Candidates egg each other on about issues

When Gig Harbor businesswoman Marlyn Jensen first announced her intention to challenge incumbent Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor) for his seat in the Washington state Legislature, she proposed they run a clean and cordial campaign.

But since this agreement covers only their personal attitude and conduct, there are still clear battle lines in the current debate.

“If you listen to Marlyn, you would think that all the people in government are parasites, all poor people are corrupt and all taxes are theft,” Seaquist said. “We have some serious problems, but we should be taking positions that don’t elicit divisiveness.

“I’m talking about the problems that face our society and our economy,” he said, “what is facing us in Kitsap and the rest of the district. What I am hearing from my opponent is a set of slogans, the same old things that candidates have been slinging around for 20 years.”

“I am a businesswoman,” Jensen said. “I am not a politician. Larry is the politician. He has been down there for two years and did not do what he went down there to do. He believes in tax increases and government spending. I believe that people know best how to spend their money, while he believes that the government knows best.

“If you want to pay more taxes, vote for him,” she said. “If you want to keep it reasonable then vote for me.”

Jensen and Seaquist appeared at the Eggs and Issues breakfast in Bremerton on Tuesday morning.

“We all need to work together to solve our health care problems, fix our educational system and understand what we need to do in this economy,” Seaquist said. “We need to position ourselves here in Kitsap to come out of this downturn stronger than ever.”

Both candidates seem to relish campaigning and discussing the issues.

“I enjoy attending these political forums,” Seaquist said. “It shows that democracy works. It’s important that candidates come out every two years and talk to the voters about these issues.”

As with all Eggs and Issues events, the one-hour forum featured about 10 audience questions that candidates were required to answer in three minutes.

Seaquist pointed out the difference between today and 150 years ago, when Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated for three hours at a time.

If the format has changed some of the topics have remained the same — schools, taxes, transportation and roads (which is now called “infrastructure”).

“Children are our future,” Jensen said. “If we do not have educated children, we will not be able to build a great workforce. If we don’t have the workforce, we will have people coming in from other countries taking these jobs. I believe in merit pay. We need to get more science teachers and more math teachers, and make it easier for them to improve our schools.”

“It is difficult to attract more teachers if you underpay them,” Seaquist said. “Many secretaries make more than teachers. Our education system is grossly underfunded.”

While they seemed to concur about low teacher salaries, the agreement ends there.

Jensen favors paying more to teachers who’ve earned it, while Seaquist feels healthcare is as important as education.

Jensen also favors an emphasis on K-12, and believes pre-school funds are one thing that can be cut.

Both candidates listed programs that were needed, but were less specific about how to pay for these new expenditures.

“You can’t just cut one thing,” Seaquist said. “You need to cut a lot of things in a lot of departments. The way to do this is to turn loose each of our 21 legislative committees to find cuts in their areas and trade off these cuts with things they would like to add.

“So we need to set up a process where voters can see what we are doing,” he continued, “and they can understand where we are cutting from and where we are adding.”

“We’ll have to look at what programs we can cut,” Jensen said. “There are a lot of different areas we can look at. There is always discretionary spending in every budget, so we would look at this and this is where we would cut.”

To see Seaquist and Jensen discuss their differences:

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