Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate Carolyn Long is itching for a chance to debate, though she doesn’t feel her Republican competition would be up to the task. When mentioning to the large crowd gathered at Clark College April 12 that it was the 13th town hall meeting she had hosted, the audience broke into applause — the first of many.
“That should not be an applause line, but when we have representatives that don’t have town halls, that’s why I get the applause,” Long remarked, referencing the lack of in-person town halls hosted by her opponent, incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground.
Long, a political science professor at WSU Vancouver for 22 years, spoke about many topics during her April 12 event, covering policy points while also criticizing her opponent on a perceived lack of representation in the district.
“I am running for Congress because I have been alarmed at the state of our democracy over the last several years,” Long said, explaining that although the 2016 election brought division among citizens to light the actual divide had been going on “for some time now.”
Long explained her campaign slogan, “People Over Politics,” worked against that divide, focusing on constituents’ needs. As to what policy points could bring voters together she brought up two points in particular.
“I believe that the most important issue facing us right now is stagnant wages and the lack of family-wage jobs,” Long said. She took issue with using the unemployment rate as a barometer for economic health as it didn’t take into account whether those jobs could support a family.
Other than jobs, Long also talked infrastructure investments as winning bipartisan policy.
“When I’m talking about infrastructure I’m talking roads and bridges, not a wall,” Long remarked, commenting that what was proposed by the Trump administration was “tiny” in comparison with what needed to happen.
Talk also focused on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed last year, legislation Long did not support.
“First, let’s call it what it is, it’s a corporate tax giveaway,” Long said. “I think the fact that it is being sold to us as something that will help us is a fraud.”
She called the theory of corporations reinvesting their savings into more jobs “absolute poppycock,” disagreeing with the positive interpretation of the legislation Herrera Beutler has of the bill.
“Whenever she says the average Washingtonian is going to get x amount of dollars our response should be how does that compare to the billions of dollars that are going to the wealthiest?” Long said.
Long added that any piece of legislation pushed by only one party would inherently be “bad law,” pointing to 1986 bipartisan legislation as an alternative.
When asked about who was funding her campaign, Long said 83 percent of her donors were individuals from within the district. She was not opposed to financial support from unions, adding that she was able to pay for college through a union job.
“In terms of corporate money, I haven’t taken it and I won’t take it, either,” Long remarked. She added a desire to overturn the Citizens United decision regarding campaign finance, calling it a “travesty.”
Long said that corporate influence had played into voter apathy especially among young voters.
“I don’t think that people who are between 18 and 30 have ever seen a functional government,” Long remarked. “I think they see this divisiveness, I think they see Congress not getting anything done, and I think they see that money buys politicians.”
“If that’s what you’ve seen all of your adult life, you are going to be less likely to participate in the body politic,” Long said. She explained how by running a race which eschewed corporate influence, those disillusioned with politics would be more willing to participate.
Gun control was discussed briefly, with Long favoring legislation like universal background checks and banning of modifications like bump stocks as ways to help regulate but not outright ban firearms.
“I think we have to start with the fact we have to fund the CDC to study this issue as a public health crisis,” Long said about national gun violence, referencing a recent lift of a ban on that study though adding the research was not funded.
One question would prove pertinent given the next day’s events, as the then-speculated military intervention in Syria, which came to fruition April 13, was raised.
“I’ve been alarmed over the last several decades at the transfer of power from Congress to the executive branch in the area of foreign affairs,” Long said. Apart from attempting to require the president to come to Congress before any military engagement, she would also encourage the president to work with countries to “mindfully” go about any intervention.
“I think that’s absolutely lacking with (President Trump),” Long said.
One point of contention among Long critics is her relatively recent move into the district last year, having lived in Oregon most of her life. When asked as to what her defense was to her connection to the district, Long asked for students of hers to stand up, with several across the room doing so.
“I have taught generations of students at WSU Vancouver, so I have been in the community for 22 years,” Long said, adding she had received accolades for fostering civil discourse.
“When somebody says I haven’t been a resident they miss the fact that I’ve been more involved than any of the three other candidates that are running,” Long said.