1st Congressional District candidates discuss economy, health care and more at Microsoft debate
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
July 26, 2012 · 12:22 PM
On Wednesday afternoon, six of the seven candidates in the 1st Congressional District race faced off in a debate at the Microsoft, Corp. campus in Redmond.
Democrats Darcy Burner, Suzan DelBene, Steve Hobbs, Darshan Rauniyar and Laura Ruderman and Republican John Koster participated in the debate, which was presented by Seattle City Club and Microsoft. The race's seventh candidate is Independent and Redmond resident Larry Ishmael, who did not attend the debate.
The debate was moderated by Joni Balter, an editorial writer from the Seattle Times, who questioned the candidates on various topics including the issue they are most concerned about and would want to address if elected.
Burner said she wants to bring democracy back to the people.
"If there is one thing that I would like to be identified with, it's this idea that we need to restore government of, by and for the people — not government of, bought and paid for by large corporations and multimillionaires," she said.
DelBene said she wants to stand up for the middle class and get the economy moving again. She touched on her family's experience with unemployment, explaining how they moved around the country after her father lost his job and how her parents moved in with her after she finished college because they didn't have another place to go. DelBene also stressed the importance of education and how that led to a career where she could take care of her family.
"That's what everyone wants and that's what everyone's struggling for right now," she said. "And I'm not sure if I were growing up now I could tell that same story."
Hobbs said he wants to bring civility back into politics because the country and Congress are broken.
"Everyone's trying to one-up one another," he said. "We're in a crisis where we need to have someone who can bring people together … I've done it in Olympia, where I brought Republicans and Democrats together to create a bipartisan budget that protects the most vulnerable, protects education. I want to bring that to the other Washington."
Koster, the lone Republican in the debate and the race, said he believes the solutions to the nation's issues are found in people, not in bigger government programs.
"(If) we set free, the creative juices of the American people and allow them to innovate and allow them to create and allow them to go out and create businesses and provide goods and services for their fellow man, then it'll create opportunities and jobs for people," he said.
Rauniyar said he is different and Washington D.C. needs a new kind of leadership. He said as an immigrant, he has been able to live the American dream, but that dream is fading away for many hardworking families because Congress has failed.
"We, as citizens, really need to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough,'" he said. "We cannot continue to elect same politicians again and again and expect a different result."
Ruderman stressed the importance of rebuilding the economy and said she would like her role in that to be continuing to focus on expanding access to affordable, high-quality health care. She said the Affordable Care Act was a good start, but they need to build on that.
"Lack of access to health insurance is driving middle class families into bankruptcy," Ruderman said. "And that is just wrong."
The debate also had a lightning round during which Balter asked yes or no questions about whether they supported certain issues including same-sex marriage, legalizing marijuana, the Dream Act and increasing the age for Social Security. Candidates also had the option to "waffle" if they weren't sure where they stood on an issue.
During this round, party lines were drawn as Koster was often the odd man out, holding up opposite response cards from his Democratic opponents.
To watch the entire debate, visit http://tinyurl.com/cj7zs3a.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at email@example.com or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.