Voters in the Eastside’s 48th Legislature District will hit the polls on Nov. 4 to elect a state representative to serve parts of Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, and all of Medina, Clyde Hill, Yarrow Point and Hunts Point area.
This year’s candidate race for Position 1 includes current Rep. Ross Hunter, a Democrat, and first-time Republican candidate Charles A. Lapp.
Issues in the race between the veteran-Democrat Hunter and the rookie-Republican Lapp center on working to improve issues surrounding education, transportation, the business climate and budget transparency.
Hunter has served in the House since 2003. A retired general manager for Microsoft, Hunter first ran for office with the goal of improving both the funding and management of the public education system and the transportation infrastructure in Washington.
He has played a pivotal part on the transportation front for the Eastside including major improvements in progress on I-405, fixes to 202 in Redmond, and the upcoming replacement of the 520 bridge with a new six-lane span with the capability of being expanded in the future.
Hunter is a trustee for the Bellevue Schools Foundation. At the August Primary, Hunter spoke on the issue of education.
“We’ve funded class-size decreases, teacher cost of living increases and made other improvements to the funding system, but we still have a lot of work to do to finish,” he said.
Hunter said this year the basic education funding task force will produce a bi-partisan plan to fund an education system for the 21st century, not the 19th.
“We are upping the rigor of the system, including increases in math and science requirements. I drove a significant increase in the rigor of mathematics standards last year,” he explained.
While he remains supportive of additional funding for transportation investments, he is adamant against taking money from the education budget to pay for additional road or transit construction.
In terms of budget issues, Hunter serves as chairman of the House Finance Committee and the House Appropriations and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education finance. According to Hunter, as the chairman of the Finance committee and past chair of the Legislature’s performance audit committee, he has a strong commitment to responsible management.
During his last term, he was a prime sponsor of the “Rainy Day Fund” constitutional amendment in the House. The fund ensures a way to save one percent of the state’s revenue during good times so that the money will be available as a cushion during bad times.
If elected, Hunter would like to see a lean budget for 2009-2011, cushioned by the half-billion that has been saved in reserve.
Lapp’s lifelong interest in politics spurred the Bellevue-based Republican to challenge Hunter for the 48th District Legislature seat. Having traveled the world as a C-141 transport pilot in the Air Force, Lapp is ready to take a step in a new direction.
As a first-time candidate, he brings to the table two master’s degrees in Business Management and Economics and Finance along with a Ph.D. in Finance from the University of Washington.
Drawing on his 30 years experience as a business owner of Calico Management in Bellevue, Lapp believes small government, private enterprises and self reliance are a better path to prosperity and success then government intervention and taxation.
“We all have basically the same ends; we just have different philosophies for how to achieve those ends,” Lapp explained of the varying political parties.
On the education front, Lapp strongly supports vocational and instructional educational training. According to him, education is the most fundamental of all priorities and many problems in society develop due to a lack of a proper education. If elected, Lapp plans to examine the way the funding is being allocated in terms of bettering the educational system.
“I feel that the issue isn’t how much money we spend on the education system but how we spend the money,” he said. “As it stands, people have no choices. They are stuck in a monopoly.”
Lapp disagrees with the Democrats proposal to increase the funding for education by 20 percent, the majority of which would go to teacher salaries. Lapp agrees that teachers should be paid what they deserve and would like to examine a voucher system that would produce consumer choice and a free market.
That way the educational system will have the opportunity to respond in a healthy competitive manner that breeds progress, Lapp said.
When it comes to the state budget, Lapp is concerned about the current $3.2 billion forecasted deficit. Lapp disagrees with raising revenues through taxes in a shaky economy and instead thinks that cutting expenses is the way to go.
“I am in favor of trying to cut expenses. I think government is too big and it tries to do too many things and doesn’t function efficiently,” he said, adding, “I’m also a big believer that people should pay fees for above-and-beyond benefits that they receive from government service.”
Much like Hunter, Lapp is in agreement with the need for a new 520 bridge. However, unlike Hunter, he would like to see the billions of dollars it will cost to rebuild the bridge go towards expanding it to allow for more cars to cross.
“The people down in Olympia are proposing we have the same four lanes we’ve always had,” Lapp explained. “Granted, they plan to add two additional lanes for transit and pedestrian and bicycle lanes, but I can’t see the sense in spending billions of dollars to keep the same traffic jams. I think we should build a bigger bridge and move more people.”