Appleton and Cooney debate taxes, social services

Incumbent Rep. Sherry Appleton and her Republican challenger Larry Cooney debated the state budget, taxes, education and state social services at a forum in Bremerton on Tuesday. Appleton, a Democrat, is running for a third term representing the 23rd Legislative District, which includes Bainbridge Island.

See Kitsap Sun political reporter Steven Gardner’s story below.

23rd District House Candidates Differ on Education, Budgets
By Steven Gardner

The candidate behind those little orange signs asking if you’re “sick of it” got to clarify what he’s talking about Tuesday.

Larry Cooney, a Poulsbo Republican challenging state Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, for her 23rd District House seat, said state government is taxing people too heavily and will push people into situations where they need government help. And even then they won’t really get it, he said.

“More taxes are going to push more people to the bottom of the barrel, where DSHS can’t help them,” he said, his second comment critical of the state’s Department of Social and Health Services.

Appleton said government is not broken, as Cooney contended, but said that it isn’t perfect and needs to work to regain the trust of Washingtonians.

The comments came in a debate at the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs & Issues forum Tuesday morning at the Cloverleaf Sports Bar & Grill in East Bremerton.

Appleton and Cooney differed on educational priorities, budget issues and how services to the poor should be delivered.

Cooney said the state’s education system needs to shift decision making about budgets and class size from the state to the schools themselves.

Appleton, going for her third term in the district that stretches from Bremerton to Hansville and takes in Bainbridge Island, said the state needs to focus more on early childhood education. “If a child can’t read by first grade, they never catch up,” she said.

On budget issues Appleton said the first thing she would do to address the state’s impending budget deficit is close some tax exemptions she believes are unnecessary. Cooney said he’d go after DSHS, privatizing many of the services the agency provides. “The nonprofit sector works and it works well,” he said.

Cooney’s experience with DSHS comes from his experience running the Bread of Life Mission in Seattle.

“I work with the dregs of society,” Cooney said. “I see what DSHS does. DSHS doesn’t help them, folks.”

Appleton said she has supported faith-based groups offering services, but said they should be regulated so that the people being served can expect a certain amount of protection by the state. Appleton defended her vote against the state’s rainy day fund, even though a vast majority of voters in her district supported it. She said the rules made it so money to pay for repairing damage from the December 2007 flood, which she called a crisis, came from the general fund.

Cooney said he favors more flexibility in health care options, allowing people to pick and choose more when it comes to the coverage they want.

Appleton said the idea has its dangers.

“Flexibility is fine until you get cancer, until you get diabetes or your children get sick,” she said. “What we need is health care that’s accessible to everyone.”

One thought on “Appleton and Cooney debate taxes, social services

  1. Larry Cooney is a great leader, civic minded and a man with fresh solutions. Ms. Appleton has been keeping the bench warm for far too long. It is time for Washington Change and Larry Cooney is an agent of that change.

    I am supporting Larry wholeheartedly and encourage you to support him also. It is time for Ms. Appleton to return back to her lobbyist ways and means.

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