Auto-Transcript for S&P and NFSC Submission
EP:64:28: “Solo with Sharrad”
ERIA QUINT: Welcome to Showdown. I’m your host, Eria Quint. Today, we’re taking a break from our normal debate format for a one-on-one interview with Imperator candidate and current High-Secretary Illyana Sharrad to discuss her role in the current Costigan administration and the direction she’d take the Empire if elected. Welcome back to Showdown, High-Secretary.
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: Good to see you again, Eria. How are you?
ERIA QUINT: I’m well. Glad you had time to join us today. Your schedule is incredibly busy as you juggle campaign appearances along with your daily responsibilities as High-Secretary. How have you been managing to give both roles the time and attention they deserve?
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: It’s only possible because of the great team around me. They oversee the day-to-day operation of the campaign and work tirelessly to execute the goals and initiatives I set. It’s funny. When Imperator Costigan asked me to be his High-Secretary, he explained that a leader is only as good as the people they surround themselves with, and this is a philosophy that I have found to be true time and again.
As High-Secretary, I rely fully on employing the most qualified individuals at local, system, and Empire levels to be able to manage the vast infrastructure of the Empire as well as address the individual uniqueness that makes every system so special. That’s the only way to achieve any truly meaningful change. It’s also why one of the cornerstones of my campaign is building an administration that will ensure that our government is going to be working at every level from the top down.
ERIA QUINT: One of the core promises you’ve made is that, if elected, you would fast track one pressing infrastructure need in each UEE system. Since the proposal I read only discusses it in broad terms, I’d like to drill down into the details.
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: Great. I would love to discuss my “Jump Start” program.
ERIA QUINT: Have you already determined what projects would get funded in each system?
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: Not yet. My team has a list of proposed projects, but I want to consult with the governor’s councils in each system to see which initiative will best serve the needs of the residents and to evaluate the most up-to-date information before making any final decisions.
ERIA QUINT: Would there be a proposed budget range for each system to ensure a fair distribution of funds? There have been concerns that systems would be fighting each other for credits.
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: We have avoided setting a firm per-system budget for the Jump Start program, since doing that disadvantages certain areas of the Empire. I’d prefer that the program focuses on the potential return on investment instead of the overall cost of each project. For example, building a new spaceport in, let’s say, Asura would be considerably more expensive than repairing the current one. But if the new port can handle more traffic and better facilitate trade, then it would be more beneficial to the long-term health of the system’s economy.
ERIA QUINT: So you’re not concerned about the overall cost of this initiative?
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: It will be a consideration, of course, but no arbitrary number will stop me from making the right decision for each system. These projects will create jobs, inject capital, and improve the lives of that system’s residents. I’m certain the economic boost provided by these projects will eventually outweigh their initial cost.
ERIA QUINT: That’s quite the promise.
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: Eight years as High-Secretary has taught me a lot about the Empire; specifically that good things happen when we invest in ourselves.
ERIA QUINT: Still, while most can’t deny that fixing local problems is a good thing, critics have continually cited the cost. Nothing in your proposal or any of your campaign speeches has clearly defined how it’ll be funded.
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: That’s because Jump Start doesn’t exist in isolation. It’s only one part of my vision for the future of the UEE and made possible through savings in other areas.
ERIA QUINT: What areas specifically?
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: Well, as I’m sure you’re aware, I would call for a freeze on Synthworld funding to review the project’s progress and set attainable goals. Doing so, even for a brief period, would free up considerable capital to be reinvested elsewhere.
ERIA QUINT: Halting Synthworld funding would require approval from the Senate, who still seem quite committed to the project.
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: Thankfully I’m pretty good friends with the Senate. [laughs] Those that support Synthworld know that I’m not opposed to it, I just feel like the dream has slipped away from us. I’d like to pause and reassess to see if its development is really something we can achieve.
ERIA QUINT: You’ve also been very vocal about introducing an initiative called “Active Engagement”. Would you consider using funds raised through that?
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: Those gains will primarily go to strengthen the social safety net and promote greater overall engagement with the Empire.
ERIA QUINT: Let’s just take a moment here, High-Secretary, to explain Active Engagement, since a lot of our audience may not be overly familiar with the details. This program would essentially require anyone, whether they’re a citizen or civilian, to “actively engage” in an authorized civil service program while taking advantage of certain benefit programs. Many critics have cited this as the first step towards mandatory service for the populace.
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: Well, I see the benefits of this as twofold. First, it ensures social programs remain resilient and funded at a level proportional to their demand. Second, increasing civic engagement, much like improving infrastructure, benefits and strengthens the entire Empire. It makes people feel like a part of something bigger and gives a stake in creating a better future for all.
ERIA QUINT: Under this proposal, people could lose access to certain government programs if they don’t participate, correct?
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: There are a lot of rumors out there about what this program does and doesn’t do. Let me make it clear that no one will lose access to the rights and services guaranteed to them in the Common Laws because of it. Essentially, those that need a little extra help will get it by giving a little back. For example, if someone needs help to afford a room in a housing exchange, they could volunteer at a local, government-run food bank.
ERIA QUINT: The majority of people who rely on social programs to survive are Civilians and unable to vote for Imperator. What would you say to those Civilians who may be worried about you implementing such a monumental change to their way of life?
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: Change is often hard but necessary. I believe that under Active Engagement, the UEE will be able to keep these social programs strong, even in times where we would’ve faced a budgetary shortfall. In addition, some of the options available can lead to an individual gaining Citizenship, which will increase their contributions to the future of the UEE in a myriad of ways, including voting for Imperator.
ERIA QUINT: Turning our attention more specifically to that upcoming vote, why do you think Imperator Costigan hasn’t endorsed your campaign?
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: You’d have to ask him. I have great respect for Imperator Costigan and the tough situation he’s facing with his son still in the race. Considering the circumstances, I believe him remaining neutral is the right call. Though I would like to point out that the Universalist Party has officially endorsed me as their candidate in this election.
ERIA QUINT: There are reports circulating that you and the Imperator haven’t spoken in weeks.
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: As you mentioned at the very beginning, I’ve been incredibly busy, but my staff have been in constant communication with the Imperator’s office.
ERIA QUINT: So his silence doesn’t disappoint you? It’s quite unusual for a sitting Imperator to not endorse their party’s preferred candidate so late in the campaign.
HIGH-SECRETARY SHARRAD: Look, I don’t think this election will come down to one endorsement. This election will be about whose ideas and vision for the future of the Empire are the most inspiring. That’s why I’m here discussing my vision with you today and will continue to do tirelessly with anyone willing to listen until the election ends on October 24th.
ERIA QUINT: High-Secretary Sharrad and I have a lot more to discuss about her vision, but first we need to take a quick break. Don’t go anywhere because there’s more Showdown right after this.