The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Public comes out to hear candidates

 

Rick Nelson

A large crowd filled the Skamokwa Grange Hall last Wednesday for a candidate forum sponsored by the Wahkiakum County Democrat Central Committee. Candidates for county offices and state representative introduced themselves and spoke on issue.

Last Wednesday, a candidate forum was held before a full house at the Skamokawa Grange. Each candidate was given an opportunity to introduce themselves before answering questions from the audience.

The first group to take the stage were candidates for the Washington State House of Representatives, including Jim Walsh and Erin Frasier for Position 1; and Brian Blake and Roy David Parsons for Position 2. Joel McEntire, a candidate for Position 2, was deployed as a US Marine in Afghanistan and had prepared a video for the event.

Here are some of their thoughts:

Walsh, a Republican and the incumbent for Position 1, said that this part of Washington wanted "an effective, limited, and fair approach to public policy."

He believes that property taxes, permitting processes, and the delivery of public benefits and services have been unevenly applied, putting people in the district at a permanent disadvantage to other parts of the state.

Frasier is a fourth generation Pacific County resident and a Democrat, and has spent many years serving her community.

"I'm running because I want to make sure that we have the resources here locally that we need to strengthen families, our community, and our economy," Frasier said. "I want to see us have more holistic conversations to help people reach their full potential and our economy to grow and diversify."

Blake is the incumbent for Position 2 and a Democrat.

"I'm in the middle of a lot of stuff that is critical to this district: our timber issues, our fisheries issues, our recent water issues," he said.

Blake spoke about the solution to the McCleary issue, but acknowledged that there were still some problems with funding after speaking with educators. He also said that there had been a "breakthrough" on the fisheries issue in communication and understanding with urban legislators who had so far, opposed fair access in the district.

McEntire, a Republican candidate raised in Cathlamet, said "we have ceded many of our rights to our natural resources to federal and state authorities that claim they have our best interests in mind. Instead natural resources have been taken away from us and utilized to build lofty projects in Seattle and Olympia...They have put the welfare of birds before the welfare of our children."

Parsons, a Republican candidate, talked about his experience as a teacher, a logger, and his work in health care.

"The reason I jumped in this year is that I feel like we are not being listened to by our legislators, Parsons said.

Millenium Coal and the Kalama methanol projects:

"Those two projects are essential to developing our economy again in this part of the state," Walsh said, citing possible job numbers.

"It's an industry town," Parsons said. "I think there are checks and balances that have been put in place to make it a safe thing. We do need the jobs in Longview/Kelso. My only concern is the transportation of the coal...which they are addressing."

"I get tired of us polarizing issues and not actually coming to the table and having conversations with each other," Frasier said. "I don't support coal consumption, but I do support jobs."

Frasier believes in having strategic conversations about how to grow and diversify the economy. She spoke of being proactive instead of reactive, by figuring out what the district wants and needs and moving forward from there.

Blake was supportive of both projects.

"My concern is more about the process," Blake said. "I think it has been distorted and has damaged the credibility of our environmental permitting process. I think both projects can be built with minimal impact to our environment."

Health care access for all:

"I have a hard time believing that we can have an all inclusive health care that everybody gets to do what they want, when they want and it's free to everybody," Parsons said.

"I support efforts toward single payer health care," Frasier said, adding that she believed that there was a broader conversation to be had about access to health care in the district.

Blake believes everybody deserves access to health care.

Walsh spoke about catastrophic coverage.

"I think that that is key to real reforms in how we access health care," Walsh said.

On supporting a vibrant economy in Wahkiakum County:

"We sit back and wait for industry to knock on our door," Frasier said. She spoke of recruiting the industries the district wants and preparing people already in the community to be the workforce for that new industry.

"I think we've got to look to the resources we have here," Blake said. "We've got to recruit businesses that utilize that river. We've got to have a balanced timber industry and access to our fisheries."

He hoped that the new Fish and Wildlife Commission would understand the mistakes that the previous commission had made, and said that the district needed to strengthen the K-12 system and make sure youth had access to higher education and the river.

Walsh said that the Department of Ecology, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife needed to be reined in.

Parsons said that the representative would need community support and input to get policies passed.

ICE in schools:

"I don't believe they have a place in our schools," Blake said.

Rick Nelson

Brian Blake

"ICE wants to get in the jails," Walsh said, adding that he wanted to help ICE do that. "If we get ICE in the jails, they are not going to be harassing on the streets and in schools and such."

"I have witnessed what ICE is doing," Frasier countered. "It is not what they say the intention is, to pick up criminals. I know from firsthand experience somebody that I worked with that was a volunteer tutor for the students I was serving and a volunteer firefighter that got picked up. This is not the criminal that they are profiling. They should not be coming into the schools and interfering. No policy should cause trauma to children."

"Illegal. It should stop with that term right there," Parsons said.

Reports on other candidates will appear in subsequent issues of The Eagle.

 

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