They want to represent you for a month

POULSBO — Wanted: Someone to serve as member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 1st District in Washington state. Great pay and benefits. Length of employment: About one month.

Eleven candidates are running to represent the current 1st Congressional District, completing the term vacated by Jay Inslee, who is running for governor.

On Nov. 6, Kitsap County voters will also elect a new representative of the 6th District, in which we will live come January because of redistricting. The new representative from the old 1st District will serve until Jan. 3, when new House members take office and redistricting takes effect. Five candidates for the short term are also running to represent the new 1st District, which will comprise Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish and part of King counties. Some candidates hope the short term will give them some seniority should they win the new 1st District seat.

Four of the 11 candidates agreed to participate in a Q&A with the Herald. They tell what they expect to accomplish in one month, and why residents should care about this election.

Suzan DelBene
City of residence: Medina.
Occupation: Former director of state Department of Revenue; businesswoman and entrepreneur.
Education: B.A., Reed College; MBA, University of Washington.
Political party preference: Democrat.
Website: www.delbeneforcongress.com

NKH: If elected, you will serve as Kitsap County’s representative in Congress until Jan. 3. What can you accomplish for Kitsap County in one month?

DelBene: Whether it’s addressing the deficit, protecting Social Security and Medicare or letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, I believe I am the candidate who has the experience to deliver results on behalf of the residents of Kitsap County. I have a proven track record of success in both the private and the public sector ...

While one month is not a long time, one thing I know I can do is focus on constituent services. When someone has a problem and needs help, they don’t want to wait a month or two for help from their member of Congress. If I am elected they won’t have to: I will make sure every constituent who contacts my office receives the help they need promptly and efficiently ...

If Congress doesn’t act by the end of the year, our nation will face a fiscal cliff that will result in draconian cuts to services and programs important to working families. To solve the looming crisis, it’s time to get past the hyper-partisanship and pointless political gamesmanship in Congress that has caused this gridlock.

When I talk to voters in the 1st District, they are sick and tired of the polarization and empty rhetoric in Washington, D.C. As a result, Congress appears broken and seems incapable of addressing the issues that are at the forefront of working families’ concerns, like revitalizing the economy, creating jobs and reducing the deficit. If elected, I will work to find solutions to problems to the looming fiscal crisis in ways that help working families, not special interests.

NKH: What do you understand to be the key issues of concern in Kitsap County?

DelBene: What makes Kitsap County, and the Northwest for that matter, so special is the natural environment that surrounds us. We’re home to some of our nation’s most beautiful forests and waterways. Taking care of our natural resources is critical to protecting the quality of life we cherish. This means policies to keep our air and water clean, especially Puget Sound. We must also manage our water responsibly as it is critical for salmon habitat, agriculture and for generating the electricity that powers our economy.

Transportation infrastructure is crucial to the economy of the 1st CD. Our roads are in disrepair. We need to invest in our ferry system as Kitsap County continues to grow. Moving forward on transportation improvements that efficiently move people and goods will improve connections for people to their jobs and spur economic growth.

Longer term, I believe there are actions we can take to create a foundation for economic opportunity for all. I will work for policies that increase investments in research and development in new, emerging industries. Instead of tax breaks for companies that ship their jobs overseas, I will fight for incentives that encourage businesses to expand their domestic footprint. And my experience as head of the state Department of Revenue has taught me that by reforming and simplifying the tax code we can increase fairness and boost the economy.

NKH: Why are you running for the 1st Congressional District short term?

DelBene: I am running for Congress to stand up for the middle class. This is personal for me. Growing up, my dad lost his job and our family struggled financially. But, my parents received unemployment between jobs and we always had access to health care. Thanks to financial aid, student loans and hard work, I was able to attend college, get a good education and build a successful career as a businesswoman and entrepreneur.

I know how important public education and college loans were to opening the door of opportunity for my own success. I’ll fight every day for programs that help Washingtonians get ahead: better schools, college loans, investments in energy, research and infrastructure and I’ll keep our promises to seniors regarding Social Security and Medicare.

In a crowded field, I am the candidate with the broadest scope of experience in both the public and private sectors. I know how to bring people together to deliver results. My resumé includes creating jobs and economic opportunity as a software executive and entrepreneur in the private sector, and streamlining processes and supporting small businesses through my work in state government as the director for the Department of Revenue. I understand how we can help small businesses succeed, reform the tax code and expand infrastructure in ways that will create jobs and help our country remain competitive. We need people in Congress who understand how business works and how policy impacts the real world. I have those critical skills.

NKH: On Nov. 6. Kitsap County residents will also elect a representative from the 6th District, in which they will reside effective Jan. 3. How is the 1st Congressional District short term important to Kitsap County residents?

DelBene: I’m running to fill the special one-month term because I believe people in the current 1st District deserve effective representation in Congress as important votes come up this winter. As I mentioned earlier, Congress is expected to take on tough issues this December and must take action. If elected to fill the short-term seat, I will vote for fiscal responsibility, vote to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and I will fight to protect Social Security and Medicare.

NKH: If elected to the one-month term, how will you use the experience after Jan. 3?

DelBene: Like many Americans, I am frustrated to see government being hijacked by powerful interests who exploit the rules for their own benefit. If elected to the one-month term, I’ll stand up to these powerful interests in Washington, D.C.

