Rep. Larsen to run again

It came as no surprise, but Rick Larsen formally announced this week that he will seek a fourth term as the Second Congressional District’s U.S. Representative.

Larsen, a Democrat from Lake Stevens, won’t be following the example of his immediate predecessor, Langley resident Jack Metcalf, who “term limited” himself to six years in office.

“Jack served honorably and was a great example, but I’ve done a lot and have a lot more to do,” Larsen said Thursday as he came to Whidbey Island to speak to a class of Oak Harbor High School students and help stock the food bank shelves at North Whidbey Help House.

Larsen has had an interesting time in Congress. He was in Washington, D.C. when the highjacked airliner hit the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and he was evacuated from his office shortly after that when the anthrax scare temporarily closed Congress.

“Sept. 11 definitely left an impression on me,” Larsen said. “I saw smoke rising across the Potomac from the Pentagon.” Since then, he said that as a member of the Armed Services Committee, he’s worked to make sure the military “has the right resources.”

Larsen ticks off a list of improvements he says he’s brought to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. He said he’s secured $10 million for the base over the past three years for such things as a new fire station, hazardous materials warehouse and weapons storage facilities. He also takes credit for leading the successful effort to keep Whidbey and Naval Base Everett off the base closure list last year.

Larsen is looking forward to November when he expects that, for the first time, he will be part of the majority party in the House. He predicts the Democrats to wrest control from the Republicans.

“There’s a lot of frustration around the country,” Larsen said. “The economy is growing but people aren’t feeling it.” One of his priorities is to help Democrats create a new national energy policy, “to put the energy of our nation behind the energy of the future,” by investing in biofuels and other alternatives to oil.

Larsen’s Republican opponent is Navy veteran and businessman Doug Roulstone, who has called for building fences along both the Mexican and Canadian borders to stop illegal immigration.

Larsen rejects the idea of more fences. “There’s a bigger picture on immigration,” he said. “Enforce the immigration laws first, and we need stronger border security with additional people, sensors and use of unmanned drones.” He said more detention facilities are needed to hold the illegal immigrants who are caught. As for fences, he estimates it would cost $8 to $16 billion to build effective barriers, and there’s not enough money available for that. “A wall’s a pretty simple answer to a pretty complex problem,” he said.

Larsen took exception to another comment by Roulstone, that a Republican would have more success in Congress at keeping an aircraft carrier based in Everett. There is talk of dispersing parts of the fleet westward. “Decisions about aircraft carriers are not made by members of Congress,” Larsen said. “You want professional military to make decisions about where our assets go. It’s not made on politics, it’s made on national security.”

If re-elected, Larsen said he will continue to work with Oak Harbor on its efforts to improve the waterfront, keep trying to bring capital investments to the base, and work to boost U.S. exports to China.

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