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DISTRICT 26 HOUSE | Two Republicans, Democrat seek top two spots in state House race
A pair of Republicans and a Democrat are seeking the top two spots in the Aug. 5 primary for the District 26 state representative seat to be decide in November.
Incumbent State Rep. Position 1 Jesse Young is being challenged by fellow Republican Bill Scheidler, a political activist, and former Democratic state senator Nathan Schlicher.
Young, 37, was appointed to the House seat in January to fill the unexpired term of Jan Angel who won the district’s senate in November. He was raised in Tacoma and graduated as valedictorian from Wilson High School. Young went to the University of Notre Dame and earned a bachelor’s degree in management information systems.
He works as a technology consultant and software engineer. Young ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010 and 2012.
Young, who grew up homeless in Tacoma, said he’s running to ensure than his five children grow up in an environment that provides them with opportunity and a chance to pursue their dreams.
“I want this for all of our children,” Young said. “The starting point for that is getting our economy going and promoting job growth. As a technology consultant, I work in an industry that is increasingly sending its best job opportunities offshore. We must reverse this trend. As a legislator, I can advance legislation to create an environment for those jobs to stay and grow here.”
He resides in Gig Harbor with his wife and five children.
Nathan Schlicher, 31, was the District 26 state senator from January to December 2013. He was appointed to fill the post left by U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and was later defeated by State Rep. Jan Angel in the November race for the senate seat. It was the most expensive campaign between two candidates in the state’s history.
Schlicher, an emergency medicine doctor at St. Joseph’s Medical Center, is also associate director for TeamHealth Patient Safety Organization and the owner of Schlicher Physician Services, LLC. Schlicher graduated from Central Kitsap High School at age 16 and went on to earn his medical degree and a law degree from the University of Washington. He also has a bachelor’s degree in political science and biology from Pacific Lutheran University.
He lives in Gig Harbor with this wife and three children.
Schlicher said he decided to become a candidate because he has grown up in the district.
“I am passionate about serving my neighbors and community both as a doctor caring for them in the emergency department and also as their elected representative,” he said. “I was honored to do so in 2013 as their state senator. The same desire to improve our education system, promote economic development, and address the soaring costs of health care that led me to serve the community last year inspire me to seek to serve them again as their representative.”
Bill Scheidler, 60, has a bachelor’s degree from DeSales University and is the chief activist at www.corruptWA.com.
This is his first time seeking political office.
Scheidler, a Republican, said he decided to run for state representative based in an obligation to be a good citizen.
“Everyone should be willing to run for office if they see government waste, fraud, abuse of power, dishonesty and those to whom in government you report these horrible things do nothing about it claiming,” he said. “I don’t have jurisdiction. It is a civic duty to run, not a vocation to choose.”
Each candidate was sent a list of questions. Here are their answers:
• Would you, or do you support an increase in the minimum wage to $15? Why?
Young: I want to see the residents of the 26th District make more than any arbitrary minimum wage. That is why I set out to sponsor legislation to attract and grow family wage jobs in our district upon my appointment to office in January. Within my first two weeks, I filed House Bill 2785 that received bi-partisan support — including co-sponsorship by Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor). It is a bill of substance, that will bring good-paying IT service sector jobs to our district. We deserve more than minimum wage and I will continue to support such job growth.
Schlicher: I am supportive of improving the lives of all of our neighbors through ensuring that people that work hard to support their families can do so. Right now, many struggle with our current minimum wage. I believe as the 26th district and a state we should look at a minimum wage that is reasonable for our area that may be lower than the $15 that other jurisdictions have enacted, but can still allow a full-time worker to support a family. If we want to strengthen our families, we will ensure that those who work hard have the ability to provide for their loved ones.
Scheidler: No, but needs consideration. My experience working for Bethlehem Steel Corp. taught me a lessen. Bethlehem Steel paid amazing wages for “unskilled” workers. I was tempted to forgo an education and be one of those high-paid “unskilled workers” and retire with amazing benefits. I chose college and that decision was a wise choice. Bethlehem Steel went bankrupt under the pressure of high wages, huge liability for future benefits, in the face of competition. All the “unskilled” workers lost their income and had no skills to do anything else. Crime increased, property values sank, drugs and domestic violence all rose. There is a consequence in what we do and my experience adds to the resistance in raising the minimum wage — across the board.
