Busy week in Boston

It wasn’t speeches by high-profile Democrats at the party convention that left the most lasting impression on Congressman Jay Inslee.

“It was hearing the vignettes by steelworkers, firefighters and teachers that stood out for me,” the 1st District Democrat said Thursday from Boston, Mass. “It was hearing real people talk about their lives, jobs, and why they support John Kerry that I enjoyed most.”

While Kerry had his party’s presidential nomination locked up before the convention, Inslee said the event still serves a valuable purpose even if it doesn’t decide the nominee.

“The convention isn’t quite as exciting as in the ’60s, for instance, when it was great sport,” he said. “But it’s still important because it coalesces the team and gives Americans a chance to see the candidates apart from those TV ads that drive people nuts.”

In Inslee’s case, the convention was also an opportunity to turn attention to the environment.

Inslee participated in a forum with Sen. Maria Cantwell, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and others to showcase the Apollo energy project.

The project aims to boost homegrown, renewable energy use while creating hundreds of new jobs in the renewable technology industry.

While the Bush administration has asked Congress to approve an energy program that would expand oil exploration in the U.S., Inslee urged Democrats to push for federal incentives promoting wind, solar or biomass power plants. The success of a host of environmental measures depends on this year’s presidential election, Inslee said.

“Frankly, the only way we’re going to get mercury out of the air is to get the Bush administration out of office,” he said.

Inslee accuses Bush of having the worst environmental track record of any president, reversing hard-fought environmental policies of past administrations.

“I’m sure Theodore Roosevelt is rolling in his grave,” Inslee said.

Inslee said four more years of the Bush administration could endanger industrial clean-up efforts, including the Wyckoff/Eagle Harbor Superfund site.

“Bush takes the burden off polluters and puts it on John Q. Citizen,” he said. “We need to get a president that understands that these efforts depend on solid funding.”

Like Bush, Inslee is also up for reelection this year. He is confident he’ll serve a fourth term representing the 1st District.

“I respect all challengers but fear none,” he said of Republican candidate Randy Eastwood, a Kirkland realtor, and Libertarian Charles Moore of Redmond.

Eastwood has characterized himself as a political outsider with new ideas and energy to contrast Inslee’s years in Congress and the state legislature.

Inslee counters that he remains close to his constituents.

“I come home almost every weekend,” he said. “There’s no happier moment in my week as when I step off the ferry listening to the gulls crying and walk home on Winslow Way.”

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