The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Candidates for Congress express their views


David McDevitt

By Diana Zimmerman

Photos by Rick Nelson

On May 23, five candidates for US Representative for District 3 answered questions in a bipartisan forum in front of a full house at the Pioneer Community Center.

Jaime Herrera Beutler was invited but did not attend. Carolyn Long was invited as well, but had a prior engagement. A representative spoke briefly in her stead.

Wahkiakum High School Principal Stephanie Leitz introduced the candidates with a brief bio and then each person was allowed a couple minutes to speak.

Earl Bowerman, a Republican candidate said, "This campaign is about jobs. What is more important than jobs? I feel like the congressional representative should be your ambassador for this area, for development, development of resources, to remove red tape put up by your government. It's always about people. One of the things President Trump is doing is removing red tape. I'm a conservative Republican. I am for small government, I'm for maximum liberties, I'm for limited spending, I am pro-life, and I feel like we believe in the dignity, in the work, and the glory of the individual. We celebrate achievement, we celebrate prosperity, and we are always self reliant.

Dorothy Gasqué, a Democrat candidate: "I'm a third generation public servant. I'm running because we have been at war for my son's entire life. He's 17. But it's not just war that has lasted a generation. I grew up hearing that we would be the first generation to enter into adulthood worse off than our parents. Nothing has gotten better. Now we have the next generation of Americans entering into adulthood worse off than their parents. It's corruption. It permeates our country now. The corrupting influence of big money is the single greatest threat to our democracy. Until we deal with corruption, we are not going to get any positive change in this country."

Micheal Cortney, a Republican candidate: "I retired a few years ago and it's left me with nothing but time. I think when you represent people, you represent all, not just the ones who voted for you."

He later called himself a "compassionate conservative."

David McDevitt, a Democrat candidate: "The primary reason I'm running is to address the needs of the many. Over the last 35-40 years, we've seen the incomes of the middle class and low wage workers actually decline or stay stagnant relative to the increase in productivity. My five primary issues are 1) a single payer universal health care system that doesn't gouge people; 2) incomes, both minimum wage for low wage workers and the kind of benefits that are given to senior citizens. They are not enough to live on; 3) protecting our environment. Climate change is real. We need to take drastic and significant action in a fight against the fossil fuel industry taking over our area; 4) transportation and infrastructure. Internet service and broadband in rural areas; 5) gun safety. I stand for the second amendment but I think it's time for reasonable regulation as was adjudicated by Justice Alito and Justice Scalia. I favor banning assault weapons."

Martin Hash, a Democrat candidate: "I'd like to know what other people are interested in. I certainly have answers. I'm married, and last night I went to see the Eagles. I like Joe Walsh. When I was a kid, I wanted to do everything. And I did that. I'm here tonight to see what you have to say."

WHS history and civics teacher Don Cox read questions collected from the audience. The first three questions were from local students.

One such question was: How will you keep our schools safe?

Gasqué: "Make society safer as a whole. The problem is economic insecurity, which creates a more unstable and violent society. The Economic and Peace Institute found that the most peaceful societies had a sound business environment, a well functioning government, and equitable distribution of resources. We are so far from that right now. It's only getting worse. People are not able to meet their basic needs. We need to make sure we have counselors in schools, a certified mental health professional."

McDevitt: "The elephant in the room is gun safety, not school safety. The law under the second amendment says that gun ownership is a private right. I uphold that. It also says there is room for reasonable regulation. I uphold that. And that is where we need to go. Since that ruling was made, no action was taken by congress. In our state, we have a moratorium on bump stocks. It's not enough to feel safe. More guns mean more gun deaths. That is not okay. I don't see a reason for anyone to have assault weapons, any more than I think someone should have access to mortars or grenades, or have tanks in the back yard. I also think that we need to have a little more action when it comes to addressing the issues of mental health. Most of the gun deaths are suicides, not mass shootings in the schools. People have it so easy they can go in and buy a gun this afternoon and kill themselves tonight. We need to put regulation in place that slows the process down and allows the individuals to get the mental health care they deserve."

Bowerman: "I think the designers of schools did not take into consideration student safety. In New York City, in some high crime neighborhoods, they have the schools designed with one entrance. It is a very secure door. They have metal detectors. If you go to the White House in Washington, D.C. it is the very same way. A criminal doesn't give a flip about our laws and regulations. If they want a gun and want to commit mayhem, they will find a gun."

How will you encourage business to invest in rural communities such as ours?

Hash: "The minimum wage shouldn't be paid by the business. It should be subsidized. To get jobs, you have to do whatever it takes to get an employee in. The business pays what it can afford, programs can subsidize the rest. No family that makes less than $50,000 should be paying taxes. I am a 'tax the rich' person."

