Candidates debate state budget, education at 45th District forum
By MATT PHELPS
Redmond Reporter Contributor
September 29, 2010 · Updated 3:29 PM
Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Kirkland was the site Tuesday night of a voters forum for candidates of the 45th District and the mostly-cordial Q&A centered on one topic - the state budget.
More than 120 people watched as the candidates squared off, including Sen. Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland, and challenger Andy Hill; Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, and opponent Kevin Haistings for position 1; Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, and challenger Mark Isaacs for position 2.
The event included a moderated discussion and a "lightning round" where candidates held up yes or no signs.
The first question of the night focused on political discourse and how the candidates would work with those in the other party. Haistings called on his experience as a sergeant in the Seattle Police Department for his answer.
"As a policeman I am used to conversing with people who don't agree with me," said Haistings.
The biggest reaction from the crowd came on the last "lightning round" question asking if the candidates supported charter schools. With all the candidates holding up "yes" signs, a collective "wow" came form the audience.
Education was one of the most passionate topics of the night.
Isaacs pointed to a 30 percent failure rate of the public education system, versus 10 percent in private schools.
"If you look at the cost per student, it is way higher in private schools and not even close," Springer responded.
Haistings took issue with funding pre-K programs before other levels of education: "Preschool is important but we need to look at K-12 before entitlements."
Goodman fired back, stating that early learning was one of the most important issues to fund: "The research is so clear that kids that show up to kindergarten unprepared never catch up."
Subject agreement was few and far between during the event.
Haistings questioned what he saw as Goodman's conflicting viewpoints as the incumbent Democrat is in favor of legalizing marijuana but is against the privatization of liquor sales.
Goodman fired back saying that marijuana needs to be controlled so it is not available to kids, while the two initiatives to privatize liquor sales would increase the number of places to purchase alcohol from 315 to more than 3,000.
During the "lighting round," candidates stated their positions on three very controversial subjects - immigration, a state income tax in any form and the legalization of marijuana.
All of the challengers said they would be for a state immigration law like the controversial one recently passed in Arizona, against legalizing marijuana and against a state income tax of any kind. All of the incumbents were on the opposite side. But Springer pointed out flaws in the "lighting-round" style questioning, saying that many of the issues are more complicated than a yes or no answer.
Some of the candidates attempted to add levity to the discussion with some humor.
"When I can't sleep at night I grab the state budget and some of it wakes me up cause it is pretty scary," said Hill to a room full of laughter. "We still have $4 million going to a state horse racing commission ... Once you spend money it is very hard to take it away so it is going to be a very tough four years."
How to pay for continuing state budget deficits was at the forefront.
"One of the problems is that people are under great pressure and we are asking them to pay more in taxes," said Issacs.
Springer responded by saying that the legislature balanced the state budget earlier this year and now has more deficits thanks to falling tax revenue, not because of the actions of the government.
"The state has a very limited role in creating a job or stimulating the economy," said Springer. "Any tax break that is implemented means you have to take that money away from somewhere else."
Upcoming candidate forums
• 45th District candidates will square off at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4 at the Woodmark Hotel, 1200 Carillon Point in Kirkland. 48th District candidates will debate the issues at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11 at the Woodmark Hotel. Both forums are co-sponsored by the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Kirkland. For reservations, call (425)-822-7066.
• 45th District candidates will debate from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12 in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School commons, 22130 NE 133rd St. in Woodinville. The forum will be moderated by Linda Hanson, who is a former Washington State PTSA president, executive committee member of the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools, member of the Children's Campaign Fund board of directors and a long-time education reform advocate.
The event is free and open to the public.
• 48th District candidates will debate at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13 at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave NE, in downtown Bellevue. Moderators during the free forum will consist of an editorial team from Sound Publishing, Inc., including Redmond Reporter Editor Bill Christianson. For reservations, visit www.bellevuedowntown.org or call (425) 453-1223.
• A luncheon forum for the candidates of the 45th and 48th Districts will be from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20 at Hotel Sierra, 15785 Bear Creek Parkway NE. The forum is sponsored by the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce. For reservations, contact email@example.com.Contact Redmond Reporter Contributor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org.