Vote 2012 Debates/1st Congressional District Debate

Vote 2012 Debate Series: 1st Congressional District
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1st Congressional District Debate

A non-partisan debate among the candidates for the 1st Congressional District.

Foreign Policy

With reports of atrocities in Syria, we ask the candidates if the U.S. should be taking more aggressive action there, and what role the U.S. should play on the world stage.

Campaign Finance

Following the Citizens United ruling, we ask if the candidates would support the Disclose Act, which would require the disclosure of sources of large campaign contributions.

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About the Debate

A non-partisan debate among the candidates for the 1st Congressional District. Moderated by KCTS 9's Enrique Cerna, and League of Women Voters' Kim Abel.

Meet the Candidates

  • Darcy Burner
  • Suzan DelBene
  • Steve Hobbs
  • Larry Ishmael
  • Darshan Rauniyar
  • Laura Ruderman
  • John Koster
Darcy Burner
Darcy Burner

Darcy Burner's website

Suzan DelBene
Suzan DelBene

Suzan DelBene's website

Steve Hobbs
Steve Hobbs

Steve Hobbs' website

Larry Ishmael
Larry Ishmael

Larry Ishmael's website

Darshan Rauniyar
Darshan Rauniyar

Darshan Rauniyar's website

Laura Ruderman
Laura Ruderman

Laura Ruderman's website

John Koster (did not participate)
John Koster

John Koster's website

Enrique Cerna:
Hello. I'm Enrique Cerna with KCTS 9.

Kim Abel:
And I'm Kim Abel with the league of women voters of Washington.

Enrique Cerna:
Welcome to vote 2012 debate series. KCTS 9 is teaming up with the league of women voters to bring you a series of debates and forums in some of the key races in this election season.

Kim Abel:
Today's forum is with the candidates running for Washington's first congressional district. There are seven candidates in the primary race and six of them are here.

Enrique Cerna:
And we're very glad that they're taking the time to be with us here today. Quickly, here are the ground rules for our forum. Kim and I will ask all of the questions. We will ask each candidate the same question and they will have one minute to respond. There will be no rebuttals, but each candidate does get a challenge card and it's going to look just like this. My trusty challenge card is right here. You can use that once during the forum to challenge something the candidate said. We'll have 30 seconds to state the challenge and the challenge candidate will then get 30 seconds to respond. All questions were developed by KCTS 9 and the league of women voters. The order was determined in a random and fair manner.

Kim Abel:
A little bit about the office.

Enrique Cerna:
Now, the first congressional district includes parts of King, Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties. It's one of 10 congressional districts in Washington and is an open seat after it was vacated by jay Inslee, who's now running for Governor.

Kim Abel:
Members of the house are elected every two years and earn $174,000 per year. You must be 25 years old, have been a citizen of the U.S. for at least seven years, and be an inhabitant of the state.

Enrique Cerna:
As for job duties, well, except for voting on legislation, there aren't any. House and Senate rules require members to be present and vote on each question before their chamber. Otherwise, there are no formal expectations.

Kim Abel:
But over the years, members have understood duties to include education, helping people navigate the federal government, and conduct work for their political parties. Now, here are the candidates. We ask the audience to hold their applause until we have introduced everyone.

Enrique Cerna:
In alphabetical order, first, Darcy Burner. Suzan Del Bene. Steve Hobbs. Larry Ishmael. Darshaun Rauniyar. And Laura Ruderman. [APPLAUSE]

Kim Abel:
The seventh candidate, John Koster, was invited but declined to participate in today's forum.

Enrique Cerna:
All right. Now, it's time for our first question. Unemployment in Washington state is about 8.4%. A lot of people are still out of work and we hear time and time again about qualified, experienced people who apply for a job and they never get an interview. Now, today, you are getting a job interview here before this audience, people that are going to be voting for you. And we want you to explain to us what makes you more qualified than your competitors, why should you be the person to get this job. Let's begin with Laura Ruderman.

Laura Ruderman:
Well, you know, we really find ourselves in a time when the American dream is in jeopardy. Even if you work hard every day, you're not guaranteed to make a living wage. And you might not be able to afford health insurance for yourself or your kids. And you might not be able to afford to retire. And that's if you're lucky enough to have a job. But we know from history that it doesn't have to be this way. We also know that we've got a congress that is dangerously out of touch. I've knocked on 4,892 doors personally across this district. And over and over again, I hear people say that they want a different approach to congress. They want to be represented by people who know what their lives are like. I know what it's like to watch a sick relative struggle without health insurance. And I know what it's like to worry about how you're going to afford to send your kids to college. And with my three terms in the Washington state house of representatives, I know how to get things done.

Enrique Cerna:
All right. Thank you very much. Suzan DelBene.

Suzan DelBene:
I think this economy has put an incredible struggle on families, working families throughout our district. And I know what that's like because my father lost his job when I was young. And my family moved all over the country as my parents looked for work. In fact, when I graduated from college, my parents moved in with me because they didn't have another place to go. Many families are going through that situation today. And it needs to change. And what people are looking for in congress right now is someone who can get things done and get results. So when it comes to the economy and results, what's incredibly important is to have someone with experience, especially on our top issues, someone who knows what it takes to create jobs, to start up a company, to get our economy moving. I've been a small business person, a large business person, I ran the department of revenue for the state. I've worked in the public sector and the private sector and know how important it is that we put policy together that doesn't only kind of control and contribute to our ideas, but actually has an impact on our economy today.

