Candidates answer our questions

The Northern Light sent out questionnaires to the six legislative candidates seeking offices that affect the Blaine and Birch Bay area. Listed here are the first three responses in the order received. We will run the responses of the next three candidates in next week’s issue.


Sen. Doug Ericksen (R)

Running for reelection for District 42 state senator

What is your motivation for running for office?

It is an honor to serve the people of the 42nd legislative district in the state Senate. Over the past four years, we have accomplished many things for the people of Whatcom County and Washington.

I am optimistic about the future of Washington because I believe in the people of Whatcom County. We have a great opportunity to create and protect good jobs, limit and reform government spending and restore power to local citizens.

I want to continue the work that we have done and build upon our successes.Candidate-answers-1

What will be your first priority if elected?

My first priority will be to work with local citizens to set priorities for the state legislature in 2015. Then we will work together to pass a balanced budget the fund priorities without raising taxes.

How will you work to stimulate job growth in Whatcom County?

We need to protect the great-paying jobs we have here right now. That is job one. Second, we need to create a tax and regulatory environment that benefits small business owners so that can open, expand and create new opportunities.

What is your opinion on the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point?

The Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point is currently in the permitting process. I will withhold final judgment until the permitting process is completed.

What can be done to improve education?

There are two major changes that we can make to improve education. First and foremost, focus on local control of schools. Legislators in Olympia should set basic levels of accountability, allow local school districts to be creative, and give parents greater control over how and where their kids are educated.

Second, the legislature should dedicate two thirds of general-fund spending growth to education. For 30 years general government spending increased at twice the rate of education spending. In the last two years we flipped that trend and dedicated two thirds of budget growth to schools and we had no higher education tuition increases for the first time in 30 years.

Seth Fleetwood (D)

Running for District 42 state senator

What is your motivation for running for office?

I’m running because we need to end extreme partisanship and start working together again in Olympia. I will work with both sides of the aisle to come to solutions instead of saying no to common-sense legislation. I will work for people, not special interests, to support economic growth, education and a clean environment for Washington and the 42nd district.

What will be your first priority if elected?

My first priority is to bring back opportunities for Whatcom County to create good family-wage jobs. We have to find common sense solutions instead of just saying no to bills that would create jobs and help local businesses.

How will you work to stimulate job growth in Whatcom County?

Stimulating job growth begins by passing a transportation package that has been stuck in gridlock for the past two years. This has cost us hundreds of potential jobs in Whatcom County as a result.

We must invest in our failing roads and bridges, which will help bring back family-wage jobs and make sure our products get to market to support our local economy. I own my own business here in Whatcom County, and know what small business owners need to thrive in our economy.

I’ve paid my taxes and know increased burdens to our small businesses could hurt our economy. I will work to ensure that our local and small businesses can continue to operate without being stopped by harmful regulations.

What is your opinion on the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point?

We should continue to follow the rules set for the current review process. The current planning review process shouldn’t be changed in the middle of the game and I have confidence our local decision-makers will have the facts they need to come up with the best decision.

My opponent has publicly and repeatedly stated his unconditional support for coal exports without the facts at hand, without knowing what it could do to our county. My position has always been that the environmental review needs to be completed before the decision can be made.

We can’t blindly make decisions that will monumentally change the character of our communities. We have smart rules that make sure that the public and our local decision-makers get all of the necessary information. I have confidence in this process and don’t think that Olympia needs to intervene.

What can be done to improve education?

Leaders in Olympia right now are failing to uphold our constitutional duty to support education. I would work with my colleagues to find new and innovative ways to invest in an education system that supports our children.

Recently, my opponent had the chance to pass meaningful education reform and provide funding to help our children. Instead he voted for one-time accounting gimmicks that shortchange our children’s future. If elected, I will work for permanent solutions that will benefit all of our children.

Finding funding in the budget is going to mean making some tough choices, but there are a few places we can start. My opponent has repeatedly defended over 600 different tax loopholes, many of which benefit his campaign contributors. Some are reasonable and should be kept, but others like a tax break on private jets for CEOs aren’t more important than our children and need to be reexamined.

Satpal Sidhu (D)

Running for District 42 state representative, position 1

What is your motivation for running for office? 

I love my country and want to give back my time and talent to my community. I am running because I see that we have a broken political discourse, which results in partisan bickering and the lack of decisions made with a long-term vision. Most of our elected officials can’t think past two years and instead propose quick fixes that kick the can down the road. I don’t think we have much road left.

When a bridge falls in the river or our schools fail, it doesn’t fail just for Democrats or Republicans; we all suffer. Our unfair tax system affects Democrats and Republicans alike.

I have served my community for 25 years by volunteering on a number of boards of committees, working to make it better place for all of us. When this legislative seat opened up, I saw that I could either sit home and complain or actually get out and do something about it. I decided to talk to voters of 42nd district to offer my experience and talent to serve on a bigger scale. I chose to run to bring fresh ideas and long-term solutions to our common problems. Compromise is not a bad word for me.

What will be your first priority if elected?

There are several urgent topics that need immediate attention in the next legislative session, namely: education funding, our stagnant transportation budget, job creation, solving our mental health crisis and many more.

My first priority is to work to reform our education system. The Washington State Supreme Court has said that just putting more money into the current outmoded education system will not be enough. While I realize our K-12 system and higher education system need more money, we must reform the core of our current education system, student and teacher testing, technology in classroom and the bureaucratic structures of our school districts.

Student poverty has unfortunately become a school responsibility; while schools may be a better vehicle to deliver certain services, it may not be the system to manage and alleviate poverty issues.

I have worked as a dean at Bellingham Technical College and participated in the Meridian and Lynden school districts for years, which has given me an inside perspective on the education system. I will use my unique knowledge to work towards reforming our education system.

How will you work to stimulate job growth in Whatcom County?

First things first, we need to get a transportation budget passed. This will create thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for next decade. The passage of this budget would put people to work in good-paying jobs, fix our crumbling infrastructure, and benefit our businesses and the economy of our state.

We can also harness the agricultural prowess in our county to create more jobs. I have spent the last two years opening up export markets for our berry products. Whatcom County has a very advantageous location to ship to the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world. We can actually increase farmers’ income and create value-added berry processing facilities in our region and create high wage manufacturing jobs locally.

What is your opinion on the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point? 

As an engineer, I have managed the design and construction of multiple industrial facilities. I love industry and manufacturing jobs. There is a comprehensive project review underway by multiple agencies and I will defer my decision until I see the real numbers.

There are many claims made in the GPT project, but they need professional scrutiny. This is a local county issue, and we need to respect the determination of local decision-makers. I prefer such a project should benefit our kids and grandkids rather than some vested interests for their personal advantages. I hope the decision is made based on what the benefits will be 30-50 years from now, rather than couple of years of a few hundred construction jobs.

What can be done to improve education? 

The problem we have right now is that we are still trying to fix the problems that were apparent 20 years ago; in the meantime, the world has moved forward. A typical 5- to-10-year-old today is growing in an economy and society which is not the same as it was two decades ago. We have to look at other countries that are quickly outpacing us on education, because we can’t stick with the status quo.

We need a bottom-up review of our education system, because we can’t get ahead by just tinkering on the periphery. Doing this will require a firm resolve from the legislature and citizens to make bold moves; the first step we can take is by making sure our children have smaller class sizes so they can get the individual attention in class they need to succeed. I will advocate a bold long-term vision to improve our education, not just a two-year fix.

  1. […] The Northern Light sent out questionnaires to the six legislative candidates seeking offices that affect the Blaine and Birch Bay area. Listed here are the last three responses, in the order received. The first three responses can be found here: […]


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