Income inequality and immigration were among the issues recently discussed by five of the seven candidates for the 3rd Congressional District.
David McDevitt, Michael Cortney, Carolyn Long, Earl Bowerman and Dorothy Gasque participated in a League of Women Voters of Clark County forum, July 12, at Clark College, in Vancouver.
The incumbent, U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican, was in Washington, D.C., voting while Congress is in session, according to her Communications Director Angeline Riesterer.
Martin Hash, a Democratic candidate, said in an email to the Post-Record Monday, July 16, he did not attend the League of Women Voters of Clark County forum, because “the League is an anachronistic sexist organization such that I do not feel welcome or included.”
After the forum, Judy Hudson, voter services co-chair with the League, said Hash had, via email, “politely declined” a May invitation to participate.
Hudson added that someone with Herrera Beutler’s campaign said in an email a week before the forum that the Congresswoman would not be there.
More than 180 people attended the League forum that was co-sponsored by Clark College.
McDevitt, a Democrat, said he would fight for a stronger minimum wage of $15 per hour.
Gasque, a Democrat, said she is in favor of raising the minimum above $15, and investing in infrastructure, renewable energy, research and development and education.
“Let’s bring back the Conservation Corps, so we can put people back to work,” Gasque said. “It’s a travesty that people are living on the streets, people with jobs are living on the streets, because they can’t afford to live in their homes.”
Regarding the potential of a $15 an hour minimum wage, Bowerman, a Republican, said, “why not have a $30 minimum wage or a $50 minimum wage. If we are going to do that, let’s do it so it’s meaningful.”
“The dignity of work is probably the greatest thing we can have,” he added. “I don’t think we should be looking to the government for subsistence. We should let government get out of the way and let private enterprise create jobs.”
Cortney, a Republican and retired electrician, said labor is entitled to a fair share of what they create.
Long, a Democrat, said she would like to see massive investments in infrastructure projects, as well as investments in education.
“We should also provide other pathways for success, through internships and apprenticeships,” she said.
Regarding immigration, Cortney said people coming into this country should be vetted.
“We are a nation of immigrants,” he said. “We should always be ready to bring people into this country and help them. If they are strong enough to get up and come across a country to be here, those are the type of people I think that would make and continue to make great, generations in this country.”
Long said there are a number of immigration measures with strong bipartisan support that could be passed in Congress, if members are brave enough to do it.
“They are not, that is why we have a problem,” she said.
Long added that there is wide bipartisan support that Dreamers be given citizenship.
“The fact that this has not moved forward is because members of Congress lack the political will to do this because they are afraid of the president,” she said. “We need a clean Dream act, so we can give those students, those people serving in the military, those people working in our businesses, the citizenship status that they deserve.”
Bowerman said while it is sad that children of illegal immigrants have been separated from their parents, “most of the young ones are on their path to being reunited.”
“These children have a higher quality of life,” he said. “For the first time ever, they are learning how to use indoor plumbing.”
Bowerman also compared the situation involving detained asylum-seekers with what he claims are “four million children separated from their parents in jail.”
Gasque said the current separation of children from their parents who are seeking asylum is a huge human rights violation.
“We need to create a pathway for immigrants in a way that respects human rights and does not judge a person by the color of their skin or their country of origin,” she said. “Let’s make it easy. Let’s make it affordable. Let’s make these people American citizens.
“For a lot of these people, they are more American than most people I know,” Gasque added. “They love this country, and they deserve to be able to live here legally.”
McDevitt said the separation of immigrant children from their parents is reprehensible and he advocates comprehensive immigration reform with pathways to citizenship.