Everyone deserves decent health care.
I learned from my dad, Dr. Melvin Rackleff, what our nation's health care system should be – available to anyone, regardless of income – not the get-rich-quick gaming of taxpayer-financed programs that makes our medical industry system the most expensive, with the sorriest results, in the world. I wear his class ring every day to remind me of how his dedication to healing gave people their dignity, and not just better health.
My dad took Hippocrates seriously. He was a general practitioner and the only doctor in 1930s Depression-clobbered Clayton, Illinois. He treated everyone in need, whether they could pay or not. His was not charity care – in his mind, it was his duty. Dad had been a U.S. Navy Pharmacist’s Mate (now called Corpsman) in World War I, decided afterwards to become a doctor, and worked his way through Chicago Medical School until he graduated in 1927. Our home in Clayton had no indoor plumbing, a wood stove for cooking, and only partial electricity; we had only one car, which he wore out making house calls.
After serving his community for 15 years, dad was drafted in 1942 as a U.S. Army doctor and served in field hospitals in England during World War II, part of the effort to treat the mass casualties from the invasion of France and drive toward Germany. At the end of the war, he served at Camp Gordon Johnston, near Carrabelle, where I lived as a toddler. He stayed in the Army until retiring in 1958, then was a Veterans Administration doctor in Winston-Salem, NC for the next 10 years. He died at age 95. He was a healer and a good provider, but never expected to get rich.
Let’s get smart about growing good jobs.
I was a corporate executive and consultant for most of my working life, where I learned important lessons about what Big Business really regards working families and how our national and global economies work. It enables me to understand how North Florida working families can get and keep good jobs with a future. I know that people here want to be productive members of their communities. As a Leon County Commissioner, I supported cost-effective job-creating projects and opposed special interest-supported corporate welfare of little value. I will do the same in Congress.
Government must work for working families.
Serving with them for over seven years, my fellow enlisted sailors taught me a lot about the challenges that working families face as they try to build a future for themselves. Moreover, because of my experience in government at all levels and in corporate executive suites, I have a unique understanding of economic development, job creation, fiscal discipline and competing in the global economy.
I helped balance the Leon County budget every year, 1998-2010, while maintaining quality services and no net tax increases. When I left office in 2010, Leon County had the fourth-lowest per capita operating budget among all of Florida’s 67 counties. My solid record of accomplishments as Leon County Commissioner demonstrates realism, dedication to the public interest, job growth, honesty, commitment to justice and fair play, and fiscal discipline – serving working families, not the special interests.
A wise man once said, “I don’t want government to solve my problems. I want government to understand my problems.” That has long been my personal guide.
Patriotism in deed
I honored our veterans by becoming one. I served our country as an enlisted sailor and naval intelligence officer reservist for over 22 years, the last 10 in a reserve unit working directly with the Director of Naval Intelligence. I’m a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Jewish War Veterans.
I needed my mother’s written permission at age 17 to enlist and left for boot camp a week after graduating from Florida High in 1961. After boot camp, I was a drilling reservist while an undergraduate at Florida State University, then served on active duty 1965-67 aboard the USS Terrebonne Parish (LST-1156), operating in the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.
Returning to Tallahassee, I earned a direct commission as an Ensign, Naval Intelligence reserves. I held a Top Secret security clearance while drilling in a Pentagon reserve unit and pursuing my civilian career in Washington, D.C., and New York City. My final assignment was managing editor of the Naval Intelligence Quarterly. I retired in 1983 as a Lieutenant Commander.
I’m an active member of Temple Israel of Tallahassee, a spiritual home that helps me live my faith in God. Central to my faith is tikkun olam, literally “repair the world,” the idea that we are responsible not only for our own spiritual welfare, but also for society at large.
I sing in Temple Israel's choir, where I may not be the best tenor, but I'm the tallest tenor. My wife Esther is a devout member of First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee. She is always there to remind me how to better serve others. We regularly attend each other’s services. We say grace at every meal to remind ourselves of our many blessings in life.