• Do you support requiring a 2/3 majority vote to raise taxes? Why?
Young: Yes I do. The people of our state and our district have spoken loudly and voted for this numerous times. As your public servant, I will honor that directive. What’s more, we know that Olympia is broken. In my short time there, I have seen many areas of poor management and waste that can and should be fixed before we begin asking for more of your hard-earned money.
Schlicher: Yes. The voters of the district have strongly supported it and I will vote for a reasonably tailored bill or amendment that requires a 2/3 majority to raise taxes. The reality is that our tax system is broken and needs serious reform. I plan to work to have a bipartisan conversation about how we can fix our regressive tax structure that punishes our small businesses and the least among us. We can do better for our citizens if and when we work together across the aisle to find common sense solutions.
Scheidler: Yes. Before I’d even consider voting for tax increases, my first priority would be to remove from government those public servants who betray our trust, demand a work ethic that is defined by the words “public service” and utilize the power of “checks and balances” which is the reason for having three branches of government. Each holds the other accountable.
• To fully comply with the McCleary decision to fully fund education, do you support increasing taxes to meet the shortfall or instead would you prioritize current spending priorities?
Young: I’ve always been a proponent of prioritization and good stewardship of taxpayer money. Others dodge this question by claiming that we should “close tax loopholes” to try and fund education. Let’s be plain, that is a veiled way of saying that we should raise taxes on small business owners who are struggling in this economy just like the rest of us. To make a true dent, we must first prioritize our spending — like I did with the bi-partisan House Bill 2797, which I co-sponsored to again require that lottery profits are targeted toward education and class size reduction.
Schlicher: Education must be our priority as it is the foundation of our economy. The solution to our challenges with addressing McCleary will be met by findings savings in our budget, prioritizing our spending, and closing outdated tax loopholes that no longer serve the state like the fuel evaporation tax. We must ensure that as we fund education as required by the courts, we don’t hurt important programs that ensure children don’t go hungry at school or worry if they will have a shelter over their head when they are trying to study at night. Let’s make sure every child has a chance to succeed.
Scheidler: Increasing taxes is a non-starter. Education is about our future and it must be addressed as if our future depends upon a well-educated society, which it does. I’d rather see education be reformed by vouchers, school choice, charter schools, private enterprise and making parents responsible by implementing a tuition that is based upon disposable income. Without money staked in education, parents don’t seem to care about all the waste, fraud and non-sense that occurs within the public school system.
• Would you support a new gas tax to fund transportation?
Young: A fundamental shift must happen in state transportation spending before I’m going to engage with new taxes. The change is simply that King County must be required to start paying for its own failed projects and cost overruns instead of forcing the rest of the state to neglect our local transportation needs. I voted against the supplemental transportation package specifically because it chose to pay for the 520 floating bridge overruns by forcing the rest of the state, including our district, to diminish our workload. Let’s fix the broken model first, then we can talk about taxes.
Schlicher: We must work to improve our infrastructure by stabilizing our ferry system, controlling tolls on the Narrows Bridge, and building the Belfair Bypass to bring jobs to our community. As senator, I worked hard to find $6 million in savings in the ferry system and $3 million in the tolling division to save our ferries and control our toll costs. I will support a transportation package that meets these fiscal requirements and funds the projects that provide for our district’s future.
• If elected, what are three issue you would focus on for the district?
Young: I believe that prioritizing jobs and the economy, wise stewardship of taxpayer dollars to fund education, and reducing the costs of health care are the three places we should begin. Promoting blue-color and high-paying technology job growth will help spur the economy and help to generate much needed revenue to fund education. Affordable and accessible health care is critical and addressing the faults of the Affordable Care Act is a must. We must begin to work together. Solutions are needed in Olympia, not politics as usual.
Schlicher: Education, promoting jobs, and controlling healthcare costs. Education is the backbone of our community and a key to recruiting new businesses. We must work to invest in jobs through economic development and infrastructure improvements. As the only doctor in the legislature, I know firsthand the importance of addressing costs and improving access to health care. These priorities reflect the needs of our current generation for jobs and providing for the long term health of our community by investing in our children. With three children of my own, I am committed to the long term viability of our district.
Scheidler: Remove from government those public servants who betray our trust. Remove legislators who are also lawyers. Define work ethic for public service.