By Brandon Hansen/The Independent Staff
Here is Part 2 of our Races to Watch article. We’ll be discussing the Governor’s race and the Presidential race, along with much more local info.
Incumbent Washington State Governor and Democrat Jay Inslee is running for reelection against Seattle Port Commissioner and Republican Bill Bryant.
Stevens County Democrats Communication Director Karen Hardy said that Inslee has been good for the state economy and getting it through the recession.
“He works with both sides of the aisle and helped us get out of the recession,” Hardy said. “We are moving forward and are moving in a good direction.”
In the voters pamphlet, Inslee highlighted the creation of over 250,000 jobs and Washington being recognized as the nation’s best economy by Business Insider, the lowest unemployment rate since 2008 and strides in education including tuition cut at all public colleges and universities in the state.
“When it comes to basic Washington values, we will not waiver,” Inslee said in the pamphlet. “We’ll protect children from the ravages of carbon pollution that cause asthma and climate change. We will work for an economy that builds a stronger middle class by raising the minimum wage, ensuring paid sick leave and advancing policies that allow working families to thrive.”
Challenging Inslee is Republican Bill Bryant. The Stevens County Republicans Chair Grant Peterson said that Inslee has been a failure at governor, citing Director of the Washington DOT secretary Lynn Peterson being fired, escapes from state mental institutions and mistaken early releases of incarcerated inmates. He also said that Inslee has seen 23 vetoes overturned by bipartisan action in the state legislature.
“That doesn’t show competent leadership or good judgement,” Peterson said.
Bill Bryant meanwhile, Peterson contends, supports zero base budgeting, a freezing of state agency regulations until they’re reviewed, and no state income or carbon tax. Bryant will be a breath of fresh air, he added, holding state agencies accountable for their budget and their areas of inefficiency.
“[The people of Washington] want a governor who will scrutinize programs, fix broken bureaucracies and respect our tax dollars,” Bryant said in the voter’s pamphlet. “They want a governor who will focus on children learning, traffic moving, prisons working, on controlling taxes and protecting our environment.”
Voter turnout is big in the governor’s race. Peterson points out how close the previous elections have been for the governor, involving Republican candidates Dino Rossi and Rob McKenna.
“It’s turnout,” Peterson said. “If we increase turnout we negate every aspect of King County.”
Dominating the headlines so far has been the race for the president of the United States. Republican Donald Trump is facing Democrat and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in perhaps one of the most contentious elections in recent memory.
In the voter’s pamphlet, Trump says he believes strongly that the US should promote a free market, rebuild our military and maintain our country’s sacred obligation to take care of our veterans and their families.
Clinton said in the voter’s pamphlet that she wants to make a bigger investment in good-paying jobs, crackdown on companies shipping jobs overseas, invest in infrastructure, manufacturing and small businesses. She also said she wants to make college debt-free for all and tuition free for the middle class.
Stevens County Republicans Chair Grant Peterson said the balance of the Supreme Court could change with this election. He added while one candidate says things that are considered inappropriate, the other candidate does things that are wrong. Recent revelations show that Clinton is once again under open FBI investigation and if elected this nation would for the first time elect a president that faces criminal charges if not in prison, Peterson said. She is predictable in that she is always surrounded by controversy and questionable ethics and poor performance.
“The main issue is what we are going to leave our children,” Peterson said. “And where we are going to go in the Supreme Court.”
There is, Peterson added, a potential for up to five Supreme Court appointments that could be made by the next president. Trump will appoint constitutional conservatives and Hillary will appoint liberal progressives.
“The very survival of our constitution and republic is at stake,” he said.
If Clinton is elected, Peterson contends, it’s very apparent that a liberal supreme court justice could be appointed which would change the balance of the courts and therefore how court cases are interpreted all across the country.
“One way they can attack amendments — like the second amendment — and the constitution is through the courts,” Peterson said. “If that shift happens, you may never see another conservative victory in the court in our lifetime. I’m very concerned if Hillary is elected that our Constitution will be undermined.”
Peterson said that he has run out of Trump signs five times in the past four months.
Trump’s competency has been a point of contention in the media and something that Stevens County Democrats Communications Director Karen Hardy feels is a key point of the election.
“The fact is whether you like Hillary or not she is a very known and predictable candidate who represents no real threat to our democracy or the American way of life,” Hardy said. “In any other election you would be voting for or against her based on her stance on taxes, foreign policy, military spending, civil rights and a myriad of other issues. This election is different. Donald Trump is not a known or predictable candidate. He has never held elected office of any kind. His business dealings are surrounded in secrecy, his stance on taxes, foreign policy, military spending and civil rights differ from Hillary Clinton but change rapidly and are difficult to quantify.”
Hardy said that Trump’s demeanor, character and behavior are erratic, unprofessional and potentially damaging to our democratic process, and the United States standing in the world.
“The citizens of the United States need to stand together and send a clear message that we will not allow someone who degrades women, insults immigrants, believes in conversion therapy for homosexuality, who demeans people of color and supports depriving them of their civil liberties,” Hardy said. “Somebody who would refuse those who subscribe to Islam refuge while supporting it for their Christian counterparts, who insults Gold Star families and shows a flagrant disregard for the Constitution to be our President, Commander-in-Chief and Leader of the Free World.”
