The Wenatchee World: The eastern voters of the new 8th District have no prior experience with either you or your opponent. Please introduce yourself.
Karen Porterfield: I am a third generation Washingtonian and am proud of my deep family ties in the Northwest. My family is part of this community, and I believe that there is no higher calling than serving the people in the community in which you live.
My career has been devoted to building and improving communities across the Northwest. I spent 13 years with the Salvation Army working to transform lives. I have devoted 11 years to higher education at Seattle University, educating tomorrow’s leaders. I have spent time as a management consultant working with non-profits, government agencies and private sector entities, helping organizations define and reach their goals.
I believe that the decisions facing us in the coming years will be as difficult as the challenges we face are hard. Through all stages of my personal and professional life I have found that answers to challenging problems can be found if the right questions are asked, and if you listen carefully for the answers. All too often political agendas don’t leave room for our elected officials to listen.
As your Member of Congress, I will do the same. I want to hear from you. I want to hear your ideas. I want to hear what is important to you. I want to hear how we can make our communities strong and our county more vibrant. I want to work with you to restore a sense of optimism that is the core of the American spirit.
Dave Reichert: I grew up the oldest of seven children in Renton and Kent, and to say we struggled financially would be an understatement. I am a graduate of Kent Meridian H.S. and Concordia Lutheran College in Portland, Oregon. My grandfather was a Lutheran pastor and my family attends the Lutheran Church of the Cross in Kent. There I have served as a youth counselor, education board chairman and elder. I met my wife Julie in college and we have been married 42 years. We have three grown children and six grandchildren. All three of my children and their spouses graduated from Central Washington University. My son and his family live in Monitor and operate a business in Cashmere. I have owned a home in Chelan for about 10 years and am very excited about the opportunity to represent my friends and neighbors in Central Washington.
Some of you may know me as a former cop and sheriff; as the lead detective on the Green River murder cases; and as a lifelong public servant. Now I am a cop in Congress and am still working hard to protect and serve those I represent. I joined the Air Force Reserves in 1971 and in February 1972 I joined the King County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy. During my 33 years in law enforcement I rose through the ranks moving from street cop, hostage negotiator, homicide detective, SWAT commander, precinct commander and finally to the sheriff for eight years.
WW: The 8th District’s population base still lies west of the Cascades: There are about 242,000 registered King and Pierce County voters vs. nearly 68,000 in East Wenatchee, Chelan and Kittitas counties. Western constituents also have larger median household incomes: $81,476 vs. $44,349. What steps would you take to evenly represent the interests of eastern Washington voters?
Porterfield: It broke my heart in January when in an editorial in the Wenatchee World lamented the redrawn 8th Congressional District Boundaries, noting that the area would not be represented in Washington, D.C. I believe that whoever represents the new 8th must be aware of the unique nature of this district. I have not, and will not, assume to know all of what is important to you. It is my pledge to you to ask you.
To that end, I have traveled this new district from Eatonville to Chelan, and have talked to many people both individually and in small group where ever I have gone. By listening I know that the people in the 8th are more alike than different. Everyone I talked to is concerned about JOBS. Economic recovery is at the top of everyone’s list. Foreign trade is an important aspect of the new 8th, from apples, to hay, to jumbo jets. Effectively representing the 8th has to include opening new markets and ensuring fair trade with all our trading partners. Finally, agriculture is important in Wenatchee, Ellensburg, North Bend, Eatonville, and all points in between.
Effective representation in the 8th District will require active engagement and active listening. I want to hear your ideas, and I want you to challenge my assumptions. If elected, I will maintain a congressional office in North Central Washington as well as west of the Cascades. I will never assume I know the answers, I will ask and listen.
Reichert: I approach my work in congress just as I approached my career in law enforcement; I gather the facts and do what’s best for our communities and our country. I represent all of the people in the current 8th district, no matter if they live in Bellevue, Black Diamond, Orting or Duval. The same will hold true if elected to represent the new 8th district. Everyone will be represented equally from Stehekin to Eatonville.
I have traveled throughout Central Washington attending community events and festivals. I have met with local business owners, elected officials and residents listening to their concerns. I currently share a campaign office with Rob McKenna in Wenatchee and plan to open a congressional office in Central Washington if elected.
I look forward to continuing to build on the relationships and friendships I have already made and help Chelan, Kittitas and East Wenatchee address their challenges and expand on the opportunities ahead. Doc Hastings and I will provide a dual voice for the people of Central Washington.
All of our families deserve an advocate in the other Washington. The best thing I can do is to help get our economy jump-started, start reigning in government spending and cut regulations so our businesses, particularly our farmers and orchardists, can hire more people.
WW: Discuss these three bills recently introduced in the House, and explain how you would vote if they came to the floor:
◆ H.R. 6465, Preventing Access to Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act: To restrict Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) funding for States that grant driver’s licenses to certain illegal immigrants.
Porterfield: I would oppose this bill. The goal of licensing drivers is to ensure safety on our roads and highways. To become a licensed driver you must pass the written test, the driving test and show proof of auto insurance. To have unlicensed and uneducated drivers with no insurance on our roadways increases the potential for accidents and insurance losses. Using driver’s licenses as a way to enforce immigration laws is ineffective policy, what we need is immigration reform.
Reichert: I believe we need comprehensive immigration reform. I do not believe we should issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. This poses risks to our national security and our communities. I do support legal immigrant worker driver’s permits so they can drive to their temporary jobs. I do not believe that restricting COPS funding to states is the appropriate vehicle to prevent states from granting drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.
◆ H.R.6561, Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act of 2012: To direct the Secretary of Education to make grants to States to hire teachers and prevent layoffs, to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to make grants to hire firefighters and prevent layoffs, and to direct the Attorney General to make grants to hire law enforcement officers and prevent layoffs, and for other purposes.
Porterfield: I would support HR 6561. These are challenging times for many of us, and with more people out of work, local governments are struggling to provide the key services of fire, public safety and education. We do need to spend our resources wisely, and a short term funding program that focuses on theses critically needed jobs will have an immediate impact on our communities and local economies.
Reichert: We must support our teachers and first responders. I have been an advocate and have fought for continued and increased funding of programs like Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) and COPS which provide assistance to state and local communities. I have also sponsored the Teacher Tax Relief Act, which would increase and make permanent the tax deduction for teachers when they are purchasing supplies for their classrooms and would expand the deduction to include expenses associated with professional development. I have received the National Education Association/Washington Education Association endorsements this year for the third time.
◆ H.R.21, Reclaiming Individual Liberty Act: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the mandate that individuals purchase health insurance.
Porterfield: I would opposed HR 21, as it is just political posturing and gamesmanship. The Republican House leadership knows that this and every other attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will fail. Every American deserves to have access to healthcare regardless of preexisting conditions, life time cap, and ability to pay. The Republican House leadership continues to pursue this failed agenda instead of addressing the real problems facing this country. We cannot continue to play games with the ACA when we should be tackling jobs, the economy and the deficit.
Reichert: I am a cosponsor of H.R. 21. I believe all Americans should have access to quality and affordable health care. Health care decisions should not be made by the government; they should be made by each individual. I am committed to working in a bi-partisan manner to find real solutions to our broken health care system, allowing families to keep their current plans and preserving Medicare for our seniors and future generations.
— Jefferson Robbins, World staff