Interview With Matt Haggman, 2018 Candidate for Congress

I’m here with Matt Haggman, a 2018 candidate for Miami’s 27th Congress District. Matt, I am  going to talk to you about your political campaign but before we get into that, lets talk about your upbringing. 

I read that you are from Boston, but you’ve been a resident here in Florida for years.   What was it like growing up in Boston ?

web_profile“First of all, I want to say thank you so much for the opportunity to be with you this morning.This is a real honor and a privilege. So I grew up in Cambridge Massachusetts, the town right next to Boston. It was a terrific place to grow up; middle class upbringing, on to public schools— the entire way from kindergarten all through 12th grade.The thing that most stands out about the community we grew up in is one where we champion the diversity of the community. I remember at my high school they put up all the flags of all the countries of origin of different students at the high school. My recollection is that there were more than 70 flags. It was a place that I was fortunate to grow up in because it was a place that championed diversity —and the success of the community is built on having people from many different places, life experiences and backgrounds that are all able to come together as one and as a community.

What college did you attend and what was your major?

I attended Tulane University my major was History and my minor was Political Science.

What is your current occupation?

Currently , I am a candidate for Congress.

What was your first job? 

I moved to Miami to become a Journalist and I was a Journalist for 10 years. Two years at The Daily Businesses Review and eight years at The Miami Herald and the last six years I worked at Knight Foundation where I was Miami Program Director and I launched a whole new program to focus on supporting entrepreneurship.   

A significant job that you also had was woking for the Miami Herald, what was your role there?

My role was as a Journalist, I first worked on the business page covering Real Estate then I worked as an Investigative Reporter and then I covered Miami Dade County Government.   


Aside from your occupational experiences you’re also very active in the community.  I have seen you around the family on different occasions  as apart of the Big Brother Program you’ve served as my nephew’s mentor, Joshua Jobe. How did you get involved in that program?

It’s one of the privilege of my life to be a mentor to Josh through Big Brother , Big Sister. We met when he was nine years old and now to see him as a 19 year old enrolled in college and on his way. It’s so exciting and its been a great honor and a privilege to be able to watch him grow into the very special young man that he is.

Why is the Big Brother, Big Sister Program so important to you?

Well, when my wife Jeanette and I were married in 2005, we were celebrating our 13 anniversary in December. We bought a home in Miami, Coconut Grove and when we did, I decided that I wanted to mentor a young man in the Grove community. So, I went to Big Brother, Big Sister and submitted my application and I remember very vividly the day when they paired me with Josh. I went down to his home on Washington Street where I met his Aunt Barbara Williams and there I met Josh for the first time and he was 9 years old. So immediately, I knew that he was a very special young man.0_7cH01VmedfToiXmR

Did you attend his high school graduation?

I sure did, I flew up to Connecticut to attend his high school graduation and it was a very exciting day to see him walk up there cap and gown to accept his diploma. He worked so hard and again and again, I saw him make the right decisions to get to this exciting point in his life.

Mat, you’ve played a positive role in that.

Well, I’ve played one small part. It’s been an honor to be a part.

That’s good to know.

How are you able to split your time being a mentor, and a husband?

It is prioritizing it, I mean to me the thing that I am most proud of in my life is being a husband to my marriage, to my wife Jeanette that’s the thing that I am most proud of  more than  anything else in my life. And secondly it’s being a good person in the community, to be able to be a good mentor to Josh and it starts there first, then you have all the other stuff, work and all the rest. So, I think you make the time by making it a priority.

Now politics is no easy task. How where you able to transition from being a Journalist to politics?

It was at the last election, I felt that we had taken a wrong turn. I think that the way to take a right turn which would require that we need new people in our politics. We need new energy and new leadership and fresh ideas and  so I thought well if you really believe that, you need to live it. So we talked with my wife Jeanette and we decided that I would step down from the Knight Foundation and run for Congress.

After the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting what is your take on gun control and the NRA.

I am a strong advocate for gun safety reform and I think that the NRA is one of the most destructive organizations in our country today. I am a strong advocate for gun reform and I think that we should abandon assault weapons, I think that we should ban high capacity magazines, I think there should be universal background check before anyone can buy a gun. I think that we need to ban bump stocks. We need to have red flag laws and I would be a strong voice of dis investment for gun manufactures. No one is saying that a home owner can’t have a gun to feel more secure in their home or a hunter can’t have a rifle to go and hunt. But we have a real problem in our country, where gun violence is way to high and we have way too many assault weapons throughout on our streets. We need to come to grips with it and we can hopefully.

What is your view on DREAMERS?

I have friends who are DREAMERS and if I am in Congress I would be a very vocal advocate for DREAMERS and I think that we should pass the DREAM Act and so DREAMERS are no longer left in doubt about 1_pWYr3FuvuDazK2aCL3bmQwtheir future.

How would you respond to the immigrant crisis involving children not being accompanied by their parents?

I think that the policy in the United States of separating children from mothers and fathers is wrong. Families belongs together. Our government can’t be apart of pulling families apart. We need comprehensive immigration reform in this country. We need to have a way that un documented immigrants  in this country have a path to citizenship. We need to have a way that those who want to come to this country where there is an efficient rule base process but an efficient process to address that. We need to have a way that DREAMERS are protected and are not left in this uncertain  state that they have to leave suddenly, ultimately, we need to move away from the rhetoric of demonizing immigrants that we need to see to always focus on the fact that we are a country of immigrants. We are a land of immigrants  and immigration is  something ultimately is a force of good in our country. It has been and always will be.     

