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SW Washington congressional candidates Kent and Gluesenkamp Perez spar over vastly different visions for the future

Republican Joe Kent said his main goal is to end one party rule while Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez said she'll focus on small business and manufacturing jobs.

PORTLAND, Ore. — With ballots mailed out and just over a week to go before Election Day on Tuesday, November 8th, voters in Washington's 3rd Congressional District are choosing a new face to represent them in Washington, D.C. 

Six-term incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler lost in the top-two primary in August. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, the only Democrat on a crowded ballot, was the top vote-getter while Republican Joe Kent came in second. 

Herrera Beutler was one of 10 US House Republicans to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump, which Kent said motivated him to run against her. Neither he nor Gluesenkamp Perez have ever held elected office.

Gluesenkamp Perez owns a Portland auto repair shop with her husband and lives in rural Skamania County. Kent is a former Green Beret who served 20 years in the military. He's endorsed by President Trump and lives in Yacolt, Washington.

In this week's episode of Straight Talk, Kent and Gluesenkamp Perez sparred over their competing visions for Southwest Washington and the nation, including what they would do to bring down inflation and reduce crime, and their views on abortion rights and immigration.

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Kent's Vision

Kent put the blame for a weakened US economy, high inflation and increasing crime rates squarely on the Biden administration and Democrats. He said his opponent and other Democrats are trying to distract from key issues hurting the district and nation.

"My vision for the district and really for the nation overall is to end one-party rule in Washington, DC. The last two years of one-party rule have been absolutely disastrous for our country and for our district," he said. "We have out-of-control inflation. Inflation is going to steal one month of wages from every single American... We have crime that is completely out of control thanks to a wide open southern border. Enough fentanyl has been pumped into our country to kill many Americans multiple times over."

Gluesenkamp Perez's vision

Gluesenkamp Perez sought to distance herself from her fellow Democrats and said she is running to be an independent voice for SW Washington.

She mentioned Herrera Beutler and former Democratic Rep. Brian Baird, who represented the district from 1999 to 2011, as examples of representatives who stood up to their parties. She said she would do the same when needed. Her focus, she said, is to help small businesses, bring back manufacturing to the US, and support trade jobs.

"Small businesses like mine are hurting. We have got to re-shore manufacturing. We have got to support career and technical education. I didn't start an auto repair shop so I could run for Congress. I do it because I believe work is inherently noble," she said. "Fixing things, working for a living is inherently noble. And we've got to return that attitude to Congress. We've got to have a Congress that looks more like America."

Gluesenkamp Perez on addressing inflation

Gluesenkamp Perez blamed inflation, in part, on global supply chain shocks.

"This is not the 1970s demand-driven inflation. And that's because for decades both parties have been failing to support substantively small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy," she said. "Supply chains have been weakened and collapsing. We have got to get back to a place where we are building and making things in America."

She said she'd like to see Federal Pell Grants made available not just for two- and four-year colleges, but also for people who want to pursue apprenticeships in the trades.

"I'm willing to bet many of the folks listening to the show right now are on a waitlist for an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter, a mechanic. Those are trades jobs that can't be off-shored to China," she said.

Kent on addressing inflation

Responding to Gluesenkamp Perez's plan to support trade jobs, Kent said those programs won't help reduce inflation unless the nation reins in deficit spending.

"I will be a good steward of taxpayer dollars, cut excessive government regulation and government spending, and also get our energy economy back online," he said. "Joe Biden made the decision to kill off the Keystone XL (pipeline) to end exploratory drilling."

He said he would work to return to the era of America's energy independence so Americans aren't "being strangled at the gas pump."

"So, on day one, I want to say very plainly to the Biden administration they will turn back on US energy or we will withhold the federal budget. We have to hold their feet to the fire to give Americans some actual relief and then stop this insane spending," he said.

Bonus Round of Straight Talk

The candidates also traded jabs over immigration, how to reduce crime, their views on abortion, and questions raised over Kent's employer. They also had the opportunity to ask each other a question. 

Following the taping of the regular edition of Straight Talk, the candidates took another 15 minutes to answer a bonus round of questions that listeners and viewers can hear on the KGW Straight Talk podcast or watch on KGW's Youtube channel.

In that round of questions, Kent and Gluesenkamp Perez debated what happened on January 6th during the US Capitol riot, how to make sure Social Security remains solvent, Second Amendment rights and how to reduce gun violence, and Kent's call to abolish Washington State's vote-by-mail system.

Straight Talk airs Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6:30 p.m., Sunday at 9:30 p.m. and is also available as a podcast.

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