DelBene sets up office in Bothell while running for First District seat

Suzan DelBene has worked out of her Bothell office since March during her run for a First District seat.  - Andy Nystrom / Reporter
Suzan DelBene has worked out of her Bothell office since March during her run for a First District seat.
— image credit: Andy Nystrom / Reporter

Suzan DelBene is a businesswoman, an entrepreneur — and a runner.

She’s helped start up companies, managed small businesses, worked in large businesses like Microsoft and was director of the Washington State Department of Revenue. And the 50-year-old has also run a couple of marathons over the years.

DelBene, a Democrat, is one of eight candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1st Congressional District, which includes Bothell and Kenmore. Jay Inslee left the seat vacant to run for governor and it will be filled in the November 2012 general election.

The Medina resident who has an office in Bothell is endorsed by Gov. Chris Gregoire and a handful of local legislators and labor organizations.

The Reporter spoke with DelBene on a recent afternoon:

What would make you the ideal candidate for Congress?

I think our top issues right now are issues with the economy and with jobs. So, someone who has a strong resume in working in business — both small business and large business — and really understands how our economy works is going to be critically important. And I have that experience. I have a good idea of what we need to do from a policy perspective, as well as making sure we put together policy that has the impact we need it to have and get real results, in what I always say, in the ‘real world.’

(She ran for the 8th District seat and lost in 2010) What did you learn from that experience that you’re applying to coming at it again?

The most important thing, and probably the best part of a campaign, is the ability to talk with people on a variety of issues. People are really honest when you talk to them, especially on a campaign about the challenges they face, what they’d like to see happen, what they think we need to do to improve — and it’s very refreshing to be able to have those honest conversations with folks.

It’s about getting out and talking to as many people as possible, understanding the issues that really are important to this district: The economy, the impact of local businesses on our economy and what we can do to help them thrive and help working families thrive.

Are you familiar with the Bothell area, have you touched base with any of the folks from the city?

Yep. I talked to the city manager and some folks there about all of the downtown redevelopment and what’s going on in the plans for downtown Bothell and the waterfront. So that’s been incredibly interesting, and there’s a lot of work going on and plans for a lot more work to go on over time.

The other key point is there’s been a lot of great work going on in terms of looking at public investment and how that can bring in private investment. I think that’s a great example of things that we need to do to help get our economy growing. I think some of the work going on in Bothell is a great example of what we may need to do on a broader level across the district.

What are some of the key things that you’re hoping to achieve if you were to get this position?

I think helping get our economy moving and creating jobs and creating economic opportunity is really critical for me. My dad lost his job when I was young, my parents struggled quite a bit, but I got to go to college and get a great education. With student loans and work-study programs and financial aid, I want to make sure that students still have access to those same opportunities that I did when I was growing up.

And we have right down the street here, UW-Bothell and Cascadia and great examples of students coming in to get an education. It’s becoming more of a challenge from an affordability standpoint, so I think it’s really important that we put programs together that support our education from early learning all the way through higher education.

(We need to) work closely with businesses to understand what they need to do to thrive — that means investments in infrastructure. You’ve seen it here, a lot of the work that’s gone on in terms of connecting our educational institutions, like UW-Bothell with medical-device manufacturers in the bio-tech industry there — those are partnerships that help many folks, help people learn and also help create jobs and grow our economy.

It happens locally, but we need to look at how we do that on a broader way across the country.

(On running) Is that a good activity for you to clear your head after all the intense days, or do you do some good planning while you’re running?

It is a great way to think — you kind of clear your mind. You get to be outside, and especially this time of year, it starts getting incredibly beautiful.

You do come up with some pretty great ideas when you don’t have to think about anything in particular.

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