opinion | A new voice to win back lost Democratic voters

She cited Representatives Jared Golden of Maine and Mary Peltola of Alaska, and Senators Jon Tester of Montana and John Fetterman of Pennsylvania as examples of elected officials with an unusually broad appeal because they understand their district or state priorities.

In her case, those priorities center on alleviating economic despair and providing a future for young people who are struggling to see a future, especially when they are not college-bound. Pacific County, at the west end of their district an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent in January, compared to 3.4 percent in tech-saturated King County, home of Seattle, just 150 miles northeast. Not everyone needs or can get a four-year college degree, but the economy doesn’t offer enough opportunities for those who don’t go down that path. Many high school students in their neighborhoods will never end up in the headline-making chip fabs or the software companies further north, but they can’t even get a foothold in construction without government support.

She supports what has come to be known on Capitol Hill as “Workforce Pell” — the expansion of Pell grants into short-term skill and apprenticeship programs, many of which are taught in community colleges. Both of them agreed with the idea conservative Republicans and democrats like Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. She said she can’t hire older teenagers as apprentices at her auto repair shop because it would inflate her liability insurance. (A local nonprofit group has helped their business and other businesses defray the additional costs, giving many students the opportunity for on-the-job training.)

“My generation was the one that eliminated all workshop courses and turned them into computer programming courses,” said Ms. Gluesenkamp Perez. “It took 10 or 15 years for that to hit the market, but now, coupled with the retirement of many skilled tradesmen, a plumber, carpenter or electrician has to wait six months. You’d better be married to one.”

She is also critical of prioritizing certain environmental concerns over human ones, a position that is sure to alienate some in her party.

“My mom grew up in Forks, Washington, which is sort of the epicenter of the spotted owl, and that decimated jobs,” she said, referring to it the federal decisions in the 1990s declare the northern spotted owl an endangered species and close millions of hectares of ancient forest to logging. “People struggled to feed their families. That humiliation cast a really long shadow. People felt like they were told they couldn’t work.”

The Trump administration opened much of this habitat up for enrollment in its final days, but this decision was later reversed by the Biden administration. (The congresswoman ignored this reversal.)

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/09/opinion/marie-gluesenkamp-perez-democratic-voters.html opinion | A new voice to win back lost Democratic voters


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