Candidates from 45th and 48th districts face off at Redmond debate
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
October 19, 2012 · Updated 11:32 AM
With the election just weeks away, candidates running in races for the 45th and 48th legislative districts participated in a debate Wednesday afternoon at the HYATT house hotel in Redmond.
The debate was the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce’s membership luncheon for this month and participants were 45th District, Pos. 1 incumbent Democrat Roger Goodman and Republican challenger Joel Hussey; 45th District, Pos. 2 incumbent Democrat Larry Springer and Republican challenger Jim Thatcher; 48th District, Pos. 1 incumbent Democrat Ross Hunter and 48th District, Pos. 2 candidates Democrat Cyrus Habib and Republican Hank Myers. Hunter’s challenger, Republican Bill Hirt, declined the chamber’s invitation to participate in the debate.
Candidates were asked questions about education, transportation and taxes.
While discussing education, Hussey said there needs to be more of a focus on the K-12 system, as a number of students who do get accepted into college need to take remedial classes.
Springer said it is important to increase teacher training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education so students are more prepared for the transition to higher education.
Thatcher said not all students want to go to college after high school.
“There is an alternative to going to college,” he said.
That alternative is learning a trade. Thatcher said they need to work on closing the trade gap as there is a generation of trade workers set to retire, but no one to fill those jobs.
Hunter said education is a deeply enmeshed issue.
“You can’t do it with just funding,” he said.
He said there needs to be more rigor in high school programs. In addition, Hunter said fixing the state’s education system will require bipartisan cooperation.
While addressing education, Myers said they need to restore tech classes in high schools and focus on advanced classes at the junior high/middle school and high school levels.
Habib said to help with education funding, they need to make sure they are efficient in funding health care so there is no excess spending, as well as earmark incoming revenue for education.
Goodman said they need to apply the Washington Supreme Court’s McCleary decision to properly fund education. He also agreed with Thatcher about closing the trade skills gap.
“These jobs are right here, right now,” Goodman said.
The candidates also discussed transportation, sharing their views on two new State Route 520 intersections in the Overlake neighborhood. All seven candidates agreed that these projects are a top priority for them.
“These projects are in fact critical,” Springer said.
Everyone also acknowledged that funding the projects will be a challenge as they will need to work with non-Eastside legislators on the issue. Hussey and Hunter both said to get the projects funded, it will take a whole transportation package to get the votes they need. Hussey added that it will also take a bipartisan vote.
Goodman said as Eastside legislators who understand the need for these projects in this area, they will be able to accomplish this.
“We here are the reasonable ones,” he said in comparison to his non-Eastside counterparts. “We’re going to get it done because we actually hold sway.”
The candidates also spoke in support of bringing light rail to downtown Redmond.
“They want light rail,” Hussey said about people who live and work downtown.
Springer said to bring light rail to any area, there needs to be enough density along the way to justify building a line. He praised the City of Redmond in doing just that in its downtown.
Thatcher agreed with Springer about needing a dense population in an area in order to bring in light rail, but added that there also needs to be a way for people who live a little bit further away to get to the train. He said this would mean making the bus system more accessible for people.
Another hot topic during the debate was taxes. On the issue of Initiative 1053, which would require a two-thirds vote for tax increases, the candidates had differing opinions.
Hunter said he couldn’t form an informed opinion on the legality of the initiative but said it would be a dysfunctional system if they are unable to repeal laws without a two-thirds vote and they would not be able to govern effectively.
Springer said requiring a two-thirds vote is undemocratic.
“It’s simply bad government,” he said. “There has to be a give and take.”
Thatcher said the issue “is not cut and dry” but added that if voters approved I-1053, he would support it because that was what people wanted.
Myers said requiring a two-thirds vote may not be as “arcane” as some may think as school bonds also require a super-majority vote to be approved.
The City of Redmond will air the debate in its entirety Friday on its cable channel, Redmond City TV (RCTV). RCTV is available on Comcast 21 or Frontier 34. The video will also be available to watch online at www.redmond.gov/rctv Friday at 9 p.m.
Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at email@example.com or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.