Enrique Cerna:
Larry Ishmael.

Larry Ishmael:
Thank you very much, Enrique. I have a rather unique background, very unique when compared to the rest of the candidates here. I'd like you to go on our website at WWW.Larryishmael.com, and read about it in detail. But I'm a professor of economics at a local university. That gives me a unique perspective how to solve the issues facing our country today. That is our number 1 issue in the first congressional district and in the country. I have been on the board of one of our local hospitals. I have a tremendous insight into what we need to do to correct our health care problems. I am an educator, I not only am a professor, but I also was the president of a local school board. I've been the president and chairman of the board of a local chamber of commerce. So if you'd look at strictly just resumes for filling this job, I think you'll find mine to be the most complete. Thank you.

Enrique Cerna:
All right. Thank you very much. And Darshaun Rauniyar.

Darshaun Rauniyar:
That's exactly why I'm running for congress, because this country is not what it used to be 20 years ago. We have 20 million American out of work today. And 50 million American can't afford health insurance. And that should not be acceptable to any one of us. And we are the richest country in the world. I believe congress has failed us, failed this country. And they have outsourced all our jobs. They keep giving tax breaks to corporations that ship our jobs overseas. And I'm running for congress to stop that. And we need to have a fair trade, not a free trade. Free trade has cost 10 million jobs overseas. I'm a small business owner, I'm an entrepreneur, and I'm an immigrant, I came from Nepal. And I have created and kept jobs. I know what it's like to be a small businessman because small businesses are the back bone of our country. So I have that experience to create and keep jobs in this country. That's why I'm running for congress.

Enrique Cerna:
Darcy Burner.

Darcy Burner:
The voters of the first congressional district deserve somebody that's going to go to Washington D.C. to fight for them. We need government of, by, and for the people of this country. Not government of, bought and paid for by large corporations and multi millionaires. And that's going to take fundamentally changing both what kind of people we send to congress and what we ask them to do once they get there. We need to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops and the $100 billion a year we're spending there home, so that we can invest in roads and schools here. We need to fix the economy so that every good American worker can get a good American job, not just programmers, not just C.E.O.s, but everybody who's willing to work hard. I have been fighting for the little guy from day one. We have more than 8,000 people who have contributed to my campaign for congress. And I will fight for the voters of this district with every breath I take.

Enrique Cerna:
Steve Hobbs.

Steve Hobbs:
Congress is broken. And the American people are tired of the partisanship and breakmanship that has ruled over the other Washington. I'm the only candidate that has brought people together. And you look in Olympia in the state Senate, where I brought republicans and democrats together to pass a fiscally responsible budget while at the same time protecting the most vulnerable. At the same time, we need someone who relates to the people in the first congressional district. I've been there, I am the middle class, like people talk about fighting for the middle class. I am the middle class. Drive a Ford focus, make $55,000 a year. I have three kids in public school and one special needs. We need to have someone who's willing to stand up for you. And I'm that person.

Kim Abel:
Thanks. We'll move on to our second question. We're going to cover health care here. The supreme court recently upheld most of the patient and affordable care act, offered referred to as Obama care. Opponents in congress are vowing to repeal the law. In fact, the house has already voted once to repeal it. If you're elected and this vote comes up again, tell us how you'll vote and explain why you think the affordable care act is good or bad for constituents in your district. And how you might fix it. Ms. DelBene.

Suzan DelBene:
I support the affordable care act. And I think it's incredibly disappointing that the house took all the time to yet again go through the motions of repealing it. It's a good example of what's broken in congress today, that people are taking that time when we should be moving forward. We have done a lot of work to address access to health care, but there's ongoing work to do to make sure we have an affordable health care system where everyone has access to quality care. I believe health care is not a one bill issue, it's something we need to fight on and address every year. We need to change the metrics on how our health care system works. I support Obama care and I think it's incredibly important that we have competitiveness and alternatives for people to access. And we need a system that's not based on quantity of care, but rewards quality of care and preventative care, so that everyone is getting great health care at an affordable rate and we have a system that's accessible for everyone across our country.

Enrique Cerna:
Mr. Ishmael.

Larry Ishmael:
Thank you. I think that now that the supreme court has ruled and that Obama care is considered to be legal and that the mandate is considered a tax. I think that unfortunately still the majority of Americans are still not happy with Obama care. I don't think it's necessarily about the law because I'm not sure anybody truly understands what's in the law yet. It's such a thick document. But the reality is that it was passed on a party line vote. And I think that's what the people are upset about, the fact that congress has voted now, the republican congress has voted 33 times to repeal the law is, again, pretty much a party line vote. And that's not the way to settle the issues about something that incorporates about a quarter of our gross national product, the health care industry. So we need to, it's not a question of voting for or against the law, it's coming up with some tweaks that would make this acceptable to everyone. Thank you.

Kim Abel:
Mr. Rauniyar, how about you?

