Updated to attribute quote on ferry funding to candidate Alllen McPheeters.
Candidates for federal, state and local office in the upcoming elections met on Monday night in the Edmonds City Council Chambers to participate in a candidate’s forum sponsored by the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce.
Present were US 7th District Congressional Rep. Jim McDermott (D) and challenger Craig Keller, and Snohomish County Executive John Lovick and opponent Carolyn Eslick.
Also attending were Washington 21st District Senate opponents Dan Matthews (R) and incumbent Marko Liias (D); and candidates for the State House of Representatives Position 1 Allen McPheeters (R) and Strom Peterson (D), and Position 2 Jeff Scherrer (R) and Lillian Ortiz-Self (D).
The 32nd District was also represented, with incumbent State Senator Maralyn Chase (D) and her opponent Robert Reedy (R); State House of Representatives Position 1 incumbent Cindy Ryu, and Position 2 Representative Ruth Kagi (D) and challenger Alvin Rutledge (R).
Candidates mostly stuck close to party lines, with Republicans coming out for cutting taxes and spending, opposing the $15 minimum wage, and promoting education by easing up on regulations requiring teachers to do things other than teach. Democrats favored raising the minimum wage, and finding new sources of revenue to fund education, transportation and other critical needs.
Questions to the County Executive candidates included one on the issue of prisons and the fact that many mentally ill persons are simply incarcerated rather than treated. Incumbent Lovick sees the solution in new programs and facilities targeted to the mentally ill, while challenger Eslick advocates privatizing this function by turning it over to new for-profit mental hospitals
Democratics Kagi and Ortiz-Self, both strong proponents of education, pledged to work to implement the state mandate to fully fund education, advocating creative solutions to increase funding for meeting this constitutional responsibility. By contrast, Republican candidates support cutting costs and raising efficiency in education by stopping state interference in the educational process, and letting teachers teach without the burden of undue regulation.
Senator Chase said she deplored the state tax system, calling it the most regressive in the nation and our business and occupation tax “deplorable.” She reiterated her commitment to tax reform, and continues to believe that a graduated income tax would be a significant improvement over the present system.
When asked about how to fund the ferry system, Allen McPheeters (R) came out in favor of raising fares to make the system self-supporting, while Democrat Strom Peterson disagreed, arguing that the ferry system is an integral part of the state transportation system. Just as we don’t expect freeways to pay for themselves, we should not put the same burden on the ferry system, Peterson said.
Despite their differences, all candidates did agree on one thing: They strongly urged voters to cast their ballots by Election Day, Nov. 4.
For those unable to attend, the Candidates Forum will be available for viewing online at www.edmondswa.com.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel