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Richards: State poised for a comeback
Doug Richards’ supporters believe he’ll make a great member of the Washington State House of Representatives precisely because he hasn’t quite grown accustomed to the idea himself.
“I helped out on the (Dino) Rossi and (Jan) Angel campaigns in 2008,” he said, “and this time around I was approached to run myself. I was surprised by that because I never saw myself as a politician, but they said that’s a good thing. Look at the mess politicians have made of this state.”
Like virtually everyone running this year, Richards, a battalion chief with Kitsap Fire & Rescue, puts the economy and growing jobs at the top of his list of priorities — which is one reason he chose to run against incumbent Rep. Larry Seaquist.
“(Seaquist) bills himself as the ‘most fiscally conservative Democrat you’ll ever see,’” Richards said. “Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much. And as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee from the majority party, I’d say he bears a lot of responsibility for the shape this state’s economy is in.”
First and foremost, Richards believes the state needs to get a handle on the expense side of its ledger.
“It’s a cliché,” he said, “but it’s true — the state doesn’t have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem. More specifically, that problem is the people who created this problem.
“I’ve door-belled 13,000 homes in the 26th District since I started this campaign,” Richards said, “and the first thing everyone asks me is, ‘Are you the incumbent?’ When I say no, they say, ‘In that case, we’ll talk to you.’
“People are very angry about the state of our leadership right now,” Richards said. “I don’t know whether the people in office fully comprehend how much people want change. They want someone who listens and reflects their values, not someone who’s going to go down to Olympia and do what their party leaders tell them to do. That’s how we got into this mess in the first place.”
Richards harkens back to the state’s old “Priorities of Government” budgeting principles.
“The idea is, you first figure out how much you have to spend,” he explained. “Then you decide what your top priorities are and fund them completely. Everything else gets what’s left over — if there’s anything left over.
“Again,” Richards said, “that’s the same way you and I budget. We don’t buy luxuries until the necessities are paid for, and you start out by calculating how much you have to spend, not what you want to buy.”
Ironically, Richards also believes the state’s current economic turmoil presents enormous opportunities.
“As difficult as the past couple of years have been economically, they’ve also forced people to get more efficient about what they do,” Richards said. “Washington is in a unique position, with its technology industry, its aerospace, cheap energy costs, its natural resources and its people, to come out of the recession much stronger than other states.
“The key,” he said, “is not giving in to short-term solutions now that either delay the recovery or minimize the assets we should be taking advantage of.”