SEAVIEW - Just as Fourth of July celebrations mark the start of the tourist season, this year the political campaign season in Pacific County was heralded by a visit from U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick.
The Republican challenger to incumbent Democrat Maria Cantwell has taken to the road, touring the state in a large red motorhome, holding town-hall style meetings, talking to citizens, listening to their concerns and letting them know his views.
On the evening of Wednesday, July 12, he could be found at the home of the Brett and Nan Malin, who hosted the event at their spacious Seaview front garden. Festivities started with an informal potluck and barbecue and were followed by an "Open Mike" forum in a question and answer format.
McGavick was introduced by Chinook Observer Editor Matt Winters to a crowd of about 50 who gathered under tents, swatting at mosquitoes.
"We appreciate Mike coming. I envy the experience but it's not one I'd like to repeat," he said of McGavick's whirlwind state tour. In a previous incarnation, Winters was involved in political campaigning himself. McGavick, who was chief of staff for former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, is visiting 39 counties in 23 days along the lines of an old-fashioned whistle-stop campaign. Winters then briefly outlined some issues, such as fisheries, Social Security and healthcare, which are concerns for many Pacific County residents.
"Leave it to a newspaperman to have an introduction with questions," joked McGavick.
He told the audience he was motivated to run for senator because he is tired of the mean-spirited tones campaigns have acquired.
"I find the way we conduct campaigns these days very frustrating," he said. "I think it hurts democracy."
And that attitude, he said, carries over into politics, discouraging civilized and rational debate and promoting an atmosphere of extremism.
"Do we feel like they're (politicians) trying to solve problems? Anyone?" he asked the crowd. He used the response to Hurricane Katrina as an example. He said he clearly remembers a split screen news broadcast where at the same time victims were desperately signaling for help, politicians from both parties were playing the "blame game," instead of working toward solutions.
He went on to outline his beliefs.
"America must be strong," he said. A strong America helped rid the world of fascism and communism, and this time has its own challenge. "We must rid the world of terrorism," he said.
McGavick said he also believed in free enterprise, which means keeping taxes low, creating jobs and limiting government and that the family is the cornerstone of the country. He said he is also a believer in state's rights on most issues.
He was asked by Long Beach Councilman Ralph Moore, who has a son in Iraq, his views on the situation.
"I believe the least moral choice from where we are right now is to suddenly leave," he said. The lesson from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 was, "When someone puts it into writing they want to destroy your way of life you should believe them," he said. He emphasized that the timetable for a pullout should not be a political decision, but based on the information of commanders on the ground, working with the Iraqi government.
"Thanks for your answer," said Moore. "I like it."
McGavick was also asked several questions on healthcare and social security reform, which he said are the biggest drivers in deficit inflation. For healthcare, he said lawsuits play are large roll in increasing health cost. "In the back of their (doctors') minds, along with care is the courthouse," he said. But he does not believe the Canada form of medical care works.
On Social Security, he said three things need to be done; guarantee benefits to those who have earned them; voluntary income "means testing," where those who feel they do not need the money can return it to the system; and restore confidence in the system to those who are under thirty. One technique, he said, would be to, not privatize, but put money in to accounts in the individual's name.
When asked about his view on government mandates, such as in education, he responded without hesitation. "If you aren't willing to pay for it, you shouldn't direct somebody to do it."
When asked about environmental issues, he said he is in favor of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, saying it would be environmentally safe. He supports finding alternate energy sources but says it will take time to develop them. "Oil is going to be a part of our economy for a while," he said. In the meantime, domestic oil is preferable to foreign oil dependence.
He also said he does not have confidence in the Endangered Species Act and it should be reformed. He said of the 1,300 species listed on 1 percent have been saved. "Only in D.C. would that be considered a success rate."
And, he said, the act was missing the point. "We really are not engaged in a struggle over species, it's about land use." He said financial programs should be in place to encourage good land stewardship, not penalize. "Is there an incentive to finding an endangered species on your property now?" he asked, eliciting a laugh from the crowd.
Part of the problem, he said, is the environment has become such an emotional issue. "The noise level has got to come down," he said. And he believes most people do want to pass on a healthy environment to their grandchildren and choose to live in the area because of it. "Would you live here if it wasn't beautiful?" he asked. "It rains too much."
To find out more about Mike McGavick visit his Web site at (www.mikemcgavick.com).