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Nov. 26, 2021

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Murray in Vancouver: I build bridges

U.S. senator discusses need for collaboration, infrastructure improvements during CREDC luncheon

By , Columbian Business Reporter
Published:
3 Photos
Sen. Patty Murray speaks to David Ripp, the executive director of the Port of Camas-Washougal, following a Columbia River Economic Development Council luncheon on Tuesday. The Democratic senator spoke about her collaborative efforts in "the other Washington" before a crowd of more than 90 local business leaders.
Sen. Patty Murray speaks to David Ripp, the executive director of the Port of Camas-Washougal, following a Columbia River Economic Development Council luncheon on Tuesday. The Democratic senator spoke about her collaborative efforts in "the other Washington" before a crowd of more than 90 local business leaders. (Ariane Kunze/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Sen. Patty Murray read through her resume for Clark County’s business community Tuesday and stressed one theme of her experience: bridge building.

“I do my best every day to work over in the other Washington the way you all do here in Southwest Washington: collaborating, negotiating, making some compromises and trying to get results,” the Democrat told an audience of more than 90 people at a luncheon held by the Columbia River Economic Development Council.

Murray was well-received by the attendees, who stood to applaud her before and after prepared remarks and a round of questions. While she stressed her record of working with Republicans on issues such as the budget, education and workforce training, a hearty round of applause followed her remarks on building a literal bridge.

“We need transportation systems that are safe, efficient … including a new I-5 bridge that is seismically sound, alleviates congestion and works for Washington and Oregon residents,” Murray said.

Asked how the region should chart the way forward on the Interstate 5 Bridge, she said collaboration is crucial.

“We have to come together,” Murray said. “Hear what they’re saying on the other side, don’t just dismiss them.”

The state’s senior senator, first elected in 1992, is running for her fifth term this fall against former state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance.

The Seattle Times on Tuesday reported a recent poll by Elway Research showed Murray holds an 18-point lead over Vance.

Tuesday’s talk was more of an information session than a get-out-the-vote rally, though Murray made it clear she is best able to serve Southwest Washington.

“Vancouver and Clark County have some unique needs — needs I am never going to stop fighting for over in the other Washington,” she said.

Mike Bomar, president of the public/private CREDC, said his business recruitment group regularly works with the area’s congressional delegation to keep Southwest Washington economic priorities on members’ minds.

The clink of silverware on ceramic resonated in the community room of Vancouver’s Water Resources Education Center as Murray took on several economic topics from a U.S. Senate-crested podium with a forested backdrop out the window behind her.

“As this region continues to grow — and CREDC continues to successfully usher in economic opportunity in Southwest Washington — we know it is critical that our roads, bridges, ports, railways and more are up to the task.”

Audience questions touched on breaking partisan congressional gridlock, support for freight mobility and marijuana policy.

“It has been frustrating,” Murray said about getting federal laws in line with Washington and other states’ new legalized marijuana policies. It is difficult for marijuana businesses to work with banks due to the continued federal prohibition on marijuana sales and use, making the state’s nearly $1 billion-per-year industry largely rely on cash.

Asked about the federal role in the oil-by-rail terminal proposed at the Port of Vancouver, she stressed that no matter what happens, “We need to do it right.”

“We need to dot our i’s and cross our t’s but also realize oil is already coming through the community,” Murray said. “It is our job to make sure our community is safe.”

The proposed terminal, which could handle up to 360,000 barrels of oil per day, would be the nation’s largest. A state board is weighing evidence it has collected over three years and is expected to make a recommendation to the governor, who gets final say over the project, later this year.

Murray was also asked about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pending massive trade deal that the senator called a “political football” with major ramifications for Washington, the country’s most trade-dependent state.

“I am waiting to see what the final form is,” she said about her support for the deal, also known as the TPP.

Columbian Business Reporter
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