Two Democratic candidates, Amy Walen and Cindi Bright, will be facing off in November for the Legislative District 48’s second position representative seat.
Legislative District 48 includes parts of Bellevue, Redmond, and Kirkland.
Editor’s note: The Reporter did not receive answers to the questionnaire from Bright.
Please provide a brief biography:
Walen: I was born in Oregon and studied and practiced law in Australia before moving to Kirkland in 2005 with my husband. Together we own and operate Ford-Hyundai of Kirkland and employ over 120 people. I have been the CFO for companies with revenue exceeding $150 million per year for nearly 20 years. As a cancer survivor and someone who received help during difficult times, I am committed to giving back. I was elected to the Kirkland City Council in 2009 and was selected by my colleagues to serve as mayor in 2014. I was awarded Elected Official of the Year by Alliance of Eastside Agencies in 2013 and Advocacy All-Star Award from the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) in 2015. I continue to serve as mayor of Kirkland and president of the Sound Cities Association (SCA). I am a proud stepmother to three children and legal guardian of my nephew.
Do you believe that taxes are calculated fairly to fund education in our state? If not, what would you change?
Walen: No. It breaks my heart to see families and older adults priced out of their homes due to rising property taxes. Funding essential services through property taxes is not sustainable or equitable. I believe that increased funding for public education can and should come from tax reform. We need to clean up our current tax code so less of the burden is placed on low or middle-income earners or fixed-income families. I would like to start by closing corporate tax loopholes, especially those corporations that aren’t creating jobs in Washington state or those that have bad business practices that harm our environment. I would also like to ensure that there are sunset provisions, so we can continually revisit who is getting tax breaks. I also support additional revenue sources through a capital gains tax and a carbon fee.
Home prices and property taxes have been on the rise. How would you promote housing diversity and affordability?
Walen: In Olympia I will build on my housing affordability leadership — I am a strong proponent of creating compact communities where we can all live and thrive. I am an advocate for increased density on transit corridors, condominium liability reform, incentives for local jurisdictions to up zone, and mandatory inclusion of affordable housing in multi-family development. I believe the most important work we can do to address growing income disparities in our state is restructure our unfair, regressive tax code. I will look at reforms that reduce the burden on lower and fixed income families and small businesses, and require a fair share from the wealthiest in our state.
Mass shootings, suicides and school security are big concerns in our communities. When it comes to guns, how do you balance safety with constitutional rights?
Walen: I am a strong supporter of sensible gun legislation and it is one of the reasons I decided to run for State House. My top priority is keeping our students safe from gun violence and investing in proven mental health and addiction services. Like many people, I am inspired by the Parkland students and applaud their courage and leadership in the movement for common-sense gun laws. As mayor of Kirkland, I have come to realize that there is only so much municipal governments can do. Common sense gun laws need to be enacted at the state level. We all have a right to safe schools, safe communities, and safe gathering spaces. I support raising the purchasing age of semi-automatic assault rifles, strengthening background checks, and other provisions to reduce preventable gun violence.