LONGVIEW — U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania, answered questions about bank bailouts and Cowlitz County projects during a town hall Monday night in Longview.
Dozens of people attended the event at the Roxy Theater to hear from the 3rd District’s first-term Democratic congresswoman. Cowlitz Economic Development Council President Ted Sprague moderated the event and ran Gluesenkamp Perez through a list of questions submitted by the crowd.
Several of the questions tied back to the local timber and wood industry, either explicitly or implicitly. Gluesenkamp Perez is one of three Democrats on the forestry subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee. She toured the NORPAC mill complex in Longview on Monday afternoon before the town hall.
Through the committee, she said she is working to fund more research into the uses for wood pulp and other mill waste products, which would help the local economy and reduce the environmental damage from microplastics.
“I really believe paper and cardboard products are the solution to plastics. That’s what we did 40 years ago, and Longview is a juggernaut of cardboard and paper,” Gluesenkamp Perez said.
Last week, Gluesenkamp Perez and two Republican House representatives from Idaho introduced a bill to allow counties and Native American tribes to enter into “good neighbor” forest restoration partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service.
Gluesenkamp Perez spun a question about the maintenance of two specific roads in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest into a broader statement on the need for kids to appreciate forests.
Gluesenkamp Perez pointed to the bipartisan co-sponsors for the forest access bill and many of the others she introduced this winter. The comment received some of the loudest applause of the night.
The evening’s first question was about the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the federal response that followed. Gluesenkamp Perez said she was unhappy about how the bank had managed its investments and risk leading into the closure.
At the same time, she was concerned about the ripple effects on other regional banks, such as PacWest Bancorp, whose stock value dropped about 40 percent Monday.
“A lot of small businesses are wrapped up in this that are just like mine and yours. You have to contain it, so I want answers for what was going on. I want broader accountability. … If my tax dollars are touching this, that is a problem and it deserves answers,” Gluesenkamp Perez said.
Gluesenkamp Perez told The Daily News later that evening that the accountability could potentially include civil and criminal penalties for the bank’s board of directors and leadership if there was evidence of misconduct. The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the bank.
“Their board members had a responsibility for oversight that, right now, it looks like they did not fulfill,” Gluesenkamp Perez said.
On another timely issue, Gluesenkamp Perez said she was in favor of a bill introduced in the Senate to end clock changes for daylight saving time. She said she did not care if daylight saving time or standard time became the permanent version as long as it meant fewer time changes for her and her 1-year-old son.
“You live and die by the sleep schedule. You flip that back an hour or forward an hour, it’s a nightmare,” Gluesenkamp Perez said.