1. What do you think are the three biggest issues facing your district in Skagit County, and what would you propose to help your district solve those issues?
My top three priorities for Skagit County are jobs, the Skagit G.I. and transportation.
1) I'm fighting for jobs in Skagit County. I'm working to revitalize manufacturing and knocking down trade barriers so Skagit manufacturers can ship their products--not their jobs--overseas. From 2005 to 2010, Skagit County increased its exports five-fold. To keep this trend up, I established an Export Promotion Program in my office to work directly with businesses in the 2nd District to help them sell their products in oversea markets.
2) The Skagit G.I. provides the basis for comprehensive flood control projects in the Skagit River valley. The communities along the river need a strong coordinated plan to construct flood control projects that will increase safety for those living in the Skagit River valley. I will continue to be a strong Congressional voice to secure funding to complete this project.
3) We must invest in transportation in Skagit County. We cannot have a big league economy with a little league infrastructure. That includes investing in the I-5 corridor and Highway 20. I have been fighting for robust transportation funding for our roads, bridges, highways and transit systems because it creates jobs today and expands economic opportunity in the future.
2. What can you as a congressional representative do to keep the momentum going on the Skagit River General Investigation Study?
The Skagit GI is a critical study that sets us on the path to constructing vital flood control projects for all communities along the Skagit River. Since taking office in 2001, I have been heavily engaged with the Skagit G.I., working with all the affected communities and holding the Army Corps of Engineers to their commitments.
With each flood comes a new threat to the communities of Skagit County. The sense of urgency behind the Skagit G.I. has never diminished. The communities of Skagit Valley are home to some of the most committed and responsive flood fighting organizations and volunteers. The people that provide the communities' flood response need comprehensive flood solutions. The best way to deliver these needed solutions is the Skagit G.I.
Earlier this year I was proud to have secured $700,000 in federal funds to keep the Skagit G.I. moving forward through 2012. Even at a time of limited financial resources, the Skagit G.I. will remain one of my highest priorities and I will work to make sure the Army Corps continues to understand its importance.
3. How would you as a Congressional representative work with the Congressional representative in the other district to move forward on essential projects and manage ongoing issues in Skagit County, including transportation, flood control, the dredging of the Swinomish Channel and economic development?
Projects and programs that are important to Skagit County don't stop at Congressional district lines. I'm prepared to work with the Congressional representative in the 1st District, regardless of who wins the seat.
I will work to educate and partner with the new representative on public safety and economic development issues important to Skagit County. My office will craft memos for the new representative on important issues in Skagit County like rural broadband access, the I-5 corridor and Highway 20, the G.I. And I will work with the new Congressional representative find common goals on economic drivers in Skagit County that will benefit or employ people in both congressional districts.
Whether it is to grow the Skagit economy, or keep our communities safe, I will partner with the new representative; because whatever happens upriver impacts neighbors downriver, and vice versa.
4. What is your position on the Gateway Pacific Terminal north of Bellingham that would bring an anticipated 18 additional train trips through Skagit County -- and other areas -- a day? And if the project is approved, what kind of mitigation or protections would be necessary for portions of the state that will be directly affected?
Northwest Washington needs jobs, and the Gateway Pacific Terminal would bring hundreds of new good-paying jobs to Whatcom County at a time when thousands are out of work. That said, we need to make sure that all environmental and economic impacts, including from the increased rail traffic, are fully accounted for and addressed in the scoping process. We need to hold the terminal operators accountable for taxes to help support the essential services in our community like public safety, education and health care. And the terminal operators need to be held accountable for mitigation of health, traffic and infrastructure concerns.
My top priority on this project is making sure that all affected residents have the opportunity to get their questions answered, and have their thoughts included in the decision-making process.
5. Do you have concerns that Washington recently had the highest gas prices on the mainland when we have several refineries here?
Yes. Gas and oil are commodities traded in world markets, and so there are many factors that impact their cost. We must make sure that Washington drivers are not being taken advantage of at the pump. I support Sen. Cantwell's call for an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into the cause of higher prices in Washington state. At the national level I have called for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to use the tools that Congress gave them in the Wall Street Reform Act to crack down on oil speculators, whose actions drive up the cost of gas.