News

Candidates for Congress differ

The conflict in Iraq, a hidden fight in Afghanistan, possible closure of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and abortion. Welcome to the U.S. House of Representatives.

On Nov. 2, voters will decide between incumbent Democrat Rick Larsen and challenger Republican Suzanne Sinclair. The candidates differ in their opinions on most subjects except abortion.

“I am pro choice,” Larsen said. “I believe it’s a decision that’s best left to a woman and her husband, partner, doctor or pastor.”

Sinclair, who said she would have voted to ban partial-birth abortion, said that while she supports parental notification, she would not support federal funding for abortion.

“At the bottom line, I support a woman’s right to decide,” she said. “I won’t vote to take that away ... That’s a place where government shouldn’t be.”

The two candidates also agree on the importance of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. They said its location and numerous benefits not just to Oak Harbor and Island County but to the military as well will keep it open for a long time.

“I believe that NAS Whidbey Island stacks up very well against the criteria the (Department of Defense) has laid out to decide which bases to close or consolidate,” Larsen said.

The base is situated advantageously. It serves as a major training site and the surrounding community has done a lot to ensure the base’s success, Larsen said.

“The city and county have done a great job to ensure land use does not encroach on the base,” he said.

Sinclair said the key to keeping the base open is reinforcing its importance to the Navy. She said it is a valuable asset to the military because of the high number of days pilots can fly and the presence of Outlying Field Coupeville.

“I think NAS Whidbey has a very good chance of surviving, but you can never take it for granted,” Sinclair said. “I will just make sure it is on the proverbial radar screen.”

It is difficult to take away from the importance of the base when the country has troops in 130 countries around the world, Larsen said. In 2001, Larsen voted to give President George W. Bush the authority to use force in Afghanistan, but subsequently voted against the use of force in Iraq.

“I did not vote for Iraq because at the time I did not believe the evidence showed Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to the U.S.,” Larsen said. “We have known all along that Iraq was in no way connected to the attacks on our country.”

Sinclair said the conflict in Iraq is necessary. She said that it was a bad idea for Larsen to have voted against Iraq.

“Hindsight is 20/20, but I still think (war) is right to do, and I would have voted differently,” she said. “Even though some parts of Iraq are in chaos, ... there are a lot of people who are happy to see us there.”

Larsen said the military is stretched thin, but he said he thinks a draft is not necessary.

“I think the all-volunteer force is a much better way to staff the military,” Larsen said.

He proposed increasing the size of the Marine Corp and the Army to increase their recruiting and retention abilities.

Sinclair simply said the country does not need a draft.

In the wake of the No Child Left Behind Act, Larsen said he supports the idea of having accountability standards for the nation’s schools.

“The president likes to tout the No Child Left Behind Act but he has fallen short of his goals,” Larsen said. “It does make the point that we can’t fund our schools at a C-minus level and expect an A-plus effort.”

Sinclair said the key to the success for Oak Harbor’s schools is to ensure adequate Impact Aid from the Department of Defense.

“I would work with the DoD to make sure supplemental funding is the best you can make it,” she said.

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

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