Sultan resident Amy Burns came to see U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene speak at Rep. Carolyn Eslick’s weekly Coffee with The Mayor.
Sultan resident Amy Burns came to see U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene speak at Rep. Carolyn Eslick’s weekly Coffee with The Mayor.

When she scheduled Friday’s trip to Sultan, U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene hadn’t planned to congratulate the mayor on being tapped to fill former Rep. John Koster’s vacant seat.

The two were originally meeting for Carolyn Eslick’s weekly Coffee with The Mayor event at Galaxy Chocolates. The congresswoman said she is excited to know Eslick will be representing the region.

“I am a big fan of the mayor’s,” she said.

For the last hour of the gathering, DelBene was scheduled to address an audience that included local elected officials, small business owners, retired veterans and Sky Valley environmentalists. She fielded questions on transportation for veterans, aerial spraying and the weak ethics exhibited by the county’s politicians.

“I probably don’t have to tell you it’s still a mess in Washington, D.C.,” she said at the start of the chat.

DelBene, who is on the House Ways and Means Committee, has previously spoken out against the Republican’s proposed tax reform plan, or the “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code,” released at the end of September. She told Friday’s audience members that she believes the best solution will be bipartisan.

Experts say the plan will reduce federal revenue by trillions of dollars in the next decade and likely give significant tax cuts to the country’s richest. President Donald Trump said he expects it could lead to 6 percent annual growth for the nation.

“As a business person I think we should count on what we really think we will get in terms of revenues,” DelBene said.

She said nonpartisan economists are saying it will be closer to 1.8 to 2 percent growth, if any. Her biggest concern is that the plan could increase the nation’s debt, she said, and that is the worst thing that could happen for the economy.

DelBene said she was expecting what she heard at Friday’s event, especially the comments made by resident John Cummings. The retired veteran said he is tired of the nasty behavior he sees from the people who are in charge of U.S. policy.

Cummings asked DelBene to go straight to the House Committee on Ethics and tell them to “dig their heels in and tell everyone to grow up.” He said nothing is getting accomplished, and divisions among the parties continue to grow.

The conversation later touched on transportation, which DelBene said is a big issue for those traveling through the U.S. Highway 2 corridor. Sultan City Councilmember John Seehuus asked if the congresswoman was acquainted with the idea of constructing a bypass for the region or plans to improve freight mobility, which have been pushed for by the U.S. Traffic Safety Coalition.

DelBene said it is a frustrating situation for people who are just trying to get home each day. She said she sees those projects as being the most successful if backed and promoted by the community.

Environmental issues came up near the end of the meeting. Sultan resident Jack Burns said he was concerned about the changes he is seeing in the Sky Valley, and that more rain is needed. He said he could see the area becoming more like northern California in the next decade. People are concerned about the receding snow levels and have talked about the possibility of Stevens Pass Washington Ski Resort shutting down altogether.

DelBene said she believes climate change is a very critical issue. Even though there was more snow this winter, it melted faster and created dryer conditions conducive to significant wildfires. She said the USDA and EPA, the agencies that directly tackle environmental issues, are at risk of being crippled by the people running them.

The new administration is scared of data, DelBene said. It would be better to allow people to disagree, she said, but make sure the facts stay out there for everyone to consider.

Near the end of the meeting, one resident stood up and said she was proud of the people in the room who came from different backgrounds, with their different opinions, but listened and were respectful to one another Friday.

“This is how it is supposed to work — not everyone in a room has to agree on every issue,” DelBene said. “We need more of these things to be happening.”