NCW — Eight contenders are in the running for the District 8 Congressional seat, which has been held by Democrat Kim Schrier since 2019.
District 8 covers parts of King and Pierce counties to the west and stretches over to Chelan County in the east. Voting starts July 17 for the Aug. 4 primary, and the top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 3 general election.
The Wenatchee World asked all eight candidates to submit written answers to the following questions, using up to 200 words for each answer. They were not allowed to see one another’s answers.
Keith Arnold, a Democrat from Auburn, and Dave Saulibio, a Republican from Spokane, did not respond to requests.
Wenatchee World: What do you see as Congress’ role in assisting District 8 residents’ recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in the next year?
Corey Bailey: No doubt that we have all been through a huge ordeal, and it is absolutely critical that we get back to normal, not this so-called new normal that everyone keeps talking about. Many families are still without an income and many families are months behind on their bills. The stimulus money that we got a few months back did help for those that got it, but it barely scratched the surface. I would like to see Congress enact a requirement for all creditors, mortgage companies, utilities, etc. to allow our families a grace period while they get back on their feet.
Ryan Dean Burkett: Improve infrastructure and federal response plans for future pandemics.
Jesse Jensen: It is Congress’ role to provide a hand up to businesses and households to get them through the initial response to the pandemic while we “flatten the curve.” If elected I would vote for a stimulus package that includes direct payments to help stimulate the economy and help those who have lost their jobs, create access to job training for those industries that have been wiped out by the pandemic, and I would push the administration to support testing efforts and PPE distribution to businesses and state and local governments.
James Mitchell: One, job creation and training. Two, ensuring our residents’ medical needs are met. Three, creating in my district affordable housing. Four, reviewing and updating curriculum for current academic institutional learning as well as additional homeschool opportunities.
Kim Schrier: As a doctor and your representative, I have understood the broad impact of this disease and have been a voice for the 8th District, especially those communities hit the hardest. Congress acted swiftly to support small-business owners and workers, but there is still more work to be done to support both our frontline workers and those Americans facing economic uncertainty, including our farmers. We must also support our local governments so hospitals and other services can continue to care for their communities.
Keith R. Swank: Congress needs to have a moratorium on payroll taxes until the end of 2021, and make the Trump tax cuts permanent. Congress also needs to reduce regulations so that we can bring manufacturing back. Third, Congress should ensure that we do not shut the country down again. Those decisions should be left with the states.
WW: The pandemic has highlighted several underlying equity and access issues across the state, including internet access in rural areas, health care availability for underserved populations and food insecurity. Which of these issues (or any other underlying issue) do you think is most actionable and how would you address it?
Bailey: In my mind, it was a shame that we were not prepared for this pandemic. Many families struggle with things like health care, internet access and food availability during regular everyday life. You throw this pandemic in there and I am sure that many parents were worried about where they would get the money to feed their children. That is not right! There are services that should be made available to everyone, like phone or internet. In this world it is impossible to conduct normal lives without these necessities. Health care needs to be provided to all at a low cost.
Burkett: All are actionable. Label access to internet as a necessity, universal health insurance, and dismantle parts of Farm Bill that allow food insecurity.
Jensen: The FCC Eighth Broadband Progress Report states that 1 out of 4 people in rural areas lack access to broadband. I would champion the Rural Connectivity Advancement Program Act of 2020 to set aside 10% of the proceeds from spectrum auctions for the buildout of broadband networks to address gaps that remain in high-cost rural areas. Broadband is critical for remote learning, telehealth and commerce in rural America. Additionally, we need to get kids back to school. Reports of domestic abuse have gone down during the pandemic. Victims don’t have access to help due to the lockdown.
Mitchell: Our most immediate needs are housing stability and food security. These are essential living requirements. I have affordable-housing solutions and job creation opportunities that will ensure these needs are met. New jobs creation will come very quickly. We also will need to assist families in managing student education needs if schooling is still occurring at home.
Schrier: This pandemic has exacerbated many of the underlying issues of inequity in our state. With that in mind, I have introduced legislation to provide funding for rural hospitals and expand telehealth services. Through my position on the Agriculture Committee, I have also introduced a number of bills to address food insecurity, by permitting WIC recipients to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables, and connecting food banks in need with small and medium farmers who have surplus crops.
Swank: Shutting everything down for this “pandemic” is the problem. People are unemployed and made to rely on the government to provide for them. The solution is to open all businesses up, and let people get back to work. Those who are afraid of the COVID-19 virus can stay home, but let the rest of us get back to our lives. When people are able to work, many of their problems dissolve.
WW: Aside from addressing the pandemic, what would be your top priorities for this coming term?
Bailey: First, Congress needs to get back to work. They are paid a lot of money and given a lot of resources from our taxes and they aren’t doing their job. This constant bickering and fighting is not helpful. The partisanship is downright shameful. It’s time to forget the party lines and work together for the better good of the American people! Next, “too much power for too long is a threat to our freedom.” Congress wrote that in 1947 when they passed the 22nd Amendment limiting the president to two terms. Third, legalize marijuana at the national level!
Burkett: Term limits, finish switching to metric system and abolishing daylight savings.
Jensen: First, I’d focus on jobs and the economy by ensuring that orchardists and farmers have access to global markets and can compete on even footing. Deregulation and tax cuts worked pre-COVID and will work again. Second, I’d work on bipartisan police reform. My opponent supports defunding police and autonomous zones (Roll call 106, H.R. 1023). Finally, my health care plan would continue efforts to reduce drug costs, while protecting pre-existing conditions and providing coverage for the uninsured.
Mitchell: New, innovative manufacturing opportunities and jobs creation. Affordable-housing creation. Create additional jobs through establishing maternity centers that support “pro-life for whole life.” These centers will support expectant mothers who are willing to carry their unborn child to term, then offer affordable, lower-barrier adoption programs if unwilling or unable to raise their child. Health care for all must be reviewed and improved. Not only availability of traditional medicine approach, but holistic care options as well. Education reform opportunities also exist.
Schrier: My priorities are to ensure all Americans have access to affordable health care and prescription drugs, that we build an economy that grows the middle class and works for everyone, and that we protect our clean air and water so we can enjoy life in the beautiful 8th Congressional District for generations to come. It has been an honor to serve you, and I look forward to continuing to serve our district.
Swank: One, border security. We need a physical wall on our southern border to stop the flow of drugs, drug cartels, violent gangs and human trafficking. Every year 60,000 people die from drug overdoses. Most of the drugs come across our southern border. Two, Second Amendment. Making sure the Second Amendment is not infringed, and working toward a nationwide carry permit. Three, maintaining our energy independence. Four, keeping our military strong. Five, making our tax cuts permanent.