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Democrat auto shop owner seeks Herrera Beutler seat

Rick Bannan / [email protected]

An auto shop owner on the east side of Washington’s Third Congressional District believes her knowledge of navigating small business gives her a better perspective on Southwest Washington’s issues at the federal level.

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez officially announced her intention to run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat currently held by Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, in late February.

Gluesenkamp Perez lives in the western part of Skamania County with her husband, Dean, and their 8-month-old son. The couple own an auto repair shop in northeast Portland, but Gluesenkamp Perez wanted to live in Washington where she has five generations of history.

“I know a lot of people don’t see the difference between one side of the river and the other,” she said.

The rural environment of Skamania was an attraction for her.

Relatively late in the race, Gluesenkamp Perez said she began seriously considering her candidacy in January. She remembers seeing opinion pieces telling Democrats to vote for Herrera Beutler because of an apparent lack of a serious candidate in their own party.

His decision to run had to be weighed with another full-time job outside of running a business and babysitting.

“We had to have many discussions with people in our community to determine if we could have the support needed to care for our son and run our business,” Gluesenkamp Perez said.

Her auto shop allowed Gluesenkamp Perez to see the federal government’s negative impact on small businesses, she said. Health care and child care play a role in this problem. Her campaign materials say she takes her son to work because childcare is too expensive.

When it comes to health care, Gluesenkamp Perez said small businesses can’t compete with big companies to provide coverage for their employees.

“It’s just not a level playing field,” she said.

Taxes are another issue for small businesses, Gluesenkamp Perez said. She noted that she pays a small fortune to file and pay taxes properly. She said the federal government is not making it easy for small businesses to comply with the tax code.

“I see only lip service for small business in Congress,” Gluesenkamp Perez said.

Gluesenkamp Perez also thinks small levels of medical debt shouldn’t be flagged on credit scores.

“These are the kinds of things that prevent average Americans from getting a home loan, a car loan, access to capital,” Gluesenkamp Perez said. “There’s just real cognitive dissonance when we say we want to support homeownership, and yet we have outdated and flawed data about what makes someone a good bet for a loan.”

Gluesenkamp Perez, who takes Interstate 205 to get to his business, said the Interstate 5 bridge replacement needs to happen as soon as possible.

“I say a little prayer every time I cross the I-5 bridge,” Gluesenkamp Perez said. “What are we waiting for, a school bus hitting it?”

Gluesenkamp Perez mentioned that she was serving a second term with the Underwood Conservation District and previously served as the executive director of the Stevenson Downtown Association. She said the position gave her a better understanding of small town issues in the Congressional District.

One of the hardest parts of securing a campaign from the group is funding, Gluesenkamp Perez said.

“Coming from the trades, it’s crazy to me how much money it takes to run a federal race,” she said.

Gluesenkamp Perez said she expects to have a strong quarterly fundraising report. She plans to plan more community events, including in-person events, as the election nears.

Gluesenkamp Perez joins a hotly contested race full of challengers to Herrera Beutler from both sides of the political spectrum. Gluesenkamp Perez and Brent Hennrich are the Democratic candidates for the seat, while on the Republican side, Joe Kent, Vicki Kraft and Heidi St. John are in the running.

Herrera Beutler’s Republican challengers denounced his vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump and questioned the incumbent’s validity as a GOP representative.

Gluesenkamp Perez said he was “crazy to see the level of extremism that emerged”.

“A lot of these people order their campaigns around clickbait politics,” Gluesenkamp Perez said. “There are real existential threats. There are real problems to solve. »