Election 2002: State house of representatives

Published on Thu, Oct 24, 2002
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Election 2002:
State house of representatives

We continue our 2002 election coverage by asking a few questions of candidates for state representative positions..

Jim Boyle
Democrat, District 42, Pos. 1
What can the state do to help encourage economic growth in Blaine/Birch Bay area? What steps would you take as state representative to help boost the local economy?
Fund area transportation projects, such as the work on the Blaine truck crossing. These projects will save lives, provide jobs and help businesses move people and goods more efficiently.
We also need to reform the business and occupation tax to a more stable, less regressive system and balance the budget to provide businesses with the confidence to invest in Washington. I also support the on-going efforts to restore the water quality of Drayton Harbor, which will increase tourism and revitalize commercial shellfish harvesting.
Lastly, we must invest in our technological infrastructure, such as fiber optic cables, and maintain the quality of our public schools.

Pick a local environmental problem and describe why it impacts the quality of life and economic prosperity in Blaine. How would you work to fix it?
There has been a great deal of work by local organizations, the state government and the city of Blaine to improve the water quality of Drayton Harbor.
By developing firm plans to control run-off, and repairing failing septic systems, the trend in water quality over the shellfish beds and in Dakota and California creeks has been improving.
However, there is still much work to be done in first identifying the source and then implementing control measures for the high bacteria counts in the commercial area of the harbor. The state, along with the Port of Bellingham, needs to be an active partner in completing the restoration efforts of Drayton Harbor.

Do you think that Whatcom County gets a fair share in terms of the state services and funding it receives based on taxes it pays? If not, how can you work to change that?
Recently Whatcom County moved from a donor county to receiving more in funding for transportation projects than what we pay in gas taxes. The continuing operation of Intalco is another benefit.
However we can do better in efforts to protect our marine resources, attention to highway improvement projects and Medicaid reimbursement rates.

What lessons have you learned in your current line of work that will make you effective in the state legislature?
Currently, I am executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northwest Washington and, along with my wife, own a small business - Treasury of Memories. In these positions, I know first-hand the struggles many people have in making ends meet. I know the pressures of trying to make payroll, the difficulties in balancing a budget and the importance of a cooperative government in helping businesses succeed.
These skills and experiences are needed to address the current budget deficit and will make me empathic to the everyday concerns of the people in Whatcom County. My real-world experience in bringing people together to solve problems is exactly what is needed in Olympia.

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Doug Ericksen
Republican
What can the state do to help encourage economic growth in the Blaine/Birch Bay area? What steps would you take as state representative to help boost the local economy?
Washington is currently not a good place to do business. Jobs are leaving our state and new jobs are not coming because of a terrible regulatory environment, high taxes, and an anti-business attitude that our state legislature currently has. Boeing has become a poster child for what is wrong with Washington, but what is just as troubling is the number of small to medium size businesses that are choosing to operate or locate somewhere else.
We need to fix the overall business climate in Washington and we need to address issues specific to the Blaine and Birch Bay area.
At the state level we need to:
Reduce the regulatory burden on businesses;
Sunset agency rules after five years;
Require a legislative vote on new rules that are appealed;
Hold the line on and reduce taxes on businesses;
Amend current laws that make Washington an expensive place to operate;
Change the attitude in Olympia regarding job creating;
Specifically to Blaine and Birch Bay, we need to:
Invest more in our highway infrastructure;
Add new I-5 interchanges to promote and increase business;
Expand the sewage treatment facility at Birch Bay to service all of Blaine;
Increase signage on I-5 to attract more people to Blaine;
Ease congestion at the border to bring more Canadians in;
Allow for the free movement of people between White Rock, Semiahmoo, and Blaine.
I truly believe that Blaine and Birch Bay have the potential for planned economic growth that could be a model for the rest of the state.

