Unaffiliated candidate joins 3rd District race

Critic of party system challenging Herrera Beutler

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

 
photoNorma Jean Stevens

The Ocean Park woman and political outlier who ran to replace Democratic Congressman Brian Baird is trying again, this time challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.

When the congressional seat opened in 2010, Norma Jean Stevens, now 49, ran as an independent and was eliminated in the primary after receiving 4.15 percent of the vote. This time around, she says she prefers no political party, and that she's a stronger candidate.

"They aren't going to recognize me," said Stevens, who spent most of her life as a Democrat. "I'm a much better candidate. I know the issues."

Stevens said she is not running in alignment with any party because she thinks the current party system is detrimental to the country.

"I don't think we should have parties controlling our elections," she said. "I don't think any party should define anybody. We're all Americans."

If she had to label herself, one label would be "fiscally conservative," she said. She also said she is passionate about protecting citizens' liberties and improving the job market by cutting taxes and government regulations on businesses.

"Everything in the budget that's unconstitutional needs to be gone," she said. "We're accumulating this massive debt."

Stevens said that some of her political stances might seem radical. She would like to eliminate the Federal Reserve System, end all foreign conflicts and close foreign military bases, and get rid of the country's foreign aid program.

"We shouldn't be giving our money to any country," she said, adding that it could be better spent on domestic problems.

Stevens said she's proud

to call herself a Ron Paul supporter. Paul, a libertarian Congressman from Texas, is still technically running to become the GOP presidential nominee, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the presumed nominee.

Stevens said the Patriot Act is unconstitutional, as is the Internal Revenue Service's collection of income tax. Stevens also said the Sixteenth Amendment -- which courts have interpreted as allowing the IRS to collect income tax -- should be repealed.

She said members of Congress should not serve more than 12 years in office. She also said the text of all legislation should be available online for the public to read more than just 72 hours before a vote.

"From the beginning to the end of the process, it should be open," Stevens said.

Regarding the proposal to replace the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River, Stevens said there should be no light rail on the new bridge unless voters approve it, and that there should be no tolls, no increased taxes and no new debt created to finance the project.

Stevens is from St. Helens, Ore. She moved to Pacific County in Washington after her sister was murdered in 2000. Stevens is raising her sister's son, who is now 18, and she also runs a small financial business called Prestige Funding.

She said she decided to run for office because she wants to make life better for the next generation, including her nephew.

"I looked down the road for his future, and I didn't like what I saw, and it woke me up," she said. "Our representatives don't represent us. They represent big money and whoever gives them the best treat."

For most of her life, Stevens considered herself a Democrat, and she ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat in the 2004 race to become a Pacific County commissioner. She previously ran another small business called Safe Flaggers, which supplied construction contractors with road flaggers. She also took courses in computer programming for about a year through the Computer Career Institute.

Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, is seeking re-election. Commercial airline pilot Jon Haugen, a Democrat, also is running in the race for U.S. representative of Washington's 3rd District.

As of March 31, when the latest campaign finance reports were due to the Federal Election Commission, Herrera Beutler had raised more than $1 million. The next report comes out July 15 and includes money raised through June 30.

"She may have a million in her war chest, but I've got the Constitution behind me," Stevens said.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523; http://facebook.com/reportermathieu; http://twitter.com/col_politics; stevie.mathieu@columbian.com.