Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Dr. Bernadine Bank’s WA-05 Campaign

Photo Contributed by Dr. Bernadine Bank

Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the US House Representative for Washington’s fifth district, is not seeking re-election this year. Her absence from the election processes has allowed other contenders to vie for her seat. Dr. Bernadine Bank is one of the four Democratic candidates running for the seat. The Wire was invited to attend a campaign event held by Bank on April 6. 

Bank is a physician who graduated from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 1987. Dr. Bank’s main focus is on women’s health issues and enhancing their control over their bodies and decision-making regarding things such as pregnancy. 

Bank explained that one of the main events that led her to become a candidate was the 2022 Dobbs decision which overturned long-standing precedent Roe v. Wade and eliminated federal protections for abortion. In turn, the decision has fallen to individual states to set their own frameworks for reproductive freedom. 

According to Bank, the consequence of this decision was the closing of clinics that were providing healthcare and services such as sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening for women and men. 

When Alabama introduced a bill to the state legislation with the potential to charge pregnant people with murder for the termination of a pregnancy, either as a result of abortion or miscarriage, Bank decided to step in more seriously. 

“Women really need to have autonomy over their own bodies,” Bank said. “It is very disturbing to me to see how many states have extreme distractions on reproductive freedom.”  

Bank is concerned about how restrictive abortion policies influence people when they make decisions, like deciding where to attend college. She imagines that the solution comes through significant action at the federal level.  

“I think what we are going to do, just to keep healthcare safe for women, is to have an amendment to the constitution,” Bank said. 

Although reproductive justice is a cornerstone of her campaign, Bank also discussed the environmental concerns facing Washington’s fifth district.

“Fairchild Air Force Base and the Spokane Airport have forever chemicals that have seeped into the groundwater in the airway heights area.” Bank said. “Those chemicals can cause a variety of medical problems.” 

Regarding climate change, Bank talked about hydrogen fusion and the companies around the Seattle area. 

“There’s a big hydrogen fusion plant, a million dollar project that will be going to the Wenatchee area and that could be a big changer for the energy supply and getting it off fossil fuels to help navigate some of the climate change issues,” Bank said.  

Bank pointed out some issues that need to be addressed in the district and believes that the role and support of the government is very influential in order to provide financial support, creating jobs, affordable housing and infrastructure. 

“Some of the issues up and down the district have to do with homelessness and housing and I think one big way to intervene there is by making sure that there are decent paying jobs and affordable housing,” Bank said. 

Infrastructure improvement as an integral part of Bank’s campaign. She highlighted a light rail project from the Spokane Airport that originated in the 1990s and could be an exemplar for other transportation investments. As large-scale investments into infrastructure have been made at the federal level, Bank feels that now is the key time to make changes.

“In the long run, I think that would be a great thing to try and attract some of that infrastructure bill money to this district to build out passenger rail, light rail, other kinds of rail that could really benefit everyone in the district,” Bank said. “One thing that I think we should be looking at going forward for this district, is making sure that those federal dollars get pulled into our district.”

Bank believes that this strategy would have positive impacts on urban and rural industries, and also spur job creation. She gestured towards union jobs  in railroad construction as a space for potential growth. 

“I am from a union family, so I realize that being in a union can make all the difference in someone’s life. They can get higher pay, they have great health care benefits, they have great pensions. I see from my siblings and their retirements how well being in a union turned out for them, and I would hope for that for more of our citizens,” Bank said. 

Creating a robust economy is an additional priority for Bank. She sees this manifesting in the creation and endorsement of local businesses.

“My third issue is trying to encourage small business and good paying jobs,” Bank said. “As a private practice provider when I was [living] in Dallas, [Texas,] I ran a small business. I really understand the challenges that come along with running a small business.”

Although Bank described the ways the new representative for WA-05 will interact with federal laws and funding, she foregrounded the district’s individuality. 

“We have a very unique district: we are not Seattle, Portland, Chicago, New York. We are a very rural district that depends a lot on agriculture and we have to really make sure our farmers have their needs met,” Bank said. 

Editor’s note: The Wire contacted all other candidates currently in the running for WA-05; no other candidates were able to speak prior to publication. The Wire does not endorse candidates for local office.

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  • B

    Bajun MavalwallaApr 15, 2024 at 5:21 pm

    Well done, WHITMAN WIRE. I am Dr. Bank’s campaign manager and we appreciate your professionalism.

    • C

      CeliaCeliaMay 8, 2024 at 11:45 pm

      She checks all the boxes of many of my high priority issues! Other issues I have as high priority are fixing the broken immigration systems, stop funding militarism and war! and spend that money for human well-being; to heal and build,not kill and destroy. Reduce institutional racism. (law enforcement, judiciary, incarceration, legislation, environmental, etc.). Free healthcare or Medicare for all. Including paid caregivers in the home for disabled and elderly that’s fall below the poverty line. Raise the Federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and
      give benefits for part time employees. And equal rights for women in all levels of society!!