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
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.
* 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
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
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
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