moving offshore because of our ‘high’ tax rate is a smokescreen.  They already have a myriad of deductions available, and would move to avoid even minimal taxation.”Hill wants to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. He is for women’s rights such as in a bill the GOP defeated, which he said “tightened regulations on gender-based discrimination” in pay.

On health care, Hill wants Veterans Administration facilities expanded to hasten processing of medical claims. Regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Hill wants a public option and greater flexibility than some Obama officials suggest. “If you have a policy you like and it meets federal minimum requirements (such as no caps and no cancellations), you can keep it,” Hill suggested on his website. “If you do not have a policy you like, you will be enrolled in a Medicare-type of policy with payments to be taken from your salary – just like Social Security and federal taxes. Premiums will be based on your age. If you desire fuller coverage, then you should be able to purchase supplemental insurance, just like many retirees do for Medicare.

”On the environment and natural gas drilling, Hill wants a large-scale ban on horizontal “fracking” such as what is eyed for parts of this state’s coast. Hill counters energy industry claims with environmental ones that fracking “has polluted well water with methane in four states. ‘Cocktails’ used in the process contain poisons, which will likely seep into our water supply once the sites are abandoned. We must not only protect our groundwater, but also our national forests and national parks.”For more on Tom Hill and his campaign, check

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