SANDPOINT — James VanderMaas kicked off his campaign Friday in his bid to secure Idaho’s 1st Congressional District seat.
Approxi-mately 30 people gathered at the Idaho Pour Authority to meet VanderMaas, an Eagle resident who owns and operates a business and real estate investment consulting business.
VanderMaas, who’s running as a Democrat, said a load-bearing plank in his platform is bringing people together regardless of political affiliation.
“My values are for the people of Idaho and for bringing the people of Idaho together. When we consider ourselves liberal, progressive, Democrat, independent, Republican, conservative — whatever — we all have the same goals and the same concerns and want the same things for our family,” VanderMaas said.
Chief among those concerns are access to healthcare, education, jobs and wages, VanderMaas said.
VanderMaas seeks to fill the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, who is running to become Idaho’s next governor.
“Contrary to what Labrador thinks, we all do have the right to affordable and well-protected healthcare,” said VanderMaas, referring to public remarks Labrador made as the Trump administration sought to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. “It can be a reality.”
VanderMaas is also touting a plan to make post-secondary educations free through revenue-neutral tax deductions and other reforms. VanderMaas said national student loan debt now surpasses credit card debt and argues that student loans should be allowed to be refinanced like home mortgages. He also advocates for community service programs that allows students to pay debt service while they attain their degrees.
“Education is the key to rebuilding our middle class,” said VanderMaas, who contends that student debt stifles economic growth.
VanderMaas also opposes removal of federal oversight of public lands because the state lacks the financial ability to managed such vast holdings, which could lead them to being acquired for use in mineral and natural gas extraction.
VanderMaas also pledged to protect Social Security and Medicaid, programs which are being threatened by manufactured GOP claims that they can no longer be sustained.
“We can’t fall for that. I will protect the programs,” he said, eliciting a round of applause.
Vandermaas faces Donald Miller and Michael Smith in the 2018 primary. Republican candidates for Labrador’s congressional seat include Russ Fulcher, Nick Henderson, David Leroy, Luke Malek and Michael Snyder.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.