New challenger to Congresswoman Herrera Beutler comes forward

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Updated: January 12, 2012, 7:00 PM

 
photoCongresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler

Career educator Elizabeth Uelmen announced on Thursday her bid to challenge first-term U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler for the 3rd District seat.

Uelmen, associate principal at Frontier Middle School in Vancouver, said she’s running for Congress because she’s worried about the future of her students and for young people who are having trouble finding jobs after college. Uelmen, who is running as a Democrat, has never served in a public office.

“Too many in Congress are engaged in a toxic blend of extremism and partisanship that’s making it impossible for our country to move forward,” she said in a news release announcing her candidacy.

Uelmen has worked in the education field since 1993. Before working in Vancouver, she taught high school science, math and special education in Camas. She holds a bachelor’s degree in science and secondary education from the University of Portland and a master’s degree in educational leadership from City University in Vancouver.

She said she fears that the middle class is disappearing and the American dream is “slowly slipping away.”

“We’re going to lose a core part of our democracy,” she added.

So far, Uelmen said her campaign contributions have come primarily from local businesses. She said her strategy going into the elections is to talk to people in her district and listen to everyone, even those with whom she disagrees.

“They have every right to be angry in this country,” Uelmen said. “You can’t make change in this country unless you’re ready to have the dialogue.”

If elected, she said her top priorities would be to preserve Medicare and Social Security, make college more affordable, and create jobs by improving career training and funding infrastructure projects.

Uelmen has four adult children and lives in Camas with her husband, Vancouver firefighters’ union president Mark Johnston.

Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, won the election to the 3rd District in 2010 and began her two-year term last January.

Jon T. Haugen, a former Navy pilot who ran for state Senate in 2008, also is challenging Herrera Beutler. Haugen is also running as a Democrat.

Two others mentioned as Democratic candidates, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt and County Commissioner Steve Stuart, have said they will not run for Congress this year.