Democratic Congressional candidates Cheryl Crist, Denny Heck, Craig Pridemore, Maria Rodriguez-Salazar and Deb Wallace attended a question and answer forum Thursday night at Centralia College. Each candidate had one minute to answer specific questions from among a group of questions given to them in advance. The following are excerpts from three of the questions asked.
Crist, Olympia, has run for Congress twice before as a peace candidate.
Heck, who founded TVW, was House majority leader in the 1980s, was chief of staff to ex-governor Booth Gardner, and is currently a businessman.
Pridemore, D-Vancouver, is vice chair of the Senate Environment, Water and Energy Committee.
Rodriguez-Salazar is a Hispanic activist from Vancouver.
Wallace, D-Vancouver, is a state representative and chair of the House Higher Education Committee.
1) What solutions do you have for the annual budget deficits in place since the first year of the Bush presidency?
“There’s this virtually unlimited source of money we could use for social uplift with the billions of dollars traded in the financial markets. ... If every time (stocks) were bought and sold and we collected a penny, or two pennies or a nickel or just a little bit we can collect some of that money. We need bullet trains, we need health care and the source is right there.”
“I think the most important thing to remember about budget deficits at the level we are experiencing them is that they are job killers. They suck money out of the economic system that would be available to banks for lending to main street to create jobs.
“We’re suffering the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The federal government has a legitimate role to spend stimulus money to protect Americans from falling through the safety net even more than they are.”
“There’s only one time the federal government should ever deficit spend and that’s a time when the economy is sluggish and we need something to get things moving again, and that’s a time like now. As soon as those times are over we have to get back to a time when the budget is balanced.”
“I’ve moved on from the Bush Administration. Don’t want to talk about it, don’t want to go back and want to go forward.”
“I would roll back the tax cuts Bush gave to the richest Americans. ... I think most people would agree that the people who make the most money ought to take responsibility to paying their fair share at least.”
“We need to balance our budget and make sure we’re spending on the right things and being accountable for the money we’re spending so we do build any projects like the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska or any of the other projects we’ve heard about. We need to spend on infrastructure and creating jobs.”
2) What are your solutions for job growth in the 3rd Congressional District, specifically Lewis County?
“I believe we need massive investment in something like the Apollo Alliance is suggesting. Big money going into all of these kinds of projects and green jobs. Green jobs are not just scientific jobs, they’re not just engineering jobs. They include landscaping, they include educators, they include any job that doesn’t make people sick or the planet sick.”
“We can be out of balance for awhile until things get going well, because we’ve been out of balance in the other direction.”
“Industrial park at TransAlta, the 1,000 acres plus, is an incredible opportunity to locate major industry here midway between Portland and Seattle, near a major transportation facilities. ... I’m excited about working with the working forests of Lewis County for more green jobs, more clean energy, more clean biomass and building those wind mills over on Coyote Ridge.”
“We can approve upon the distribution of the stimulus money. We should be targeting areas in greatest need like Lewis County, and it should be done now. We need action, we need it now and not in the distant future.”
“Businesses aren’t going to simply start hiring people because you give them tax incentives, they’re going to hire people when the demand of their product starts to increase and they know they’re going to be able to sell when they start to produce more goods and services. The best thing the government can do to fuel that kind of demand is to start putting money in the hands of normal citizens, and you have working people who are going to spend that money and start percolating that money throughout our economy.”
“I believe it’s small business and small business. I believe this because I was a previous small business owner, so I think what we need to do is to start focusing on small businesses. I think we need to look at the banks and bail them out, so they can start lending to these small businesses.”
“I worked with small business over my career and bringing resources to small businesses to help them expand and grow their operations. Those are precise the things we need to do across the state and across the nation and specifically here in Lewis County.”
“We can expand programs like we have right now, for instance making sure all small businesses know about the procurement programs that are available so that when we’re building those public works projects, there’s more opportunity for small businesses to participate. So in the procurement process to make sure our local jobs stay local instead of farming them out to other states, or in some cases other nations.”
3) What makes you more electable than your competitors in the face of a strong Republican campaign?
“I have a broad resume in the public sector and the private sector and a real love for people. A representative should listen to you and vote the way you want them to vote. In this regard, I think I’m very strong because I think I have the right issues. I think people across the political spectrum, those that have not been active, those who are active are tired of the wars and foreign adventures overseas. We need to stop this and start spending our money here at home instead of the far-flung foreign adventures.”
“I’ve lived in this district my whole life, almost 58 years, and I’m the only one that has lived in both population centers, Clark County, where I was born and raised, and Thurston County. I believe my resume of public and private sector breath and depth resonates with people as someone who can go to Congress and work hard on your behalf. ... Lastly, when I go around the district and listen to people in all the years I’ve been involved, I have not heard or felt the level of anger and concern and fear and frustration about our economic contacts. These are dire times and they call for dire action.”
“Barack Obama won the 3rd Congressional District this past presidential election. He didn’t do it by turning away from the Democratic party values, or apologizing for them or pandering to corporations. He did it by appealing to our values and things we believe in. He did it by engaging young people and getting them out to work tirelessly during the campaign, and that is literally what is going to be required from us to hold this seat. We need to inspire those same people who turned out for Barack Obama in this upcoming election and if we don’t we’re not going to hold this seat, it’s not possible.”
“We have an 800-pound gorilla in the room, a lifelong politician trying to buy the seat representing lots of big interests. We need people who live like us, work like us, act like us, people like us. The public wants new voices that are not a part of the same old political crowd. I’m a mom who has had to make a paycheck stretch, clip coupons, and has had to balance budget, and sometimes that budget has been very limited.”
“I was elected eight years ago in the most swing district in Washington state, the 17th, I won against the incumbent by 376 votes. Eight years later after doorbelling thousands of doors and after holding more town halls and community action forums and tele-town halls, I’ve probably outreached to more people than legislators have and that’s how I won by 61 percent. ... I will work so hard and support this district in an active way and to work in a bipartisan manner to accomplish what we need to in this district.”