Darshaun Rauniyar:
First of all, I'd like to correct, it's not Obama care, it's affordable health care act. You know, it's for all of us, it's republicans' jargon that they've been using. I support the supreme court decision definitely, but I have a reservation about the individual mandate. I think we need to have a health care available for all our citizens. And I'm for Medicare for all. It's unfortunate that we spend 18% of our GDP in health care alone and that's not going to be sustainable. And we have 62% of bankruptcies happening in this country because of health care. So I am for health care for all and make health insurance available for all our citizens because we are the richest country in the world. And there is no way we cannot provide that. So that ability to step in the right direction, but we need to go beyond that by having the public options available and then make the health care available for all.

Kim Abel:
Ms. Burner.

Darcy Burner:
Most people want something fairly straight forward from the health care system. They want to be able to go see their doctor when they're sick. They want to know that if they do get sick, their health insurance will cover the care that they need. And they want to know that after they're sick, that care won't get taken away from them. The affordable care act took us closer to that ideal. It says if you're a breast cancer survivor, that the insurance company can't discriminate against you afterwards. It makes it easier for more families to afford health insurance. It means when I go to buy health insurance as an individual, my family and I won't be discriminated against because I'm a woman, we won't have to pay a higher premium. That's real progress. There are things that we need to do to extend the affordable care act. I'm concerned about the fact that the Medicaid expansions that were part of the affordable care act were thrown out by the supreme court. That potentially leaves millions of people vulnerable. And we need to have a public option so there's at least one choice that the insurance companies don't control.

Kim Abel:
Mr. Hobbs.

Steve Hobbs:
What people don't understand about the affordable care act is that the states are an important part of this. Every state must create a state exchange or a regional exchange. It's important that federal government supports those exchanges. In the state of Washington, you can have a public option here. But my fear is, as we go on, if we don't have a congress that is willing to support the affordable care act, states are going to be left holding the bag. We also have an issue of rule making that's going on currently in Washington D.C., something I'm watching and I hope the American people with watch very closely, rule making that says what you're going to actually cover. Autism spectrum disorder is something that's very near and dear to my heart. My middle child Truman has autism and the fact that he's cut off from insurance at age 7, and I can't have the occupational, speech therapy, and physical therapy needed for him to grow and thrive is not right, and it's something I'd like to deal with when I get to Washington D.C.

Enrique Cerna:
Enrique: Thank you very much.

Kim Abel:
Ms. Ruderman.

Laura Ruderman:
Thank you. So there's a lot of reasons that I'm running for congress. But making sure that everybody has health insurance is the most personal. Since Thanksgiving of 2008, five members of my family have been diagnosed with cancer. Four of them have health insurance and are still with us. And one of them didn't have health insurance and is no longer with us. Now, my sister in law didn't die because she didn't have health insurance, but watching all of those numbers, my mother, my father, my sister, and two of my sisters in law, struggle with this illness and the difference that it made to have health insurance or not, made me know with a visceral, in my gut, how important it is that everybody has health insurance. This was actually, depending on how you count, the 31st or the 33rd vote against the affordable care act. And you can rest assured that I will go to congress to make sure that we protect and extend the affordable care act, so that everybody gets health insurance.

Enrique Cerna:
All right. We're going to talk about the economy now. As we all know, it is struggling. The debate in Washington D.C. revolves largely around reducing the federal deficit and federal spending. But some economists such as Paul Krugman say now is exactly when we should be spending more money. Where did you stand on the issue of austerity versus stimulus spending? And would you ever vote for a tax increase, and if so, under what circumstances? Larry Ishmael.

Larry Ishmael:
Thank you, Enrique. As an economist, I have a specific plan that I would like to implement. Of course, it has to be voted on by the other 434 members of the house of representatives. But the idea is this: That currently, there are 47% of Americans that pay no income tax whatsoever, 47%! I'm not real happy about that because I pay my taxes, I think everybody should pay theirs. So if we all paid 17%, as a flat tax, with only two deductions, one being your mortgage interest on your primary residence, and the other being charitable deductions, so you can give to KCTS, I think that we would more than double revenues while lowering tax rates. If you're going to pay off this deficit, you're going to have to have a revenue stream that you use to pay it off. Otherwise, we're just going to be continuing to tread water. So the 17% personal income tax I think is a way to solve this problem.

Enrique Cerna:
All right. Darshaun Rauniyar.

Darshaun Rauniyar:
Yes. We definitely need to reduce our debt that we have wracked up because the congress is not working for us. So the way we have to do it is we have to increase the revenue and also cut the spending. So we need to cut the military budget. We need to pull back our forces from around the world that we do not need. And also, we need to increase taxes on the super rich. And then we need to have Bush tax cut expire for people on a family making $250,000 and above. So we need to do all of that. For the stimulus package, I am for targeted stimulus. The one we saw last time, we spent trillions of dollars, I did not see a lot of effect out of that because we are still in that hole with an 8% unemployment rate. So I'm for a stimulus package that is targeted to cities and states for particular projects.

Enrique Cerna:
Darcy Burner.

