Tag: Suzan DelBene
U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene and her staff are touting her influence on a pending agriculture bill as evidence of the freshman Democrat’s effectiveness in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
DelBene serves on the House Agriculture Committee, and her office reports that U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., the committee chairman, has approved job-training funds for food stamp recipients in a wide-ranging agriculture bill, at DelBene’s urging.
“After months of hard work, I’m pleased that the Farm Bill introduced by Chairman Lucas today includes my proposal to help struggling families receive the training and education they need to get a good job. It’s a good example of what can get done if folks are willing to sit down and work together,” DelBene said in a press release.
DelBene staffer Viet Shelton explained that the bill would provide $30 million in funding to allow some other states to try to duplicate the success of a Washington state job training program for food aid recipients. About 60 percent of those who participate in the job training program are no longer in need of food aid within two years, Shelton said.
As Shelton explained it, this is a pilot program, meaning that if the evidence indicates the $30 million has been well-spent, getting people off public assistance, it could be expanded further.
The full Agriculture Committee has yet to vote on the bill, but that vote could occur in the next day or two, Shelton said.
DelBene, of Medina, represents the 1st District, redrawn in 2012 to include much of Whatcom County.
By John Stark
U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have joined Whatcom County’s two U.S. House representatives, Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene in urging President Barack Obama to designate a national monument in the San Juan Islands.
Here is the joint press release from the four Democrats, which includes the text of their letter to Obama:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a joint letter sent Monday, the Northwest Washington Congressional delegation called on President Barack Obama to take action to conserve close to 1,000 acres of federally owned land on the San Juan Islands with a Presidential National Monument designation.
U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA-2), and Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1) urged President Obama to make such a designation prior to the departure of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar later this year. Salazar has led the Administration’s efforts on conserving the federally owned lands in the San Juan Islands, including holding multiple community forums in Washington state over the last several years. Salazar announced on January 16 that he would leave the post and return to Colorado later this year.
In the letter to President Obama, Cantwell, Murray, Larsen and DelBene also announced their intention to reintroduce legislation in the 113th Congress that would conserve the land through a Congressional National Conservation Area (NCA) designation. Currently, there is no long-term comprehensive management plan for these lands, which the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees.
“As the 113th Congress and your second term commence, we write to renew our support for the dual-track approach to conserving certain federally owned land parcels in the San Juan Islands that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM),” Cantwell, Murray, Larsen and DelBene wrote. “While we will continue to push for the swift passage of our legislation to conserve these areas, we want to make clear that we believe a National Monument designation offers another pathway that could expedite our shared goals. Before Secretary Salazar leaves office, we urge you to consider designating a National Monument in the San Juan Islands, bringing his and our efforts to fruition.”
The citizen-driven effort to preserve these lands has generated widespread, passionate support from the community. In February 2012, Cantwell, Salazar and members of the community held a public meeting in Anacortes to discuss federal efforts to preserve the land. In July 2011, Cantwell and Larsen held a community listening session in Friday Harbor to hear feedback on the effort to create a National Conservation Area. In April 2011, Salazar held a meeting in Washington state with state and local leaders to discuss San Juan Islands conservation efforts.
Permanent protection of the approximately 1,000 acres of federally owned lands would ensure it remains in its current state and publicly accessible, despite higher use. The federally owned lands include over 60 locations that range from pine forests to lighthouses and are visited by more than 70,000 people every year.
“A National Monument designation will protect the sensitive and beautiful BLM lands in the San Juan Islands and would make a lasting impact of the hundreds of hours of service made by local volunteers to care for the land,” said Tom Reeve, a member of the Islanders for the San Juan Islands National Conservation Area. “We applaud the leadership of our Congressional delegation and urge President Obama to act now to meet the call of San Juan islanders to preserve these cherished lands for future generations of islanders and visitors.”
Full text of the letter is below.
January 28, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As the 113th Congress and your second term commence, we write to renew our support for the dual-track approach to conserving certain federally owned land parcels in the San Juan Islands that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). While we intend to reintroduce legislation to protect these cherished lands permanently through a Congressional National Conservation Area designation, we fully support your alternative efforts to conserve these same lands through a Presidential National Monument designation (an authority that Congress granted as part of the Antiquities Act of 1906) if such a designation ensures the same level of community involvement as the legislative effort.
The BLM manages approximately 1,000 acres in the San Juan Islands that are important wildlife habitat and draw thousands of tourists every year. Secretary of the Interior Salazar has been particularly helpful to our efforts to preserve these lands. We greatly appreciated his visits in April 2011 and February 2012 to engage local stakeholders and discuss the best way to protect and preserve public access to these unique federal parcels. His willingness to listen to our local constituents and their concerns about the legislation and National Monument designation was instrumental in gaining local support for the dual-track approach. The volunteer community group that first developed the idea of a National Conservation Area, in addition to local, state and tribal stakeholders, now supports a National Monument designation as well. While we will continue to push for the swift passage of our legislation to conserve these areas, we want to make clear that we believe a National Monument designation offers another pathway that could expedite our shared goals.
