Dr. Rudy Mueller, Democratic Party candidate for 150th state Assembly District, recently spoke to the Rotary Club of Jamestown.
Mueller received his engineering degree with honors from Case Western Reserve University, his medical doctorate from Ohio State University and completed his residency in internal medicine from Northwestern University. He is board certified in internal medicine and geriatrics, a fellow of the American College of Physicians and is an assistant professor at the State University at Buffalo School of Medicine. He is a founding partner in Jamestown Primary Care and has cared for patients at WCA Hospital for the past 20 years.
He is an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Jamestown, enjoys competing in triathlons and has completed two marathons.
He and his wife, Dr. Diane Mueller, have five children.
Mueller is also the author of "As Sick As It Gets." He has lectured across the United States on the high costs of health care and the lack of coverage for millions of Americans. He has appeared on national programs, including ABC News, Primetime, NPR and Democracy Now. The testimony he provided in Washington, D.C., before northeastern state legislators, describing the pharmaceutical industry's marketing policies of "wining and dining" physicians, led to new laws that have reduced such tactics by the drug industry. Mueller also helped to expose corrupt Congressional campaign committee financing practices leading to an Emmy Award in News and Documentary for ABC "World News Tonight."
Mueller served the Chautauqua County Legislature from 2008 through 2011. He led efforts to eliminate taxpayer-funded health insurance benefits for part-time legislators and he pushed for the reduction in the size of the legislature. In his second year, he was elected the assistant majority leader. The following year, he was elected minority leader, where he continued reform efforts, including calls for an independent redistricting commission.
Mueller said he strives to improve local government efficiency and lower overall costs. Many of his sponsored legislative proposals were passed, including laws that help protect lakes from excess phosphates, a resolution that will deliver improved Jamestown Criminal Court functions, and complex legislative budget amendments that saved taxpayers money in the 2012 county budget.
During his presentation Mueller elaborated on several of the items mentioned above. He said he hadn't planned to run for any office but he saw the need for a physician to participate in health care reform in New York state. He also saw the importance of caring for area lakes and the impact they have on the economy. Court reform included policy change that had the public defender and the district attorney at arraignments. New York state picked up on the program, Mueller said, and made it a statewide program. Mueller said he regrets redistricting did not take place, but was glad to see the tax cap hold for at least the first year.
A question and answer period followed.
Q: Do you support a moratorium on horizontal fracking until regulations that address safety and funding of oversight are approved by the State Legislature?
A: Mueller said fracking is a tremendous opportunity both financially as for job creation, but it can't be done and contaminate fresh water, a great asset in the area. Property values will drop if water resources are compromised, he said. It's a balance and it has to be done properly.
Q: It seems one of the basic gridlock issues in legislatures is the recalcitrant political positions of long term legislators. Would you support term limits in both the state and federal legislatures in order to promote fresh and vigorous action?
A: Mueller said he loves the idea of term limits. He has tried before to initiate term limits but there was no Republican support.
Q: What is your position on the equal pay for equal work legislation?
A: He strongly supports equal pay for equal work. Everyone should be paid fairly.
Q: If you are elected, how will your ability to continue your medical practice be affected?
A: Mueller has five partners to cover his patients. The use of electronic records will also aid in his continued involvement and he has received lots of support from other physicians in the community. He intends to stay active in medicine and work towards the simplification of healthcare.
Q: If elected as a Democrat will you be beholden to the downstate, such as New York City Democrats?
A: Absolutely not. Mueller said he can be independent.
Q: What is your position on the sale of the County Home?
A. Mueller had voted to sell the County Home. He feels it is the right thing to do. He doesn't want to see it closed because that would harm the community, particularly in the north county where there is a shortage of assisted living facilities. However, there needs to be considerations in the sale. Employees need to continue to have jobs and there needs to be a high-quality buyer.