MOUNT VERNON — Incumbent Suzan DelBene faces off against Sultan City Councilman Jeffrey Beeler for the U.S. House of Representatives seat in Washington’s 1st Congressional District.

The district encompasses most of Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties, as well as part of King County.

DelBene, a Democrat, is running for a fourth full term.

“This is obviously a divisive and challenging environment, but the only way we are going to make it better is if we have people willing to make it better,” DelBene said. “I want to be in there working to make that happen because this is a critical time. It’s not going to get better if we’re not all working to make it better.”

Beeler, a Republican, has served for the past nine years on the Sultan City Council, where he said he’s worked with the other members of the council to find solutions, despite their political differences.

“That’s one of the things people have always brought up to me is: ‘You work well with other people,’” Beeler said.

He said he is frustrated with national politics, which is why he is running for federal office.

DelBene, he said, has become part of the problem.

“She has become part of what is referred to as ‘The Swamp,’” he said. “She no longer represents the voters, she represents the Democrat party.”

In answering a Skagit Valley Herald questionnaire, Beeler said he would limit his time in office to three terms, so as to avoid becoming part of what he calls “The Swamp.”

Both candidates cited the economy as a key issue.

“We have a diverse region, but people are still not seeing their wages increase to the cost of living,” DelBene said. “We need voices who are going to stand up for the middle class.”

Well-paying jobs, she said, are the key to a healthy economy.

Beeler, a small business owner, said that while the economic policies put into place in the past two years have helped the economy, Congress needs to address the country’s budget deficit.

“We’re always spending more money than we have and you can only do that so long,” he said. “We have to reverse that process. We have to get back to thinking about a balanced budget.”

When it came to Skagit County, both candidates said agriculture was high on their priority list.

“Agriculture is something I’ve been very focused on,” DelBene said. “We need to have a Farm Bill, that’s something that hasn’t been completed yet.”

The current five-year farm bill expired in September. The new bill would reauthorize federal farm and nutrition programs, including crop insurance, research, conservation and energy programs, and supplemental nutrition programs.

Tariffs were something both candidates agreed needed to be addressed.

DelBene, who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, said the real issues regarding trade haven’t been addressed, and she intends to keep broaching the ramifications of a trade war with the Trump administration.

“We are not addressing the issue, and we have created a situation where we see retaliation against agriculture,” she said. “I continue to work and ask questions of the administration to understand what their goals are and to make sure they understand the impact their decisions have on our farmers.”

As a Republican, Beeler said he would be able to have the administration’s ear on such issues and would be able to guide decisions based on what is good for the district.

“The agricultural base (in Skagit County) is tremendous, with the tulips and the farming,” he said. “I think with what has happened with the trade stuff with Canada, dairies are going to be tremendously benefited. How are those trade wars going on right now, how are they going to affect businesses internationally?”

Both candidates also addressed health care as a top priority for whoever is elected to the seat.

As a small business owner, Beeler said the Affordable Healthcare Act has been problematic since its inception, while

“It was touted as being an affordable care act and the best thing for health care in generations and it has not turned out to be that way,” he said. “But the thing that bothers me is the Republicans don’t seem to want to make it better, but they just want to get rid of it.”

DelBene said she would stand up for the act.

“Making sure everyone has affordable, quality, healthcare is a critical issue to everyone,” she said.

Both candidates also touched on immigration and the need for comprehensive reform.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141, kwanielista@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kera_SVH, facebook.com/KeraReports

