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Candidates for U.S. Congress vie for votes

With three people in the Republican race for a chance to challenge local political juggernaut Rick Larsen, one would expect a lot of sparks when they all get together.

That is exactly what happened at Tuesday night’s candidate forum at the Oak Harbor Senior Center. Candidates for national, state-wide and local offices took the mic to state their purpose and field citizen questions.

Perhaps the staunchest question came from Oak Harbor resident James Coats. He wanted to gather the candidates’ stances on illegal immigration.

“Look at California,” Coats said. “Two hundred languages are spoken in the state. The government has to operate in 20 different languages. It’s essentially the first third world colony in America, and it’s coming to Washington.”

Rep. Larsen tied the question to homeland security, saying that the borders need to be tightened in order to cut the chances for potential terrorists coming into America.

“We need to close that homeland security gap,” Larsen said. “We do have to stop illegal immigration.”

Libertarian candidate Bruce Guthrie took a different stance. The foreign workers and buyers and are what is needed to spark this country’s economy, he said.

“All we need is to allow these people in foreign countries to sell their products here,” Guthrie said, suggesting they would stay home if that happened. “These are just the people we need to invigorate America’s economy.”

Guthrie was also outspoken when it came to the evening’s other hot topic — the U.S. Patriot Act. Guthrie alleged that since most of Congress did not read the text of the act, it did not know what it was passing.

“There has been an unconstitutional usurpation of power,” Guthrie said. “Congress just sort of rolled over.”

Larsen admitted that he did not read the text of the act before voting for it, and he now says that some parts need to be repealed.

“I didn’t read it,” Larsen said.

He said the “sneak and peak” provision, which allows federal agents to enter a private space without a warrant, needs to be repealed, as does the provision that a person’s library records are subject to review.

The format of the forum did not allow for many more questions of the candidates, but Republican candidate Glenn Coggshell said he was able to get his message across.

“I haven’t been like a lot of (candidates),” he said. “If anything, I keep all these yahoos in line.”

You can reach News-Times reporter Eric Berto at eberto@whidbeynewstimes.com

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