Independent Congressional candidate Josh Ramirez wants to reduce the nation's trade deficit and bring jobs that have moved overseas home to the Mid-Columbia.
He's never run for office before, but has targeted the Congressional seat held by retiring Doc Hastings because he did not see a way to so dramatically improve the economy by running for a state or local office, he said.
Ramirez, 36, wants to bring up to 6 million jobs back to the United States, a move that would create 60,000 jobs in the 4th Congressional District, including newly created jobs and the jobs those additional wages in local communities would support, he said. It also would additional create tax revenue equal to the federal deficit.
The district has communities with some of the highest poverty rates in the state, said Ramirez, a lead analyst for a Hanford contractor. About 16 percent of people in Washington live below the poverty level. But in Yakima, the poverty rate is 34 percent, in Pasco 28 percent, in Connell 23 percent and in Kennewick 18 percent.
"What we fail to realize is that poverty not only impacts the person in poverty, but it impacts small business. They lose customer base," he said.
It also costs the district money because the government has to pitch in when people can't take care of themselves, and that leads to increased taxes, he said.
"Reshore, restore, revitalize" is the answer, according to his campaign literature.
He proposes to adjust the tax code to reward corporations that bring jobs back to America by reducing their tax rate from 35 percent to 30.3 percent. Taxes for companies that keep jobs overseas would go up to 39.5 percent.
He is confident in his numbers, relying on seven years as an analyst and an education that includes a master of science in management. He also serves as adjunct faculty for the project management program at Columbia Basin College.
His life experience includes being the father of four, previous work in agriculture, construction and as a drill instructor for juvenile offenders, and a few years in the military.
Ramirez made the decision to run for office Oct. 14, during the federal government shutdown, just days before furlough notices were expected to be sent out to Hanford workers because Congress had failed to pass a budget for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1, he said. Earlier in the year, his coworkers had been forced to take time off because of sequestration, or forced federal spending cuts triggered by insufficient Congressional action to reduce the national deficit.
"It's all about partisanship," he said. "The parties are so caught up in victory for their parties they forget they should be fighting for the victory for the people."
He chose to run as an independent, finding the Republican and Democratic parties are outdated and wanting to cast votes in Congress without being beholden to a political party.
"Group-think now outweighs intelligence," he said.
He would stabilize the Hanford budget by locking in budgets for the nuclear reservation for five to 10 years, which likely would require legislation specific to Hanford, he said. With a Hanford job that has him working daily with budget and schedule, he sees first hand that the constant ramping up and ramping down of work tied to budget uncertainties and changes is inefficient and costly.
If elected, he would support the Tri-City Development Council's work to increase job opportunities, including its initiatives to expand the Mid-Columbia's role as a Northwest energy-production hub and to create opportunities to export more ag products.
He calls himself a strong supporter of gun rights, believes in marriage equality for all and wants improvements to the Affordable Care Act. He's concerned about the act's individual mandate, but says divisive efforts to repeal the law have been fruitless.
He has not raised enough money to be required to report donations to the Federal Election Commission, but believes if he can make it from the primary ballot, with 12 candidates, to the general election ballot, more money will be available for his campaign.
Primary ballots will be mailed to registered voters beginning July 18. Washington state has open primaries for partisan office, meaning all candidates regardless of political affiliation compete against each other. The two candidates receiving the most votes go on to the general election.
U.S. representatives are currently paid an annual salary of $174,000 and are elected for two-year terms.
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w Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @HanfordNews