I take great pride in representing Bellingham in Congress. Not only is it the most beautiful district in the country, it is also where I was born and raised.
With so much frustration with Washington, D.C. these days, it's important to me to always remember my roots. My hometown is Arlington. Growing up, my dad was a power line worker in Snohomish County, and my mom worked hard raising me and my seven brothers and sisters. It wasn't a fancy upbringing, but it was a great one that instilled in me the values of community, service and hard work.
These values are what motivate me in my work to help create jobs in Northwest Washington, fight income inequality and build opportunities for the middle class, and make it easier for people in our community to participate in our democracy and society.
Income inequality has been called the "defining challenge of our time." We need to rise to this challenge and build a ladder for those seeking to break into the middle class. There's no better place to start than by raising the minimum wage. Washington state has a minimum wage that is the envy of many others, but there's more to be done. If I'm re-elected, I'll work hard in Congress to increase the national minimum wage to $10.10 and tie future increases to inflation.
But raising the minimum wage is only a partial solution. Despite falling unemployment, there are many folks that have been out of a job and are considered long-term unemployed. If re-elected, I'll continue my fight to extend unemployment insurance.
And I've introduced a bill to protect private student loan borrowers from "auto-defaults" when a loan cosigner, often a parent or grandparent, dies or files for bankruptcy. Because the last thing a grieving student needs is to deal with default on a loan that they have been paying on time.
But to truly build up the middle class, we need to put people back to work.
The single best way to create jobs is to invest in our transportation systems. Building and repairing our roads, bridges and highways will grow our economy and immediately put people to work. I've been a leader on transportation issues in Congress. I've introduced legislation to improve bridge safety and help our small cities rebuild their local roads. And I worked to cut through the red tape in D.C. and made sure we had a quick federal response to the Skagit River bridge collapse last year. If re-elected, I will continue my leadership and strong support for transportation investments that improve safety and spur economic growth in our communities.
And I'm working on your behalf to expand opportunities for everyone to participate in our economy and democracy. We must reform America's broken immigration laws by establishing a clear pathway to citizenship that recognizes the role that many play in our economy and keeps families together. We must destroy any barrier that prevents people who are registered to vote from exercising that right. We must protect our election process that intended to give power to the people - not to those with the biggest wallets. And we need to support efforts that ensure marriage equality exists in every state of the union.
None of this will be easy, but it's a fight worth having. And I'm up for the challenge. That's why I ask for your vote for U.S. Representative in Washington's 2nd District. Together we can make a difference.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This is one of a series of commentaries from candidates in the Aug. 5 primary election. Rick Larsen, D., is the incumbent for U.S. Representative for the 2nd Congressional District. The top two vote getters in the primary will be on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. The 2nd District includes parts of Bellingham, Sudden Valley, San Juan County, Island County and portions of Skagit and Snohomish counties.