Darcy Burner:
We need an economy that works again for people who work for a living. Right now, this economy works fine for people like Mitt Romney, but not so well for my younger brother, Derek, who just got laid off from his job. It should be the case that if you're willing to work hard, you can put a roof over your head and food on your table and take care of your family. When we talk about austerity versus stimulus, this is the exact time we should be trying to jump start our economy. We should be investing in roads and schools and energy efficiency to make the country more competitive in the long term. This is exactly the right time to do that. And working families should be stopped asking to subsidize millionaires and billionaires. The fact that people like Romney pay only 15% in taxes is horrible when middle class people are being asked to pay more.

Enrique Cerna:
Steve Hobbs.

Steve Hobbs:
By 2025, the revenue coming into this country will only be able to pay for the debt, or the interest on the debt, social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. We have to do something. Plus, we have high unemployment. I believe we need to take a two pronged approach. Take caps in discretionary spending. Be brave and tackle the entitlement programs. But at the same time, we do need to increase some revenues, allow some of the Bush tax cuts to expire, close some tax loopholes. And at a time when the United States is not even a top 10 for infrastructure, when labor rates are relatively low because of high unemployment and material costs are relatively low as well, now is the time to do stimulus, roads, bridges, sewer, water. I would definitely be pushing for that. We need to get people back to work.

Enrique Cerna:
Laura Ruderman.

Laura Ruderman:
Well, thank you. I absolutely believe that we need to let the Bush tax cuts on high income earners expire. We also need to pass the Buffett rule. Make sure that no middle class family ever pays a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the very wealthy. The sense of unfairness in the tax code fuels such discontent that it makes it hard to get anything done. But we also do need to invest in infrastructure. As everyone else has said, in our roads and our bridges, those kinds of projects that get people back to work. Any spending program, whether it's foregoing revenue in the form of a tax cut, or whether it's investing in our infrastructure, needs to have a definable goal so that we know if it's doing its job. We should stop giving the pentagon money for weapons systems that they say they neither need nor want, and we need to reform the way that we do business. There are 63,000 pieces of federal property that are not being used. Let's sell those.

Enrique Cerna:
All right. Suzan DelBene.

Suzan DelBene:
I think we need a balanced approach to address the financial crisis that we're facing, but first, we need to do financial services reform and make sure that we have a banking system that we all can trust. I support putting in a modern version of glass Steigal so that every family's savings is safe and not being used for risky investments. We need to realize that the investments we make today, for example, fixing that pothole on your road, it's better for us to fix today than to let it degrade when it comes tens of thousands of dollars or more. And our schools are the same way. We have great schools that we need to support. If we don't keep them up and running, they will degrade, and it will be much more expensive to invest in them in the future. So we need to invest in the infrastructure and deal with our tax issues. I support letting the Bush tax cuts expire on high wage earners and I support the Buffett rule.

Kim Abel:
Thank you all. We're on to immigration for question 4. President Obama recently eased restrictions for undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children. The dream act stalled a few years ago. The new act only addresses one part of immigration reform. Where do you stand on the immigration reform and the dream act? Do you support a path for undocumented immigrants? We'll start with you, Mr. Rauniyar.

Darshaun Rauniyar:
And this question goes to my heart, because I'm an immigrant, I understand the challenges the immigrant community faces in this country. And we are a country for immigrants. We all came from somewhere. And then we are part of that. So immigrant plays a very important role in our economy today. And there are a lot of jobs that is not, you know, American people do not want to do, and then this is where they can come in. They pick up whatever comes their way in work. So we need a comprehensive immigration reform, it's high time that we need to really address that and put it in the front Burner in congress. And I support a dream act and I support Obama's recent proposal to not deport children of undocumented workers. And I support protecting our borders also. And guest worker programs. You know, one of the examples is we have in Yakima, the companies that are having a hard time finding workers to pick apples. So where are regoing to find those people? So we can have the guest worker program to really address those issues.

Kim Abel:
Thank you. How about you, Ms. Burner.

Darcy Burner:
We clearly need comprehensive immigration reform. I think that it's widely understood actually on both sides of the political spectrum, that our immigration system is broken. That we have people here who are essential to our economy, but have no path by which they can earn citizenship and be here legally. And we have an immigration system that has no mechanisms for fixing it. We do need to secure our borders for national security reasons. It's not so much that I'm worried about somebody crossing the border to pick apples in Yakima as I am worried about somebody crossing the border with a dirty bomb in their back pack. We need to make sure that doesn't happen. But we also need to make sure that our immigration system is fair where there are people who join the military, who do our hard work here, to earn full citizenship and become full, equal citizens of the United States.

Kim Abel:
I see that we have our first challenge. And Ms. Burner, we're going to ask every candidate to answer and then we'll take that at the very end of the time. So Mr. Hobbs, you're up on this question.

Steve Hobbs:
Thank you very much, Kim. You know, my mom came to this country, she knew no English whatsoever, she had to learn by sesame street. That's how she learned English and bringing me up. You know, I have a lot of experience in this and dealing with many of the refugee communities and immigrants in the state Senate. But more importantly, I went out to several of the companies out there in the first congressional district, tailor fish farms and some potato farms out in Skagit County. And the mere threat of an ICE raid cleared out the entire work force. You have a situation where entire companies in the state of Washington can just collapse. We need to pass the American dream act and we need to have a guest worker program. A path to citizenship is...

