Three who want to unseat Congressman Kilmer make their arguments at forum

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Three men vying for the 6th Congressional District seat now held by Rep. Derek Kilmer — William “Greybeard” McPherson, Douglas Milholland and Marty McClendon — laid out their concerns for the district, which ranged from immigration to marijuana to the plight of the planet, at a forum last week.

“Our planet Earth is in grave danger of destruction by our own greed,” McPherson, a nonpartisan candidate and self-described “unpaid citizen lobbyist” from Port Angeles, told about 30 people at the Clallam County League of Women Voters forum at the Port Angeles Senior Center on Thursday evening.

Kilmer, a Democrat from Gig Harbor, had announced earlier that he would send a representative but could not attend the forum.

He was in Washington, D.C., to vote on bills about water and energy development appropriations and to revise tax codes for businesses.

Meadow Johnson, Kilmer's district director, read a statement from Kilmer, who is seeking a second term, and answered questions submitted by the league prior to the debate.

From an iPad, Johnson read Kilmer's statement touting his efforts to put “folks back to work.”

“Having grown up in Port Angeles and having seen the struggles of our local economy, I've dedicated my adult life to trying to help people in the community keep and grow jobs,” he wrote.

“It's why I entered public service in the first place.”

Two of the four candidates for the race will advance to the November general election after the Aug. 5 primary. Ballots for the primary will be mailed to registered voters Wednesday.

Milholland, a commercial diver and Green Party candidate from Port Townsend, said Kilmer and his congressional colleagues are ignoring the threat posed by nuclear waste.

“What happened in Fukushima is a clear warning sign that we must proceed on a path to pursue safety,” he said, referring to the release of low levels of radiation from the nuclear power plant in Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“I will take to the halls of Congress the question that isn't really being asked by the Republicans or the Democrats in power: Do we really need to build the next generation of Trident nuclear submarines?” Milholland added.

Kilmer serves on the House Committee on Armed Services.

McClendon, a Republican, pastor and real estate agent from Gig Harbor, criticized Congress.

“The key issue facing Congress is credibility,” McClendon said, citing as evidence attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and what he said were IRS targets of conservative advocacy groups.

“They looked the other way while Veterans Administration officials ran amok,” McClendon said.

McClendon called for tighter border security.

“This is a massive issue. Not only do we have unaccompanied children coming over with disease and all sorts of stuff, we have a real issue with securing our borders,” he said

“Our borders are a sieve for illegals and terrorists to penetrate.”

Milholland and McPherson, who often spoke into a hearing aid slung around his neck instead of his microphone throughout the debate, criticized past American foreign policy in Latin America.

“The problem isn't just that they want to come here so that they can live better; the problem is that our actions in the past have destroyed their own governments and their economies,” McPherson said.

“I saw kids sitting on the tops of freight cars when I was in southern Mexico last summer,” Milholland said. “This is a tragedy of our own creation.

“If they do have family in the United States, it makes sense to make an attempt to connect them with humans who will take care of them in the best degree possible.”

Pot policy

Candidates were asked whether they would support efforts to have recreational marijuana, which voters legalized in Washington state in 2012, made legal under federal policy.

“I'm all for the legalization of it,” McPherson said, adding that marijuana has medical benefits.

“It's not just another get-high drug.”

Milholland said the U.S. Declaration of Independence was written on hemp, toting benefits he said the plant has outside recreational use.

“There's something about the fact that the Declaration of Independence was written on it that tells me it is part of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.

McClendon said though he personally objects to marijuana use, he would work to protect the state's right to legalize it and let the free market control it.

In another primary election race, the league will host a forum of the District 3 county commissioner candidates from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. Seventh St.

For information about North Olympic Peninsula primary election candidates, check for the North Olympic Peninsula Primary Voter Guide 2014, distributed with this Friday's Peninsula Daily News.

An overview of the election's only ballot measure on the North Olympic Peninsula — a proposed levy lid lift by Jefferson County Fire District No. 4 of Brinnon — also is included.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 12. 2014 8:47PM
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