Unique congressional contenders include chaplain, pastry chef

For all of the lawyers and career politicians running for Congress this year, there are also cartoonists, pastry chefs and swimming pool repairmen throwing their names in the hat. The Hill caught up with a handful of the congressional candidates whose day jobs veer outside of the conventional categories to ask them how their skills as a hospital chaplain, for instance, would serve them should they win on Nov. 2.

Gerald Hashimoto (R), a pastry chef and candy maker, is running for Congress in California.

Why did you decide to become a pastry chef and candy maker?
I love to eat the stuff, and the cheapest way to enjoy them is to make them yourself, as they tend to be very expensive, and they do not always have my favorite.
 

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What’s your favorite pastry to make?
I love to make Sacher Torte, and leave out the jam and the gooey chocolate frosting, and just eat them plain. They are nice and chewy, yet still rich with intense chocolate flavor.
 
What’s your favorite candy to make?
I hate to admit it, but I take those mini-Snickers bars you get in those Halloween bags at the store, put them into the freezer, and crunch into them when they are rock hard.
 
What skills do you think would be transferable to Congress?
You cannot simply come out of left field and start to do things at random. You have to know the rules and what works and why, and then think how can you make something amazing out of something plain and boring.
 
In one sentence, summarize why you’re running for Congress.
It is time for Congress to let the Constitution be front and center in Federal Government.

Nicholas Ivan Ladendorf, a cartoonist, is running for Congress in Missouri as a Progressive Paty candidate.

What comic book or comic strip character do you think you’re most like?
I didn't want to get too obscure, but I have to say Nomad. Mainly because his sidekick was his daughter that he wore in a baby carrier. Nomad also works because he was supposed to be the next Captain America but he was a little too noir and got canceled.

Who in Washington do you think is easiest to draw in caricature?
Whoever most earns my annoyance. The more you draw someone, the more shortcuts you come up with for representing them. That said I remember John KerryJohn Forbes KerryOcasio-Cortez and Cruz's dialogue shows common ground isn't just for moderates 'Landslide' for Biden? A look at 40 years of inaccurate presidential polls Trump campaign considering making a play for blue state Oregon: report MORE [D] being the easiest to draw, but I'd have to go back and look at how good of a drawing that was to know for sure.

Would you consider submitting bills in cartoon form?
That would be one way to get them to read the bills before signing them, wouldn’t it? I would consider doing it, but comics take time, and I would spend a lot of time obsessing over a good visual cue for “whereas.” Maybe a preamble comic strip...

What skills do you think would be transferable to Congress?
I am good at figuring out what people are really saying and figuring out their motivations. That’s a key skill if you are seeking to reach a concession without caving or hoping the other side caves.

In one sentence, summarize why you’re running for Congress.
The empire has no clothes.

Daryl Romeyn (D), a Washington state congressional candidate, is a farmer and former television meteorologist.

As a meteorologist, what was your most feared weather pattern?
Dry lightning storms with strong wind gusts during a hot, dry summer. Very cold, unstable air aloft associated with maximum vorticity.
 
Did you have any tricks for doing live shots in the middle of a storm? 
Common sense goes a long way in this life. Is it worth it?
 
As a farmer, what’s your favorite fruit or vegetable to grow?
Red Gold Nectarines. Most people will never have a good one. That’s why I grow my own and pick at peak flavor.
 
What meteorology or farming skills do you think would be transferable to Congress?
Keep an eye on the sky, be a realist, size up the problem you face, look at your options and get to work on a plan. I’ve spent a lot of time packing donkeys in the wilderness. Please, check the weather before you go camping, folks!
 
In one sentence, summarize why you’re running for Congress. 
I’m tired of being neglected by out-of-touch professional politicians who won’t even talk to each other.

Rebekah Davis is a hospital chaplain and a Democratic congressional candidate in Nebraska.

Why did you decide to become a hospital chaplain?
Prior to seminary, I had been a researcher in areas of conflict and refugee camps. Regardless of which country or religion, I consistently saw the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of unspeakable despair. This left a tremendous impression on me. As someone who grew up in an area where diversity meant being Methodist instead of Lutheran, I chose chaplaincy over more traditional parish ministry so as to work with people whose backgrounds were not a mirror image of my own. I work with everyone across the spectrum: those who have a faith background, and those who do not; those whose first language is English, and those for whom another language is their mother tongue; and tellingly, those who have health insurance, as well as those who do not.

What’s the most difficult part of the job?
I struggle whenever I am the only person holding a patient’s hand as they die. While this sometimes stems from an unexpected death where the family has not had time to arrive, more commonly, family estrangement or social isolation are the root causes. We live in a day and age with more communication methods than ever, yet for some, our relationships have become more shallow or even nonexistent. This is why a patient dying alone is so hard for me.

How do you work with people who don’t believe in God?
The same way I work with all of my patients and their families: to meet them wherever they are. As a chaplain, my responsibility is to offer solace, hope and comfort. We all grieve the loss of a loved one.

What skills do you think would be transferable to Congress?
In my work, I do a lot more listening than I do talking. I am able to connect meaningfully with people from all walks of life. My first line of thinking when approaching a policy is to think through the actual ramifications on the lives of real people. I can also speak to the reality of young people leaving rural areas, as I did for a time. More importantly, I can speak to what it means to return after traveling to over 60 countries and to invest one’s roots with a wider eye to the world around.

In one sentence, summarize why you’re running for Congress.
By not taking special interest money to fund my campaign, I hope to renew a standard of statesmanship and public service to this office.


Meet more unique candidates Sunday on TheHill.com