Kim Abel:
Ms. Ruderman.

Laura Ruderman:
Thank you. You know, immigration is a perfect example of where not solving a problem doesn't make it go away and it doesn't make it any easier to solve. I absolutely support the dream act. I absolutely believe that we need comprehensive immigration reform, that it does include a path to citizenship, and I believe that we need to have a guest worker program with strong worker protections. If you can come here and work for Microsoft or one of the other high tech programs for a little while, and then go home, you should be able to do the same thing if you're an agricultural worker, come work for the season, make sure that asparagus in Walla Walla gets picked and isn't killed under the way that it's happening right now, and then go back home to your family. It is the way this country should work.

Enrique Cerna:
How about you, Ms. DelBene.

Suzan DelBene:
You know, I was talking to farmers up in Whatcom and Skagit County. And they talk about workers who have had family members pass away or are ailing and can't go visit them, and want even to send them some money. So this really is a human rights issue and a respect issue that we all need to face. I think we need comprehensive immigration reform. I think that that should include a path to citizenship. But an earned path to citizenship. And I think that it's incredibly important that we realize this is federal legislation, it's not state by state legislation. It's incredibly hard on folks when different states have different rules. But frankly, states have acted because the federal government hasn't stepped forward. I do not believe an enforcement only policies, like E verify, that has put many folks in a situation where they don't know where they stand. And frankly, from our agricultural work force is stuck and many farmers do not support it either. And I am a very strong supporter of the dream act and think we need real legislation there to support the president's current action.

Kim Abel:
And Mr. Ishmael.

Larry Ishmael:
I have, um, traveled over 125 countries and I've lived on four different continents. I often think the situation of being in Brazil, when I lived in Rio de Janeiro for three years. And there were always these things happening around there that just buffaloed me, mystified me. And I would ask people that were locals, isn't that illegal to do that? And they'd go, oh, yeah. We have lots of laws, but most of them aren't enforced. And America was not designed to be that way. We were designed to be a nation of laws. Laws that give equal opportunity to everyone regardless of race, creed, or color. And so the fact that all these illegal immigrants have come into this country, that we've allowed them to do so, and that our federal government is actually condoning it is ridiculous to me. Now, I think what Obama has done in terms of his latest presidential order makes sense. But we need to have a long term policy for immigration reform and I think Darshaun Rauniyar is a perfect example of a legal immigrant who contributes to this country.

Kim Abel:
All right, Mr. Rauniyar, we're going to let you have 30 seconds to state your challenge and then Ms. Burner can respond.

Darshaun Rauniyar:
I don't agree with Ms. Burner saying, you know, Mexican workers coming to this country to pick apples versus some of the people coming to this country with a bomb in their backpack. That is lie. This is what American people do not understand. You know, the whole world do not hate America or American people. It's the bogus policies of Washington. Washington is driven by the special interest groups. That has made this country insecure. So it's time that we end that. It is a total lie. People do not come here to bomb America. Our policy is making insecurity in our own country.

Kim Abel:
All right. 30 seconds for Ms. Burner to respond.

Darcy Burner:
I think it's fairly clear that there are some people who do intend to damage the country. We saw that on September 11th. My sister is an F.B.I. agent who works on Al Qaeda counter terrorism and keeps the country safe on a daily basis. And I'm glad she does. That isn't the majority of people, but it is some people and we need to make sure our policies are designed to keep Americans safe.

Kim Abel:
We're on to the next question, the first congressional district is newly redistricted. It runs from Carnation to our border with Canada and includes everything from cities to suburbs, high tech companies to dairy farms. Slade Gorton called it the most evenly divided district in the country. How will you set up the district? For example, where will you set up your district office? We'll start with you, Ms. Ruderman.

Laura Ruderman:
Well, thank you. I'll take the last question first. I would imagine that we will have more than one district office. We've already said that we'll have a district office in Mount Vernon, so that folks in the northern part of the district have easy access to their representative. The first congressional district mirrors from north to south actually my old legislative district from east to west. My old legislative district, the 45th district, which I served for six years, went from I like to say the condos in Kirkland to the dairy farms in Duvall. And it is a balancing act. One that I have experience with and the people in that district thought I did it well enough, that they elected me two more times. And you balance those needs by staying in touch with your constituents. When I was in the legislature, I became known for returning every phone call personally that came into the legislative hotline. And answering every e mail. That keeps you grounded, it lets you know what your constituents are really thinking, and I think it made me a good member of the legislature and will make me a great member of congress.

Kim Abel:
Okay. I saw a challenge from Ms. DelBene, so after all candidates have answered, we will take that. But you're up next, Ms. DelBene.

Suzan DelBene:
Okay. You know, this is a very diverse district. I actually think it's a great thing that it's a diverse district and a swing district, because it's really representative of many of the divergent issues that we're facing across our country right now. And a representative in this district needs to balance those and I think will bring a balanced voice to Washington D.C. as well. I think one of the incredibly interesting things about the district though too is the diverse economy, we also have many similarities. You talk to farmers and they talk about how important research and investment is in new types of farming to increase yield, or to help them deal with environmental issues. And all of that R&D is similar to the work that's happening in the southern part of the district. I've lived in rural areas, I've lived in urban areas, I know how important a diverse economy is. And that's part of what is important in this district. Someone who has that experience. And I do think that it's going to be important to have offices in more than one part of the district, given it's so big, so both the south and the north.

