LONG BEACH — The Chinook Observer sat down on Oct. 5 with Carolyn Long, who is challenging Jaime Herrera Beutler to represent Washington state’s 3rd congressional district. Long, a Democrat, is a political science professor at Washington State University’s Clark County campus. Herrera Beutler has held her role since 2011.
Long, who has made numerous open town hall appearances in Pacific County during her campaign, later in the day answered questions from about 70 potential constituents at the Peninsula Senior Center.
Q: Why are you running for office?
For the last four years, Long studied political polarization in U.S. governmental institutions and growing incivility in public discourse.
Long: “It’s evident to everyone; politics have gotten a lot uglier. It’s not just about your side winning, it’s about the other side losing and often, demonization of the other side.”
Her research led to the creation of the Initiative for Public Deliberation, where she trains students to be neutral facilitators in communities to have conversations about difficult policy issues.
“I was looking at what I can do as a university professor to bridge the divide at a local level and that combined with an increase in incivility in our discourse due to President Trump got me thinking about how we can make things better, how we can save our democracy,” she said.
Long concluded that hiring the right types of people into public office is what needs to be done. This would look like people who are willing to be cooperative and reach into their own party and across the aisle to address policy problems as problem solvers, Long said. She said she believes there will be dozens of people elected into office this fall who fit this need.
Q: What is your stance on healthcare?
Long’s first healthcare-related focus is to address the Affordable Care Act.
Long: “The ACA is an imperfect law but it’s provided healthcare for 26 million Americans. But it is broken because the Republican Party, including my opponent as well as the Trump administration, have been undermining the law for the last several years. That’s most obvious with the loss of the individual mandate, which was included in the tax bill.”
Long said a solution needs to be found to address not having care providers in some areas and people paying too much for healthcare. She said she’d like to push forward a bipartisan effort to address the deficiencies of the ACA.
“The the longer it’s broken, the fewer people that are going to have access to care,” Long said.
She also focused on pursuing a public option, which would allow individuals or organizations to buy health insurance directly from the government. This was originally part of the ACA but was taken out, Long said. A public option would help drive down healthcare costs, Long said.
From there, Long would like to look at further deficiencies of the ACA and where else cost savings can be increased.
“There are probably 20-25 percent of Americans who are still very happy with their private insurance. Medicare covers a certain group of individuals. Medicaid, another group. Private insurance, another group. The ACA, another group. The public option, a sixth group,” Long said.
Q: Can you elaborate on your stance on Social Security and Medicare?
Long said Social Security and Medicare should always be looked at as earned benefits, as everyone pays into them. She believes these benefits should be protected.
Making sure Medicare includes the ability to negotiate prescription drug prices with drug companies is one of Long’s concerns.
Long: “There’s a federal law that prohibits Medicare from doing that and prescription drugs have increased almost 300 percent in the last eight years. That’s something that Medicare could do that would serve its population, but also all Americans eventually if we can have this negotiation with drug companies.”
Long would like to look at increasing the cap that the country currently has on the amount of income taxed to pay for social security. Long said she doesn’t have an idea yet of what the cap should be raised to but that indexing should be done in regard to the Consumer Price Index so it doesn’t need to be revisited frequently.
She stressed the importance of reviewing the tax bill.
“[Republicans] passed the tax bill. We still have the debt and the deficit, where are you going to find savings? My concern is that they’re going to go after our earned benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare,” she said. “I always talk about those earned benefits in the context of an environment where we have been fiscally irresponsible in borrowing from future generations to pay for tax cuts for individuals and corporations that don’t really need it.”
Q: What is your stance on wildlife management?
Long, who is a fisher herself, has experienced sea lion predation firsthand. Long said she would support the proposed bill in Congress, which Herrera Beutler and Senator Maria Cantwell are supporting, is one she would support as well.
Long is also interested in addressing declining salmon stocks.
Long: “There are many other contributing factors to the decline of our salmon stock. I would want to explore dam spill and flow because that makes a difference because if you do dam spills that makes, it spills more salmonids so you get more salmon naturally occurring in the rivers.”
Long said Herrera Beutler has opposed exploring dam spill and flow.
Something else Long would like to look into is salmon production and the impact climate change has on rivers and oceans.
“I know how important [salmon] is to this community and how important it is up and down the Columbia River in terms of sports fishermen and women. But I think it’s not a single answer, which is just down with the sea lions,” Long said. “It’s much broader and we have to take a holistic approach to get our salmon stocks up and that’s what I’m very much in favor of, with an emphasis on science.”
Q: What are your ideas for economic development in Pacific County?
Long said the 3rd District’s four rural counties are still struggling because a lot of them are natural-resource based. She is interested in looking in bringing clean energy projects to the district. She also wants to look at industries that haven’t been thought about previously, such as the cannabis industry.
“I also think that we have to protect the industries that are already here and that are struggling. That’s mainly commercial fishing and also jobs associated with the timber industry because I think we have to look at sustainable ways of managing our forest and to do a little bit of an increase in the logging,” Long said.
Another major focus Long has is getting more federal investment for high speed broadband internet. Getting better internet would help serve those who aren’t located near college campuses or who have small businesses, Long said.
“The federal government has a role to play as well in providing federal dollars to help incentivize industries that are struggling here or ones that want to come here so I’d want to be a champion for that as well,” Long said.
Q: What is your stance on I-5 bridge tolling?
Long acknowledged that the putting tolls on I-5 and 205, and replacing the I-5 bridge between Portland and Vancouver are two separate issues. Long said she doesn’t support tolling on the bridge because it was brought up in a way that would target Southwest Washingtonians. She previously spoke out against the issue.
Long said she has talked about the need to replace the I-5 bridge for years. She thinks the bridge should be replaced because it’s fiscally responsible to do so, is an earthquake hazard and is a traffic congestion problem. Long said she’s done work with the Columbia River Economic Development Council and wrote a journal article about the need to invest in infrastructure when it slows the movement of commerce.
Long: “I believe that I would be able to provide the leadership in Southwest Washington that is lacking in moving that project forward. I’ve seen nothing from our current representative that is moving any major sort of infrastructure project like the bridge happen. I would do my best to rally the Washington congressional delegation as well as the Oregon congressional delegation, to get as much federal money as possible in order to contribute to that project.”
Q: Why should voters in Pacific County vote for you?
Long: “They should vote for me because what they see now is what they’re going to get as a representative which is somebody who is absolutely attentive to their needs; somebody who listens to constituents, who welcomes opposing points of view because they make me a better member of Congress.”
Long said her academic background gives her a unique set of skills as a potential Congressperson.
“I really want to know these issues. I want to study them as much as possible and I want to come up with comprehensive ways of addressing them,” she said.
Long said she isn’t a politician who relies on slogans or catch phrases to be elected but rather is someone who wants to have a deep understanding of issues so that she can come up with the best possible solution.
“Voters will want me because I’m a fighter and I’m going to fight every single day for the people of this district,” she said.
Long also acknowledged that she has held 39 in-person town hall meetings.
Q: Is there anything else readers should know?
Long: “We talk about American values, about liberty, equality, et cetera. I think one of the American values we need to return to is the value that integrity matters,” Long said. “I hope that the people would want to select as their representative someone who reflects those values.”
Long also said she hopes she and Herrera Beutler can participate in a debate before the election.
“People deserve a real debate with an impartial moderator so that we can talk about the issues,” Long said. “That is a basic requirement of our democracy and it is lacking in this race and that’s unfortunate.”