Before Secretary Salazar leaves office, we urge you to consider designating a National Monument in the San Juan Islands, bringing his and our efforts to fruition. Thank you for your interest in the San Juan Islands. We look forward to working with you to protect these areas for future generations.
By John Stark
It was a long, long ballot bristling with people and issues that mattered, from the White House to the Port of Bellingham offices on Roeder Avenue. The local races are in some ways the most suspenseful, because there is seldom any polling data to warn us what the voters are going to do.
What election result was most surprising to you? Was it Obama’s win? Rob McKenna’s seemingly weak showing? (People are saying that one is too close to call, but McKenna’s weak showing in King County makes it hard to visualize a comeback for him in late rounds of vote counting.)
How about Democrat Suzan DelBene’s rather healthy margin over hardy perennial John Koster in the redrawn 1st District, which includes most of Whatcom County outside Bellingham?
Or was it the big margin of victory for the Bellingham Home Fund, with city residents once again enthusiastically embracing a tax increase?
How about the port commission expansion, which seemed to have broad-spectrum support in Bellingham but looks headed to a narrow defeat in countywide voting?
Please share your thoughts once or twice.
Washington State Democrats have issued a press release accusing Republican 1st District Congressional candidate John Koster of hiding from immigration issues.
The Dems note that the GOP’s platform committee has staked out a hard-line position that opposes any kind of amnesty for those who are in the country illegally, including DREAM Act measures that would show some mercy to those who were brought into the country as children. The New York Times reports.
The accusation that Koster is dodging the issue is based on his campaign’s failure to return a phone call for this Seattle Times story noting that Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and Senatorial candidate Mike Baumgartner have attempted to move away from their party’s hard-line immigration stance.
Here’s how the Dems’ press release characterizes this non-return of a phone call: “Koster refused to answer questions about his opinion of the extreme Republican positions …”
For what it’s worth, Koster did address the immigration issue in The Bellingham Herald’s Q&A to 1st District candidates before the August primary, although he also seemed to change the subject to excessive federal regulation of agriculture. Here is our question about immigration, along with Koster’s answer and the answer from Suzan DelBene, the Democrat who took second place in the primary and is facing Koster in the November general election:
Q: Agriculture is a $290 million a year business in Whatcom County. Local farmers say their very existence could be threatened if tightened immigration restrictions deprive them of undocumented laborers, without providing them with a legal way to obtain the labor force they need. What should Congress do to address the labor problem in agriculture?
John Koster: We are a nation of immigrants. The debate and problems we have today are not about legal immigration, but illegal immigration. The debate is also a matter of national security. We must secure our borders. We are a nation of laws; therefore, we first need to enforce our existing immigration laws. I will oppose efforts to provide amnesty for illegal aliens. That being said, American farmers are fully capable of feeding this nation. Excessive governmental regulation and micro-management threatens this capability. Farmers must be left free to innovate and produce without unnecessary and intrusive regulations. As a third-generation dairy farmer, I personally feel that we need to revamp and reinstitute our “guest worker program” that offers temporary visas for those wishing to come from other countries to work as seasonal workers. Washington’s farmers have a need for seasonal agriculture workers. However, any guest worker program should never provide a fraudulent cover for those seeking to flout our immigration laws.
Suzan DelBene: For too long, Congress had ignored taking meaningful action to address immigration and as a result we have a flawed system that isn’t working, for immigrants, their families or employers. I support comprehensive immigration reform. Reform should include an earned path to citizenship for those who are here and working. I’m not supportive of e-verify and don’t think it’s good for our farmers or workers. What’s more, we need a legal and safe way for migrant workers to be able meet the labor demands of our agricultural industry in a way that protects workers and helps our economy thrive. Comprehensive reform has to be more than an enforcement-only policy and we must treat immigrants and their families with respect and dignity, not as second-class citizens.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, the Everett Democrat whose 2nd District includes Bellingham, has endorsed Suzan DelBene in the neighboring 1st District, which will include nearly all of Whatcom County outside the city beginning in 2013.
DelBene has also picked up an endorsement from Ferndale Mayor Gary Jensen, according to her office.
Here is the statement from Larsen’s office:
“The First Congressional District race is critically important for Democrats this fall. As someone who currently represents large portions of the district, I know what it takes to win there, both as an open seat in 2000 and a hotly contested one in 2010.
“I have been watching the race closely and evaluating the Democratic candidates. I am looking for the person who can best run the kind of modern campaign that mixes the necessary organization, outreach to the big and small towns, and resources to deliver the positive message of restoring the middle class and protecting Medicare.
“That candidate must also push back against the tired Tea Party/Republican policies of the presumed GOP candidate.