Kim Abel:
How about you, Mr. Ishmael.

Larry Ishmael:
You know, the new first congressional district is like a microcosm of the United States. When we go to, when I go to congress, I want to be able to represent all Americans, not just people in the first congressional district or people from Washington state. We're going to have federal laws that we're going to have to write and so forth. So you have to be able to understand the plight of every American and every specific individual in the first congressional district. I have a vast experience of having grown up in Oklahoma with families that were farmers and my family were farmers. And I've traveled the world and can relate with even some of the people in Medina. So that's the kind of thing you have to be able to do. The major issue facing everyone right now is the economy. I don't think anybody is better prepared to address the economy than I am and come up with solutions. Health care is another issue that we have to address. We all face that same problem. Yeah, there are a lot of little issues that make it a little bit different, but those we can deal with, and I will definitely have an office in the north and the south end of the district.

Kim Abel:
Mr. Rauniyar.

Darshaun Rauniyar:
I'm really glad to see the district. And I wish that kind of district exist everywhere in the U.S. First of all, the reason I say that is the 50/50. 50% republican, 50% democrat, and it's 50. It's great. That's how the politicians should go out and represent the people. And you know, we have four counties, tech community down here in king and Snohomish, all the way to the Whatcom and Skagit, the farmers land. So there are a lot of issues at stake for a congressional candidate to address. And that's how it should be. You know, coming from agricultural to the cities. So the way I'm connecting with those folks is I'm a regular guy, I'm like them, I'm a small business owner, tech entrepreneur that goes very well with our community here in king and Snohomish County. And then I'm coming from as an immigrant, goes very well up in Skagit and Whatcom Counties. I have traveled around the world. I've seen all the businesses, how it operates. We do a lot of business from state of Washington, export to China and other part of the world. So I'm diverse enough to represent that.

Kim Abel:
Thank you very much. Ms. Burner.

Darcy Burner:
So I live just outside of Carnation, just up the road from the world famous carnation farms, where carnation evaporated milk was invented, and have worked in the high tech centers of the district. I'm I think the only candidate in the race who on the democratic side who lives in a rural area. And I think that gives me a very different perspective about what folks in the district want and need. I've had a very interesting last couple of weeks. We've been going around the district with retired major general Paul Eaton to talk about how to end the war in Afghanistan, and we've gone to virtually every community of significant size in the district. We've done I think 14 events throughout the district, talking about that. And what I found is that whether republicans or democrats, there is agreement that Washington D.C. is broken and that we want a different kind of fix. People want that war to end. They want to bring the troops and money home. And they want somebody who will work to make that happen, as I have done, not just with democrats, but also with republicans.

Kim Abel:
Mr. Hobbs.

Steve Hobbs:
Just because of the size of the district, you're going to have to put another district office probably up north. You know, I was born and raised in that area. I know what it's like. My kids go to the public school, in fact, the same public schools that I went to growing up. My legislative district is very similar to the first congressional district. We have cows and BMWs. Same thing in the first congressional district. We have union members and business owners. It's a district that I've really come to love because I've grown up there. And I can relate to the people because I have been through what they've been through. I've been on WIC, I've struggled. You know, I remember my mom struggling to make ends meet as she tried to just keep the roof over our heads. I've been down in Olympia where I communicate with people back in the district, and I can do the same thing with the first congressional district. This is a very exciting time for all of us. And you know, I kind of agree with Darshaun, I wish that all the districts were like this. It would teach, I think it would teach a lot with a lot of the members of congress.

Kim Abel:
Ms. DelBene, you have 30 seconds to state your challenge.

Suzan DelBene:
Yes, Laura, you said that you listen to your constituents. And right now in the first congressional district, folks have been really clear that they oppose the citizens united decision and the shadowy super Pacs that go along with it. Yet right now, you have one of those super Pacs, a Karl rove type super Pac supporting your campaign and is associated with friends of yours. And you always say you have a loud voice and will be a loud voice in congress. But yet, you've been incredibly silent on this. And yet this is an opportunity for you to depose and denounce what's happening and say it's time to stop. And I just want to know if you're willing to say that.

Kim Abel:
Ms. Ruderman, you have 30 seconds.

Laura Ruderman:
Well, thank you. If you know it's a super Pac, then you know more about it than I do. I know what I read in the newspapers. I don't know anything about it. I was surprised as anybody else. I have said over and over that I support a constitutional amendment to say that corporations are not people and that money is not speech. I don't take to denouncing other people's campaign tactics. When your campaign hit Ms. Burner's campaign on what happened at net roots nation, I didn't denounce that. When she hit your campaign on saying that you were going to join the new democrats, not the progressive, I didn't denounce that. I let everybody run their own campaign.