Suzan DelBene Questionnaire

Question Answer
Name Suzan DelBene
Link
Age 56
Residence Medina
Occupation US Representative, WA-01
Education BS, Reed College; MBA, University of Washington
Elected offices held US House of Representatives, WA-01
Elected offices sought US House of Representatives, WA-01
Community involvement I’ve mentored students at UW Business School; been active in my church, serving as a board member. Volunteered with the PTA, Girl Scouts and YWCA, supporting transitional housing, job training and services to help families get back on their feet.
Campaign website www.delbeneforcongress.com
Why are you running for office? I am running for Congress to stand up for the middle class. My father lost his job when I was a child, and we went through tough times as a family. I was only able to go to college because of financial aid, work-study programs, and student loans. That education, combined with hard work, gave me the foundation to build a successful career as a business executive and entrepreneur. I know what it is like to struggle, and I know how important public education and student loans were to opening the door of opportunity for my own success, as well as that of families across our country. I will continue my efforts to make college more accessible and affordable, such as lowering student loan interest rates and allowing students to refinance their loans. Every child deserves access to a high-quality education regardless of their parents' income or zip code and that starts with investments in early learning and K-12 schools. We must also do more to support employee training and expand apprenticeship programs to ensure we have a highly-trained, skilled workforce ready for the new jobs being created in today's changing economy. Finally, we must make smart funding decisions based on what gives our communities the best return on investment such as in infrastructure, innovative research and education – all proven job-creating investments. I believe the top priority of the citizens of the First Congressional District and across the country is creating good-paying jobs and building a strong economy that works for everyone. I’ll fight every day for policies that help Washingtonians get ahead: creating better schools and apprenticeship programs, ensuring equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage, making higher education more attainable, investing in infrastructure and protecting Social Security and Medicare for generations to come.
What is the single biggest issue facing the candidate who is elected to this position? Jobs and the economy are the most pressing concerns of people in the 1st Congressional District and across the country. I know firsthand what it is like to struggle financially growing up and how much a job can be a source of economic stability and health as well as a source of personal pride. We must build an economy that works for everyone, where prosperity is widely shared and everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
How will you address this issue? I know what it will take to ensure that our nation and this region lead in creating high-wage 21st century jobs—great educational opportunities for our children and ongoing training for adults; a financial system that is fair, strong, and transparent; incentives that foster research, innovation, and entrepreneurship; and a health care system that works for everyone. I will continue fighting for these priorities in the other Washington. We also need real tax reform, not the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. H.R. 1 was a massive giveaway to the wealthy and well-connected. The law was written in haste behind closed doors, and every day we are seeing new issues with it. True tax reform cannot be done in a piecemeal fashion, and it cannot be done without considering how every element taken together impacts American families. I believe we should look at the law anew, and draw from the experience of 1986, when there were dozens of hearings, years of review and study, and bipartisan, transparent discussions about a holistic rewrite of the tax code. Armed with in-depth, fact-based analysis and input from our constituents, we should enact true reforms and rates that are in the best interests of the middle class – not corporate lobbyists. In order to strengthen the middle class and help struggling families, we must do more to create jobs and grow the economy. Whether it's helping our small businesses and local industries that can support good paying jobs for years to come, including aerospace, manufacturing, high-tech, sustainable agriculture, clean energy and health care, we must reward businesses that are creating family wage jobs and invest in the training and skills of our workers to prepare them for these jobs. To help families struggling to make ends meet, I fought and secured $200 million in job training funds to help low-income individuals receiving nutrition assistance get the skills and training they need to get a job. I’ll fight every day for policies that help Washingtonians get ahead: better schools, ensuring equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage, job creating investments in infrastructure, and I’ll support our seniors by protecting Social Security and Medicare.
Why should voters choose you? I believe that if you are willing to put in the time to research and understand an issue, and listen to colleagues on the other side of the aisle, people seek your feedback as they look for solutions to problems. I bring a unique voice to the nation’s capital, with more than two decades of experience as a successful technology entrepreneur and business leader in the private sector. My depth of experience and focus on achieving concrete results allows me to break through congressional gridlock and get things done. I take on a wide range of challenges both in Congress and in the First District. When the I-5 Bridge collapsed in May 2013, I fought to secure emergency funding to immediately rebuild the bridge and help ensure that the Skagit Valley stayed open for business. And in the aftermath of the mudslide in Oso, I worked to ensure the federal government did everything possible to help victims, their families and all those affected by one of Washington’s worst natural disasters. I was also able to pass legislation to save the Green Mountain Lookout – something important to the economic recovery of the area devastated by the slide. I've been named a Champion of Main Street Businesses by the Washington Retail Foundation and Tech Legislator of the Year by the Information Technology Industry Council. I've received the Distinguished Community Health Advocate Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) for my work to expand access to care for our nation’s most vulnerable communities. I was also awarded the President’s Award from the NAACP for my work on behalf of veterans and their families. Currently, I serve on the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees. I am at the forefront of debate on taxes, health care and retirement security. I fought against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and their tax plan that helps millionaires and special interests more than middle-class families and future generations who will be burdened with the debt. I will oppose all attempts to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, all of which help millions of families. I have a proven track record of getting results and will continue working to find solutions for the people of Washington state.
What sets you apart from your opponent? Today, too many families are suffering from the same financial instability my family felt. That's why I’m fighting to give everyone the opportunity to succeed. We need to expand economic opportunities by raising the minimum wage, ensuring workers have paid sick and family leave, and closing the wage gap once and for all. I have a proven track record of getting beyond the partisan bickering and successfully working on issues important to First District voters – things like addressing the opioid crisis, protecting health care, boosting medical research funding, creating an innovative pilot program to help those on nutrition assistance become self-sufficient while receiving help, and supporting vital job training and apprenticeship programs. I am committed to passing a farm bill that helps our farming communities, while addressing the trade issues our farmers face due to the ongoing impact of tariffs. I know what it will take to ensure we expand our community’s middle class while creating the opportunities of the 21st century. That means creating educational opportunities for children and giving adults the training they need to find good-paying jobs, having a financial system that is fair and strong, investing in a system that fosters research, innovation and entrepreneurship, and fighting for high quality, affordable health coverage for all. By doing these things, we can build an economy that works for everyone.

