Feldkamp says Congressional District 4 needs new blood

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

Jim Feldkamp wants voters in the 4th Congressional District to remember that he is one of them.

Feldkamp, 43, was born and raised in Roseburg. His family owns the Umpqua Dairy and is active in civic affairs in Douglas County.

He graduated from Roseburg High School and attended Linfield College, where he played running back on the school’s NAIA national championship football team in 1982.

He then went on to Oregon State University, where he earned a business degree, then spent 11 years in the Navy as a navigator on A-6E Intruders fighter jets. He flew more than 30 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm.

After leaving active service, he transferred to the Naval Reserve, in which he is a commander, in 1998, and became an FBI agent, working from 1999-2003 in Norfolk, Va., on counterintelligence and counterterrorism. In 2003 he returned to Oregon to run for Congress against Peter DeFazio, to whom he lost 60 percent to 39 percent.

Feldkamp has a master’s degree in international affairs from Catholic University of America (1998) and is a graduate of the FBI Academy (1999). He is president of Feldkamp and Associates and an adjunct professor at Umpqua Community College and Lane Community College. Following his 2004 campaign, he founded Feldkamp and Associates, a development and marketing firm that specializes in non-profit organizations.

Feldkamp has never served in any public office.

He is divorced and has a daughter, Kate, 8, who lives in Massachusetts with her mother.

Feldkamp is challenging DeFazio again for the congressional seat and he said he thinks Americans are “fed up with the way Congress is behaving” and that part of the problem is career politicians, including his opponent.

He said he is particularly concerned about earmarks that congressional representatives and senators “slip into bills in the middle of the night” that are simply pork for their constituents.

An example he cites is the recent Transportation Bill, which contained 6,000 earmarks adding up to $25 billion in pork, “a bridge to nowhere,” Feldkamp calls it. He noted that in 1987 President Ronald Reagan vetoed a transportation bill with 287 earmarks.

“I want to change earmarks,” he said. “One thing I want to do is just have an up and down vote for a congressman to put an earmark in.

“Seventy-five percent of the population thinks Congress is doing a bad job,” Feldkamp said. “I know there are going to be compromises in Congress. But anybody there for 20 years is going to be compromised.

I think people are sending a message to Congress that this is unacceptable.”

The Issues

Forestry: Feldkamp wants the state to control more of its land.

“Greater than 50 percent of Oregon is owned by the federal government,” he said. “That’s wrong. People who live in Oregon should be wise stewards of the land. I believe in more local control.”

He advocates counties buying land from the Bureau of Land Management, arguing that local county commissions can make better choices on how to manage that land.

He also said post-burn recovery practices need to be improved and said he disagrees with the minimal salvage advocated by DeFazio following the Biscuit Fire, which burned 500,000 acres in the southwestern corner of the state in 2002.

“The Biscuit Fire would have created new revenue streams,” he said. ” We need new revenue streams on the local level.”

Shipping: Feldkamp says shipping laws that hurt Oregon agriculture need to be changed.

“The port of Coos Bay has been wasted,” he said. He blames the Jones Act, a 1917 law designed to favor U.S. shipping companies that bars foreign vessels from visiting more than one U.S. port in a row.

“A cruise ship going up the coast to Alaska stops in Vancouver, B.C.,” he said. “Why couldn’t it stop in Coos Bay?”

Feldkamp said he also wants to see the Coast Guard in Coos Bay as a homeland defense measure as well as a way to “prevent foreign fishing trawlers from breaking the law.”

Education: Feldkamp says the state’s educational system is focused too much on those moving on to college and not enough on vocational skills. He said he wants to use federal funding for vocational training.

“Right now, the whole educational system is focused on the 30 percent who are going to graduate from a four-year college,” he said. “I want to identify ways to help (the other 70 percent) be competitive.”

Energy: “What we need is a national energy policy,” Feldkamp said. “I think that’s where Congress has failed.”

He said he supports more investment in research into new energy sources, including “clean” energy, and expansion of domestic sources of energy.

“We can’t say we’re going to cut off foreign oil and refuse to drill in our own back yard,” he said.

He said he’s particularly interested in using timber harvest byproducts to create energy. He said he advocates incentives for colleges and universities to develop new energy sources and be able to turn them into “cottage industries.”

“If we throw federal dollars into research and come up with something great, if we attract scientists, I think that’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.

Iraq: “I think what we all want is to get our boys home and win it,” Feldkamp said of the war in Iraq. “If we pull out now, and the place implodes, it’ll be a mess in the Middle East. We need to send the message to others that the war wasn’t in vain.”

Feldkamp calls himself a “student of history” and said he disagrees “that this is another quagmire” like Vietnam. “We need to have the political will to ensure that Iraq, when we leave it, is a stable country,” he said.

Illegal Immigration: Feldkamp said there’s no “magical panacea” to solve the problem of illegal aliens, but it requires enforcement of “many little laws.”

“With my background in law enforcement, I don’t believe we should reward illegal behavior,” he said.

He said he’s a reluctant supporter of the idea of building a wall along the Mexican border, but he believes that enforcing existing laws is crucial to stemming the problem of the flow of illegal aliens, particularly to Oregon.

“We’ve got to increase border security,” he said.

Also, he said, laws that prohibit local law enforcement officials from reporting illegals to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, need to be changed.

Feldkamp said he advocates “disincentives” to slow illegal immigration, such as prohibiting illegal aliens from getting on the Oregon Health Plan and getting driver’s licenses.

“If businesses knowingly hire illegal aliens, we should throw the books at them,” he said. “But it’s the government’s responsibility to make it clear who’s an illegal alien.”

Social Security: Feldkamp said he blames Congress for the lack of progress in fixing Social Security.

“This is what happens when everybody in Congress is shouting over each other.

He said that although “private accounts are off the table,” if legislators work together, the problem can be fixed.

“Nobody wants to kill Social Security,” he said. “I want to fix it. What about my daughter’s generation? It’s just not sustainable (in its current form).”

Feldkamp emphasizes that he is local and sees things the way many in the district do.

“I believe in hunting and fishing,” he said, noting that DeFazio has gotten negative ratings from hunting and fishing organizations for the positions he’s taken. “I was raised to appreciate the environment. I was born and raised in this district. My values are from this district.

“I don’t want to be a career politician. I don’t have all the answers, but I have ideas,” he said. “How do we make things better for our children? That’s what I want to do.”