Third Congressional District candidates square off in debate

Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (left) and Republican Joe Kent squared off Tuesday evening in a political debate held at the RV Inn Style Resorts Convention Center. Photo courtesy Joseph Gary
Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (left) and Republican Joe Kent squared off Tuesday evening in a political debate held at the RV Inn Style Resorts Convention Center. Photo courtesy Joseph Gary

Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Republican Joe Kent wasted no time expressing differences in ideology and vision

Leah Anaya
For Clark County Today

A debate between the two candidates for the Third Congressional District, Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Republican Joe Kent, took place Tuesday evening at the RV Inn Style Resorts Convention Center. Aside from the strict audience rules that disallowed clapping or supporting one’s candidate in any way, the debate saw the typical cross-party attacks.

Perez started the debate with a few facts about her life, telling how she hails from rural Skamania County and is married to her husband, with whom she shares a 13-month-old child and an auto mechanic small business. Almost in the same breath as describing her young child as “probably the cutest,” Perez jumped to why she believes Kent is not a good candidate for the seat, saying, “Joe Kent has no interest in doing anything for the district …He wants to shut down the government.”

Congressional candidate Joe Kent listens as Marie Gluesenkamp Perez answers a question at Monday’s event. Photo courtesy Joseph Gary
Congressional candidate Joe Kent listens as Marie Gluesenkamp Perez answers a question at Monday’s event. Photo courtesy Joseph Gary

Describing herself as “not a typical Democrat,” Perez touched several times on her desire to bring manufacturing back to American soil to help fight inflation and maintain America’s status with “geopolitical security.” For example, while she did hit on a major Democrat platform – the environment and renewable energy – she also discussed the need for “national energy independence.” Perez said that she believes the “switch from petroleum will be much slower than people seem to hope it will be,” adding, “I want a realistic policy.” She continued, saying she wants to support vehicles that are “plug-in hybrid,” not all electric, “because we’re getting all of our battery minerals from China! Spoiler alert: they are not a great trading partner for us right now.”

Kent, of course, agreed with Perez (or, “MAGA Marie,” as he called her after she spoke on bringing manufacturing back to America, and the jobs that would go with it). “Buy American, hire American, deregulate,” Kent said, referring to his belief that government should not be a part of regulating things like timber and fishing, allowing citizens to govern these industries themselves.

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez listens to Joe Kent speak at Monday’s event. Photo courtesy Joseph Gary
Marie Gluesenkamp Perez listens to Joe Kent speak at Monday’s event. Photo courtesy Joseph Gary

Kent pledged to never vote on an omnibus bill package without having the time to read it and get input from the people of his district, saying that those bills are often full of extra spending that help “everyone scratch everyone’s back.” He said, “We need to slow down the cogs of government and be diligent about every single penny we spend. We are in a major hurt as far as …our economy goes. We cannot continue to spend at a massive deficit and let lobbyists and corporate government dictate [the] trillions of dollars that we spend. I am a firm ‘no’ on omnibus spending.”

Perez rebutted, “I just want to … acknowledge that Joe Kent said he would not bring home federal dollars. That he wants our tax dollars that we pay the federal government to go out to other states like California and fix their problems. Right?” It’s unclear to what Perez was referring to with this statement, although she next discussed Southwest Washington’s declining infrastructure and a “95-year-old bridge,” saying she will “fight tooth and nail” to bring our federal money back to our district. “I’m here to fix s–t,” Perez stated, using an expletive. She did not answer whether she would vote on omnibus packages.

Perez accused Kent of using COVID-19 as a fundraising tool, saying that we must move forward from what the pandemic brought with it rather than make “divisive” comments. Kent addressed her accusation, discussing his past within the United States Military and his reasoning for being so passionate for holding people accountable for wrongdoing, including government officials. “It’s been the struggle of my life,” he said, regarding lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle having lied throughout his career. “I served this country for over 20 years … lost many friends, lost my late wife, because the ruling class, both Democrats and Republicans, consistently lied to the American people …” mentioning COVID as well as needless wars overseas. “This is why I’m passionate about holding unelected bureaucrats … responsible and accountable,” he said. “If we don’t begin to restore the trust of our institutions … we will lose our very republic.”

