Tag Archives: Kitsap Sun

More on Candidates’ Forum: 26th District Races

This is a follow up to a post I made yesterday, giving more details on a candidate forum hosted Monday by the Leagues of Women Voters of Kitsap County. Yesterday, we heard from 35th District candidates. Today, we’ll hear more from contenders for 26th District seats.

Remember, the whole forum will be broadcast on BKAT at 8 p.m. Sept. 16, 10 a.m. Sept. 17, 8 p.m. Sept. 23 and 7 p.m. Oct. 3. You can see video coverage of candidates in most races speaking to the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board at the Kitsap Sun’s Election Guide Web page.

26th District Representative Position 2
Incumbent Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, responded to a question about Gov. Christine Gregoire’s proposed across the board cuts by describing a meeting he’d had in Seattle with government and health care representatives. The purpose of the meeting, he said, was to form a network of “hospitals, schools, faith-based organizations” and other community groups to fill in the ranks as the state reduces funding for childrens’ health care. This is the kind of approach that will be needed, Seaquist said, because legislators need to “downsize state government 20 percent.”
Seaquist then blasted fellow legislators for leaving the budget cut question up to the governor to decide. “The legislature should have gone back to work,” Seaquist said. “The legislature should have been down there. Her hands were tied.”
Doug Richards of Olalla, his Republican challenger, was not happy with the proposed across the board cuts. He said the legislature needs to look at “the big picture” and analyze why the state is operating in a deficit. He criticized what he described as Olympia’s dependence on federal stimulus funds and said leadership was lacking in the legislature. “When they were in session, they were basically playing Vegas, hoping the money will come in. … Politics as usual is not working down there. One time money is not sustainable. This has to change.”
On education funding, Seaquist said the state should implement a procedure similar to the BRAC commission, which evaluates Navy bases on their output and makes closures accordingly. Yes, schools need to be amply funded, Seaquist said, “but we’ve got to see output.”
Richards advocates giving local schools more control of state education funds. He advocates increased deregulation of schools.

26th District Representative Position 1
Incumbent Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, decried across the board cuts, saying, “I don’t believe that is the way you balance a budget.”
Angel said the legislature needs to define core services, and to demand more productivity and efficiency, starting with its own offices.
Angel referenced a study of state priorities done under former Gov. Gary Locke, but it’s “still sitting on a shelf in Olympia.”
“Some areas can’t take a massive hit,” said Angel, who is vocally opposed to unfunded mandates.
Sumner Schoenike, a Gig Harbor pediatrician and Democrat, also disagrees with the across-the-board approach, calling it an “abdication of duties.” “We are sent to Olympia to make difficult decisions, and that’s exactly what we must do,” he said. “We did not by chance end up in a budget deficit. This is a national issue, folks.”
Schoenike blamed much of the mess on “the profligate ways on Wall Street.”
He said legislators have to recognize they are dealing with an unprecedented situation and take a whole new approach.
The two candidates did not discuss health care at the forum, but on this topic, they are diametrically opposed. Schoenike is a strong supporter of Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act. Angel said she is alarmed by the potential for unfunded mandates the act implies. Her quote, from a Kitsap Sun Editorial Board meeting, “Our citizens are totally irate about this. This is a system, which, when citizens say this was shoved down our throat, it is.”

26th District Senate
Incumbent Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and challenger Marty McClendon didn’t find a lot to disagree about at the forum.
On the issue of collective bargaining for state employees, McClendon said that union leaders representing state employees need to recognize the increased burden for health care costs incurred by private sector employees. Union leaders should negotiate in good faith to bring state employee health care contributions more in line with the private sector, McClendon said.
Kilmer said he could see both sides of the issue.
“I do not think we should balance the budget on the backs of our state employees,” he said. “On the flip side, I don’t think our employees should be exempt from budget cuts. … I would rather see a 5 percent pay cut than a 100 percent pay cut.”
Both touted their qualifications for the job.
Kilmer stood on his record of fighting for higher education and ferry service, and keeping tolls down on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, reprising his frequently cited self-assessment in this regard as a “pitbull.” He said he would continue his advocacy on behalf of small business (he opposed a B&O tax increase and helped pass a law reducing regulatory paperwork, he said). “We should reduce the cost of doing business,” said Kilmer, who works with the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.
McClendon is a real estate broker and small business owner with a background in health care. He was able to raise himself up by his bootstraps, but he doesn’t see similar opportunities for his own children, which is why he’s running for office. “I’m not a politician. … I’m a common sense kind of a guy,” he said.

