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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Independent launches long-shot bid for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District

John Saulie-Rohman, 43, wants to address foreign wars, political corruption

By Dylan Jefferies, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 14, 2024, 6:02am

John Saulie-Rohman wants to shake up the race for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.

An independent candidate from Camas, Saulie-Rohman, 43, thinks that Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania, and Republicans Joe Kent of Yacolt and Leslie Lewallen of Camas should address issues he believes are being sidelined, such as the war in Gaza and political corruption.

“Our Congress is compromised,” he said. “Lobbying and special interests inject billions of dollars to steer legislative policies in their favor to the detriment of the American people. The atrocities unfolding every day before our eyes in Gaza have made very clear the power these campaign contributions have over our elected representatives.”

Saulie-Rohman filed to run May 8, and he will face the other candidates in the Aug. 6 primary, where the top two vote-getters will advance to the general election in November.

His priorities include addressing economic challenges, improving education, investing in the Columbia River, revitalizing Washington’s forests and protecting reproductive rights. He also wants to separate commercial and investment banking and lower health care costs.

His top priority, however, is getting the U.S. out of foreign wars. The wars in Ukraine and Gaza galvanized him into action. Now, he wants to bring the conflict in Gaza to the forefront of the conversation in the race for the 3rd Congressional District.

“I can no longer stand idly by while our elected leaders prioritize the interests of their donors and party affiliations over the needs of the American people,” he said. “It is disheartening to witness our representatives allocating billions of dollars towards conflicts abroad, burdening us with an insurmountable amount of debt, while enriching themselves and their campaign coffers.”

Saulie-Rohman acknowledges that he faces long odds. Perez and Kent have been campaigning since 2022, and they have raised millions of dollars collectively, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Lewallen has raised roughly half a million dollars.

Conversely, Saulie-Rohman has pledged to accept only individual donations from individual supporters to shield his campaign from special interests and party politics. His campaign has raised less than $5,000.

But winning isn’t necessarily the goal, Saulie-Rohman said.

“At a bare minimum, I want to force some honesty, and I want to hold these candidates’ feet to the fire,” he said. “They need to honestly debate the reality that we face and not just these lines of rhetoric that they stick to try to inflame their base, polarize the constituency and keep us divided.”

Locally, Saulie-Rohman supports replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge, but not tolling.

“How is it that over the years of these war efforts that we can spend trillions of dollars to destroy lives and create weapons that are going to demolish entire cities?” he asked. “But the federal government can’t fund a bridge on one of the most widely traveled freeway systems in the country without requiring a toll for us, the working-class people?”

He believes light rail would help businesses on both sides of the river, but he wants to see more data and research about the potential impacts. Additionally, he believes in the security of Clark County’s elections, and he supports implementing a universal background check to purchase firearms. He also supports universal health care and pre-kindergarten schooling.

“I was a lifelong Democrat,” he said. “Now, it’s the party of war and Wall Street. … Republicans, I think, are the same.”

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He believes that widespread disillusionment with the two-party system could mean that independent candidates have a solid chance this election. He hopes his campaign will spur discourse on important issues and, ultimately, combat polarization.

“It is crucial that we hold our elected officials accountable and demand a government that truly serves the American people, not the interests of their donors,” he said. “Let us work together to restore integrity, transparency and a genuine commitment to the well-being of our nation.”

He is currently running the campaign by himself, and the money he has raised has gone into keeping it afloat.

“If anybody wants to volunteer, let’s talk and let’s make some stuff happen,” he said.

Originally from White Salmon, the political newcomer has lived most of his adult life in Washington. He has worked in the energy industry as a control room operator for the past 12 years. He lives in Camas with his wife and four children.

To learn more about his campaign, visit www.saulierohmanforcongress.com.