Incumbent Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Medina) is running against Jeffrey Beeler, a Republican from Sultan, to retain her seat in Washington’s 1st Congressional District. The 1st district includes most of Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties and the northeast third of King.
1. Please provide a brief biography.
Suzan DelBene: I bring a unique voice to the nation’s capital, with more than two decades of experience as a successful technology entrepreneur and business leader in the private sector. My depth of experience and focus on achieving concrete results allow me to break through Congressional gridlock and get things done. I know what it will take to ensure that our nation and this region lead in creating high-wage 21st century jobs—great educational opportunities for our children and ongoing training for adults; a financial system that is fair, strong and transparent; incentives that foster research, innovation, and entrepreneurship; and a health care system that works for everyone. I will continue fighting for these priorities in the other Washington.
Jeffrey Beeler: I am a small business owner of 30 years. I moved to the city of Sultan in 2000 with my beautiful bride Marni to raise our family. We have three children, two biological boys 20 and 17 and an adopted daughter from Ethiopia who is 16. After working with the city on a couple of advisory panels in 2007 and 2008, I was appointed to an open seat on the city council in 2009 and have been re-elected three times.
2. Threats of government shutdowns are becoming more common. If elected, what would your federal budget priorities be, and how would you work to keep the government running?
DelBene: I serve on the House Budget Committee, and have been fighting for a bipartisan, long-term budget solution that reduces our deficit and grows our economy. I am committed to expanding our middle class by making the right investments in things like education, infrastructure and affordable housing and giving small businesses the tools to grow and expand. We need to make sure people have access to opportunities that will afford them a fair shot at success.
Beeler: The budget is a main priority of mine. As a small business owner, it is hard for me to watch as the leaders of our country spend more money, year after year, decade after decade, than we have which puts a burden on our children and grandchildren. Social Security and Medicare, national defense, securing our borders, these are the important priorities facing our nation. Sometimes taking a stand to hold firm so that we spend within our budget is needed. And, sometimes government shutdowns to reign in the spending are our last resort. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road.
3. How would you work across the aisle to address the health care and opioid crises in our country?
DelBene: As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I am working to ensure all Americans have meaningful access to affordable, quality health care. I have also fought against attempts to dismantle Medicare, repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and slash Social Security benefits, because these programs serve as critical lifelines for millions of American families. I believe Congress should build on the progress that’s been made by incentivizing high-quality patient care that saves money in the long run. Addressing our nation’s opioid crisis remains a top priority of mine. I have passed bipartisan bills that support alternatives to incarceration and less dependence on opioid prescriptions, coupled with proactive measures that hospitals can take to limit unnecessary opioid prescriptions.
Beeler: In order to work across the aisle, you must develop the relationships with those on the other side. I have been a bridge builder and a leader in my community doing just that. As a Republican, I recognize there are needs in the community that must be addressed. I have found that there are great ideas coming from both sides, and it’s by taking those common sense, common ground ideas, putting them together to create health care that will work for everyone, which protects our most vulnerable and addresses the opioid/mental issues crisis we are facing. This is what’s important.
4. Mass shootings, suicides and school security are big concerns in our communities. When it comes to guns, how do you balance safety with constitutional rights?
DelBene: I am committed to working to identify common-sense steps that we can take to prevent gun violence and mass shootings while also respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. I support efforts to keep military-style weapons, including bump-stocks out of the hands of civilians, to remove the statutory ban on researching gun violence as a public health crisis, to strengthen our background checks system, to protect domestic violence and stalking victims from gun violence, and to prevent individuals convicted of hate crimes from accessing firearms.
Beeler: Balancing the rights of gun owners with the concerns of many who have seen the violence in our communities is one of the important things we must address as a nation. When you have some of the most restrictive gun cities in the U.S. have the most gun violence, when you pit the constitutional rights up against fear and anxiety, you are creating an environment that restricts compromise. We need to bring together the opposing sides and find that common ground. Will either side get what they want? Probably not. A good negotiation makes sure no one is the big winner, but that everyone gets a chair at the table and a way to get their concerns addressed.