Washington state’s 1st Congressional District, which encompasses eastern regions of Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish and King counties, was drawn in 2012 with the intention of creating a “swing” district, one with representation among its residents that wouldn’t favor one party or the other.
In the district’s first two elections in 2012 and 2014, voters have not seen a need to swing away from Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Democrat who lives in Medina. She defeated Republican John Koster in 2012 with nearly 54 percent support and Republican Pedro Celis in 2014 with 55 percent support.
The latest Republican too take a swing at the district is Robert Sutherland of Granite Falls.
Sutherland, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, has a degree in biochemistry and researched DNA cancer therapies at a Seattle biotech company. He ran for Congress in 2014, but was defeated in the primary by Celis. He also ran for Snohomish County executive in 2015.
Sutherland’s priorities include securing the borders to end illegal immigration; strengthening the economy by lowering corporate taxes; repealing Obamacare and allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state borders; gradually turning over federal lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to state agencies; and promoting energy independence by encouraging the development of oil, natural gas and clean coal but also renewable sources, such as wind, solar and tidal.
Sutherland opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an trade agreement among 11 Pacific Rim countries, citing conditions that would put American companies at a disadvantage.
The agreement faces an uncertain future; it would need to be ratified by Congress and both presidential candidates have said they oppose it.
DelBene, while indicating she’s waiting to see final language on side agreements if and when TPP is presented to Congress, approved legislation that moved the negotiation process forward and is supportive of trade in general as a vital job generator. DelBene has noted that Washington is the nation’s most trade-dependent state and two of the counties she represents — Snohomish and King — are among the top 10 most trade-dependent counties in the nation.
DelBene also was a strong voice in support of reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank that provides financing that promotes exports of Washington state-produced goods and services.
DelBene, who has an MBA from the University of Washington, had a 12-year career at Microsoft, spending time as vice-president for global sales, marketing and the company’s mobile technology basis. Her technology background informed her support for the USA Freedom Act in 2015, that terminated the bulk collection of metadata from phone calls by the government and passed with bipartisan support.
Serving on the agriculture committee, she worked to pass the 2014 Farm bill that expanded crop insurance for farmers and limited the cuts, though not fully successful, to the food stamp program.
Among her work on the environment, DelBene worked with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to win reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and worked with Republican Rep. Dave Reichert of the state’s 8th Congressional District to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Recent bills she has submitted have focused on the needs of the 1st District, including the Timber Innovation Act and the National Landslide Loss Reduction Act.
DelBene serves a diverse district, but has worked to serve its residents’ interests, promote jobs and develop its economy and protect its environmental resources. The Herald endorses Suzan DelBene.