Elections

26th District hopefuls make their case at KAPO forum

Twenty-sixth District candidates for the state House and Senate used the occasion of a political forum in Silverdale hosted by Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners on Monday night to introduce themselves — and their platforms.

Doug Richards (R-Olalla), introduced himself as a battalion chief for South Kitsap Fire and Rescue who grew up in the Orchard Heights area.

Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor) spent most of his introduction describing a local entrepreneur’s idea to start a business that would provide eco-friendly power.

He said that’s the type of business he’d like to support.

Marty McClendon (R-Gig Harbor) used his introduction to say that the Legislature needs to stop its out-of-control spending.

“Our state Legislature should represent your interest,” he said, “and balance the budget based on actual revenue — not just projected revenue.”

Incumbent Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) discussed his “stubborn independence” during his current term in office and argued that his experience with economic development qualified him to make legislative economic decisions.

“Rather than simply talking about jobs,” he said, “I do something about jobs.”

Kilmer and McClendon are competing for the 26th district’s senate seat, while Richards and Seaquist are vying for the district’s Position 2 seat in the House of Representatives.

Neither Rep. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) nor her challenger for the 26th District’s Position 1 seat, Sumner L. Schoenike (D-Gig Harbor), attended the forum.

Throughout the debate, candidates agreed on the major issues. For example, all agreed the state should support local higher education.

“We need to make sure that our county’s greatest export isn’t our kids,” said Kilmer.

Richards, an Olympic College graduate, offered several specific suggestions to help local colleges.

“We need a better liaison between the Puget Sound Naval Shipyards and Olympic College,” he said, adding that the state should improve local options for four-year degrees at Olympic College as well as Tacoma Community College’s satellite campus.

Several candidates, including Richards and Seaquist stressed the importance of lowering government spending.

Seaquist called himself “an extreme fiscal conservative” and jokingly offered Richards the campaign slogan: “I’m Doug Richards and I approve Larry’s message.”

But Richards suggested he had a greater sense of urgency about the issue than many in the Legislature.

“My job as a firefighter is to respond in times of crisis,” he said, “and this state is in a time of crisis. We have to stop (government growth) now. We can’t wait any longer.”

Candidates differed along party lines over whether they’d support tolling for major highway projects.

Republicans opposed tolling, but Democrats favored it in certain cases.

“It makes sense for big mega-projects,” said Kilmer, but, “I’m not really bullish in that direction.”

Seaquist echoed the same idea saying, “I think we should be tolling with care.”

McClendon said the state should be “wiser with the money we have,” and reduce the transportation budget instead of trying to raise additional funds.

Richards agreed, adding, “If we open up tolling in Seattle, it will continue right into Port Orchard.”

Candidates were also split in their answers to the question: Would you support forcing representatives and senators to justify the constitutionality of each bill before it gets a hearing?

McClendon and Richards directly said “yes.”

The Democrat incumbents weren’t as enthusiastic about the idea. Seaquist said he’s “not sure the practicalities” are “quite as simple as it sounds.”

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