Congressional candidate Leslie Lewallen aims to reduce drug overdoses


Third congressional district candidate Leslie Lewallen highlighted her goals if elected to close the Southern border and fund the police during a June 21 town hall in Camas.

Lewallen is a former prosecutor and current Camas City Council member in her first term. She shifted her focus to politics after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and was appointed to the council in 2021. A current homelessness strategy committee liaison for the City of Camas, Lewallen aims to address homelessness and illegal drug use in southwest Washington.

During the town hall, several southwest Washington residents shared their stories of losing family members to opioid drugs, including fentanyl. Roxanne Shelby, a resident of Camas, recounted how her son developed an addiction to oxycodone following a hospital stay.

Tragically, in 2011, he was fatally attacked by an alleged drug user after he had stopped using drugs. Many attendees urged for government action to curb the increasing number of drug overdoses.

To address voter concerns, Lewallen’s priority is to close the Southern border if elected. She remarked that funding border patrol agents or building a wall would prevent a sizable portion of drugs from entering the state of Washington.

“We have tons of illegal drugs, crime [and] guns flowing across the Southern border right now,” Lewallen said. “It will cut the head of the snake, and we have to start there because they’re coming right up the I-5 corridor and are taking root in our communities.”

If elected, Lewallen would vote for her conservative constituents to bring harsher sentences to drug dealers. She stated drug dealers do not receive harsh enough sentencing in Oregon or Washington. Lewallen said harsher prison sentencing would discourage drug crime and suggested the state adopt “attempt to harm” charges for drug dealers being prosecuted.

“We can not decriminalize drug use and possession and expect the numbers to go down,” Lewallen said. “... I think that ‘implied intent’ needs to be looked at. If you’re dealing fentanyl, you intend to harm someone. You intend to kill someone.”

Additionally, Lewallen said law enforcement officers should receive more funding to put more drug dealers behind bars. She expressed interest in funding programs including a 30-day grace period for insurance companies to not deny people seeking rehabilitation.

“I looked at what was happening during COVID. You see all these liberal policies, radical policies that do nothing except harm people,” Lewallen said after the town hall meeting. “We only have to look across the Columbia River as an example of what not to do. [Now] they’re spending millions of dollars on an out-of-control, growing homeless crisis.”

Lewallen is running against incumbent Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Republican candidate Joe Kent for Washington’s third congressional district seat in the Aug. 6 primary election. She criticized Gluesenkamp Perez for not focusing on the Southern border during the town hall.

“The fact that she’s on camera saying ‘nobody stays awake at night worrying about the Southern border,’ I think we’ve literally just heard from so many parents and community members that the majority of people are staying awake at night worrying about the Southern border. I’m worried about the crisis here in southwest Washington with drugs, homelessness and crime,” Lewallen said after the meeting.

According to a Community Health Navigator study for the Health Care Authority from 2024 study regarding drug cases by the Wahkiakum County Health and Human Services stated the southwest Washington region experienced 217 drug overdose deaths in 2022, 140 of which involved an opioid. Of the 140 opioid deaths, 80% involved fentanyl. The southwest region of Washington’s drug-involved deaths rose by 75% from 2019 to 2022, according to the study.