48th District candidates Eddy, Wilson, debate budget, experience

Philip Wilson is challenging Deb Eddy in the 48th District. - Contributed
Philip Wilson is challenging Deb Eddy in the 48th District.
— image credit: Contributed

Whoever is the next State House Representative in the 48th District is going to have to deal with big hurdles in Olympia – at least that’s one thing the candidates for position 2 can agree on.

Deb Eddy, D-Kirkland, is trying to hold on to her seat against former “Microsoftee” Philip L. Wilson, R-Bellevue. Eddy, being a former mayor of Kirkland and member of the Kirkland City Council, said experience is the most important factor in making the tough decisions in Olympia.

“In order to be effective in the legislature you actually … have to know something about how government works, and have some idea of what you’re getting into,” Eddy said during an interview with the Reporter. “(My involvement) in local government is pretty good grounding.”

Being a member of the so-called “Roadkill Caucus” is something Eddy believes will serve her well when she goes to get her hands dirty trying to balance the 2009 -2011 budget and then grapple the 2011-2013 biennium. The caucus is a group of moderate Democrats who pledge to work with Republicans in Olympia.

Eddy said on her campaign Web site that certain reforms stalled last year due to a lack of support – like workplace compensation - but she’ll be more than happy to muster up support for them again when the gavel comes down for the next legislative session in January.

“The football gets thrown back and fourth between the parties,” said Eddy, who serves on the House Rules, Technology and Transportation committees. “Last year, if we (Democrats) tried to do some small, first-step reform, we couldn’t get the Republicans to join with us to make up 50 or 51 votes because the party that is out of favor doesn’t want the party in the majority to look effective.”

Eddy has received endorsements from the Washington Association of Business, Washington Conservation Voters and Bellevue Firefighters. She has earned more than $100,000 in her campaign.

Wilson, who has $20,000 and endorsements from state Attorney General Rob McKenna and the Washington State Republican Party, believes he is the right person to send to Olympia on Nov. 2.

“I got into this race because no one was going to stand up and run,” Wilson said in an interview with the Reporter. “I felt like what was going on down in Olympia was irresponsible.”

Wilson graduated from Seattle Pacific University before going on to Microsoft in 1987. He worked a number of different positions at the company before leaving in 1994. His Christian faith led him to humanitarian work, where he traveled down to Sri Lanka after their tsunami in 2004 to help with disaster relief, then Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the flood in Pakistan in 2006 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Wilson also has a pilot’s license.

Opponent criticism

Eddy said she has avoided criticizing her opponent and wants to focus on the issues. She told the Reporter she doesn’t know that much about Wilson’s background.

Wilson, however, said The Seattle Times endorsement interview gave him plenty of ammunition to run. The Times endorsed former U.S. Attorney Diane Tebelius for House seat Position 1 and Eddy for position 2 in the same editorial on Sept. 30.

“She doesn’t want the job, she’s only running because the Democrats twisted her arm and said they don’t have anybody else to run,” Wilson said of Eddy. “She made that very clear. She hates her own leadership down there. She’s just going to vote the same way again … so clearly we need new leadership.”

Wilson said that Eddy thinks no differently than a typical liberal Democrat. He sees her as part of a trend where more spending in Olympia is taking place.

“We seem to be going from a state where we encourage people to freedom and responsibility to a state that takes the fishing pole out of a guy’s hand, gives him a fish and says, ‘don’t worry about fishing, we’re going to give you a fish everyday for the rest of your life,’” Wilson said.

Top Priority/The Budget

Eddy said collapse of the housing bubble and a too-close-to-failure collapse of the financial market lead her to believe the legislature must “reset” how the state handles the budget.

“We have to face the fact that this recession will be unlike anything this country has experienced since the 1930’s,” Eddy said. “We will have very slow and painful recovery. When this started in 2008, I’d say there was a handful of us (legislators) who knew this was not going to be like 1981 or 1982 … which was an economic adjustment.”

The short-term issue is to pass a supplemental budget that takes in account the revenues coming into the state have not matched up to what was originally forecast, said Eddy. The 2009-2011 is going to need some adjustments for the last six months, she added. In order to balance the budget, the legislature will either approve Gov. Chris Gregoire’s across-the-board cuts or “do something else.”

“She’s cutting across-the-board childcare subsidies for the working poor, or state-need grants for kids to stay in college,” Eddy said. “ We might choose to fund some other activity in order to make those amounts of money.”

She said the childcare subsidies “are troublesome because that can often mean that a family is … working and paying their own way, suddenly one person has to quit their job in order to stay home with the kids. That’s counterproductive.”

The biennium is the biggest monster looming overhead, Eddy said. She said the state needs to “put a lid on health care” costs and that will get some budget problems under control.

Wilson is critical of the legislature’s mindset on the upcoming session.

“Those folks should be down there right now, instead of having the governor axe the budget, they should be deciding which things need to be saved and which things don’t,” Wilson said.

He added the legislature needs to get back to maintaining a stable budget.

One of the biggest problems is giving compensation to state employees whose package costs $65,000 against the private sector that only sees $45,000, Wilson said.

Certain services could be eliminated, including the state printing office, technical services, and the Department of Early Education that the state is trying to start up, he said.

“We need to also budget in a way where we’re not just incrementally adding to the budget of each department each year, but we’re going in and seeing what is it that we want out of this (program). Start from zero and work up,” Wilson said.

SR 520

Eddy said she is happy that the legislature was able to make great strides on SR 520 this past year. Thanks to hard work from her colleagues, Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Bellevue) and Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue), the pontoons have been approved and financed.

Tom chaired the SR 520 working group, helping craft a set of compromises that recently won endorsements from 29 of 30 government leaders on the Puget Sound Regional Council, according to a report on the Seattle P-I.

“Eastside legislators must work to ensure that the SR 520 corridor and I-405 are priorities for the state and the region,” Eddy wrote on her campaign Web site. “But because we don’t travel only within the 48th District, we need to ensure that the entire system works for us, too.”

Eddy said the 520 project is on a rolling timeline.

“We have not fully funded the entire corridor, both sides,” Eddy said. “We have got a portion of the Eastside that is up for bid right now up to 405, but we don’t have the I-405 OR SR-202 part funded yet.”

But funding for the floating portion of the bridge is taken care of.

“They’ve been kind of tinkering around for about 10 years and they aught to have a solution in place for the whole thing and unfortunately we don’t right now,” Wilson said.

He said he’d like to see transportation projects funded out of the gas tax as much as possible.

“We’ve got to make sure the money (being put towards the 520 project) is not being thrown away and wasted,” he said.

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