Traffic, taxes tops for 39th District candidates

By LESLIE MORIARTY

Herald Writer

Candidates for the 39th Legislative District agree on a couple of things. Residents want relief from traffic congestion and property taxes, and they want better schools.

But how to achieve those goals is where they disagree.

The 39th District includes Arlington, Darrington, Gold Bar, Granite Falls, Index, Lake Stevens, Monroe, Snohomish, Sultan and Skykomish.

  • In the race for state senator, incumbent Republican Sen. Val Stevens will face Democrat Fredda Smith and Libertarian Craig Chase. All three are from Arlington.

    Stevens has been criticized by Smith.

    "She’s claims to be a child advocate, and yet she’s voted against some measures that would protect children," Smith said. "She has supported changes in the definition of abuse to exclude bruises and welts. That is something I would never do."

    Stevens said Smith doesn’t understand the legislative process and said "nebulous definitions" confuse the work of the Department of Social and Health Services.

    "Those things are really left up to the interpretation of the individual social worker," Stevens said.

    She said state policy has given social workers an impossible task. She said a priority for her is to fund social services so that caseworkers have reasonable loads.

    Smith thinks government needs to make the Growth Management Act work by making sure the infrastructure is in place before allowing development to happen. She supports increased funding for public transit.

    Smith also wants to see equity among school districts so all children have the same chance to succeed. She supports reducing class size, raising student standards and attracting quality teachers with fair salaries.

    Stevens wants to see control of the schools get back in the hands of local districts. Also, she supported legislation to keep Initiative 695 in place and out of the courts because a majority of voters in Snohomish County passed the measure.

    "What voters need to recognize is that I am an experienced legislator, and I know how the system works," she said. "I’ve taken on DSHS, a large state agency, and my efforts are gaining recognition. I’ve poked the dragon in the eye, and I’m not afraid to take on any bureaucracy."

    The Libertarian, Chase, supports less government.

    "I want to pare down government to the minimum services needed and return the other services to the private sector," he said.

  • In the race for state Representative, Position 1, incumbent Rep. Hans Dunshee, a Democrat, and Dan Kristiansen, a Republican, see traffic congestion as something the state needs to address. Both men are from Snohomish.

    Kristiansen thinks east Snohomish County is too rural to benefit from light rail. He favors van pools.

    "There’s a bus that goes from Darrington to Arlington to Boeing in Everett every week day," he said. "There are only a handful of people on it. This is a case where we could save money by using van pools."

    Buses should be for roads such as I-5, he said. He favors more interstate lanes and improvements to Highways 9 and 92.

    Dunshee thinks the answer to road construction is to bring more gas tax money to Snohomish County.

    "For every dollar that Snohomish County taxpayers put into the gas tax pool, we only get 64 cents back," he said. "The rest goes to rural Eastern Washington counties. We need to rework the formula so that we get more of our money where the problems are."

    Dunshee also thinks money in the school construction account should be allocated to local school districts.

    "Last year the Legislature put enough money in the account to double the money local school districts will get from the state to build schools," he said. "That money needs to be allocated, and we need to get our share."

    In Kristiansen’s view, the problem in funding education lies in administrative costs.

    "The state pays about $7,900 per student each year," he said. "Only $3,000 of that is used for the real costs of education, the books, the teachers. The rest is administrative costs.

    "We need to make curriculum a priority along with teachers," he said. "All the candy-coated facilities shouldn’t override the education our children are getting."

    Kristiansen would like to see property taxes lowered. Dunshee said he will work for a way to protect individuals from businesses selling information about them without consent.

    The third candidate in the race, Libertarian Robert Donat of Arlington, has dropped out and decided to support Kristiansen.

    "I met with him, and we are close on most issues," he said. "Because I don’t have the kind of money the other candidates in this race do, I decided I can’t compete with them."

    Donat, 33, said he is concerned about Dunshee’s voting record.

  • In the House Position 2 race, a couple of newcomers are vying for the seat, which is being vacated by Rep. John Koster, R-Arlington, who’s running for Congress.

    Democrat Liz Loomis of Snohomish faces Republican Kirk Pearson of Monroe. They both see transportation as a big issue.

    "I want to use a common-sense approach," Loomis said. "My opponent supports I-745, but that’s not common sense. About 40 percent of commuters use public transportation. We need a combination of public transportation and road improvements to help with our traffic congestion."

    She said building more roads won’t work because, much like a purse, "if you buy a bigger one, you just fill it up."

    A system of van pools and minivans in which residents could call to reserve rides is an idea she likes.

    Pearson said the problems on Washington’s highways are resulting in more road rage, and the infrastructure needs to be built to handle the traffic.

    "I’m not against transit," he said. "But we are losing business and trade because we have the third most congested roads in the nation. People don’t want to bring their companies here because of the traffic."

    Loomis sees privacy as a big issue and would work for legislation that would block businesses from selling personal information.

    Regarding schools, Loomis thinks they need to be equipped with the latest technology to make students job-ready when they graduate.

    "We need to look for new innovative ways to educate our youth," Pearson said.

    Pearson wants to allow health care decisions to be made by individuals and their doctors without the state playing a role.

    Loomis said she wants to work toward affordable health care premiums for elderly and handicapped people.

    The third candidate, Libertarian Christine Lawniczak of Monroe, wants to make government more responsible and less expensive. She seeks better use of tax dollars and wants to help ease the tax burden on small businesses.

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