As would be expected, the candidates’ opposite views on abortion came up, with Kent saying he disagrees with Perez’ desire for the government to fund abortions up to the ninth month of pregnancy legal. Perez claimed that “women will die” if Kent’s preferred policy of abortions being illegal were commonplace. Kent also pointed out that Perez is on board with what’s being termed as “gender affirming care,” which includes “transitioning” genders and “government-funded gender-altering mutilation surgery,” as well as providing puberty blockers, hormones, chemical castration, mastectomies, etc. for minors with gender dysmorphia. “It’s a predatory practice,” Kent stated. “I don’t want the government funding any of this. I want to protect our children. Absolutely essential.”

While calling Kent an “extremist” at least five times, Perez also said that Kent is in favor of stopping all immigration – legal and illegal – because he wants to reestablish “a white majority” in the country. “I believe in secure borders,” Perez said.

Kent wasted no time in calling Perez’ statements “despicable,” adding that he served in 11 combat tours during his 20 years of military service and that he placed his life “in the hands” of people of all ethnicities, religions, sexual creeds, etc. “It’s not hateful to want to put Americans first,” Kent stated.

Another accusation hurled at Kent was his apparent desire to “defund the police.” She appeared to be referring to Kent’s desire for Congressional oversight of the FBI, who has, in recent years especially, been caught acting with political bias. “This is not a law-and-order guy,” Perez said, adding that Kent wants to “defund” the people who are tasked with apprehending “child predators.”

Interestingly, a whistleblower from the FBI has recently spoken out on that very topic, saying that agents have been pulled off of child sex abuse cases to focus on the Jan. 6 arrests. “The FBI is off the rails right now. They’re being used more as a secret police, and they need Congressional oversight.”

Perez also refuted any claims that she and her husband have supported Antifa via her business, despite social media postings pointing to the contrary, saying, “I’m a free market capitalist. I resent … that.” Kent discussed Perez’ shop being used to fix leaf blowers being used by Antifa during the Portland riots.

Audience reaction

It was a packed house Tuesday night for the debate between 3rd Congressional District candidates Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Joe Kent. Photo courtesy Joseph Gary
It was a packed house Tuesday night for the debate between 3rd Congressional District candidates Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Joe Kent. Photo courtesy Joseph Gary

Multiple people offered comments following the debate. Two people, both wearing Perez shirts, said, “No comment,” when asked.

“He answered the questions. She skirted,” said Clark County resident Katie Bauer.

“I think it went great,” said resident Sheila Weitzel. “I appreciated the opportunity to hear them speak. It didn’t change my mind, but perhaps hearing them speak together will open up some questions for other people. It was a great turnout.”

Resident Kathy Karr expressed disappointment that Perez did not directly answer most of the questions asked. “First,” she said, “I want to talk to [Perez] and remind her that we do not live in a democracy, as she stated, but rather a Constitutional Republic. I wish I could have learned more about her stances but she didn’t answer the questions.”

Liz Cline, who is the first vice president of the Clark County Republican Women, attended the debate as well. “Instead of answering the questions asked, [Perez] used her time to attack. Kent was the clear winner here, speaking articulately with passion and knowledge. While claiming she wants to be a part of the ‘healing’ of this country, she sat there and bashed the other candidate, and about half of the audience in the process. She was weak and inarticulate in her speaking, and the more she spoke, the more she confirmed the things Joe Kent was saying. Many of the issues that were discussed tonight were caused by Democrat leadership and out of control spending. And Perez will be more of the same.

“Without question,” Cline said, “Joe is our America First candidate for CD3.”


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Mary
Mary
1 month ago

Yup. Joe Kent. Nothing’s changed!

Dave
Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Mary

So……………Is that a bad thing?

Wolfie
Wolfie
1 month ago

I was not at the forum so just from what I read, and that is only where this comment is coming from, Marie came across as hateful. Accusatory. When has Joe ever said he wants to spend money to ‘fix California’? And the extremist term. It comes across childish and not passionate about America first. Anyone who was there, I would love to hear your thoughts. Joe still has my vote.

Melissa
Melissa
1 month ago

I would love to watch, but I can’t get the embedded video t play. Is it just me, or does it need to be fixed?

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