Come January, for the first time in 35 years, somebody not named Norm Dicks will be serving the 6th District of Washington in Congress.
The Daily World thinks that person should be Derek Kilmer, a business-friendly Democrat who grew up on the Olympic Peninsula and saw the economic devastation that timber-dependent towns have experienced since the 1980s and was influenced to choose a career in economic development because of it.
Kilmer is a state senator who lives in Gig Harbor and has shown an ability to work with Republicans in Olympia, especially on business development issues. He graduated from Port Angeles High School, went to Princeton and on to earn a doctorate from the University of Oxford, studying social policy that encourages economic development. He came back to the district and now works for the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County.
He says the U.S. Forest Service should increase timber harvest levels on federal land and promises to press Forest Service managers to allow the sort of sustainable logging that was called for in the Clinton Timber Plan, but never delivered by federal policy makers. The state Department of Natural Resources seems able to manage sustainable harvest levels that still provide wood for timber towns, and so should the Forest Service, he says.
But he is evasive on the issue of support for the Wild Olympics plan to convert some Forest Service wilderness designation land to national park land. He approves of compromises environmentalists made from the original plan, but opponents still aren’t satisfied and he doesn’t say whether he supports the current plan.
His opponent, Republican Bill Driscoll, is a solid and thoughtful candidate, with a strong business background in the timber industry, but no experience in governing. Driscoll thinks that’s a positive, and he may be right, but while he would start seeking bipartisanship in Congress by looking across the aisle for common personal ground — military experience, for instance — Kilmer already has a track record of working with Republicans on tough governing issues. He joined with Republicans to author a state initiative to reduce the state’s debt.
Driscoll is his own man and hasn’t drifted to the far right edge of his party as other Republicans trying to get elected and re-elected have. He supports marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, and he won’t sign conservative Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a promise signed by nearly all House Republicans to oppose any increase in the marginal tax rate. Driscoll is wealthy, but chose to serve his country by re-enlisting in the Marines more then a decade after his initial military service, serving tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. When he says the U.S. has been too quick to enter into war and that U.S. military intervention should be a last resort, his credibility could hardly be higher.
Both candidates have two young children and both say they decided to upend their lives by running for Congress because they want a better future for their families and ours. Both are good men who would ably represent this district in Congress, but Derek Kilmer gets our strong endorsement because he’s already shown himself to be a problem solver in these difficult economic and political times.
The Daily World’s Editorial Board includes Publisher Bill Crawford, Editor Doug Barker, Sports Editor Rick Anderson and City Editor Dan Jackson.