McDevitt: "I've held four or five town halls in Wahkiakum County in the last year. Wahkiakum County like Pacific County is unique. Many people in this county make their living in the fishing industry or forestry industry. We need to do some restoration to those industries. We need to stop some of the laws that have been put into place in the last year. Our current representative signed on for a law that allows farmers, ranchers, and miners to pollute our rivers with waste products and pollutants that have the potential for having carcinogens. I like to drink clean water and bathe in it. I hope you do too. We could have done something that encourages people to implement microbiofuel conversion facilities. I'm encouraging investments to do kelp farming."

Bowerman: "Any company that wants to come into this area has to have a reasonable expectation of economic prosperity. If a community can reduce the cost of doing business, in many cases it's to reduce taxes...if you don't offer some vision of economic prosperity to the company, the company is not going to come."

Gasqué: "Infrastructure investment is the biggest thing you can do. Insuring rails come through here. Broadband. High speed internet. Companies can't function without it. If the company doesn't come to you, with broadband, in the modern age, you can work from home. You can work from where you are at. We need a 21st century New Deal. We need to fix our crumbling infrastructure and invest in the technologies of the future."

Cortney: "Science estimates that by 2050, sea level rise is going to be about 13 inches. By 2100, it will be about three feet. If you look at a map, three feet of water, this disappears. If you don't think about these things, there is going to be a lot of suffering."

Carolyn Long, a Democrat candidate for U.S. representative for Washington's 3rd Congressional District, came to Cathlamet to speak to voters at the Cathlamet Community Center on Friday, May 25.

Here are a few of her thoughts:

"I entered this race because I was, and am, really unhappy with how dysfunctional congress has become as an institution," she said. "We seem to demonize people from other political parties. We seem unwilling to work across the aisle. Congress isn't really doing much in terms of passing legislation to address policy issues. I thought that I could essentially do a better job."

"I believe that I am already present, accountable, and committed to serving constituents. This is my 20th town hall meeting. That's a lot of voter contact in a short amount of time. I'm doing it intentionally, because I think that's what representatives who are elected should do."

Do you take money from corporations?

"No, I do not. We are running a campaign, so we are fundraising. I will say that we have raised more money than the three previous democratic challengers combined for their whole electoral cycle. That is individual donations. We've had 2,740 individual donations. That number shows you we are taking money from as many people as possible, but we wouldn't count corporations among them. I will take union money. I have had the support of a number of unions and they do offer PAC money. I do so happily. Union values are aligned with my own."

What do you think is the proper treatment of families crossing the border?

"One of the most heartbreaking experiences I've had so far is being in Pacific County and speaking to people who work in the oyster industry and hearing about how their friends and in some cases a woman's fiance were essentially snatched from the street, detained and eventually sent back. It's a hard personal story, but it's also a very hard story if you look at the economics of that. Because you left people behind, they now maybe lost the person caring for their family, and small businesses are losing their workers. I look at it in terms of the overall impacts. I think we should treat them with the respect and dignity that they deserve. If they are crossing the border illegally, I think we have to handle that in a way that's respectful but also follows the law. If they are here illegally, I don't have a problem with them working here, especially if they have not broken the law. Previously when we looked at deportations, we looked at people who were hardened criminals and violated the law, usually violent offenses. They were the first to be deported. Now the people being deported run the gamut in terms of their background."

"Families should be kept together," she clarified.

"There is a wide bipartisan support for a clean Dream bill for those kids to get citizenship. There is bipartisan support in communities, but also in congress, but unfortunately leadership in congress is holding that issue hostage because they are waiting for a larger immigration package. I think that is a mistake when you have such broad bipartisan support for an issue, you should have that legislation. There has to be a path to citizenship. If you've been in the community, there has to be a way in which you can obtain citizenship. We did this under the Reagan administration, I think we can do it as well. How we get there is going to be difficult with this administration. He wants to talk a lot about a wall, not about how you show that path to citizenship."

"There is also that economic story, where we don't have the labor to meet the employment demands. This administration in particular, this particular attorney general, and many republicans sort of demonize people who are here illegally. That is the narrative that prevails and we have to tell more human stories as well."

Michael Cortney

"If they are productive member of society and they have a job and they are caring for their family, I don't see why something so powerful as the US government should seek them out in order to deport them. And that is what ICE is doing now. Setting up road blocks where you know people are going to certain jobs, so you can catch folks and deport them, or putting a fake ad or Facebook ad about something you want to sell so you can catch someone and deport them seems so heavy handed by the federal government that I'm stunned that republicans and some democrats who say that that is the right thing to do don't understand just how onerous that is and what the federal government is doing. That's a frightening amount of power."


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