Election 2002: U.S. Congress

Published on Thu, Oct 31, 2002
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Election 2002: U.S. Congress

We wrap up election coverage with views from candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives representing Washington’s 2nd Congressional District. Republican Norma Smith and Green Party Candidate Bern Haggerty did not reply to requests for submissions.

Rick Larson
Democrat
What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing Whatcom County residents and how will you, as a member of Congress, be able to help us meet that challenge?
The greatest challenge facing Whatcom County is the same challenge facing Washington state and the rest of the nation – our economy. For me, the economy is job number one. I voted for worker training and unemployment benefits to be used as an economic stimulus that will help families pay their mortgages and put food on the table. The faster we can move goods from one place to another, the more jobs there will be in Whatcom County. We are spending too much time on the road. As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I worked to get federal dollars for our local projects. For instance, federal transportation appropriations provided $2.5 million for infrastructure and border projects. New businesses will come and old businesses will stay if we can assure a qualified workforce. For example, I’m working to secure funding for a program with the Bellingham Technical College and Whatcom Community College to train much needed radiation technicians.

Local communities are where the rubber hits the road for national security issues. When did you last cross the border at a Whatcom County port of entry? How was your experience? Long lines at local borders, a signature of the entrances to our communities, have persisted since September 11 despite staffing increases. What, including and beyond staffing, would you propose to make the border more open to legitimate trade and travel while meeting the demands of national security?
I last crossed the border on Monday to attend the Point Roberts voter forum. The lines were very short at both Peace Arch and the point and the inspectors were kind and courteous. I’d like to think that the lines were short because of the additional inspectors I have been able to get for our ports of entry but I think it was also a slow Monday evening. I also recognize that fewer people are crossing the border because of frustrating experiences with long lines over the summer. I’ve procured more than 111 new INS border inspectors, which allowed us to open more lanes at our ports of entry and got Nexus up and running. I also secured funding for the cameras and technology that help protect our border. INS and Customs need to be able to coordinate database checks. We need to encourage sharing information so our agencies can be more efficient.

What is your greatest strength when it comes to working with others and reaching consensus? What’s your weakness?
It takes teamwork to get things done. As a Democrat, I have worked with Republicans on the Northern Border Caucus to get more INS inspectors, border patrol agents and Customs inspectors at our ports of entry. I worked with Republicans to get pipeline safety legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time since the accident in Bellingham in 1999. I am working with Republican Jennifer Dunn to increase Medicare reimbursement rates in Washington state so our seniors will have access to quality health care..

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Bruce Guthrie
Libertarian
What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing Whatcom County residents and how will you, as a member of Congress, be able to help us meet that challenge?
Whatcom County’s biggest issue is the economy. Washington has one of the highest unemployment rates of any state and one of the highest tax and regulatory burdens of any state.
Small businesses create most new jobs in our economy. Small companies have a natural competitive advantage over large companies because small companies are less bureaucratic and therefore more innovative. But large companies buy influence by giving campaign contributions to state and federal politicians. This gives them an unfair advantage in the form of corporate welfare and special tax breaks that are not available to small companies. Most large companies like Boeing are mature or shrinking and unable to provide any job growth. Somewhere, the next Microsoft is now a small start-up. This is where real job growth comes from.
When Georgia Gardner and the taxpayers and ratepayers of this state bailed out Intalco/Alcoa, we may have saved a few hundred high-profile jobs, but the economy-stifling effect of the higher tax burden cost us more jobs that smaller companies were prevented from creating. WeÝll never see the jobs that were never created, so we don’t see the cost of bailing out large corporations. Ask yourself: with all the successful job-saving that the government has done, why do we still have higher unemployment than most states? We are actually creating our own problem. Let’s reduce corporate welfare, which creates unfair advantages for large companies at the expense of greater future job growth in small companies. By reducing corporate welfare, we can also reduce federal spending and federal taxes which will spur economic growth. Why should we have to send our money to the black hole of Washington, D.C. and then beg to get some small fraction of it back in the form of pork? The result is ineffective, inefficient over-spending by the federal government.
Our congressional representative will never be as powerful as those from bigger or more politically influential states. We will always lose the battle for pork and wind up with less than our fair share of that small percentage of our tax money that makes it back to anyone. Let’s reduce the federal tax burden so we can spend our money here to create good, local jobs efficiently.