Should I be elected to serve the full two-year term in the new 1st Congressional District, I believe my time in the one-month term will help me get a head start. I’ll be ready at the beginning of the new year to move forward on legislation to strengthen the oversight of Wall Street. I’ll work to pass a modern-day Glass-Steagall Act to reinstate the Depression-era law that separated commercial banks from high-risk investment banking. The nearly $6 billion loss at J.P. Morgan demonstrates the need to keep powerful interests in check so that middle-class families and our economy can get back on track.

J. Byron Holcomb
City of residence: Bainbridge.
Occupation: Lawyer for 45 years. Retired Navy officer.
Education: B.A., Gustavus Adolphus College; master’s, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania;  J.D., University of Washington Law School.
Political party preference: Democrat.
Website: www.JByronHolcomb.com

NKH: If elected, you will serve as Kitsap County’s representative in Congress until Jan. 3. What can you accomplish for Kitsap County in one month?

Holcomb: A lot. Of the 11 persons who have filed for the position, I am the only candidate from Kitsap County, the only veteran and the only one 65 or older. If anyone knows this county, I am it.   First of all, this position has been vacated since last March after Rep. Inslee’s resignation. I will review in depth the backlog of legislation affecting this county as my first activity and act accordingly. Secondly, this district is heavily impacted by federal activity, and as my biography shows, I am very experienced in federal government activity. I will carefully review any pending legislation from this perspective.

The budget will in all likelihood still be pending when I arrive, and this county is very dependent on federal spending, both for contractors and military personnel and employees. The deficit clearly must be addressed, since our very future, both short term and long term, is dependent on our solving this or else one day our government will be at end!

I have programs on my agenda which, if eliminated, will balance the budget next year, and to the extent I can influence and vote, I will be at the head of the line. Our economy must be addressed, and federal spending and policies, especially military related, clearly affect this issue. We must develop programs which aid transportation, including roads, ferries, public transit, and, above all, rails, including passenger capability.

I am also committed to reforming retirement and health plans for members of Congress. I will not be eligible for this and wouldn’t apply even if I would be. It is outrageous the retirement perks and benefits Congress approves for itself ...

As a special project which appears doable during the time I am there, I will try to be a voice for our Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, approximately 3,200 past and present.

I recommend that every citizen take some time to read as many of the precepts upon which said medals are granted to appreciate the courage, bravery, commitment, valor, sacrifice, deeds, and reasons for their being named. It is an amazing, incredible chronicle of our history, of our people, and to this country ... I want to sponsor legislation renaming Interstate 80 from San Francisco to New York “The Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial Highway.” It is 3,200 miles or so in length ...

NKH: What do you understand to be the key issues of concern in Kitsap County?

Holcomb: The military budget has to top the list.  Aerospace (for the district at large, but not per se Kitsap County), transportation is next. Parks are an issue, as is navigation of Puget Sound. Of concern to all of us here is the deterioration, both perceived and real, of the character of our people. I will review each piece of legislation from this perspective and address it accordingly. I want to be a voice of conscience on every piece of legislation that comes to a vote.

NKH: Why are you running for the 1st Congressional District short term?

Holcomb: My commitment to public service heads the list. I will try to be named to one or all of the following Committees: Armed Services, Justice, and Foreign Affairs.

Our court systems are a total mess right now. In federal court, things political have overtaken all litigation and our judges need to be reminded point blank that they are there for our people and not for established interests. The issues in state courts are the competence, of the lack of it, of the judges. Over 45 years, I have seen the marked deterioration of both systems. Major law firms representing powerful parties now control both court systems, including running the Bar Association, in its efforts to destroy competent, people-oriented lawyers, who oppose such parties. I want to see to it that this office to which I am elected will be a voice of the people calling for reform of both systems from top to bottom. Those who come after me need to be advised of this to continue the start I am making.

NKH: On Nov. 6, Kitsap County residents will also elect a representative from the 6th District, in which they will reside effective Jan. 3.  How is the Congressional District short term important to Kitsap County residents?

Holcomb: I am not a candidate for the two-year term positions in either the new, redistricted 1st or 6th Districts, nor will I be a candidate for election to any other office in the future.  I can speak my mind free of worrying about getting re-elected.

I want to add here that my vote during my term is not for sale. I will exercise my own judgment independent of the pressure from special interests and on the merits and for the good of the country of what is before me. This is priceless in today’s Congress.

NKH: If elected to the one-month term, how will you use the experience after Jan. 3?

Holcomb: I did not file to do something as a stepping stone for the future. I will take a hard look, however, at anything that comes along which offers public service.

If Obama gets re-elected, I may seek a six month appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, which office oversees that which I did as a lawyer in private practice for 45 years. I was in the final cut for that position under President Clinton ... If I have the chance again, I will seek it, as I am highly qualified for this office.  But, again, I will not seek that appointment for political reasons, but I will seek it because I would bring to it a wide and deep understanding and experience in what this office requires and needs to be done.

I still have yet a lot of snap in my garter, so to speak, and I am not yet about to be confined to a retirement home.  We will see what happens.

— In next week's Herald: Q&As with candidates Darshan Rauniyar and Laura Ruderman.


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