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

District 19 candidates speak on issues

 


The Wahkiakum County Republican and Democratic Team presented another candidate forum on Wednesday, this time with candidates for Washington State Legislative District 19 Representative, positions 1 and 2.

Incumbent for position 1, Republican Jim Walsh is being challenged by democratic candidates Marianna Everson and Clint Bryson.

Incumbent for position 2, Democrat Brian Blake is being challenged by republican candidate Joel McEntire.

They were asked several questions, and the forum can be watched in its entirety on Youtube, on the Wahkiakum RandD page.

Why are you running?

McEntire: It is clear over the last several years that our district is changing. It is changing ideologically. It has historically been a blue collar, union working, democrat stronghold in Washington State for a long time, but as parties change, as people change, as economies change, people will start to shift their political ideologies. And it is very clear that the political ideologies of the people in Southwest Washington are shifting. They are shifting away from the standard democrat platform and more towards the republican platform, and that is the platform I’m going to be running on.

Blake: I got angry about public access to public land. That’s what really sparked my interest and got me contacting my legislators in the mid-90s. I was able to work with my legislators to get a bill passed that insured public access to the Elk River Preserve for hunters and fishermen. Folks saw that activism and asked me to get involved and I did that and was appointed to office and have been elected I think eight or nine times.

It’s a fascinating job. I’m chair of the Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee. That’s the job that I wanted in the legislature, because I think that issue is critical to the 19th District.

Walsh: I’ve been the state representative for the 19th District for four years. Four years ago I was elected to the legislature really to bring a new approach to how we handle public policy in Olympia in this part of the state, and I think we’ve been successful, largely. My approach really is to bring a more limited government priority to Olympia, and really try to whip into shape {inaudible] and the policy that we do at the state level. It’s been a very interesting four years and I’m interest in continuing to fight the next few.

Everson: I decided to run because I kept getting told no on a lot of things that I feel are really important to myself, my family, my community, and my patients. Being a nurse, I definitely believe that health care is a human right and everybody needs it and we can organize it in a not-for-profit way that ensures that everybody has the care that they need, even better care than they receive now. Covid-19 has exacerbated that issue and let us know that employer sponsored health care is not the way that we get people healthy and keep them healthy. I’m running on that platform, but that does not mean that’s the only thing I’m running on, because all these things are interconnected and have an effect on each other, like employment, jobs, the environment, schools, and how we pay our taxes.

Bryson: Like many people in the district, when I graduated from high school in 1990, I had to make a decision what came next. For myself, that choice was electrical apprenticeship. I didn’t want to take on massive debt, I enjoyed working with my hands, and it turned out I was pretty good at it. I worked in that capacity until 2008, when I was asked to become a union representative for IBEW Local 76, where I now serve as assistant business manager. During that time I’ve advocated for my fellow workers on safety and health issues, health care, pensions, and economic development. I think that’s what brought me to this point, is my involvement in the process. I know what it’s like to be in Olympia lobbying on behalf or against something. I know what it’s like to try to navigate some of the state programs, some of the difficulties we can have. One of my duties is assisting members, for example, with the recent challenges with the unemployment system. In 2017, I became a Montesano City Councilman, and that has shown me a lot of what local governments face, as far as mandates that come down from the state level and how you deal with those. I’ve served on the Finance, Public Works, Forestry committees, as well as the Shoreline Management Work Group. It’s something I really enjoy, serving our citizens of our community.

What would be your most important priority?

Walsh: We are facing a severe budget crisis in Olympia, because of the Governor’s lockdown in response to the covid outbreak, we’ve had an economic recession, something that was predicted for the last few years, but was basically triggered by this lockdown. Whereas, for the last, really, almost 10 years, the state has consistently collected more tax revenue than projected on a quarter to quarter basis. We’ve always had a surplus, now we are looking at being in the red. We have a budgetary shortfall. Of the three state budgets, that is operating, transportation, and capital, the operating and transportation budgets are most directly effected by this. Capital budget is a little different for other reasons. What we are staring at right now, is on the basis of about $70 billion approximately for those two budgets, we have a shortfall of something like $9 billion. What we need to do in the coming session is trim our sails. We need to trim those budgets to match the lower revenues that we are receiving from our various forms of taxes. This is something we can do without cutting any essential services. It’s something we did do last session with our transportation budget. We negotiated a bipartisan transportation budget that took into account lower revenues there, largely because of the $30 car tabs initiative. We need to do that to the bigger operating budget, and that will be job one as soon as we are in session again.

