New I-5 bridge: Vital transit link or crime corridor?

A New I-5 Bridge: A Vital Transit Link or a Corridor for Crime?
By William Mackenzie,

Shades of the U.S.-Mexico border conflict.

Stephen F. Austin, the “father of Texas”, had strong opinions about ” invaders”. In a May 4, 1836 letter, appealing for U.S. assistance during Texas’ war of independence, Austin declared “A war of extermination is raging in Texas — a war of barbarism and of despotic principles waged by the mongrel Spanish-Indian and Negro race, against civilization and the Anglo-American race…. Indians, Mexicans, and renegades, all mixed together, and all the natural enemies of white men and civilization.”

It doesn’t look like Republican Joe Kent, who lost his 2022 race in Washington’s in Washington’s Third Congressional District against Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and is challenging her again in 2024, likes outsiders much either,, especially folks from Oregon.

In mid-January 2024, Kent proclaimed that a replacement for the deteriorating I-5 bridge and a new light rail line “… would be an expressway for Portland’s crime & homeless into Vancouver…”

“…the drug addicts and criminals in their tent colonies that are spreading their crime from Portland into Vancouver…,” are not welcome in his district, he said.

In a Feb. 29, 2024 news release, Kent repeated that allegation. “What we don’t need – and the people of my district agree on this regardless of party – is a toll road that unfairly targets Washingtonians commuting to Portland, or light rail that there is no demand for and would bring Portland’s crime problem further into Clark County.”

Kent has repeated that point of view on Facebook. ““We don’t want the problems of downtown Portland dumped right into our district in Vancouver,” he said. “If you look at the murder rate, the crime rate, that’s the last thing we want in Vancouver.”

The New York Times says the I-5 dispute “… is an example of how Republicans…are seeking to transform even the most basic of local issues into battlegrounds in the nation’s culture wars in elections this year in which control of Congress is at stake. Mr. Kent’s attacks, which rely on buzzwords of the hard right, place the bridge at the center of a national political discussion that vilifies the left and plays on fears of demographic change.”

So I guess we can expect more of this as the Kent-Perez contest heats up.