Three Whidbey candidates and four others are attempting to unseat longtime U.S. Representative Rick Larsen for his position in the second congressional district.
Republicans James Golder and Timothy Hazelo hail from Oak Harbor, and Carrie Kennedy, also a Republican, is from Coupeville.
Larsen was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 and has served a total of nine consecutive terms. He is in the process of serving his 10th term, and hopes to be re-elected for an 11th.
He names his part in supporting the federal CARES Act, helping to implement a real time noise-monitoring program to track Growler noise and backing land preservation programs as some of his most recent accomplishments in office.
For Whidbey residents in particular, he points to his continued support to improve funding for National Coastal Wetlands grants, which allowed the Whidbey Camano Land Trust to purchase property, the Possession Sound Preserve near Clinton, that will be used for public beach access.
“A lot of the time accomplishments aren’t specific bills or things getting built,” Larsen said. “Sometimes, it’s just being present and making things happen.”
Golder was first elected to the Idaho legislature in 1977 and was re-elected in 1983. He was a presidential advisor and appointee in Washington, D.C.
He cited his involvement in a state lottery bill backing the Idaho educational system and support for landlord-tenant legislation as being highlights of his political career.
Since moving to Whidbey, Golder has served on library and homeowner association boards. He had a career previously as a stock broker, a real estate appraiser and a lobbyist for the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
Golder said he decided to run to better represent the interests of conservatives and moderates.
“I think Rick Larsen’s doing a good job representing the progressive elements of the population, but I have a different philosophy and I can represent a different group,” he said.
Some of the issues Golder would like to focus on include eliminating fraudulent activity such as robocalls and hacking, but he is open to any other ideas people might have about improving the country.
Larsen indicated his support for a bill banning robocalls on landlines, the TRACED Act. It was passed and became law at the end of 2019.
After taking a tour of the nation’s capital and walking the halls and chambers of its monuments and buildings, Kennedy said she felt inspired to run for Congress and made the last-minute decision to file the night before the filing deadline.
“I just felt my time was now,” Kennedy said. “I’m coming to this with no political experience. I’m just a patriot, a constitutionalist.”
She also describes herself as a “forever Republican” and Seabee wife and cites traditional family values and the Navy as being near and dear to her.
Education and mental health are the main points Kennedy is choosing to focus on, citing that major issues stem from a lack of treatment facilities. She does not support government programs providing “continued dependency.”
When she worked for the administrative end of health care, she said she learned a lot about kids and adults with developmental disabilities.
Her campaign website takes a stance against the state’s new comprehensive sex education curriculum law and states that “All Lives Matter.”
Kennedy’s goal is to be a voice for the people and district two.
“I don’t think time should be a criteria for someone running for office,” she said. “I have the passion and I am very knowledgeable about current events and history.”
Although also having never served a term in Congress before, Hazelo decided to throw his hat into the ring because, he said, he didn’t like the direction the country was going in.
“I hadn’t really thought about being a politician,” Hazelo said. “I’ve been in the military most of my life.”
Health care, education, immigration and stabilizing the federal budget are all part of Hazelo’s platform.
He advocates for opening health insurance across state lines to free up the capitalist marketplace for competitive rates and lower prices.
Larsen said he supports the protection and expansion of the Affordable Care Act and that his Republican opponents would make health care worse. He added that there is not a “bumper sticker solution” for stabilizing the budget.
In addition, Hazelo said he supports legal immigritation and a merit-based system. He believes in “American exceptionalism” and better education, saying that it’s easy for rioters to tear down a country they didn’t participate in the building of.
“We used to be taught morality, why our country was brought into being,” Hazelo said. “Now all we’re being taught is how bad our country is.”
He cites creating term limits for politicians as another interest of his.
“Career politicians have been one of the biggest problems we’ve had in our country,” Hazelo said.
Larsen responded that every year, the voters get to decide if they should elect him to serve another term in office.
“I support democracy and letting people choose,” he said.
Larsen said the country needs an immigration policy that welcomes people to the U.S. He added that immigration should be regarded as an economic growth tool to make the current workforce more productive.
Four other challengers have also filed for the race: Republicans Kari Ilonummi and Cody Hart, Trump Republican Tim Uy and Democrat Jason Call.
Ilonummi has run for public office six times and three times for the U.S. House. He supports keeping nature clean from pollutants but also protecting private property and water rights for citizens.
He opposes “gay marriage; abortion; common core; comprehensive sexual education of children at public schools; increasing taxes; fake news; taking away freedom; the government keeping jobs closed.”
He refers to former President Barack Obama as the one “who meddled, colluded, with foreign powers, in a failed attempt to try to steal the 2016 election.”
Hart is another first-time candidate. The Navy veteran and business owner said he is committed to helping the middle class and fellow small businesses during this time.
He also supports government oversight and holding “corrupt politicians” accountable.
The president of a property management company, Uy supports self-imposed limits of three terms for Congressmen. He praises Trump for orchestrating “the greatest economy in more than 50 years” and says Democrats “wasted four years pushing the Russian collusion hoax.” His platform aligns closely with Donald Trump’s.
Call has served four years on the Washington Democrats State Committee and is a high school teacher of 18 years.
He supports Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. He calls for an end to homelessness, student debt and systemic racism. The reduction of military spending and the elimination of endless war are other issues he names to focus on. He also proposes living wages and a wealth tax.
If he is re-elected, one of Larsen’s goals includes thinking beyond COVID-19 response and acting on the continued needs of the district by improving training of the next generation’s workforce.
He said he has been working on legislation to give states some more flexibility to increase the types of registered apprenticeships they could create.
Land preservation and protecting voting rights will continue to be other goals of Larsen’s.
“When you serve, the issues choose you,” he said.