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Koster, DelBene vie for newly redrawn first Congressional district

Population growth triggered changes to Washington’s political map. This week, KPLU is looking at two districts with the most dramatic changes - the new 10th Congressional district, which takes in Joint Base Lewis-McChord and our state capitol, and the first Congressional district, a seat Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee used to hold.

The first district used to cover north Seattle suburbs, extending west to Kitsap County and Bainbridge Island. Now, it’s moved east and north - stretching all the way from Kirkland and Redmond to the Canadian border. It encompasses berry farms and dairy farms, aerospace manufacturing and software companies.

Republican candidate John Koster comes from a dairy farm background. Democratic candidate Suzan DelBene is a former Microsoft executive. They agree on one thing - the tax system needs to be overhauled – but they would do it in different ways. DelBene would get rid of the Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy people, and she'd close corporate loopholes and subsidies.

"We need to have a tax system where everyone pays their fair share," DelBene said. "For example, we have oil companies where they’re getting a subsidy right now and yet they’re very profitable companies. They don’t need a subsidy from the government."

Koster says government needs to shrink and tax rates should come down for everyone – including wealthy people. But he says he’d close loopholes so that the amount rich people pay wouldn’t change.

"They should still pay their share, not any less than they’re paying today," Koster said.

Koster also wants to lower corporate taxes and cut regulations. He says his main focus is the economy.

DelBene has played up social issues. She’s pro-choice. Koster is against a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger.

"Women are saying they want the ability to make their health care decisions and that government shouldn’t get in the middle of their health care decisions," DelBene said.

Koster says he hasn't been hearing much about social issues from voters.

"Listen, the American people want this economy back on track," Koster said. "They want jobs, they want to live their life. A lot of them don’t care about those issues. It’s not that they don’t care. They’re not at the forefront of their mind."

It’s hard to make any blanket statements about such a diverse district. A state report shows the district would have picked Barack Obama in 2008, but Dino Rossi for governor.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.