Democrat Sarah Smith took second in the August primary for U.S. representative in Washington’s 9th Congressional District, setting her up for a run against 22-year incumbent Rep. Adam Smith (D-Bellevue) on Nov. 6. The 9th District stretches from Bellevue through south Seattle to north Tacoma.
Please provide a brief biography.
Adam Smith: Currently I am the U.S. representative for the 9th Congressional District of Washington. Prior to that, I was a Washington state senator from the 33rd Legislative District. I attended the University of Washington Law School, and earned my undergraduate degree from Fordham University, New York. During college, I was a Teamster working for UPS Inc., and my father was a member of the Machinist Union, where I learned to campaign by helping alongside him while growing up.
Sarah Smith: I am a working-class woman who grew up the same as all of us in the 9th Congressional District. I live the same life as my constituents — I have to re-balance my finances every year as the cost of living gets more and more expensive, I have to worry about how much my health care costs, sit too long in traffic, go to work when I’m not feeling well, and worry about paying my student loans and my economic future. I’m running to empower all people to be able to have a good, dignified life. My own father depends on Medicare for his survival. I know how important this fight is and intend to bring my passion to this district.
Threats of government shutdowns are becoming more common. If elected, what would your federal budget priorities be, and how would you work to keep the government running?
Adam Smith: It’s critical that a responsible and predictable budget and tax plan be developed and implemented. We must complete annual appropriations work on time to give federal agencies and their leaders and employees the predictability and resources needed to carry out federal agencies’ roles and effectively serve the American people through the range of critical programs on which so many rely. Key to a properly-functioning appropriations process are realistic, appropriate and predictable budgets. Federal budgeting must provide the funding resources necessary to properly fund our country’s important priorities and promote working families by strengthening our economy and the creation of good jobs for all, while simultaneously generating sufficient revenues to reduce our deficits and debt.
Sarah Smith: We need to have a moral budget that prioritizes people and gives them the best possible opportunity for a brighter future. Our top priority must be hardworking families and their children. We must demonstrate our commitment to hard-working families, and that means moving away from our economy of violence and toward an economy of peace. To effectively do this means to build a ground swell of support for policies across both aisles. Organizing together and speaking with one voice means we win. We need legislators who help move the strong progressive message we have in Washington forward.
How would you work across the aisle to address the health care and opioid crises in our country?
Adam Smith: Health care is a basic human right that should not be reserved for a select few. I have cosponsored the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All (H.R. 676, “Medicare for All”) legislation that would establish a single-payer health care program for all people in the United States. While I remain open to different legislative approaches to ensuring universal health care, it is essential that healthcare is accessible and affordable to everyone regardless of their socioeconomic status or background. I support strengthening Medicare, which provides millions of older Americans with vital health care. I do not support cost-shifting, imposing premium or co-payment increases, reducing benefits, or converting Medicare to a voucher system. Cuts to Medicaid will have a profound impact on the program’s ability to provide health coverage for millions of Americans. Throughout my time in Congress I have opposed cuts to Medicaid because I know that it is vital to persons with limited means. Keeping prescription drugs accessible and affordable is crucial for our health care system, and drug companies must be better regulated so that consumers are able to obtain affordable prescriptions drugs and the cost isn’t passed onto individual Americans. We must also do more to continue to work to address the opioid crisis that is hitting our communities and country hard. In September, I was pleased to join an overwhelming bipartisan majority of my colleagues in Congress to pass sweeping and comprehensive legislation to fight the opioid epidemic: the SUPPORT for Patients and Families Act, H.R. 6.
Sarah Smith: A majority of Americans want single-payer health care and legalized cannabis, both of which provide incredible opportunities to fight the opioid crisis and ensure that our most vulnerable citizens have the health care they need — not just when it’s “affordable.” We must find allies wherever we can and that means working with any person who puts forward policy that would expand the social safety net and the protections for all people.
Mass shootings, suicides and school security are big concerns in our communities. When it comes to guns, how do you balance safety with constitutional rights?
Adam Smith: I believe that people have a right to own a gun, but that there should be common-sense controls in place to ensure that they do not get into the wrong hands. I have long advocated for and supported sensible gun control measures and it is well past time to take action. The main issues driving gun violence are ease of access to firearms, type of firearms that are readily available, improving access to mental health treatment, and investing in understanding and eliminating the underlying causes of violence in our communities. I strongly support closing the “Charleston loophole,” which allows for a buyer to take ownership of a gun after three days, whether or not the required background check is completed. Additionally, I am a cosponsor of H.R. 4240, the Thompson-King Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act. This bill would expand the existing background check system to include all commercial firearm sales, including gun shows and over the Internet sales. To combat the sheer number of firearms in our communities, I support gun buyback programs, which have been successful in some U.S. cities. I also support reinstating the federal assault weapons ban. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 3947, the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act, which would ban “bump stocks.” There is no reason for ordinary citizens to be able to fire dozens of rounds in seconds. I’m proud to be endorsed by Giffords, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, and am a Moms Demand Gun Sense candidate.
Sarah Smith: We must work towards sensible gun legislation to ensure our kids are not dying needless deaths in their own schools. The Bill of Rights and Constitution guarantee the Second Amendment, and also a person’s right to life. For too long we have recognized only the Second Amendment. We need strong, sensible, progressive gun reform to ensure we are recognizing the Second Amendment while keeping families safe. That means expanding background checks, limiting access to bump stocks and hellfire switches and other dangerous modifications, and protecting women from domestic violence.