State Sen. Derek Kilmer garnered strong support at his in Gig Harbor. About 260 people packed the on Wednesday to eat some pie and rally for Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, who is running for Washington state’s 6th Congressional District seat in November.
If elected, Kilmer said his main focus would be getting people back to work.
“Right now, folks are really struggling—throughout the country and certainly this area,” he said. “It’s what I’ve dedicated my life to. My academic background…my professional background is all working in economic development.”
The state senator for Pierce and Kitsap counties currently serves as the Vice President for the Economic Development Board (EDB) for Tacoma-Pierce County in Tacoma. Kilmer said small businesses represent the “engine” that will fuel the country out of recession.
The 6th District represents six counties: Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason and Pierce.
“In our neck of the woods, we don’t have Boeing and Microsoft. We have small businesses,” he said. “I consider them the star running back of our economy, and right now, a lot of them are getting tackled at the line of scrimmage.”
Kilmer said one of the roles of the federal government is to call some plays for those local business owners.
“That means making sure their tax policies don’t stifle their growth; it means making sure they’re able to find skilled workers; it means making sure they’re not shooting at a moving target when it comes to the regulatory environment; it means making sure they have access to capitals so they can make investments and grow.”
During his day job on the Economic Development Board, Kilmer said he meets with about 200 businesses each year. While some merchants have seen an increase in their business flow or at least stabilized since the economic recession, Kilmer said there are many others who need help.
“There are still a number of our small employers that are struggling, and I think the most important thing we can do is make sure folks can get back to work and our private sector can start hiring again.”
While Kilmer promises to be an advocate for local businesses, he also said Congress needs to get back to work too.
“People are frustrated with the tenor of our politics right now. They think it’s dysfunctional, and I think it’s dysfunctional too,” he said. “I think the time for partisan bickering is over. That gig is up. We need to get people back to work.”