Candidates battle to represent Eastern Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. --- Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers is trying to hang on to her 5th District seat in Congress, but she is being challenged by former Colville Tribe chairman Joe Pakootas.

KREM 2's Whitney Ward had the chance to question both candidates in a debate on Tuesday.

Joe Pakootas came out early, criticizing 5th District Congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rodgers as part of the problem in Washington D.C.

"We need new representation, better leadership, and elected officials who are willing to work more than 112 days of the year,” said Pakootas, “The only way to change that is change Congress," he added.

McMorris Rodgers, now seeking her seventh term, called on her experience as an asset.

"Taking action on the wildfires we have seen here in Eastern Washington, the passage of the ABLE Act that provides for tax-free savings accounts for those with disabilities, or the Steve Gleason Act,” said McMorris Rodgers.

Ward asked questions ranging from immigration, to Syrian refugees, to the current presidential election.

McMorris Rodgers said she will be voting for Trump, while Pakootas said he will be voting for Clinton.

The candidates also answered questions on one of the most hot-button issues facing the country: Should the federal government have more reach when it comes to the repeated cases of unarmed minorities killed at the hands of police.

KREM 2'S WARD: "Do you think it is a call for more de-escalation training, and what, specifically, is the role of the federal government? Should there be more oversight at the federal level?"

PAKOOTAS: "I think a little bit less rhetoric about what's being done today, about people of color, and the Hispanic, and the racism and what's being talked about with them, and denying access to the United States by certain religious groups. One of our Presidential candidates is talking that. But Congress is not saying that that's not okay. They're basically being silent about it. And it's ok. So the American people are feeling a little bit more secure about talking about the racist attitudes. I think some cultural sensitivity would be helpful for a lot of them, and I think that a person of color could bring that to Congress. "

WARD: “I want to re-ask that question, because I'm not sure that you answered it. When we're talking about the federal government's role, do you think there is a need for more oversight or training when it comes to police shootings of other people of other races?”

PAKOOTAS: "Certainly, I think there do. And looking at the laws and rules and regulations, the states also have a lot of requirements for doing that too."

MCMORRIS RODGERS: "I've talked to local sheriffs, local law enforcement, and what they tell me is that they do need more training, and a belief in community policing. From a federal perspective, I have supported us taking a look at it federally too, and seeing if there is some action we should be taking. Meeting regularly, even right now, and going around the country to look at what is an appropriate federal response, so that we are providing the support that we should."

Both candidates agree, they have fundamental differences.

However, it will be up to voters to decide who makes it to Congress on election day.

KREM


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