Kim Abel:
Thank you, Ms. Ruderman. Well, we're going to get a little local here and talk about the Bellingham proposed coal terminal. As you know, there's a possibility of building up to six new export terminals in the northwest, including one at cherry point near Bellingham. The proposal is to ship 170 million tons of coal by train per year through the northwest to feed Asia's voracious coal appetite. The issue is pitting labor unions against environmentalists. Do you support these plans which would make Washington the largest coal exporting state in the nation. We'll start with you, Mr. Ishmael.

Larry Ishmael:
First of all, the way that I perceive this argument is not that it's labor union or environmentalists. Really, what the issue is, is that the environmentalists are trying to stop the idea of using coal for any energy anywhere in the world. And the way to do that is not through trying to create some nebulous idea of some sea weed or something that is, that is going to go extinct if we do this. But rather, it's to address China directly and say, look, you guys are the biggest, you know, coal burners in the world, and you need to comply with some sort of environmental standard that the rest of the world agrees to. They consider themselves, even though it's possibly the second or third largest economy in the world, they consider themselves to be a third world country. So as a result, they got out of the previous environmental accord, the Kyoto accord, and were not subject to those laws. But that's really what the issue is, it's what we do with coal, not where we ship it or how.

Kim Abel:
Mr. Rauniyar, what's your answer to that one?

Darshaun Rauniyar:
So I want to remind all of you that I'm the only candidate in this race that is opposing the coal train terminal up in Bellingham. The reason being that is the understanding for what I believe in. I think we need to spend our future on clean and green technologies than the technologies of the past, which is coal. And the last thing you want to do is you want to ship our resources to China. And then where there's no environmental regulations. And then only coming to hurt us down the road. I believe that, you know, recently in past weeks, there have been three accidents on the coal train. I don't know where you guys are following on that. But one right here in Washington state. And about 15 or 20 cars of coal that got derailed. And you know how long it's going to take to clean that up and how much environmental damage that has done? And it's a threat for our environment, threat for our health, threat for the transportation. And then last thing is this project is only going to create 250 permanent jobs. And I'm not going to take a risk

Kim Abel:
Thank you.

Darshaun Rauniyar:
To go approve this project that's only going to create 250 jobs.

Kim Abel:
Thank you. Ms. Burner.

Darcy Burner:
Well, there are two questions. One question is should we develop the last remaining natural deep water port on the west coast of the Americas, so that we can have infrastructure that will help our economy both locally and nationally in the long term? And I think the answer to that is yes. I'll do everything I can to make sure that we have the funding and resources necessary to make sure that we can get Washington goods to the rest of the world and vice versa. But there's a completely separate question, which is, should we be shipping coal out through that terminal? The market in China for coal has collapsed. We have ships waiting to land there that can't unload their coal because the bottom has fallen out of the market. My 9 year old son tells me when I go out and get ready to campaign, remember, your job ising to save the world from global warming. We have to stop contributing to global warming and move on to a clean energy future and we can do that here in the U.S.

Kim Abel:
Mr. Hobbs.

Steve Hobbs:
People need jobs, and especially in Whatcom County and Skagit County. I fully support the Pacific gateway terminal and I support its expansion. I think it's important that we expand our export capability here in the state of Washington. We're highly dependent on exports in this state. Talking to the people up there, the farmers, they would love to see their goods shipped out of that terminal. So I fully support it. What I would like to see along the way is that we monitor any environmental effects that may happen. And also, we need to put money into mitigation, traffic mitigation, there are some small towns that might be affected by this. And I believe there's a way that we can mitigate that.

Kim Abel:
How about you, Ms. Ruderman.

Laura Ruderman:
I want to be very clear that I do not support a coal export terminal at Cherry Point. That said, I do think that it does make sense to look at developing this deep water port. It's been in Whatcom County's comp plan for the last 25 years. But I don't think that coal makes sense for two reasons. One, the environmental impacts, both from the trains and the transport, but also from just feeding, as somebody said, the voracious beast that is china. But also from an economic standpoint, we've heard reports recently that there are ships circling the coast of china that can't sell the coal. That beast seems to be getting a little less hungry. And betting the farm on a coal export terminal doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. If we can mitigate the effects to the herring and the eel grass, and we can develop that into say a container port, the environmental impacts would be less and the jobs would be more.

Kim Abel:
Thank you. Ms. DelBene.

Suzan DelBene:
I think we need a thorough and comprehensive environmental impact study to understand what's really involved in this particular proposal. And this is incredibly important because there have been proposals before and there will continue to be proposals across our state. And we need a process that people believe in to look at all of the issues. There's the issue of coal, just the issue of increased rail traffic. We have challenges right now, if you talk to folks up in Mount Vernon, that head of the hospital there is worried about the ambulance being able to get across just with rail traffic today. So if we have increased rail traffic with any commodity going through, that's a huge challenge for them, we have fire departments on either side of the tracks in Burlington to deal with this. So there's a lot of mitigations that have to do with transport on rail. And then we have the ongoing issues of looking at what should be put in place at that particular facility at cherry point. So I do support the process and making sure we have a thorough and comprehensive process because I don't think litigation is the right way to answer this question.

Enrique Cerna:
Thanks so much.

