1st Congressional District Democrats face off in debate at Redmond community center
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
June 28, 2012 · 1:52 PM
On Wednesday night, residents of the 1st Congressional District filled the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center auditorium to learn more about some of the individuals who could potentially represent them in Washington, D.C. next year.
The five democratic candidates in the race — Darcy Burner, Suzan DelBene, Steve Hobbs, Darshan Rauniyar and Laura Ruderman — participated in a debate sponsored by the Democratic Party in the 5th, 45th and 48th Legislative Districts to let voters know why they are running for Congress. The other two candidates in the race are Independent Larry Ishmael and Republican John Koster.
The candidates answered questions provided by political reporters Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times, Jerry Cornfield of the Everett Herald and Enrique Cerna from KCTS 9 Public Television as well as questions submitted by the audience.
One of the main themes of the night was returning Congress back to the American people.
Burner, who challenged Rep. Dave Reichert for Congress in 2006 and 2008, described the country's current state of government as a democracy bought and paid for by the 1 percent.
"We have a problem," she said. "We have got to take our country back."
DelBene, who challenged Reichert in 2010, agreed. With the down economy and so many families struggling, she said the country's financial system does not work for the middle class.
"We need to stand up for the middle class," she said.
Hobbs, a state senator from the 44th Legislative District, said there is too much partisanship in Congress and they need someone who is willing to create jobs.
"Congress is broken," he said.
Rauniyar, a Nepalese American businessman from Bothell, said, "Congress has failed" and they need to return the country's founding principles and this needs to be reflected in policy.
Ruderman, who used to be a state representative for the old 45th Legislative District, said people want a new approach to Congress as half of its members are millionaires.
"It doesn't have to be this way," she said.
The economy was also up for discussion as the candidates were asked about the idea of a new stimulus package and what it would look like to them.
DelBene said the country needs to invest in key areas such as transportation. She said when offering subsidies, the government needs to expect a return when they spend taxpayers' money.
Hobbs said a new stimulus package would need to include infrastructure. He said with the current low construction costs, now would be an ideal time to address the country's highways as well as the high unemployment by creating construction jobs.
Rauniyar also said infrastructure would be a vital ingredient in a new stimulus package. He added that there needs to be more of a focus on fair trade — not free trade — in order to create domestic jobs.
Burner said a new stimulus package should invest in education and building and refurbishing school buildings where they're needed.
Ruderman said the government needs to address transportation and look at things in the longterm, adding that they need to remember to keep in mind how these things would be funded.
In terms of defense, all five candidates agreed that the country's defense budget can stand a few cuts, as long as they look at things closely to figure out what is truly needed to keep Americans safe.
And on the eve of the U.S. Supreme Court's Thursday ruling to uphold President Barack Obama's controversial health care reform legislation, the candidates also touched on the subject. All five acknowledged that something needs to be done so everyone can receive medical care when they need it.
Ruderman said she spent two years working with stakeholders on the state's health care system and her experience would serve her well in the other Washington if she is elected.
Rauniyar said health insurance reform is needed because it's not right to ask people to buy health insurance when they can't afford to put food on the table.
"I'm for health care for all," he said.
Hobbs said he would like to see a solution that is viable for states that won't fall apart on them and leave them "holding the bag."
DelBene said health care is not a one-bill issue and needs to be addressed every day. She said health care is not a for-profit industry and there needs to be a public option.
"People need to have options on their health care," she said.
Burner also supports a public option. She said people need at least one choice insurance companies cannot control because people want to know they can get the medical care they need and be able to pay for it.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.