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News / Politics / Election

Ridgefield Democrat announces run against Herrera Beutler

Bob Dingethal has background in business, public policy

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published: December 8, 2013, 4:00pm

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, faces another challenger in 2014.

Democrat Bob Dingethal, 57, of Ridgefield announced Monday afternoon that he’s running for the 3rd District U.S. House seat because many Southwest Washington residents are unhappy with the recklessness of federal lawmakers. He also said Southwest Washington needs to position itself for growth as the economy improves. That means investments in education and job training, he said.

“Our Congress is dysfunctional,” Dingethal said in a statement. “It’s time to put aside the partisan in-fighting that has caused the problems of struggling families to be ignored. The people need someone who will listen and work as hard as they do.”

Dingethal is executive director of the Gifford Pinchot Task Force, which aims to protect natural habitats in the Cascade Mountain range, and he previously served as the Southwest Washington regional director for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. His resume includes stints as president of a public affairs consulting business, a business owner and an executive in the telecommunications industry.

He said he believes most people are fiscally conservative, but they also value taking care of the nation’s most vulnerable people, which is good economic policy. On the Columbia River Crossing project, Dingethal said Southwest Washington missed an opportunity to create jobs in the region when some public officials walked away from the CRC. He also said the federal government should pay most of the cost associated with a new Interstate 5 Bridge over the Columbia River.

Herrera Beutler, first elected to Congress in 2010, is serving her second term. She’s up for re-election next fall.

Dingethal is the second challenger to enter the race against Herrera Beutler. In October, Republican Michael Delavar, a Washougal airline pilot, announced his candidacy, saying Washington’s 3rd District needs a representative who will protect citizens’ civil liberties and get serious about reducing the nation’s debt.

If elected, Dingethal said, he would host traditional town hall meetings in the 3rd District. Herrera Beutler hasn’t hosted a town hall meeting since May 2011. Instead, she hosts smaller public meetings over coffee with groups of constituents that her office notifies ahead of time.

“People have a right to voice their opinions even if they are angry with the state of politics in America,” Dingethal said in his announcement. “There are currently a lot of people who feel their voices are not being heard over the power of special interests in D.C.”

Herrera Beutler scaled back her congressional duties this summer after her first child, Abigail Rose Beutler, was born without functioning kidneys. The baby is receiving dialysis treatments in a California outpatient facility. Herrera Beutler said she plans to resume her full congressional duties once her daughter comes home to Southwest Washington, which could happen as early as this month.

In the meantime, Herrera Beutler relies more heavily on her staff and only travels to Washington, D.C. , for crucial votes.

Herrera Beutler plans to run for re-election and has said she welcomes other civically minded people to run for office. She “will keep serving every corner of Southwest Washington, fighting for good local jobs and economic growth in the region,” her spokesman, Casey Bowman, said Monday.

Dingethal is married to Dona Dingethal and has two adult sons. He has a master’s degree in public administration from Washington State University and a bachelor’s degree in communications from San Jose State University.

His community service efforts include working with the Vancouver Police Activities League, the Chkalov Society and the Joy Team, a Vancouver-based group intent on spreading happiness and optimism. He’s chaired the Vancouver-Clark County Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and served on the board of the Clark County Historical Society and Museum.

Dingethal said his business and nonprofit leadership experience has prepared him to champion economic innovation in Congress.

“We can foster innovation in the high-tech and other industries here in Southwest Washington, and create economic and job training opportunities,” he said.

Columbian Assistant Metro Editor