Hardy said the choice goes beyond partisan politics and is more to preserve a democracy that has been called into question by Trump.
WASHINGTON STATE SUPREME COURT
Peterson said that he feels candidate Greg Zempel could help bring balance back to the Supreme Court in the state of Washington. Zempel is the Kittitas County Prosecutor and running against Barbara Madsen for Pos. 5.
In the voter’s pamphlet, Zempel said he promises a court that is “less political and more predictable.”
“The court has no one with major criminal prosecution experience – a serious omission because criminal law makes up a majority of the court’s cases,” Zempel stated.
“We have a very liberal activist supreme court that is legislating from the bench,” Peterson said. “A vote for David DeWolf, Dave Larson and Greg Zempel would bring balance to the court and that is needed.”
Madsen has been a Supreme Court Justice since 1992 and said in the voters pamphlet that she has the experience, leadership and courage necessary to protect the liberties guaranteed to all citizens. She wants to require the state to meet its duty to educate children, work on access to justice initiatives and break down barriers to re-entry after incarceration.
Republican Shelly Short is running unopposed in the State Representative District 7 Pos. 1 position. She was first elected to the post in 2008.
In the District 7, Pos. 2 race Joel Kretz is running against Libertarian Mike Foster. Kretz was first elected in 2004.
In the Secretary of State race, Democrat Tina Podlodowski is running against Republican incumbent Kim Wyman who has been secretary since 2013.
“Under our current Secretary of State voter participation has declined to a record low which is astounding considering access to voting should be easier than ever,” Hardy said. “We have also fallen behind in voter technologies that would allow for election day registration and pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds.”
Hardy said that Tina’s experience in the high tech business world (Podlodowski was a director and senior manager at Microsoft) will help improve Washington resident’s voting access and ensure the proper safeguards are in place to protect our elections against fraud.
“This is a office that needs the most qualified candidate no matter what their party,” Hardy said.
In Wyman’s voter pamphlet statement she said that she has expanded registration and voting access and maintained the integrity of elections.
“Washington is a national leader, with more registered voters than at any time in state history,” Wyman wrote. “With another four years I will continue working hard with county auditors and election advocates to modernize and secure our voter registration and election systems, increase voter participation and continue to increase accessibility to the State Library and Archives.”
Initiative 1433 would increase the state minimum wage to $11 in 2017, $11.50 in 2018, $12 in 2019 and $13.50 in 2020. Peterson contends that communities around the state couldn’t absorb the wage hike and that this would mean fewer jobs and small businesses.
Hardy contends that low wages are costing the state social service wages since people on minimum wage are not getting a livable wage.
“If we raise people’s wage, then we don’t need to keep them on social programs,” Hardy said.
This initiative looks to reform campaign finance laws and lobbying.
“It’s a good start at allowing voters to know who is supporting elected officials, where the money for campaigns is coming from and preventing small numbers of people or corporations to overshadow the wishes of the majority of voters.”
Peterson contends that the state of Washington is already nationally recognized and a leader of transperency and reporting. This initiative would also pour taxpayer dollars into politics instead of schools, he said
This initiative would allow police, family, or household members to obtain court orders temporarily preventing firearms access by persons exhibiting mental illness, violent or other behavior indicating they may harm themselves or others.
Peterson feels that it’s a broadly defined set of people that can file petitions against you and that due process is undermined and that the definition of “extreme risk” is unclear. To get this order lifted, he contends, they would have to pay considerable legal fees to defend themselves.
Hardy feels its a step in the right direction and could save lives in instances of domestic violence or suicide. It also allows communities to govern themselves.
“A lot of families have experienced a lot of pain with one bad decision with a firearm,” Hardy said.
This initiative would increase penalities for criminal identity theft and civil consumer fraud targeted at seniors or vulnerable individuals. It would also exempt information of vulnerable individuals and in-home caregivers from public disclosure.
Hardy said that this is important in protecting seniors with the numerous scams and companies out there trying to take advantage of people.
Peterson said that the initiative is backed by union bosses who are hoping to hide the fact that caregivers no longer have to share their paychecks with the union.
This would enable a carbon emission tax on certain fossil fuels and fossil-fuel-generated electricity, reduce the sales tax by one percentage point, increase a low-income exemption and reduce certain manufacturing taxes.
Peterson said that there is no provisions for compliance flexibility or energy-efficiency incentives. Businesses will just move their jobs and pollution across state lines. He contends it would make Washington’s budget worse and cut funding to education, health care and other vital services.
Hardy said she would rather see tax decisions be made through the normal legislative process and better solutions can be found through that process.
This initiative would urge a proposed amendment to the federal constitution stating that individuals, not corporations, have constitutional rights and constitutionally-protected free speech — excludes the spending of money.
Peterson calls the inititiative totalitarian, not democratic, since it forbids citizens from spending their money spreading their beliefs. There has to be other solutions than taking rights away.
“I think sending a clear message to the Federal Government that we are unhappy with the Citizens United decision is a good thing,” Hardy said. “I’m not certain that a constitutional amendment is the answer and I’m not certain this is the proper use of our initiative process but I do like the message.”