The challengers take the stage at the District Six Candidates Forum

Candidates in Washington’s Congressional District 6 — which covers the Olympic Peninsula and part of Tacoma — have offered starkly different solutions to familiar issues.

Challengers to incumbent Derek Kilmer, a Democrat, had the stage to themselves on Monday night as Kilmer was unable to attend the event.

Candidates Rebecca Parson, Chris Binns and Todd Bloom were the only participants in an online League of Women Voters forum on Monday night, as Kilmer and the other two candidates – Republican Elizabeth Kreiselmaier and Independent Tom Triggs – did not could not participate.

The forum was a collaboration between the Tacoma-Pierce, Kitsap and Jefferson Counties Leagues of Women Voters, and candidates answered questions based on public submissions.

In a statement, Kilmer, first elected in 2013, said congressional business prevented him from attending the forum, but he pledged to help community members affected by the inflation. Kilmer said he “voted to clamp down on price gouging” from oil companies and expand social security. Kilmer said he also wanted to prevent members of Congress from buying stock.

“I am determined to help people in our area who are struggling,” Kilmer said.

Binns and Bloom are both running as Republicans, while Parson is a Democrat who has advocated for things like universal health care and job programs.

Throughout the forum, Parson – a Tacoma-based consultant who advocates for homelessness issues – reiterated her belief that “in a country this wealthy, no one should go hungry or homeless.”

Republican candidates took aim at national policies they said were hurting the economy, particularly in the energy sector, where Binns and Bloom said the Biden administration’s environment-focused policies were driving up the costs.

“We were energy independent before the current administration took office,” Bloom said. “We have capable natural resources that can be extracted and used more efficiently.”

Bloom, a US Navy veteran and businessman who ran against Kilmer in 2016, said he wanted to enact policies that would help the economy grow and criticized Kilmer for being too aligned with politics of the Biden administration.

A former Washington State Ferry employee and U.S. Marine Corp veteran, Binns said he is running because state and national leaders are abusing their power.

“There is a scam, a peddled agenda, that there are new truths about the nature of man and the foundation of this country,” Binns said. “Try to be a kid in school and tell a class a boy can’t become a girl.”

On issues of access to voting and abortion, Binns and Bloom said these issues are a matter for the states rather than the federal government. Asked what kind of legislation they would support to ensure every American 18 and older can vote, Binns said it was up to the states to decide.

“These criteria are for states only,” Binns said. “My basic feeling is that as long as (the states) abide by the Constitution, I don’t really think there’s too much federal jurisdiction.”

Binns and Bloom made similar comments in response to a question about abortion access.

“I don’t believe there’s a need for federal legislation,” Bloom said, noting that he’s personally opposed to abortion. “It is not the prerogative of the federal government.

Parsons, however, said she would support legislation like the Women’s Health Protection Act that would prohibit state governments from placing certain abortion-related limits on medical providers.

“I’m pro-choice. I’m the only pro-choice woman in this race,” Parson said. “As a woman, my rights are not up for debate. Freedom of access to reproductive health care is a right.

Parson, who has described herself as a gay woman, expressed concern that other precedents set by the US Supreme Court could also be overturned.

“The (US) Supreme Court is going to consider taking away my right to marry,” Parson said.

Primary elections are scheduled for August 2 and ballots have already been sent to voters. The first two primaries will narrow the field to two candidates for the November 8 general election.


Journalist Peter Segall can be reached at [email protected]

Melvin B. Baillie