Correction: Derek Kilmer works with the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County. The incorrect board was named in an earlier version of this post.

More on Candidates’ Debate

A couple of people commenting on my story about Monday’s candidate forum complained that it was lacking in depth.

I understand that trying to give 12 candidates in six races a say in a single story can seem superficial. Even before I read those comments, I had planned to do a follow-up blog post. Today, I’ll give a little more on what I heard from 35th District candidates. Tomorrow, I’ll give 26th District Candidates their turn.

I thought the format of the forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Kitsap County, was good, in that they separated the races, giving candidates in each race a chance to address the questions one-on-one, instead of using a panel format. Questions were submitted by members of the audience. Because of time constraints, not all candidates got to answer all the same questions.

The whole forum will be broadcast on BKAT at 8 p.m. Sept. 16, 10 a.m. Sept. 17, 8 p.m. Sept. 23 and 7 p.m. Oct. 3. You can see video coverage of candidates in most races speaking to the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board at the Kitsap Sun’s Election Guide Web page.

No surprise, many of the questions at the forum related to the state budget, specifically:
* Gov. Chris Gregoire’s order for across the board cuts to the state budget
* contract talks between the governor’s office and the state’s largest union representing government workers.
* Fully-funded basic education.
* along with other issues

35th District Rep. Position 2
Incumbent Fred Finn, D-rural Thurston County, said he generally supports across the board cuts, given the current realities of the state budget. In theory, targeted cuts would be better, “but this is the real world,” he said.
Republican Linda Simpson of Bremerton also said she would prefer to selectively trim the budget based on priorities, but “at some point, across the board cuts seem the way to go.”

On education funding, Simpson said the amount allocated to K-12 education actually should be adequate, as long as the allocation remains dedicated specifically to education. “I honestly don’t believe it’s underfunded,” she said. “It has enough money, but it should be the number one thing that’s funded.”
Finn named education among his top three priorities, along with job growth and transportation (specifically with an eye on the yet-to-be-built Belfair Bypass). He noted his involvement in passage of a bill that revised the way school transportation is funded. Implementing fully funded education will require strong bipartisan cooperation, he said.

35th District Rep. Position 1
Candidates in this race got a question asking for “specific solutions to the budget crisis.”
Republican Dan Griffey of Allyn called for “zero-based” budgeting and a six-year budget cycle, instead of two. Like many, he talked about setting priorities, “instead of the shotgun approach.”
Incumbent Kathy Haigh said of the budget process, “It’s hard work. It’s hard and long and tedious, and I plan on being there.”

Haigh, who has chaired the Education Appropriations Committees, said education has been and remains her number one priority. In the last session, faced with the need to make cuts, she reluctantly voted to eliminate money set aside under Initiative-728 funding, for example, because it was not mandated by state law.
Griffey supports a “segregated” fund for education, and he suggested separating the job of funding education from the job of setting education policy. Fund it first, then talk policy, he said.

35th District Senate
Incumbent Tim Seldon, D-Potlatch, and challenger Nancy “Grandma” Williams, a member of Washington’s Tea Party, talked about how to help small business.
Williams, who with her husband has owned a mini-storage and cab company, said she would “get rid of B&O taxes for two years” to give businesses a chance to stabilize. She also favors deregulation and allowing “free market principals” to drive the economy. “Life is simple,” she said. “We make it difficult by putting laws and regulations on people.”
Sheldon’s family has been in the timber and oyster business, and he has a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA in business administration. Out of the discussion of the proposed Adage biomass project – to involve energy generation through burning of timber slash – and a question on the future of the timber industry, Sheldon gave a fairly rosy projection. While “on the ground” timber jobs have been lost to technology, the industry actually is thriving. “I see a good future for the timber industry in our area if we continue to invest in new technologies like biomass.”
Sheldon was in the minority on the biomass plant, as other candidates raised concerns about air pollution and whether the plant would be sustainable.

The candidates also talked about the importance of ferries to the 35th District, which represents Mason and portions of Grays Harbor, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties.
Williams favors privatizing the ferries. She said she recognizes the importance of ferries to commuters in the 35th.
Sheldon said Kitsap and Mason counties respectively have the number one and two longest commutes in terms of time in the state. Passenger only ferries have not proven profitable, he said, but Western Washington needs to keep up the pressure on Washington State Ferries for more regular service.
“We don’t take a backseat to anyone,” he said. “We need to start acting a little bit like the boss and tell the state ferries that they’ve got to listen.”
Sheldon favors opening ferry construction contracts to out-of-state companies.