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Harris touts experience in 17th District race

Challenger McCluskey says integrity, compassion is needed

By , Columbian Political Writer
Published: October 20, 2014, 5:00pm

Paul Harris

Age: 61

City: Vancouver

Occupation: Owner Quick Meds; sales for Quick Collect

Party affiliation: Republican

Endorsements: U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas; Washington Medical Association; Washington Education Association, Riverside chapter; Washington State Farm Bureau; Washington Restaurant Association

Total funds raised: $94,043

Campaign website: www.electharris.com

Richard McCluskey

Age: 63

City: Vancouver

Occupation: Retired

Party affiliation: Democratic

Endorsements: Young Democrats of Washington, Pacific Northwest Council of Carpenters Local 1503, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48, Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, Washington Electric Vehicle Advocacy

Total funds raised: $12,175

Campaign website: www.mccluskey17.com

Before being elected, Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, was a proponent of term limits. As he seeks a third term, defending his 17th Legislative District, Position 2 seat against Democratic candidate Richard McCluskey, he’s changed his mind.

“To be an effective legislator, it’s taken me a couple of years,” Harris said at a recent candidate forum.

The next Legislature, Harris said, will continue to tackle the issues surrounding the federal health care reform and the rollout of legalized marijuana.

Harris contends his position as a ranking Republican and spot on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee and Appropriations Committee will help Southwest Washington.

“There is a lot of stuff going on and I have an influence there and I believe a good influence for your community,” Harris said.

Political newcomer McCluskey said the integrity and compassion he could bring to Olympia is much needed.

His level “of respect for each and every human being” would enable him to communicate effectively with those who philosophically disagree with him, he said.

“Contention in politics has become a very difficult problem,” McCluskey added.

If elected, the Democrat’s primary goal would be to bolster the middle class and represent the “working people — or those who would work if they could.”

McCluskey, a proponent of funding mass-transit projects, believes it would be worthwhile to take another look at the now-defunct Columbia River Crossing project.

When it comes to marijuana, McCluskey believes it would be unfair to tax medical cannabis.

Harris believes it needs to be taxed.

“It will create an unbalanced market if medical marijuana is not regulated and taxed,” Harris said.

McCluskey called Initiative 594, which expands background checks for firearms purchases, a “well-thought-out, well-reasoned” measure that should be approved. Harris opposes it.

Where Harris is a proponent of the idea of using revenue from marijuana sales to help fund the state’s public schools, McCluskey said raising taxes would be a last resort but one worth considering.

Paul Harris

Age: 61

City: Vancouver

Occupation: Owner Quick Meds; sales for Quick Collect

Party affiliation: Republican

Endorsements: U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas; Washington Medical Association; Washington Education Association, Riverside chapter; Washington State Farm Bureau; Washington Restaurant Association

Total funds raised: $94,043

Campaign website: <a href="http://www.electharris.com">www.electharris.com</a>

Richard McCluskey

Age: 63

City: Vancouver

Occupation: Retired

Party affiliation: Democratic

Endorsements: Young Democrats of Washington, Pacific Northwest Council of Carpenters Local 1503, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48, Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, Washington Electric Vehicle Advocacy

Total funds raised: $12,175

Campaign website: <a href="http://www.mccluskey17.com">www.mccluskey17.com</a>

McCluskey said he is running a low-budget campaign, mainly meeting voters face-to-face, one at a time.

If elected, he would strive to create a “spirit of compassion for all people, not just the fortunate few.”

As for Harris, he said he believes he will continue to be “more effective” the longer he serves.

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