April 26, 2004

Heidi Behrens-Benedict (D WA-8th CD)

“I would recommend running for Congress to anyone. It is a profound and wonderful thing,” says Heidi Behrens-Benedict.

The Bellevue-based interior designer enjoys connecting with voters, and believes that representatives should come from the ranks of their communities. Behrens-Benedict started one of three previous campaigns by estimating the smallest possible budget needed to get a message out. No other Democrat wanted to run against an incumbent with a leadership role on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Behrens-Benedict says that she’s come to understand the needs of the 8th Congressional District very well. She doesn’t hesitate to list an unemployment rate that’s third or fourth in the nation as the district’s top priority.


“Taxes,” Behrens-Benedict says, “are the price of civilization.” They provide funding for services people want, such as roads, hospitals, schools, libraries, and the protection of public lands. She says the current administration and key Republicans appear to be “starving the federal government as it relates to human services.” Even though government is bigger than ever, and overall spending has increased, she says funding for these services falls short of the need for them.

If interest in education were more than lip service, Behrens-Benedict says, it would be better funded. She brings up the example of teacher pay, saying that master’s graduates are faced with taking a starting salary as a teacher for around $30,000, or a job in industry at around $80,000. Students, she says, should have access to smaller classes, better Pell grants, and forgiveness of student loans for key areas.

Behrens-Benedict also doesn’t believe that protecting the environment comes at the expense of the economy. She says that national parks and areas with great natural beauty generate a lot of money from tourism, adding to the economic benefits of clean air and water. Even Republicans, she says, value having fish in their rivers.

War and Terrorism

Coming from a military family, Behrens-Benedict says she is “resolute in [her] support of veterans.” But she says that we aren’t taking care of soldiers when VA hospitals are closing and around 40% of working age National Guard troops don’t have health insurance.

Behrens-Benedict says that when it comes to Iraq, the U.S. needs an exit strategy, and a true international coalition. She says the current administration has been arrogant towards long-term allies and friends such as France and Germany, and points out that the U.S. has now had to go back and ask them for help.

In the short term, she believes it’s important to be vigilant in tracking down terrorist cells. However, she says that the PATRIOT act needs to be thrown out, and that there are ways to fight terrorism without creating secret police.

Additionally, Behrens-Benedict criticized what she considers the under funding of port security, fire departments, police, and first response agencies.
In the long run, Behrens-Benedict wants government and the public to start thinking about taking steps to achieve peace. Saying that terrorism is much bigger than any one person, she believes terror cells will keep springing up if fundamental policy changes aren’t made.

Behrens-Benedict sees a solution in a generous foreign policy similar to the U.S. Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Japan and Germany after the two countries were nearly leveled in WWII.

Family Values

“I can’t tell you,” Behrens-Benedict said, “how much I loathe …those little sound bite[s].” She says the term family values has been used to vilify half the country as though they had no values, or don’t love their children. What does she believe are Democratic values?

Behrens-Benedict says that families should be trusted to decide when to have children, and government should focus more on what happens to them after they’re born. It’s cheaper, she says, to make sure children get a good start than to build a prison.

She does understand why some people are opposed to abortion. In that case, Behrens-Benedict says the goal should be to see that abortion isn’t necessary. She believes birth control should be readily available, including the morning after pill.

Behrens-Benedict’s idea of family includes the right of gay couples to form civil unions. She says civil unions are the future, and that she opposes a Constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Remembering the Community

Behrens-Benedict says she’s looking forward to remembering the needs of the people she’s talked to once she’s in congress. She says that every time someone in congress goes to vote, they have to pass through a gauntlet of lobbyists that “are not working for us. They’re working for corporations and other special interests.”

It’s important, Behrens-Benedict says, that people are “represented as ably and well as Weyerhauser, Boeing, and Microsoft.” Everyone will prosper, she says, if leaders in business and government keep in mind Henry Ford’s belief that you can’t lay off your customers.

Heidi Behrens-Benedict is running as a Democrat for election in the 8th Congressional District of Washington state. To find out more, visit her website.

Posted by natasha at April 26, 2004 04:35 PM | WA Politics | Technorati links |

The 8th CD is an open seat that MUST be removed from republican hands. Heidi has been fighting this battle virtually alone since 1998 and deserves our support in this effort.
The only way we will accomplish the change we seek in our government is by supporting truly progressive candidates. I am calling on all my friends from the Dean for America campaign to look at Heidi and join me in helping in any way you can.

Chad Shue

Posted by: Chad Shue at April 28, 2004 04:32 PM