Everson: My most important priority is to make sure we do not make a lot of cuts to our budget. We can bring in more revenue in this state because we have a lot of opportunity for that. We have a lot of people who are not paying very much in taxes at all, especially as a percentage of their income. We can save our people a lot of money, by taxing people who have the money. I can’t afford to pay any more in taxes, but two of the richest people in the world live in our state and pay very little in taxes as a percentage of their income, compared to us. So we must go to where the money is, and bring in some more revenue, so we can invest in our people, invest in each other, invest in our small businesses, invest in our environment, invest in our health care. People are actually dying right now, right here in my town. I will do everything that I can to make sure we don’t make cuts to programs that people need right now, because we are already struggling hard enough. We do not need any more cuts to things that are barely keeping us alive now. I will invest in Washington.

Bryson: I think jobs is the issue that should always be top of mind in the district. For far too long, we’ve had higher than average unemployment rates. Like everything else, the covid crisis has magnified these problems. Clearly the budget issue is something that will have to be addressed. There is a lot of speculation about what that shortfall is going to be. I heard the number $8.8 billion this morning. One thing that I think is very important is that we continue on with some of these critical infrastructure projects that help us work our way out of this program. I think that economic development needs to be top of mind. I think that growing our economy is not going to hurt people as bad as too many cuts would. I think we need to be careful about what we look at for cost savings. There are already underway furlough programs, hiring freezes, but no one thing is going to be the answer to this problem. For myself, I think that jobs is the answer. I think we need to continue on with our educational programs that prepare people for these jobs. We have some really good community colleges and technical programs in our district. I want to continue to support those. I think we can do more for preparing our high school kids to succeed there. But it is also important that we recognize that a lot of people especially in our district are self employed or work for small businesses, and I’m very concerned about them being the ones that fall through the cracks. In a lot of cases they might not get the same support through some of the government programs. We need to keep them in mind and make sure we are supporting them along the way.

Blake: I think the others are right. We need to go into special session and make adjustments to the budget. We know what we are facing and the time is now. The sooner we get in and make adjustments, the better. I think there is room with the rainy day fund and other dollars to make those adjustments in the budget that will help us for the new legislature when they go into constitutional session in January to write a new budget and I think the critical thing going into the next legislative session in January will be making adjustments but spurring investment in our economy and jumpstarting our economy. Jobs like the Kalama plant, Northwest Innovations, spurring that kind of private investment in Washington State will help restart the economy. Boeing is very close to getting their plane re-certified. Aside from covid, that’s been a big hit. We just need to get folks back to work safely, and restart the economy. Also, Jim did mention the capital budget and your 19th District delegation has done well for the district these past few years in bringing help and investment. I hope to continue to do that.

McEntire: The priority is going to be the economy and the budget. Everyone has their pet projects they want to work on but the thing is, if we don’t get a roaring economy back, we don’t get anything. Nothing else comes after that. We need to get that economy going, but it’s going to come by allowing businesses to open back up, and allow them the liberty to be able to make money, and hire people, and use the profit motives, and normal business models to be able to get us back up again. If we are intent on saying, well to fill this $8.8 billion budget hole, we need to tax businesses more, we need to tax individuals more, then that is money that is just adding insult to injury being that the businesses have just been closed down. So many businesses have shut down, and now that they are barely limping back open, Democrat leadership in the House and the Senate is considering an increase in payroll taxes. That’s not the fix for this problem. As Jim said, every year we’ve had record revenue coming into the state, so they just think year after year the money is going to keep coming and get bigger, because that is what they’ve experienced. Now when the money dries up a little, they sit there with their huge bloated budget and say hey, come on, that’s not fair, we’ve got to get some of that. They are looking for ways of getting money out of the private sector and in there, it’s clear, cuts have to be made. If we want see what I know we’re going to see, is people calling for an income tax and taxing the richest among us, you’re just going to see them going to Texas like we see with every other failed state.

 

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