Washington State gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling both believe in the value of doorbelling to win an election. (Earling personally doorbelled 7,000 homes prior to winning the city’s mayoral race last November.) So it seemed only fitting that Earling was there at Edmonds’ Marina Beach Park Sunday morning to introduce McKenna to a dozen volunteers before they set out for Edmonds neighborhoods on his behalf Sunday.
“I think people are surprised when a gubernatorial campaign shows up at your doorstep,” McKenna said, calling it a “high-touch” approach. “They think a lot about radio, television advertising. I think they like that personal touch. And because our volunteers are from that area, from that neighborhood, they like hearing from their neighbors — people who are from Snohomish County or Edmonds,for example.”
As his volunteers doorbell statewide, McKenna said the main concern they hear from voters is “clearly jobs, the economy,” McKenna said. “We have a very high rate of unemployment in our state, we have super-high unemployment among our returning veterans, among young people, so that’s on everyone’s mind.”
In addition to giving a pre-doorbelling pep talk, McKenna also addressed a range of questions posed by those gathered, which included not only campaign volunteers but some members of the media and citizens.
The first question: How would the Republican McKenna work with the heavily Democratic Washington State Legislature? McKenna, currently the State Attorney General, noted that the Washington State Legislature has adopted 45 bills proposed by his office. “We’ve been able to build bipartisan coalitions around issues like domestic violence, human trafficking, protecting kids from sexual predators, around open accountable government, consumer protection, public safety,” McKenna said.
He noted that he also has support from a broad range of Democrats — calling themselves”Democrats for Rob” — that include State Auditor Brian Sonntag and Snohomish County Treasurer Kirk Sievers.
Addressing another question, McKenna said he will prioritize efforts to attract new businesses to Washington state, including trying to lure Boeing back to Seattle. But first, “we need to get off the top-10 list of the most expensive states in the country to do business. That means regulatory reform, L & I (Labor and Industries) reform, tax reform, that whole package.”
On the question of education reform, McKenna stressed his belief in higher pay for the strongest teachers, “recognizing that the biggest difference in a child’s success in school, according to all the research, is having a great teacher.” In addition, McKenna said he favors paying the best teachers more money “to work in our most challenging schools. What happens now is, they get some seniority and they move to schools that are easier.” It’s also critical to ensure that those teachers have strong school principals who spend a significant chunk of time working to help improve classroom instruction, and that principals have “the ability to staff their schools appropriately,” he said.
Wes Crane, a 36-year Edmonds resident who travels frequently on business through his research firm, Second Opinion, asked McKenna what can be done about Seattle-area traffic, which he described as “a nightmare,” noting he’d rather fly to Jacksonville, Fla. than drive to Federal Way.
“I don’t think we’ll completely ever eliminate congestion but we need to have a transportation package that addresses all the needs of our citizens,” McKenna responded, adding that if elected he will develop a transportation package focused on mobility for both individuals and freight, for citizens to consider. “You’ll get a chance to vote on it. It’s not going to be rammed down anybody’s throat,” he added.
He also acknowledged Edmonds’ particular transportation problem related to rail traffic cutting off waterfront access, and said he is committed to working with Edmonds officials to find a solution.