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Meet Derek Kilmer, Candidate for 6th Congressional District Representative

Democrat and Gig Harbor resident Derek Kilmer is running against Republican Bill Driscoll for 6th Congressional District Representative.

Editor's note: Patch has submitted questionnaires to both candidates in the 6th Congressional District, and plans to post the responses verbatim as we receive them.

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NAME: Derek Kilmer

OFFICE SOUGHT: 6th Congressional District Representative

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democratic

TOWN OF RESIDENCE: Gig Harbor, WA

CURRENT OCCUPATION: Vice President, Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County 

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Professional economic development specialist with private sector experience with both the Economic Development Board and as a business consultant with McKinsey and Company. 

WEBSITE: DerekKilmer.com

WHAT IS THE MOST PRESSING ISSUE FACING VOTERS IN YOUR DISTRICT:

Our top priority needs to be getting people back to work. Currently, politicians in Washington DC are focusing too much on fighting with each other rather than on fighting for jobs.  As an economic development professional, I have worked every day to help small businesses succeed. In my role as Vice President of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, I have worked with hundreds of business owners, listened to their needs, and helped them create jobs. 

I’ve taken that experience to Olympia and have made a difference for our small businesses, passing laws to reduce their taxes and regulatory burdens, helping them find skilled workers, and working to ensure adequate infrastructure to support growth.  As an example, I passed a law that enabled the new St. Anthony Hospital to be built in Gig Harbor (creating 450 new jobs) and passed a bipartisan Jobs Bill that will make investments in roads, schools, and environmental cleanup, putting people back to work and laying the foundation for economic growth in the long term.

In Congress, I want to use my professional and legislative experience to make a difference for the middle-class and small businesses and drive economic growth in our region.  In their endorsement of me, The News Tribune wrote, “Kilmer has already demonstrated, in office, an uncommon understanding of trade, business taxation, smart regulation, job-creation and other fundamentals of economic growth.” 

IF ELECTED, WHAT WILL YOU DO IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS IN OFFICE TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE? 

In economic development, there’s no such thing as a silver bullet – but there is something like silver buckshot.

As your Congressman, I will work with a bipartisan coalition on a jobs agenda to help our small businesses and get people back to work.  Congress should:

1. Help small businesses that are the backbone of our economy

  • Pursue bipartisan tax reform to help small businesses and middle class families and to encourage employers to invest in the United States rather than overseas;
  • Support our natural resources industries and increase federal forest harvest levels;
  • Cut red-tape and streamline regulations so employers don’t feel like they’re shooting at moving targets;
  • Help entrepreneurs access capital;
  • Foster trade policies that encourage “Made in the USA” and ensure our competitors play by the rules

2.  Invest in People

  • Expand opportunities for vocational training and resources for the middle class to afford college;
  • Expand apprenticeship program to provide more opportunities at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and ensure a strong, local workforce;
  • Help service members transition into civilian employment 

3. Build infrastructure for the 21st Century

  • Make smart investments in roads, sewers, and main street revitalization that support private sector job growth;
  • Leverage opportunities at our ports. 

While an economic turn-around won’t happen overnight, a comprehensive approach to economic development is required to make sure our area’s top export is not our kids. In Congress, getting folks back to work will be my #1 priority.

DO YOU SUPPORT/OPPOSE REFERENDUM 74: SHOULD GAY MARRIAGE BE LEGAL IN WASHINGTON? BRIEFLY, WHY?

I support civil marriage equality. I also strongly support keeping religious marriage as it has always been -- a matter for each faith tradition to decide for itself.  My faith dictates that I love and respect all people and live by the Golden Rule. Especially during the economic downturn, allowing more families to access the protections of civil marriage and ensuring they live with as much certainty and dignity as possible makes sense. 

DO YOU SUPPORT/OPPOSE, INITIATIVE 502 TO MAKE SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIJUANA LEGAL TO PEOPLE 21 AND OLDER? BRIEFLY, WHY?

I support allowing marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes so people can manage their pain.  As for the broader legalization allowed under Initiative 502, I have concerns.  As I’ve talked with prosecutors, sheriffs, and other law enforcement officials across the district, they have expressed serious concerns that this initiative would make their jobs more difficult – not easier. 

I’ve worked closely with law enforcement over the years and have tried to avoid taking actions that make their jobs more difficult. I’m proud to be endorsed by the Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs, the Pierce County Deputy Sheriffs Independent Guild, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, and many others who are focused on keeping our community safe.

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