Jeffrey Beeler Questionnaire

Question Answer
Name Jeffrey Beeler
Link
Age 49
Residence Sultan
Occupation Small Business Owner of 30 years
Education Some college
Elected offices held Sultan City Council - 9 years
Elected offices sought City Council and Congressional WA-01
Community involvement Basketball Coach YMCA, AWANA Leader at Cascade Community Church, Board Member of U.S. 2 Safety Coalition, LEOFF Board Member for Snohomish County, PSRC Transportation Policy Board Member
Campaign website www.beeler4congress.com
Why are you running for office? I am tired of the partisan bickering back in DC. I want to bring common sense back to politics so we can find common ground and make the hard decisions on the important issues, not blame the other side for not getting anything done. Immigration, health care, balanced budget, these are the things that need to be discussed and resolved, and if it takes stepping outside of party politics to make those decisions then we need to elect people who are interested in doing that, like myself.
What is the single biggest issue facing the candidate who is elected to this position? The economy.
How will you address this issue? The U.S. economy is on the right track with GDP over 4% and the stock market hitting new record highs. The economic policies put in place over the last two years has encouraged employers to expand payrolls and consumer confidence is at an 18-year high. We have made great strides in our economy and now it's time to plan for our future and keep our economy stable. Balancing the nation's budget should be the number one goal of Congress. Congress needs to stop the frivolous and unnecessary spending and pandering to lobbyists and get back down to basics, so our children and grandchildren aren't burden with additional debt, which now stands at $21 Trillion and counting. It's time for Congress to stabilize the gains we have made to sustain the growth and protect our elderly and most vulnerable by fixing our Social Security and Medicare programs before they run out of money.
Why should voters choose you? When the city of Sultan was having some issues I stepped up and was elected to the city council. I have made a difference because I chose not to complain but do something. Our city has made great progress and now I want to take that type of leadership back to DC and get things done.
What sets you apart from your opponent? I'm a middle class small business owner. I'm not a multi-millionaire. When Congress makes decisions, I feel the effects just like the rest of the middle class. I haven't succumbed to the party line. I plan to limit my terms to three elections so as not to become part of the swamp.
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