Elections

45th District senate candidates weigh in on education, transportation

Andy Hill is challenging Eric Oemig in the 45th District. - Contribued
Andy Hill is challenging Eric Oemig in the 45th District.
— image credit: Contribued

With the State Senate race for the 45th District nearing the end and being so neck and neck, here is a closer look at the two candidates, incumbent Sen. Eric Oemig and challenger Andy Hill.

Oemig’s biggest priorities for the upcoming legislative session are to “balance the budget, save jobs, protect kids and (enact) campaign finance reform.”

“I am the strongest candidate because I very closely reflect the values of the district and have been effective in the last four years helping to reform government and education,” Oemig said Oct. 6 in a phone interview.

Hill said he would work to “create new jobs and economic opportunity in the private sector, get our spending under control, and make sure money is getting to the classrooms and that we’re getting results.”

The senate hopeful, who spoke by phone Oct. 7, believes he is the best candidate because of his strong background in business, involvement in local schools and athletic programs, and because he is doing it for the “right reason.”

Education

Education is a top priority for both candidates.

Oemig said, “We need to improve the access and quality of the public school system by meeting kids where they’re at and eliminate the achievement gap. We need to increase funding into our public schools, improve teacher training and mentoring and use better data-driven management.”

Hill said the state legislature needs to look at fixing the educational system.

“We have been doing the same thing for the last 15 to 20 years and we haven’t moved the needle,” said Hill. “We need to fund education and focus on reform and specific outcomes.”

Transportation

Both candidates acknowledge that the biggest transportation issue the district faces is congestion.

“Congestion cuts two ways,” Hill said. “It hinders people moving goods to market, which costs businesses, and it makes it hard for people to get around. When they’re sitting in traffic it loses productivity, which hurts our quality of life.”

Oemig said, “I am definitely working on a solution for the folks out in East King County who have to deal with both flooding and limited transportation options because of environmental impact. I am working to study the flooding and environmental road blocks and get them unclogged.”

I-1107

Initiative 1107, which would end sales tax on some foods such as candy, brought opposing viewpoints from each candidate.

“What I’m disgusted by is that our state corporations are spending so much money to remove these temporary taxes out of corporate greed, thus further illustrating the reason why we need campaign finance reform,” Oemig said. “This initiative is really about corporations trying to buy their way out of tax-ism.”

Hill, on the other hand, said he would vote yes on I-1107 because “we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem, and we need to fix our spending before we start raising our taxes.”

The general election will be held Nov. 2.

Kelly Mariani is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.

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