Candidates answer our questions, part two

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: http://www.thenorthernlight.com/2014/10/15/candidates-answer-our-questions/

Luanne Van Werven (R)

Running for District 42 state representative, position 1

What is your motivation for running for office?

For 25 years, I made it my mission to get people involved in the political process. I saw what was at stake, and how important citizen involvement is. Candidates-3When Jason Overstreet announced that he would not be running for reelection I was amazed by all the people who suggested that it was my turn to run for office after working for years to get others elected. I took their advice seriously, and here I am.

I believe we are at a crucial point where we need leaders who are able to work with everyone and solicit advice from all their constituents – not just those they agree with politically. I believe I am uniquely situated for this role after working for so many years with people of all stripes, and getting people involved and excited about the political process will remain my top motivation while I am in Olympia.

What will be your first priority if elected?

My first priority will be to improve the climate for businesses here in Whatcom County. The reason this is number one for me is because I understand that we cannot have any of the things that make life here great if we do not have a robust economy.

This should be accomplished by reducing red tape and by simplifying our tax code, as these are the things most commonly standing in the way of small-business success. If we can do these things, then everyone will benefit. Our tax base will be expanded, schools funded, family incomes will increase, and we can help ensure local and state prosperity for many years into the future.

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

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after working with so many people over the years, it’s that there’s no shortage of smart, capable people with great business ideas. The problem is how hard the government often makes it to start a business and get an idea up and running.

I believe the number one thing we can do to stimulate job growth in Whatcom County is to be more friendly and helpful to our job creators – both big and small. Red tape and regulation, excessive environmental standards and rising taxes at the state level are all a hindrance to business, and substantially reducing these forces will do wonders to help make Whatcom County more competitive, and more prosperous.

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

I believe that the Gateway Pacific Terminal is a great chance to help bring needed opportunity to all of Washington state. This would provide an outlet for farmers to export valuable agricultural goods, but would also provide tremendous, steady tax flow to support our schools, roads and community projects.

Coal and fuel exports would allow us to remain competitive in a global economy, so long as they can be shipped safely and in a way that is environmentally conscious – which I believe can be done.

What can be done to improve education?

One of the best things we can do to improve education is to better prioritize our resources. Reducing wasteful spending on other state projects, and critically examining our budget to make smart and effective reductions is a major step. That way, we can waste less, and have more to put toward education.

Second, we can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to education – we have to recognize the process can be greatly improved for many kids by better assessing their learning styles, unique strengths and weaknesses, and family dynamics to make the process work better for them. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money, but better allocating what we already have in a way that is smart and best for our kids.

Vincent Buys (R)

Running for reelection for District 42 state representative, position 2

What is your motivation for running for office?

I first ran for office four years ago because, time and time again, the legislature refused to listen to the will of the voters with regard to tax policy. The voters agreed and I won my election.

I also ran because of the incessant growth and over-regulation by government agencies into every aspect of our lives and, in numerous instances, creating bias towards one special interest or another. These both continue to be problems within our state government. I am seeking the vote of Whatcom County’sCandidates-1 residents to further the work that I have been able to accomplish in Olympia.

What will be your first priority if elected?

Once elected, I will continue working on legislation for our agricultural community, including working on water availability and quantity/quality, as well as salmon recovery legislation. I will also finish working on legislation that we ran out of time with last year but were ready to pass. And, of course, there is education funding/reform.

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

Over the last few years I have worked tirelessly to protect our agriculture jobs here in Whatcom County and will continue to do so. I have also fought hard to protect the rights of our independent contractors from a corrupt Department of Labor and Industries, which refuses to see them as the licensed, taxpaying businesses they are and thus seeks to put them out of business.

I will continue to fight for and support our heavy industrial jobs out at Cherry Point by ensuring they have access to the affordable energy they need and are not taxed to the point where it becomes economically advantageous for them to leave our county and state.

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

Adequate environmental protections are already in place and any proposed terminal will be put through a rigorous environmental review process. I support continued industrial development out at Cherry Point if it can be accomplished in a safe manner.

What can be done to improve education?

This next session we are anticipating in excess of more than $3 billion in growth to our current biennial budget. Of that growth in taxes coming in, a more than 7 percent increase, I would like to see us dedicate two-thirds, or an extra $2 billion, towards meeting the McCleary obligation. I would like to see this money go directly into the classrooms and not into administration.

Currently over 53 percent of our K-12 education employees are not teachers in the classroom. Our education system has become an administration system that happens to also have some teachers. It is time we reduce the administrative burden which the state, for years, has placed on our local school districts and allow them to get back to teaching rather than filling out paperwork and creating reports. We need significant reforms in order to accomplish this goal.

Joy Monjure (D)

Running for District 42 state representative, position 2

What is your motivation for running for office?

Running for political office was the last thing on my mind earlier this spring. I have three young grandchildren, and my home is our family meeting place. I also own a farm stand in Everson that sells locally grown produce to the people of the Nooksack Valley. I was asked by several people who I trust and have known for years, and saw an opportunity to make a lasting improvement to my grandchildren’s future.

Now on the campaign trail, I am motivated by the overwhelming support from families, farmers and community leaders who see the impact we can have Candidates-2on our community when we work together and improve local leadership.

What will be your first priority if elected?

My first priority when elected will be to address our obligation to fund education. To do this, we must also address poverty. Too many students are distracted by hunger and this affects their ability to learn. I will continue to work to bring nutritious and locally grown food into our cafeterias.

Adequate nutrition for growing children will pay dividends immediately by improving test scores and, in the long term, will save us all money on healthcare and crime. Well-nourished kids grow up to contribute more to their communities, and I will work with farmers to stabilize and grow the local economy while addressing reforms to our education system.

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

As a public works employee for over 20 years, I became painfully aware that our infrastructure needs maintenance.

There are thousands of good jobs to be had updating our water mains, like the proposal for the Blaine to Lynden water supply, and fixing our roads and bridges.

My opponent repeatedly voted against a transportation package that would have provided local jobs, but I will work to bring these high-paying jobs to Whatcom County.

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

I believe a deep-water port could be an asset for the economy of Whatcom County, and especially Ferndale. However, I would like to see a diverse set of economic interests supporting this port, instead of a discussion that is dominated by coal. I support completing the environmental impact process, and ensuring that the port proponent earn our community’s buy-in.

What can be done to improve education?

As I stated above, getting locally grown food on cafeteria menus is a very high priority for my candidacy. To fund our education mandate I believe we must address and close inappropriate corporate subsidies and tax loopholes, as well as look for efficiencies such as reducing standardized testing.

My opponent scoffed at the Supreme Court ruling and orders to uphold our state constitution, but I will work to comply with this ruling. This is the work that needs to be done in the legislature next year, and with your support, I will work hard in Olympia for the people of Whatcom County and our state.

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