Enrique Cerna:
Enrique: All right. Final question, legacy and impact. As you probably know, this seat has a lot of history to it. It was the seat of Warren Magnuson, one of our state's most prominent members of congress. He fought for a lot of issues that were important to the constituents there and his legacy includes protecting Puget Sound, preserving the state's natural beauty, funding cancer research. He did much for this state. What's going to be your legacy? And what issues are you going to champion for the district that will make that legacy? Steve Hobbs.

Steve Hobbs:
For me, I think it's important that we just serve the people in the first congressional district. Jobs are the number 1 thing. And we're not going to be able to do it by sitting back and allowing the partisanship to continue. I've been able to tackle that in Olympia. And I can tackle that in the other Washington as well. I believe this country is hurting. And it's hurting because we've neglected our fiscal problems. We have an incredible debt, incredible deficit. And someone like myself can be able to tackle that. If I'm elected to go there, I will continue with the efforts to help veterans. Being someone who served overseas in a combat zone, I've deployed twice, I've even lost friends. Our veterans are neglected. A lot of them are out of work. It's something I'm going to continue to help my brothers and sisters while I'm in the other D.C. Or in D.C.

Enrique Cerna:
Laura Ruderman.

Laura Ruderman:
I hope that my legacy in congress is that the people of the first congressional district demand from any representative who would come after me that they stay connected and involved with the people of the first congressional district. When I started out running for congress, I had a man come up to me and say, and ask me if I was Laura Ruderman and I said yes. And he said, I just want to say thank you. 12 years before, he had called my legislative office when he was out on strike with SPEEA, and he had called everybody who represented him. And I was the only person who called him back. And 12 years later, he had waited 12 years to say thank you. The people who run in the 45th district after me have knocked on tens of thousands of doors because I made that a requirement to get elected in the first congressional district. I think most of the fundamental problems in our society are because of the disconnect between people and their elected officials. Health care for all. But reconnecting people and their elected officials.

Enrique Cerna:
Enrique: Thank you. Suzan DelBene.

Suzan DelBene:
I'd love for my legacy to be economic opportunity and to bring back fairness and respect in our governments, but also in people's relationship with government. We are at a place right now where many families are struggling. We have income inequality and having gone through those struggles as I was growing up and knowing that it's not just about money, but it's also about pride and dignity and confidence and how important this is to families. I think we have to fight incredibly hard to make sure that we have economic opportunity available to everyone across our country. I mean I got to go to school because of student loans and financial aid. My parents had access to unemployment when they didn't have work. We always had access to health care. All of that is going away for our middle class and working families today. And we need to bring it back. And that's what I'm fighting for. That's why I've been running for congress. And I think it's the number 1 issue that we can tackle today.

Enrique Cerna:
Enrique: Larry Ishmael.

Larry Ishmael:
I work as a professor, as I mentioned to you, at northwest university, it's a christian university. And one of the things that we promote to our students a lot is that we want all of our graduates to be able to serve. To serve their community, to serve their church, to serve their relatives, to serve humanity in general. And to me, my legacy that I want to leave is as a servant leader. In other words, I'm not one that is wanting to shove policies down people's throat, but rather to come up with solutions that actually work and are sustainable over time. For the people in the congress district and for the people of the United States. Words are important. And one of the things that people talk about a lot is we need to reach more compromise in congress. And to me, compromise is kind of a dirty word because it means that it's a lose/lose situation. We have more people that are willing to work together and collaborate, then we've got something positive and it's a win/win. And that's what needs to happen in congress today.

Enrique Cerna:
Thank you. Darshaun Rauniyar.

Darshaun Rauniyar:
So my legacy, I hope, is going to be, I hope people will remember me, this guy is unique guy, he's a different guy. This guy came from nowhere, he came from one of the poorest countries in the world to pursue a better life for himself and family and work hard and America provided that opportunity for him. He valued education. Education made him successful entrepreneur and businessman. And he lives the American dream. And he saw how American dream was fading for a lot of hard working families. And he fought for that hard, to save American dream for all Americans. There's no way he's gonna stand and see that 20 million Americans are going to be out of work and 50 million Americans can't afford health insurance. He saw and he stood up and then really wanted to be the voice for all of us. He is the wake up call for all the people in America.

Enrique Cerna:
Darcy Burner.

Darcy Burner:
We have a tremendous problem right now, which is deeper than the temporary economic problem we have. The problem that we have is that we have a country where government has largely been sold to the highest bidder. It's controlled by the multi millionaires and the large corporations. The vast majority of members of congress are multi millionaires and don't know what life is like for the rest of us. We need a country where emergency room nurses have as much political power as hedge fund managers, where people who work in restaurants have as much say in the future of this country and as much of a future as people who work on wall street. That's going to take a tremendous amount of effort and it's going to take people who are willing to go to congress and actually fight against the status quo. Going along to get along is not going to get us out of this problem. And I will fight to make sure that we restore government of, by, and for the people of this country, just as it should be.

Enrique Cerna:
All right. That is all the time that we have for this forum today. I'd like to thank the league of women voters of Washington. And also Kim Abel. For partnering with KCTS for this series. Thanks to our studio audience. Also, thanks to all of the candidates that joined us together. And let's give them a round of applause. [APPLAUSE] We hope today's event has helped you as you make your decision in the 2012 vote. Thank you for joining us. We hope to see you again next time.

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