Rep. Derek Kilmer

ELECTION 2014: Congressman, opponent face off during forum in Port Townsend

PORT TOWNSEND— While the two candidates for the 6th Congressional District share goals of economic development and improving the quality of life, their path to accomplishing them often follows party lines.

Incumbent Derek Kilmer, 40, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Marty McClendon, 47, addressed a crowd of about 45 people at the Port Townsend Recreation Center on Wednesday night, in a 90-minute presentation of their views and values.

Both called for bipartisanship with positions that echoed their party platforms, with Kilmer believing that global warming is a serious issue and corporations are not people — positions with which McClendon disagreed.

“Global warming exists, and our shellfish growers are already feeling those effects,” Kilmer said.

“We have three coastal tribes in the district, and they are in the process of having to move to higher ground because they’ve had consistent flooding from the severe storms and rising sea levels.

“The first step is to have a Congress that admits this threat exists.”

“The issue comes down to economics,” McClendon said.

“Right now, the potential for oil extraction has created tremendous job opportunities in two states, South Dakota and Texas, with the potential to extract more oil than Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

“These are reserves that we can reach using fracking, and we have to take advantage of that, and there are smart, efficient ways to do this while being safe with the environment.

“The priority should be jobs first and then deal with the environment.”

The candidates took opposite positions with regard to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which gives corporations the same First Amendment rights as individuals.

“I think Citizens United was a bad decision,” Kilmer said.

“I don’t think that money is speech, and I don’t think corporations are people, so if the Supreme Court thinks otherwise, I think we should amend the Constitution.”

Kilmer said that in the 2012 presidential election, the same amount of money came from contributions by 3.7 million people and money from 32 wealthy Americans contributing to super PACs.

“This means that 32 people have the same voice as 3.7 million Americans,” Kilmer said.

“I don’t think that was consistent with the vision of our founders.”

McClendon said he favored campaign finance reform but opposed a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United.

“Why are we doing this now?” he said.

“I don’t know why this is such a big issue today.

“I think we need to get more exposure for soft money sources and have some reform, but it should be done without restricting constitutional rights.”

Both candidates said they favored a redefinition of laws governing both medical and recreational marijuana.

“It makes sense to reclassify marijuana,” Kilmer said.

“You don’t go into an antibiotic store when you need antibiotics; you go to a pharmacy.

“So it makes sense to have medical marijuana available in a pharmacy, but you can’t do that until it’s reclassified.”

Banking rules also need redefinition, Kilmer said.

“If you are concerned about public safety and don’t want these drugs to end up in the hands of kids, then you don’t want this to be an under-the-table business,” he said.

“I come to this very cautiously, being a pastor and a dad,” McClendon said.

“I don’t want pot around my kids, but a lot of law enforcement agencies are taking up hours with these regulations they don’t need to.

“It makes sense by changing the terminology and the rules on the federal level, we can create regulations to keep it away from kids in the same way we do for liquor.

“For financial reasons and from a freedom standpoint, a state-rights standpoint, I support redefining the laws.”

Both candidates said the Islamic State group represents a threat that must be addressed.

“At some point in time, we will go in to establish a base of operations,” McClendon said.

“Right now, we can only bomb from our Navy ships and can only do so much, so we will need to go in and establish a safety area in order to accomplish what we need to do.”

Kilmer said the current policy is one area in which he disagrees with the Obama administration.

“I don’t think it’s right that we are using a 13-year-old authorization for the use of military force,” he said.

“I think if Congress is going to go forward on this, it should repeal that authorization and adopt a more narrow approach with much clearer guidelines.”


Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or [email protected]

The North Olympic Peninsula Voter Guide can be accessed here:

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