I have a different view on  the immigrants not being accompanied  by their parents and are coming to the border for entry.

Most of all they are skipping. My example would be, I am driving on I – 95 and there is an exit that’s always backed up. There are always a  number of drivers that drive along the side and they squeeze in. Where is the fairness there, for those people who have been in line doing it the correct way? In other words, waiting for their turn to be allowed into the country.  How would you address that?

Well, I think that we need Comprehensive Immigration Reform over all. The entire system needs reform so that the rules and processes is much clearer. So I think that we need to address that and then you may not see as you said so many people trying to jump the line. Because they see what the process is.

So how would you handle that?

I think that we need a complete overhaul of our immigrations laws. Step back for a second. There are fewer people crossing the borders now then there were 10 years ago. It’s actually going down even though we have a President who keeps talking about it like it’s going up. Further more, there is no correlation between immigrants coming to our country and crime rising, that’s not happening. Further more, more people are coming to our country by flying  here with Visas and over staying Visas then crossing the boarder. But I think what we need is a Comprehensive Immigration Reform of the system, that both addresses undocumented immigrants who are here, addresses DREAMERS, addresses those on temporary protective  status and also addresses those who want to come here and in some cases those who are coming here because of particular hardship in their country that they are living in and they are trying to find a better life.

What is your view on President Trump placing Tariffs on other countries?

I don’t see that as the best way in terms of Trade. Trade disagreements can be resolved through negotiations. I don’t think that it needs to be done through instigating  trade wars.maxresdefault

Well I must say that I am all in favor of what the President is doing. I do not see the fairness where I am paying you 25% and you’re are paying 2.5% . The United States ship’s it’s cars to China and pays a 25% Tariff Tax . While on the other hand, China ship’s their cars to the United States and are only charged a 2.5% Tariff Tax. Where is the fairness there?

I think that you can come up with specific examples. But I think that all those things can be resolved with out getting into a Trade War. I think that those things can be resolved through negotiations. We are the largest economy in the world. We have plenty of leverage and I think that we can use it in a way to get the results that we want with out engaging in the rhetoric  and actions that this current President gives.

I hear just recently Harley Davidson Motorcycle Co is moving some of their products out of the country to be manufactured.

Well, because of the Tariffs. So I don’t think that we need to be starting Trade Wars and using this kind of divisive rhetoric to achieve the aims that we want. Don’t forget that this is someone who turned away trade agreements that would have opened up markets for American products. Our future is built on fair trade. Our future is not built on putting up walls and turning our back to the world.

To piggy back on the Harley Davidson incident, when formal President Ronald Regan was in the White House, he raised the Tariff Tax on China and other countries so that the Harley Davidson Company could catch up. So now we’ve helped you out and now you are jumping ship.

Well, the Harley Davidson example is a specific one. My point is in achieving the fair trade that we want. We want trade where we have the ability to sell our products around the world but we also want to have trade that’s done with partners who are respecting both labor rights and environmental laws. We want trade that’s good for the American worker and the American consumer. We can do this through negotiations and honestly talking about the challenges that we need to solve.          

What was your response to the reduction in the Corporate Capital Gain   Tax from 35% to 21%? Were you in favor or not in favor of the process?

Well the corporate tax was lowered, I spent the last six years helping to promote private enterprise entrepreneurship. We want to unburden entrepreneurs to allow them to be able to launch new ventures and new businesses. My problem when that Bill was passed, it was done in away that none of these tax breaks were paid for and so it actually through the government into much greater deficient. We want to lower taxes as much as we can on people, on businesses but we need to do it in a responsible way so that we have a government that is run with a sound financial management. Right now, we are not seeing that at all. I think that it’s going to come a time when the government will have to make more investments. We are at a moment right now in time where wages for so many are flat and mean while the cost for health care, education and housing continues to increase. To solve those problems, we need more government investments.   

Let’s revisit the Capital Gains Tax Cut, I championed the move that the President made. Simply because, I am a small business owner and my wife and I ran a business called Princeton Preschool for the past twenty-four years in which we started this business from ground zero to where we were able to make a positive gain when we sold the business. If this tax cut had not  been in place by the President. I would’ve had to give up 39% of my capital gain. Which would have disallowed me to go into my new business which is Sports Elite Magazine and Apparel, and probably would have forced me out of entrepreneurship.         

What will you bring to Congress?Matt-Haggman-Share-Image

When I was at the Knight Foundation I launched this whole program about Spring Entrepreneurship and it help create thousands of jobs in our community and it created a real sense of possibility. We did it by engaging the entire community, by raising good ideas where ever they might arise and champion our diversity as our great differentiator . I’d try to bring the same approach to Congress. I would engage people where they are . Just like we are sitting here in your living room talking about certain issues that matter to you. We listen to good ideas and embrace them in turns of you talking about your perspective as a small business owner and how actually lowering the corporate tax on your small business, it’s enormously helpful . It’s very important for me to hear that as a Congress person; to be continually engaging where you’re at and where our community is at in continuing to listen and listening for good ideas. The best ideas never come from a candidate or politician, they  come from the community and champion our diversity,  that understanding— that our great success is built  on creating ways in which people from different backgrounds, different life experiences and different places can all come together as a community. The more that we do that the better ideas will come up and the more success we will have.

Matt it has  been a pleasure speaking with you and I wish you the best of luck in the election? Sports Elite thanks you!

Worrell C. Troup

Sports Elite Mag

 June 27, 2018

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