Chris Cook - Forks Forum photo
Stopping the Wild Olympics legislation and boosting timber harvests on National Forest lands were issues supported by Republican 6th Congressional District candidate Bill Driscoll during a campaign stop in Forks on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Driscoll, and his Democratic Party opponent Derek Kilmer, were invited by the Forks Chamber of Commerce to address their first Wednesday luncheon meeting following a two-month summertime hiatus. Kilmer’s campaign didn’t respond to the request, a Chamber spokesperson said.
A group of about three dozen attended the meeting held at JT’s Sweet Stuffs, including chamber members, local residents and Mayor Bryon Monohon.
The candidate said timber harvest on National Forest Lands is now about equal to six percent of the amount harvested prior to the Northern Spotted Owl cutbacks of the 1990s. That needs to be boosted, upwards, Driscoll said, and how the National Forest Service deals with forest harvest and forest management needs to be dealt with before any single-use program like Wild Olympics is approved.
He said a group of Northwest members of Congress are working together to support an increase in the harvest, and he’d like to join their coalition if elected in the November general election to replace retiring Congressman Norm Dicks, who is a Democrat.
However, Driscoll said the timber issue, and other pressing national issues, need to be dealt with through bipartisan efforts, a task he called difficult to achieve. He said bipartisan harmony is needed to resolve many national issues stalled in Washington D.C. He called out his opponent Kilmer as having voted 97 percent of the time in the Legislature on a straight Democrat Party line.
He said he sees no conflict between logging and environmental concerns, if the forest is properly maintained.
Driscoll is a great-great grandson of Frederick Weyerhaeuser, who in 1901 started up the Weyerhaeuser wood products company. The candidate said he has experience working in the forest products industry, unlike his Democrat opponent, whom he described as a career politician.
Driscoll said the Wild Olympics legislation introduced in Congress by Dicks would further hurt the timber industry on the Olympic Peninsula when existing federal timber lands would be put into a wilderness designation.
The candidate pointed to the national debt as the biggest problem the nation is facing, a problem most pressing than the threat of terrorism. Other key issues were reforming how major, ($100 million-plus in cost to those affected) regulations are determined and as a policy consider as a prime consideration the cost they have on those affected; reforming federal tax regulations, including corporate, personal and business; and tort reform, especially the cost medical and environmental law suits, with related law suits now costing about $250 billion per year in the U.S.
Driscoll is a resident of Tacoma who served in the Marine Corps in the 1980s, and volunteered for duty in 2006 in Iraq and 2008 in Afghanistan, again as a marine. He said he would be the only member of Congress from Washington state who has been in combat. He responded in the positive to a question from Forks City Councilman Kevin Hinchen about whether he supported 2nd Amendment gun rights, and said his father taught him how to responsibly handle a .22 rifle at age seven.
In spite of his strong record of military service Driscoll said he has found an unexpected lack of support from Washington State-based defense contractors and was told such support would hurt their businesses due to political pressure from the Obama administration.
Driscoll told of how he dealt with political issues at home with his wife, Lisa Hoffman, who is a professor at the University of Washington at Tacoma and a Democrat. Aides to Driscoll attending the meeting offered information to those interested on a blog moderated by his wife that deals with questions about their cross-party marriage and posted on his www.electbilldriscoll.org campaign website.
The candidate's talk hit on financially conservative points, but showed support for liberal social issues in declaring support for gay marriage and pro-choice abortion rights.