Pick a local environmental problem and describe why it impacts quality of life and economic prosperity in Blaine. How would you work to fix it?
The environmental issue that I have worked the hardest on for the Blaine and Birch Bay area is the expansion of the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District facility to handle the load from all of Blaine and the eventual closure of the current treatment facility on Semiahmoo Point.
I am actively working to bring in state and federal dollars to assist in the creation of a regional sewer facility that will handle the current Blaine load, service new residential and business growth in the area while allowing for the clean up of Drayton Harbor.
I have brought several legislative leaders to this area to tour and see for themselves the need to invest in a regional treatment facility for the area. I am very hopeful that the hard work that I have put in on this issue will pay off in the near future.
A regional treatment facility will be a great win for the environment and will also serve as a tool for economic growth in the future.

Do you think that Whatcom County gets a fair shake in terms of the state services and funding it receives based on the taxes it pays? If not, how can you work to change that?
Whatcom County does very well in terms of tax dollars we receive back from the general and capital budgets but we have traditionally not done well on transportation funding. In the past four years, I have been able to work with our legislative delegation and local leaders to begin to turn the tide on transportation funding while continuing our level of support in the other area.
Whatcom County has a four-year regional university (Western Washington University), a two-year community college (Whatcom Community College) and a technical college (Bellingham Technical). We are the only county of our size to have all three types of schools. Due to this fact, we receive a fair share of capital and general fund dollars.
Whatcom County has ranked at or near the bottom of gas tax distribution for the last ten years. We have tended to send in more of our gas tax dollars to Olympia compared to what we receive back. In fact from 1990-1999 (most of that time before I entered the legislature) we received only 59 cents back for every dollar of gas tax we generated. That ranked us dead last in Washington.
Under the projected current law budget (that is to say without R-51 dollars) Whatcom County is expected to receive $1.15 for every dollar of gas tax we generate over the next 10 years. This is not guaranteed and we must work very hard to make sure these dollars actually show up. It is also important to note that while we will be funding some major projects over the next ten years, our overall increase in distribution is also due to declining gas sales in Whatcom County’s border communities. The people of Blaine and Point Roberts know very well that Canadians are not buying gas in our border towns like they used to.
If R-51 doesn’t pass, Whatcom County will receive 58 cents back for every dollar raised by the new gas tax, the new one percent sales tax on cars, and the 30 percent vehicle weight fee increase. To compare that to other counties, King County will receive $1.57 for every dollar generated and Asotin County will receive just three cents back for every dollar generated.
If R-51 should pass, Whatcom County will receive a combined rate (current law plus R-51) of 88 cents back for every dollar generated over the next ten years.
Clearly we have made some progress on the transportation funding issues, but much work remains to be done.

This will be your second term in the state legislature. What have you learned that makes you a more effective representative and have you picked up any bad habits?
In my four years in the legislature I have learned many things that make me a more effective representative for the people of Whatcom County.
My knowledge on transportation issues will prove to be a valuable tool for our region as we continue to grow and more demands are placed on our infrastructure. The relationships that I have built with other legislators and key government leaders will be important to shaping the future of Whatcom County and our state.
Having served three years in a 49-49 tie in the House and one year in the minority party, I have learned lessons that will make me a very effective leader in reaching out to the minority party should the Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives.
My wife, Tasha, would tell you that the biggest bad habit I have picked up in Olympia is spending too much time working on my legislative duties and not spending enough time with our two children, Elsa and Adel.

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Dist. 42 Position 2
Kelli Linville
What can the state do to help encourage economic growth in the Blaine/Birch Bay area? What steps would you take as state representative to help boost the local economy?
Economic development. Our competitiveness depends upon supporting the quality of our infrastructure, including transportation, water and energy, quality schools and workforce training programs, creative revenue options such as tax increment financing.
We created a process that allows rural counties to retain a portion of state sales tax for economic development. The county has the authority to distribute the funds. The state should also build upon locally developed effort rather than a one size fits all state program.

Pick a local environmental problem and describe why it impacts quality of life and economic prosperity in Blaine. How would you work to fix it?
Available water, good quality water is essential to Blaine. Water quality problems have impacted Drayton Harbor. We need to clearly identify the source and the DOE and local governments need to develop local solutions to the problems. I support the local oyster-growing program. I will continue to appropriate dollars for water quality projects. I will continue to pass legislation which implements watershed planning and support Blaine efforts to work with the citizens and tribes and other water purveyors to complete the water treatment plant.

