By The Herald Editorial Board
The voters’ choice to represent Washington’s 1st Congressional District will next year find a much more compact district, following the redistricting process that concluded this year after the 2020 census.
As Congress concludes its work this year, the 1st District currently includes much of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties east of I-5, including some north-central portions of King County. With the start of the 118th Congress, the district will be confined to a relatively narrow swath between Arlington and Bellevue, still largely east of I-5 but marking Monroe as its easternmost community. The balance of what currently is the 1st has been divvied up between the also redrawn 2nd and 8th districts.
The current district — a mix of urban, suburban and rural communities — has been well served by the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Democrat, since her first election in 2012. DelBene, in the view of the editorial board, remains the best choice to represent the redrawn district.
DelBene is challenged by Republican Vincent Cavaleri, currently a member of the Mill Creek City Council who works as a Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputy.
Both DelBene and Cavaleri met jointly with the board in September.
Cavaleri, who said he grew up as a “troubled youth” in New York, was given a choice by a police officer between jail and the military. Cavaleri picked the Army and served in the Army Reserve for six years before moving to Washington. He has worked as a deputy for 21 years.
Cavaleri said he is running because he is troubled by the current state of the nation and its leadership with specific concerns for chaos at the southern border, an epidemic of fentanyl overdoses and deaths, crime and rampant inflation.
He is critical of recent action in Congress, including the Inflation Reduction Act, which he considers a “climate change bill wrapped in a fancy title” that won’t make good on any of its promises, in particular for lower-income and middle-income families. He was also critical of one of the bill’s provisions to “hire 87,000 agents” for the IRS.
One specific proposal Cavaleri made was across-the-board 5 percent cuts from the federal budget for government programs, with exemptions only for Defense Department, Social Security and Medicare. Such action, he said, would “start healing the economy.”
Yet, Cavaleri’s exceptions amount to 59 percent of the federal budget. Add in another 7 percent for interest payments on the debt and 7 percent for benefits for veterans and federal retirees — both out of reach of such cuts — and that leaves 27 percent eligible for cuts from education, transportation, natural resources and agriculture, science and medical research, law enforcement and similar programs.
Cavaleri said he didn’t have the data on what such cuts would save the budget, but said families already are having to make similarly tough choices.
DelBene challenged her opponent’s contentions regarding the IRA, arguing that it will make a difference for families and seniors, starting with Medicare’s ability to negotiate the prices of drugs and its $35-a-month cap on the cost of insulin. As well, the legislation extends lower health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act that would have expired. And the grants and subsidies for environmental investments in the IRA will address the costs that climate change already is forcing upon Americans, she said.
As for the IRS hiring the act provides, DelBene clarified that the agency — responsible for collecting the revenue with which federal programs are supported — has been woefully underfunded for years, and that much of the hiring will replace retiring employees and the hiring of additional staff who will answer phone calls that now go unanswered, process returns and refunds and update the agency’s badly outdated technology.
Cavaleri separates himself from some fellow Republicans who insist that the 2020 election was stolen from former president Donald Trump. Cavaleri said he acknowledged Joe Biden as the winner shortly after the election, and believes the issue has unnecessarily divided the nation.
However, Cavaleri sounds a less-than-bipartisan tone in a commentary in the September issue of the Mill Creek View. Cavaleri criticized the actions of the FBI and the Department of Justice in recovering White House documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, calling it “the weaponization of law-enforcement institutions to silence political opponents” and writing that “the agencies felt the need to drop a nuclear bomb on the republican establishment by raiding the ex-president’s home, Peruvian style.”
Such statements will play to some voters, but the board believes that most Herald readers are instead interested in representation that seeks solutions to pressing issues, as often as possible with bipartisan support.
DelBene, for the last 10 years, has delivered that and promises more of it.
Chair of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, DelBene currently serves on the Ways and Means and its subcommittees on revenue measures and trade. Before serving in Congress, DelBene headed the state Department of Revenue and worked in the technology field, including two stints with Microsoft.
DelBene joined in voting for a slate of successful recent legislation in Congress, including last year’s infrastructure package that in addition to long-sought help for transportation included provisions that seek to expand access to broadband internet, vital to her current district with rural areas where even cell phone signals can be insufficient.
As well, during the last two years she has sponsored 21 bills, 11 earning bipartisan support, including reforms of a low-income housing credit, now in a House committee; and legislation to provide more timely pre-authorization of Medicare patients’ treatment, which passed the House and is now in the Senate. A third, which would suspend tariffs for imports of infant formula to increase its supply during a shortage, passed the House at the end of September.
DelBene also offers the perspective of someone who has served in the House during terms when her party was in the minority, a position she and Democrats may have to again contend with depending on the outcome of the midterms. Regardless of the chamber’s control, DelBene has shown her ability to work in a cooperative fashion with House colleagues of both parties.
The editorial board recommends voters cast their ballots for DelBene.