“I am endorsing Suzan DelBene for Congress. Suzan DelBene has worked hard in the last few months to understand the issues in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish Counties through aggressive outreach to local community groups and elected officials. She combines that with her clear knowledge of the needs of North King County.
“Suzan DelBene has put together the kind of organization to win the primary and this fall. I am not surprised by this as it reflects her success in business putting together successful organizations.
“Suzan DelBene has proved she can raise money competitively in this race, outraising all other Democratic candidates and crushing the lone Republican candidate in that aspect of the campaign.
“Most importantly, Suzan DelBene brings her moderate business background and a progressive outlook that best equips her to address the need for jobs and economic growth in the new distrtict.
“Suzan DelBene is passionate about restoring the middle class that was devastated by the Bush recession and will fight for all working families while protecting Medicare for seniors and educational opportunity for kids.
“All of this points to Suzan DelBene as the Democratic candidate who will win this fall.
“Democrats are blessed with a great group of candidates for the new First District. Suzan DelBene is a cut above. I am asking Democrats to support her.”
End of Larsen press release
Here is DeBene’s response:
BOTHELL – Congressman Rick Larsen (D-Everett) announced his endorsement of 1st Congressional Candidate Suzan DelBene today. The following is a statement from DelBene:
“Whether it’s standing up for veterans, seniors or the working families in his district, Congressman Larsen has always put the interests of his constituents first, ahead of special interests and I’m grateful for his support.
“I’m running for Congress to be a partner with him to make sure there is someone fighting for the middle class in Washington DC, and to put our country and our economy back on track.”
Larsen’s announcement continues a string of significant endorsements in recent weeks bolstering DelBene’s campaign. Recently Gov. Chris Gregoire, Snohomish County Councilman Brian Sullivan and Ferndale Mayor Gary Jensen all have come out supporting DelBene.
For more information about Suzan DelBene, visit: www.delbeneforcongress.com
During a lengthy telephone interview last week, Suzan DelBene kept circling back to jobs and the economy as the centerpiece of her message as she seeks the open 1st District seat in the U.S. Congress.
DelBene was in Whatcom County over the weekend to court 1st District voters here.
Asked how she plans to differentiate herself from other candidates in the Democratic field, DelBene contended she has more private-sector experience.
“We really want someone in office who knows how policy can affect the real world,” DelBene said.
Asked for her views on SSA Marine’s real-world proposal to build a coal export terminal at Cherry Point, DelBene noted that the site has jobs potential as an undeveloped deep water port. But she said she’s still talking to people about the issue and has not yet formulated a position.
On a broader note, DelBene called for investment in infrastructure and education to improve the economy and the job prospects of citizens.
She is also a believer in keeping education affordable so that less fortunate students can overcome economic hardships to improve their lot in life. She said her own father lost his job as an airline pilot when she was in fourth grade.
“My parents never got back on their feet,” she said.
DelBene relied on loans and grants to pay for her college education, but she said state and federal spending cuts are making it harder for today’s students to do that.
She also favors taking a critical look at tax breaks for industry. She said those breaks are justified if they can be shown to create a return for society, in the form of jobs and economic growth that help to generate public revenue for education and other public needs.
DelBene, Ruderman and Burner are probably better-known figures in King and Snohomish counties. Ruderman served in the state legislature, while Burner and DelBene ran tough but unsuccessful races against Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert before redistricting.
I have scheduled an interview with a fourth candidate, Darshan Rauniyar, later this week. I’m still looking forward to hearing from a fifth Congressional candidate, State Sen. Steve Hobbs, who is no doubt busy with state issues as I write this.
Democrat Suzan DelBene, former director of the Washington Department of Revenue, will be in Whatcom County Saturday to campaign for the 1st District seat in Congress.
Thanks to the redrawing of Congressional districts, most of Whatcom County outside Bellingham is now in the 1st District.
Like some of her Democratic rivals for the Congressional seat, DelBene is far better known in suburban Seattle. She ran a close but unsuccessful congressional race against Dave Reichert in 2010 before Gov. Chris Gregoire named her to the Department of Revenue post.
DelBene told me she’s looking forward to hearing from Whatcom County residents before she takes a position on the Gateway Pacific Terminal project at Cherry Point.
I’ll post more of my interview with her on Monday.
The race for the open Congressional seat in the 1st District, which includes most of Whatcom County outside Bellingham, is heating up fast.
Earlier this week, Democrat Darcy Burner released poll results showing her with a commanding lead among voters in her party.
On Tuesday, Jan. 31, rival Democrat Suzan DelBene issued a press release saying she has raised more than $122,000 in campaign contributions since she announced her candidacy Jan. 12. The press release suggests that this compares favorably with the slightly larger $127,875 sum that Burner has raised in the two months she has been campaigning.
At this point, I am aware of only two visits to Whatcom County by 1st District Democratic hopefuls: Burner and Laura Ruderman, who is also a former Microsoft executive.
If anyone else slipped across the county line without checking in with the Bellingham Herald politics blog, let me know.