Pick a local environmental problem and describe why it impacts quality of life and economic prosperity in Blaine. How would you work to fix it?
Water pollution from Victoria and Vancouver, B.C. illustrates that even in Canada, government creates most pollution. The Boston Globe reports that the cost to clean up all US federal government polluted sites is five times the total cost to clean up all US private polluted sites combined. The U.S. government exempts itself from its own environmental rules and Canadian municipal water pollution is evidence that they do the same in Canada.
Let’s attack the big sources of pollution first. Let’s require that the government follow the same environmental rules it enforces on private business. Let’s get together with Canadian citizens and exert pressure on Canadian municipalities that are dumping sewage into the water. Let’s require polluters to clean up the pollution, instead of slapping their wrists with administrative fines. Polluters should face strict civil liability as they do in some other countries where common-law statutes protect not just private property, but also rivers and streams.
Let’s target the biggest sources of our environmental problems first. Cleaning up government-created pollution would have the biggest impact on Blaine’s economy and environment.
Local communities are where the rubber hits the road for national security issues. When did you last cross the border at a Whatcom County port of entry? How was your experience? Long lines at local borders, a signature of the entrances to our communities, have persisted since

September 11 despite staffing increases. What, including and beyond staffing, would you propose to make the border more open to legitimate trade and travel while meeting the demands of national security?
The last time I crossed was on August 25th. I am a member of a speed skating club in Langley, B.C. During the winter months, I go into Canada about two or three times each week. The experience is always a time-wasting invasion of my privacy.
One goal of a free country is free and open borders. One “dirty bomb is too many, so inspection can’t bring us security. The root cause of our problem is our military aid to Israel and unpopular dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia. After eliminating this, we will no longer be a target for terrorists and we can have cross-border trade, constitutional rights and security at the same time.
After we bring al Qaida to justice and stop supporting unpopular foreign dictatorships, we should be able to REDUCE funding for ineffective, trade-stifling, privacy-invading inspection at all of our border crossings. We should end the counter-productive, violence-creating drug war and welcome all non-violent immigrants who want to work anyway.
Saddam Hussein poses a threat to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel and his own people, but not to us. His overthrow is the responsibility of regional leaders and Iraqi rebels, not the United States taxpayers or soldiers. The only ethical and constitutional use of U.S. troops and taxpayer money is for the defense of individual rights of non-violent people on U.S. soil. There is no credible connection between Iraq and our real threat, al Qaida.
We must repeal the U.S. Patriot Act which nullifies our right to be free from warrantless search and seizure. This act violates the 1st, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th and 14th amendments. It is unconstitutional and is the biggest attack on the Bill of Rights in decades. All members of Congress swear an oath to defend the Constitution. Rick Larsen voted for this act, and in so doing, he violated his oath. He, and the others who voted for this act have demonstrated that they are unfit to hold public office.
Privacy and civil liberties are what make America great, as well as strong. Let’s address the root cause of terrorism, instead of the symptoms. We can maintain free and open borders and the civil liberties that inspire the world.

What is your greatest strength when it comes to working with others and reaching consensus? What’s your weakness?

I am an excellent facilitator. I know when to be quiet and listen, and when to ask questions that set a productive course for discussion. I am able to cut through noise and unimportant data and get to the critical issues in order to increase the chances that the group will successfully achieve its most important objectives.
If I have a weakness in this area it may be that my enthusiasm sometimes makes me impatient for progress. I have an entrepreneurial bias for action and a distrust of “decisions made by committees.” They often wind up devoid of innovation and vision. Committees are often unwilling to take bold steps or even reasonable risks and they can drain all the passion from an otherwise beautiful initiative. “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Committees often fall prey to group-think that stifles the concerns and distorts the ideas of creative individuals. In spite of this, consensus must be reached and all interested parties must be involved in decisions, otherwise proper, successful implementation is impossible. Two heads are better than one. Group decision making is therefore necessary.
It is often asked, what could I, as the lone Libertarian, do in a Congress full of Republicans and Democrats? I would never be alone. I would vote with Democrats on some issues and Republicans on others, but always with the Constitution and the interests of the people of this district at heart. Second of all, I like to say that Congress is drunk on spending and bad regulation. You could think of me as a designated driver in a room full of drunks. I will fight for freedom, prosperity and full employment. Vote for Bruce Guthrie if you value your rights and want corporate welfare and influence peddling reduced.

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