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A Talk with Chauncey Goss

By Staff | Dec 30, 2011

Chauncey Goss is campaigning for the U.S. House of Representatives for Florida's 14th Congressional District. (Photo by Bill Schiller)

Earlier this month, Chauncey Goss announced he would be running for election to represent Florida’s 14th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A resident of Sanibel Island with his wife, Allison, and three sons, Chauncey is the son of Porter Goss, a man that many continue to revere for his service to the community, as well as the State (as a former Congressman) and of course, the nation where he formerly served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Chauncey has his own admirers too. Among them, a group of 4th Grade Bible Study students at Sanibel Community Church who refer to him as “Mr. C” and a co-Teacher, Katrina Salokar, who describes in terms of “anticipatory, knowledgeable, quick thinking, and well spoken.”

“He can lead the class as well as stand aside and aid … he looks for ways to assist at all time and helps clean-up aftward,” says Salokar.

Robb Moran of the Sanibel-Captiva Republican Caucus also speaks favorably. While involvement with the Republican Party of Lee County does not allow him to make an official endorsement, Moran asserts that, as a Party, the goal is to “put the best person we can get elected.” To that end, Moran says he believes Goss has “the credentials” and the experience to fulfill the role, all while referring to Goss’ background as “impressive.” And, Moran notes, “It is always good to see one of our native sons running for office.”

Ironically, in speaking with some others, the remarks are more cautious. One senior citizen told the Island Reporter, “We don’t know him. We don’t know what he stands for or what his experience is.”

Not that it necessarily matters, because as the lady went on to explain, he is the son of Porter Goss, and as such, that was sufficient to garner support from much of the community.

So, in order to learn more about his decision to seek the office and perspective on political issues, the Island Reporter sat down with Chauncey Goss for a conversation among the coffee drinkers gathered one afternoon at Sanibel’s Island Bean.

When asked how it was possible some could consider him as new or unknown, Goss brushed it off and simply said what most agree, there’s a lot of new people living in this community who don’t necessarily know a lot about its people nor its past.

Is he feeling any pressure running for an office formerly held by his father, say, anything similar to the pressure one must encounter as a son of a former CIA Director.

He rejects the word “pressure” – and says, “We were incredibly lucky to have a loving father, who taught us about virtue, and set an example for us to follow. We knew what he expected… and I was certainly aware that it [life] was about more than me.”

He says that experience provided him with a good measure of “perspective and appreciation” for the realities of political families. All the more reason, he took time to sit down with his wife and children and talk the thing through before announcing his candidacy.

He explains that running for office had been on his mind for sometime. Concern for the future of the nation and concern for the future of his children, he says, compelled him to action. As for choosing the right moment, he says when Connie Mack announced his Congressional departure and plans to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate, “it made me think… there was an open seat factor… a perceived need for speed… and I thought, ‘If you’re going to do it, this might be the right time.”

In the weeks that have followed, he says he has been busy “talking to people,” and in his studiously stylish way, that more likely means, listening to people. He minces no words describing how tired people are of political bickering in Washington, especially when “the economy is sputtering along”.

“These people are paid to do a job.. to make important decisions and govern… to work on a responsible path, seeking solutions with actual plans and policies and the fighting, people are just sick of it,” says Goss.

How does being raised in Sanibel impact his adult rationale? Goss says, “I grew up on this Island and that comes first in my thoughts of home. This community is the reason I watched my father work so hard, to fight for this quality of life.”

He says he has this community “in him” – “And that’s something you can’t ever get rid of, the importance of small community, the importance of family, those are the values I grew up with.”

He goes on to describe it as “Heartland” noting that so many from this nation’s mid-west have settled here.

In this conversation, Goss readily imparts a reflective tendency, a method of considering his thoughts and response, not in a particularly charismatic, showy type of demeanor that one might encounter with that which passes for some politicians, which is all to say, he’s a thinker, he’s a studier, and fact of this can be substantiated from his background crunching numbers and preparing budgets.

That background includes stints with defense firm of Science Applications International Corporation.

Given the degree that so many defense contractors have recently been investigated, arrested or implicated in shady deals, does that experience taint Goss.

Though he admits to loving the work and the service such companies provide on the behalf of our nation’s security, he asserts, “I didn’t like working there… I didn’t like the cavalier attitude about the way taxpayer’s money was spent.”

His contempt for what he describes as “the backroom machinations of defense contracts” compelled him to leave that job.

He later served with the National Security Division at the Office of Management and Budget, assisting President Bush in the preparation of defense budgets. He additionally served as Deputy Staff Director for the House Committee on the Budget. He even worked with Wisconsin’s U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (who he calls “a really sharp guy”) and some may be surprised to learn that Chauncey was the very bean counter and number cruncher that helped assemble Ryan’s highly touted “Roadmap to America’s Future”.

So, it is with some depth of insight that Goss’ describes the current tax code as “really inefficient”.

He believes in reducing rates and broadening the base (which includes getting rid of certain loopholes that allow corporations to pay their share) and is adamant about the need to reduce government spending. Is there a tax plan he favors?

“Whether it is 9-9-9 or what Gingrich suggested as ‘taxpayer’ choice, or some other combination, any plan is better than what Obama is doing now,” says Goss.

As for financial concerns close to home, Goss addressed the need to create jobs and attract new industry to the region. “Any portfolio needs to be diversified, it’s a hedge against risk,” he says. Which is a reference to the fact that the region cannot simply depend on tourism and real estate for its fiscal future. However, Goss cautions, “You have to be careful not to give up the farm for the sake of diversifying.”

To that end, he quickly rejects the development of gambling casinos in our district.

“I’m not in favor of gambling… I don’t think it’s the way we need to go.”

When asked about his thoughts on water quality issues and the belief that local leaders suspect state and national representatives have been too easily influenced by fertilizer companies and agricultural interests tied to water quality concerns, Goss says, “Those are powerful influences.”

He knows about those influences, and the issues too. Goss’s early career included serving as property owner’s association in Boca Grande where he reportedly advocated for protection of the Charlotte Harbour Estuary.

“Here we are 12 or so years later and the issues are the same,” says Goss. He notes the smart thing in recent discussions has been to equate water quality, not so much in environmental terms, but in economic terms. To that point, he says people are waking up to the fact of “what clean water means to the economy… what having big healthy beaches represents to all industries here.”

Goss attended George Town University and Rollins College in his youth, respectively earning a Master’s in Public Policy and Bachelor of Arts Degree. During this period, he also served as an intern studying marine science at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. He admits to an appreciation for the ocean and fishing.

As for those powerful influences so blamed for polluting local waters, Goss says, “Some of those same guy like to go boating and fishing here too. Some of them love these waters… there’s a way we can work together.”

For now, Goss says he is working with a good, albeit “behind-the-scenes team” to plan the next chapter of his campaign. On this day, he says he hasn’t actually hired staff as yet, but is working with friends and trusted supporters.

As the discussion ended, Goss, stressing that he is his own man, and different, than his father, said that voters will find him acting in accordance with the example his father set – “The way he treated people, the way he served constituents, the way he remembered the reasons why he was in office.”