Opinion: ‘Everyone agrees we need good, high-paying jobs, well-managed natural resources, and smart infrastructure investments’


Candidate Joe Kent discusses a number of the key issues in the race for the 3rd Congressional District seat in the US House of Representatives

Joe Kent, candidate
3rd Congressional District

It has been 1,765 days since our congresswoman, Jaime Herrera Beutler, has held a real, in-person town hall where citizens can hold her accountable. That’s nearly five years. And it’s not just public events she’s checked out of; she’s checked out of doing her job entirely.

Joe Kent, 3rd Congressional District candidate
Joe Kent, 3rd Congressional District candidate

Other members of Congress fight hard on behalf of their constituents to deliver federal money. They bring leadership to bridge the gap between local, state, and federal stakeholders to solve problems ranging from infrastructure to natural resources to job creation.

But our own Rep. Herrera Beutler handles these responsibilities just like she handles her fake telephone town halls: she’s been phoning it in.

The biggest infrastructure challenge of not just our district but the entire region is the I-5 corridor. And while Herrera Beutler’s position on the powerful appropriations committee has allowed her to collect millions in campaign contributions from foreign corporations, she’s delivered a federal commitment of just 5 percent of the expected $3 billion cost to replace our aging highways and bridges.

And her leadership on the ground solving the political gridlock between Vancouver, Portland, Washington, and Oregon government agencies that’s holding up progress on this mission-critical infrastructure project is closer to 0 percent.

For Herrera Beutler, this isn’t the exception, it’s the rule. She isn’t doing her job because she takes getting re-elected for granted. I can’t wait to replace her so I can put my shoulder to the wheel for the people of Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.

That means fighting to bring home real federal resources to fix our I-5 infrastructure and being an active participant in the local negotiations to get the job done.

It also means fighting against federal regulations that are strangling our fishing industry. We’ve got to allow and encourage our local fisheries to pump salmon into the Columbia River. The greatest threat to these fish is the exploding and invasive population of predatory sea lions.

The federal government issues permits to First Nation tribes to hunt 500 sea lions a year, but very few of them are used. I will work with the Department of Interior and the House Natural Resources Committee to enact a bounty on sea lions hunted east of the Astoria Megler bridge to keep this invasive species at bay.

Improving the Port of Vancouver is another missed opportunity by our absentee congresswoman. Because our port is not subject to the same labor disruptions as Portland, SEATAC, and California, it has the potential to be a major export hub for dairy and lumber and an import hub for goods needed in the US interior. This requires delivering federal assistance to provide more cranes to unload ships and incentives to construct manufacturing nodes close to the port to shorten supply chains.

Perhaps our greatest natural resources are our lush forests. Federal regulations have caused the double-calamity of shutting down the timber industry while creating a permanent wildfire threat due to poor forest management. We can solve both of these problems by licensing logging companies to responsibly harvest timber in exchange for eliminating dangerous underbrush and using local, job-creating sawmills.

While I am a Republican, none of these issues are partisan. Everyone agrees we need good, high-paying jobs, well-managed natural resources, and smart infrastructure investments. But we’ve been missing out on all of that because our congresswoman puts more effort into collecting contributions from multinational corporations than representing us.

These solutions aren’t complicated, but they do require leadership, and it is my promise to the people of Washington’s 3rd Congressional District that I’ll deliver that leadership every single day.

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