Do you think that Whatcom County gets a fair shake in terms of the state services and funding it receives based on the taxes it pays? If not, how can you work to change that?
Whatcom County’s allocation of tax dollars is based on population and need. We have been able to get the community additional dollars in terms of worker re-training, water quality projects, support for farms and help for Point Roberts school, which increase our revenue. We have always paid out more than we received in gas taxes. With R-51, we will be receiving $1.21 for every dollar we pay. I will continue to fight for our fair share of revenue at the state level.

You’ve been in the state legislature for nine years now, which brings experience but can also bring stagnation, a limited focus on pet projects and old solutions. Do you still have a fresh perspective, and how do you keep it that way?
My nine years in legislature have been a challenge and a pleasure. I view my job as an opportunity to solve problems by thinking outside of the traditional “regulatory box” to try new ideas that make a measurable difference.
Education reform, an environmental excellence program, a dairy waste program, watershed management and performance based budgeting are all new ways to view government operation and it keeps me energized and excited about representing the best community in the state!

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Gene Goldsmith
What can the state do to help encourage economic growth in the Blaine/Birch Bay area? What steps would you take as state representative to help boost the local economy?
It is not just the Blaine/Birch Bay area that needs an economic stimulus, but the whole state.
As Governor Locke recently stated, we need to trust our citizens to do what is right without the heavy burden of government. We must repeal the ergonomics rule so that businesses will look at our area for expansion or growth.
We must decrease the cost of labor and industries by allowing more group self-insurance or by selling the worker’s compensation program to the private sector as other states have done. We must lower the unemployment insurance benefits, which would lower the rates paid by our businesses, and we must allow for enterprise zones outside the urban growth areas of the growth management act so that we have industrial land available for growth.
An added benefit to enterprise zones is that transportation costs are less as we are able to build our homes near our work. We must follow the lead of 33 states that cap non-economic awards in the case of medical/dental malpractice to control the increasing cost of health care and health insurance.

Pick a local environmental problem and describe why it impacts quality of life and economic prosperity in Blaine. How would you work to fix it?
When it comes to fixing any local environmental problems, state agencies tend to come in and apply hundreds of regulations; even some that do not apply to the situation and the problem takes a long time to fix.
Over-regulation affects local quality of life, businesses, agriculture, and our overall economy and people get hurt. We need to review regulations, apply local solution to local problems, and give citizens a bigger role in the solutions. This applies to all environmental situations such as Drayton Harbor, stormwater and wastewater treatment, salmon recovery and does not need restrictive state agencies over-regulating instead of fixing.

Do you think that Whatcom County gets a fair shake in terms of the state services and funding it receives based on the taxes it pays? If not, how can you work to change that?
Absolutely not. When the Canadian dollars were flowing into Whatcom County, we became a donor county, and we were ranked 39th out of 39 counties on returning monies based on our tax revenue. We need to base our returning dollars on our population, not on a history of revenue collected.
With Referendum 51, Whatcom County would send $240 million to Olympia and receive $140 million, only a 58 percent return. We do not receive what we pay for.
However, we get more than our fair share of state and federal government employees including Western Washington University, the community college, the co-tech, the regional transit, the 4th Corner Uniserve, Border Patrol, U.S. Customs, Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration, the department of ecology, etc. These add to our local economy and in some of our cities, replace the market economy.

What lessons learned in your current line of work will make you effective in the state legislature?
Working for a nationwide legislation firm has enabled me to look at what other states and jurisdictions have accomplished through innovative thinking. It appears that our state is stuck with old thinking and ideas. We just raise taxes and increase spending and think that the failed programs will finally work.
Since I left the legislature, I have wondered where our current legislators get their research. Many states are moving forward with school choices initiatives, tort reform to make health insurance available, competitive bidding between public and private sectors, reducing regulations, reforming their worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance programs and lowering taxes to generate the economic growth to fund the core functions of government.
We need to get out of the old thinking patterns and step into the future. For further clarification please check out my website at www.genegoldsmith.com.

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