Seaquist, Jensen highlight their differences

A 26th District lawmaker who has turned improving the ferry systems into his first priority kicked off his campaign for a second term, promising to continue to reduce inefficiencies and waste in the ferry system as new boats are purchased and constructed.

His opponent acknowledges these problems and in places agrees with his strategy, but feels he may have waited too long to address the problem.

Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor) was first elected in 2006 to fill the seat being vacated by Derek Kilmer, who moved up to the state Senate.

He is opposed by Marlyn Jensen, a Gig Harbor businesswoman who is taking her first stab at elected office after a lifetime of involvement in Republican politics.

Seaquist, a former Navy captain, held a campaign event inside the USS Turner Joy on Monday evening, stuffing about 40 supporters into the ship’s galley.

While many of them were the usual local political suspects, the presence of House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) was meant to underscore Seaquist’s contention that he is a quick study on the issues.

“He is an outstanding legislator,” Chopp said. “He was off and running on the first day. He has been our lead on how the ferries are reformed, and how we get the best dollar value for our investment.”

Chopp said Seaquist’s Navy experience gives him an advantage in representing the district, due to the strong military presence.

Seaquist, 69, made several comparisons in his address to supporters. The Washington State Ferry system, he noted, has 1,600 on-board workers, moving 25 million people each year — about the same as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport does with many more employees.

The ferry crews are also about the same as Seaquist supervised as a battleship captain, while using a 3 percent administrative overhead.

“The ferry system has a 20 percent administrative overhead,” Seaquist said. “There are 323 people working in the WSF headquarters, and half of them are doing nothing but designing ferries. This is a rogue organization, a dysfunctional organization that desperately needs to be overhauled and downsized.”

Jensen, 65, said she disputed Seaquist’s claim that he was a “fiscally conservative Democrat,” citing his low rating from the Washington Conservative Union.

She said that she “wouldn’t have waited so long to address the ferry problem” and would have put away money to pay for ferry improvements instead of waiting for the situation to become a crisis.

While Jensen criticized Seaquist’s stand against a proposed NASCAR track along with his negative characterization of NASCAR fans, she stopped short of saying that she would have supported the venture herself.

“I will look into everything that creates jobs,” she said. “I want to limit regulations on small business, because 54 percent of all the dollars taken in by small businesses are taxed, Most businesses cannot continue with that kind of disadvantage.

“It is my understanding that NASCAR was not investigated all that deeply when it made its proposal,” she said. “We need to investigate any company that wants to bring its businesses here, and make it easier for them to do this.”

Jensen said transportation money should not go into the general fund and then allocated to the ferries. Rather, it should follow a more direct path. This process should also government would be more efficient if it was followed in other departments, such as education and public safety.

“There needs to be more accountability,” she said. “When money is put into the general fund it becomes harder to allocate.”

Jensen said she would work very hard to inform the public about important issues and would spend her own money for newspaper advertising if necessary. She said she would approach every legislator directly and lobby for these issues.

Additionally, Jensen said that laws passed to track child molesters were not stringent enough and she would work to expand their scope.

As the only declared candidates for their respective parties, Jensen and Seaquist will face each other twice — once in the Aug. 18 primary and again Nov. 4 in the general election.

They expect to make several joint appearances throughout the campaign, beginning with their participation in a Kitsap Alliance for Property Owners forum at 7 p.m. June 19 at the Givens Center in Port Orchard.

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