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Election 2020:

State Senate, District 19 Candidates in debate

The Wahkiakum County Republican and Democratic Team continue to present candidate forums, viewable on YouTube.

On October 6, they hosted candidates for the 19th Legislative District's Senate position, Dean Takko, the incumbent, and Jeff Wilson, challenger.

Here are two of the questions the candidates were asked, as well as their responses:

What is the current status of the state budget? Is it better or worse than what you predicted a few months ago, back in the primary forum? And what will you battle for as the budget is produced this next session?

Jeff Wilson: It's hard for me to have any insider information, as currently I'm not in the office. I'm subject to the information I do have, and that....we're excited that instead of an $8 billion hole, we only have a $4 billion hole and listen, that is a very serious problem. I have always said that the crazy spending spree that Senator Takko has helped commence over the past few years isn't sustainable and now we are faced with the ramifications of this pandemic and going forward, we've got some serious money issues to worry about, much less the failed promises that we've never even completed such as the $30 car tabs. Some tough decisions are going to be made. I would enjoy very much tonight in front of all of your listeners, if the incumbent would go online and say what I'm going to say. We're not going to tax our way into success or recovery.

"I am not going to support any form of an income tax. I'll go on record about taxation. It's not going to be the fix. The spending has increased under his watch by over 59 percent. Nobody's paycheck has gone up 59 percent. You throw in Boeing, loss of jobs, the loss of direct jobs that would have been in Grays Harbor because of the potash facility. It's gone too. Not only are we not going to tax our way into recovery, we better get ready to pave the way for our businesses to have a chance to succeed. In the interim, they should have called a special session. They should have went to work, and addressed things the governor gets to do within his executive orders. I thought it would be very nice if we had discussions this summer about also landlord relief. It's got to be a two way street. It seems like we've been going down one way roads. And economically, I don't think we can afford to keep this up much longer. So to fill that hole, it's a good thing the rate stabilization fund known as the rainy day fund has some money there.

Dean Takko: Jeff has trouble with numbers. Our unfunded balance right now is about $2 billion, not $4 billion. When he had an ad in the primary on the radio, he said our budget actually was $59 billion when it's $52.5 billion. If you are going to throw numbers around, you ought to be accurate. Our forecast is definitely better than it was in the primary. It's arguable about just where it is, but we are about $2 billion short. To just flat out say you aren't going to raise any kind of revenue is irresponsible. I think we have to look at everything. We have to look at cuts, we have to look at fund transfers, which we did in the last recession. We moved money out of some of the programs that were not really necessary and moved them back over into the operating budget. Those monies have now been restored.

"I'm not going to vote for an income tax. The supreme court has already ruled that an income tax based on the uniformity clause of the constitution is not constitutional. So to throw it around about I'm not going to vote for an income tax, well, it doesn't matter if you vote for it or not, the courts are going to throw it out, it's pretty obvious. So I'll just leave it there. We're going to look at everything there is. We're going to do cuts, we're going to probably do some transfers. And I wouldn't say off the table is any kind of revenue. Some of it might be exemptions. We have a slew of exemptions out there for various things and a lot of them are doing the businesses or individuals that much good, and if they are really just giving money away that could be used for schools or in home health care, or some other program, let's take a look at it.

What have you done or what would you do to build a food distribution support system and to encourage farmers, agriculture, and commercial fishermen to produce more food to help avoid food insecurity issues?

Takko: It's kind of interesting because we have a work group that was set up two years ago to look at our food supply. I sit on that committee. We're looking at everything from transportation, distribution, food banks, you name it. Unfortunately right in the middle of everything we're doing this covid hit, and food is a big issue. We're going to have to put a lot of money, and we're already putting a lot of money into subsidizing food banks and other programs like that. We need to do programs and procedures to help our agriculture. I have. I've sponsored a number of bills for the agricultural industry.

And that's why my opponent and others like to say, you've got all this money from different places. I'm not ashamed of that. I've gotten money from the onion growers, the potato growers, the wheat growers, the dairy industry. I can go right on down the line and name agricultural groups that are supporting my campaign, because they know that I'm there to support the ag industry. I always have been and always will be. They know that I am there trying to help to keep these industries going. I'm not afraid to say I've taken money from a number of agricultural interests. We've got a lot of things to do, this covid isn't helping us. We're plowing potatoes into the ground and now we are just giving them away, thankfully, to the potato growers, but there is no easy answer for this one, but I'm trying.

Wilson: Food is life. Food is essential and food should not be politicized. We really are in the land of plenty, we have a lot to offer and each community throughout the 19th Legislative District is usually involved in some program to make sure, whether its seniors or kids or anybody, nobody should go hungry. Food insecurity is also a metaphysical state, that is something that needs to be taken very seriously. It's ironic that in the 19th Legislative District, a lot of our food has gone away. The food, when you talk about industry. You know, under Dean's years of service, we've seen things like the burrowing shrimp wipe out crops. We see a pandemic comes along, and the oysters aren't really needing to going to restaurants, if they aren't open entirely. It's not only food insecurity, it's food economy. When I said food is life, it is, it's every thing. It keeps us alive, but it also keeps our communities alive. This is the beautiful 19th Legislative District. I was fishing today, trying to catch some fish.

I believe in local food to local markets. I have served on the volunteer stewardship program for quite some time. It's a very good program, it helps the agricultural business. I was recently endorsed by the Farm Bureau. I have family members that farm, so the importance of farming even needs to go into our educational system. For some reason, a lot of younger people seem to think that hunting and food gathering is at the supermarket. It's not. We can turn some soil, and be much more resilient, and food insecurity is a problem we need to all wipe out.

To watch more of the candidates' exchange, look for Wahkiakum RandD Team on YouTube.


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