Challenger says it’s time for change in Congress
The race for United States Representative in the First Congressional District features a Democratic incumbent who would rather wage war against global warming than Iraq and a Republican candidate who is preaching for fiscal responsibility and deregulating health care.
Jay Inslee, the First Congressional District Representative since 1999, and challenger Larry Ishmael, a developmental economist and former Issaquah School District Board president, are no strangers on the campaign trail.
Two years ago, they squared off in a battle to represent the First District — which includes a large portion of Redmond — and Inslee easily won. This time around, Inslee, an environmental advocate who wants to end the nation’s “addiction to oil,” is favored to take the rematch and win again.
But Ishmael is confident he will pull the upset, citing that public approval of Congress is lower than 2006, when Democrats took the majority.
“I want to turn the country back over to the citizens,” Ishmael said. “We have all these career politicians sucking all the oxygen out of the air. They are out of touch with the constituents.
“It’s time for a change.”
Inslee said the low approval rating has not been caused by the actions of the Democratic Congress but rather the uncontrollable “mania” of the George Bush Presidential administration.
“I’m frustrated,” said Inslee, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq. “We’re gonna finally right the ship next January. We are going to end the war in Iraq and have a boost in new energy and our financial market. There’s going to be a wholesale change from the Bush administration.”
With the Nov. 4 election right around the corner, we asked Inslee and Ishmael about some of the issues that are most on the constituents’ minds, including the economy, education and health care.
Ishmael said he would have voted against the recent $700 billion bailout but added that something had to be done to help fix the credit market. He recommended that the government should have done a phased bailout plan, rather than deal out the giant amount of $700 billion.
Ishmael said he would have rather seen the government inject no more than $350 billion into the government and “see how it worked through. Phase the bailout, instead of blowing it all in one fell swoop. Now there is no real incentive for CEOs to work out of debt.”
The fundamental solutions for our economic woes are not to rely on credit so much and “live within our means both as a country and as individuals,” Ishmael said.
“The average American carries six credit cards,” he continued. “People from foreign countries are lucky to have one.”
Ishmael said he would work with the homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortage and set up “a payment schedule based on ability to pay.”
Ishmael’s solution to health care is to deregulate it and “put every American into a pool and let them pick and choose off a menu the type of health care you want.”
Ishmael, an Advisory Board member of Overlake Hospital, is in favor of removing state insurance regulations, including getting rid of the state health commissioner and keeping health care “individualized, not through your company.”
As far as public education, Ishmael, who served as the Issaquah School District board president from 2003-06, wants us to get back to the basics in the classroom.
“Our kids need to learn reading, writing, math and science,” Ishmael said. “Social sciences doesn’t drive our economy.”
He said he is not convinced the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) is the best test for the state.
“It’s basically a 10th-grade test that tests 8th-grade skills …” Ishmael said. “It’s a very expensive test. It’d be a lot easier to have a bubble test, like an SAT and graded automatically.”
Inslee, the only state Democrat to vote against the $700 billion bailout plan, said we need to look at our tough economic situation as more of an opportunity than a crisis.
“We have to turn to a larger and much more fundamental approach on how to give a spark of life to our economy,” said Inslee, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “We are overcome by fear. We need to show boldness and action.”
One needed action, Inslee said, is to “inject capital into the banking system.”
Americans need to think outside the box in finding a solution to our economic crisis, Inslee said, saying that our economy is connected to our environment.
He pointed out that his district, which includes Redmond’s Microsoft, is rich with high-tech companies and innovative thinkers, can lead the way to a solution.
Inslee will push for a “clean energy economy,” build an “electrical grid for renewable energy” and put an end to what he calls our “addiction to oil,” which was sparked by the Bush administration, Inslee claims.
All of this will help spark new jobs, make operations more efficient and ultimately boost our economy,” said Inslee, who, in 2006, co-sponsored the Apollo Energy Act, a comprehensive clean energy policy for the 21st century.
Inslee pushed for taxing oil companies and then give back to green, environmentally conscious companies. Inslee also supports SAFIRE Energy (Strategic Assessment Framework for the Implementation of Rational Energy), which “makes gas out of algae,” he said.
As for health care, Inslee said there are two important goals: “Increase access to health care and restrain the rate to keep it affordable.”
One way to do that is to continue to advance our medical technologies and reduce administrative costs.
“We need to spend more money on medicine and less on paper,” said Inslee, who favors universal health care for children.
And when it comes to educating our children, Inslee said public education needs to be localized with a comprehensive approach.
“We need to go into the schools and see what the teachers need,” said Inslee, who supports standardized testing. “We need to teach multiple subjects. Students get remarkable teaching. We have to continue that.”
LET THE BEST MAN WIN
While Ishmael wants to focus on more of the basics in education, Inslee wants to take the more holistic approach.
Both candidates were against the $700 billion bailout. Like Inslee, Ishmael has been an environmental advocate. His company, Suasor Consulting Group, has been involved in implementing clean air projects in some of the world’s most polluted cities, including San Paulo in Brazil.
Ishmael knows he has a uphill climb against Inslee, but he is confident he will beat the longtime politician.
“Everyday I am feeling more momentum,” he said.