San Juan GOP candidates tout views, experience

Steve Van Luven and Rick Bart are the sole Republicans in their respective races for state Senate and Congress.

But they believe their moderate ideas help give their lone voices some volume. And with the top two vote-getters regardless of party advancing from the primary to the general election, moderate ideas and getting heard are all-important.

Van Luven and Bart visited the San Juan County Republican Party on June 11 at Key Bank Friday Harbor. They came armed with ideas, awareness of local issues — and humor.

“I brought my passport,” Van Luven quipped, a reference to the citizenship spot checks at the Anacortes ferry terminal.

Van Luven is one of six candidates for the 40th District state Senate seat being vacated by Harriet Spanel, who is retiring. The others are Whatcom County Charter Review commissioner Hue Beattie, Democrat; State Patrol officer Paul Gonzalez, Democrat; former Whatcom County councilman Ken Henderson, Democrat; San Juan County Councilman Kevin Ranker, who has been endorsed by 40th District Democratic precinct committee officers; and Timothy Stoddard, Salmon Yoga Party. Democrat Stephanie Kountouros dropped out of the race.

Van Luven represented Bellevue in the state House of Representatives from 1983-87 and 1989-2003. He recently moved to Samish Island, where he continues to work in the import/export business, brokering trade between China and Mexico.

If elected, he would like to serve on the agriculture committee and the transportation committee. He said his House experience working on education and ferry issues could be put to good use in this district.

His view on the education funding shortfall that left San Juan public schools scrambling to raise $600,000 on the island: The Legislature needs to decide how much money must be spent on education, set it aside, then budget with the rest. “Education is our No. 1 duty, our paramount duty,” he said.

His view on the crisis within the state ferry system, particularly the loss of ferries because of deferred maintenance: He worked with Democrats to save the Anacortes to Sidney run in 1997. He said the money was available for new ferries. “The money was raised; it wasn’t spent properly,” he said. He views ferry routes as “an extension of our highways.”

As a House member, he voted “yes” when the Growth Management Act was passed. He views the GMA as a “work in progress,” and said that although he’s not always happy with the GMA and problems it has caused, he believes it saved the region’s farmland from being developed.

He is opposed to foreign ownership of Puget Sound Energy.

Bart is one of four candidates for the 2nd District U.S. House seat. The others are Glen S. Johnson, a Democrat and past congressional candidate; Rep. Rick Larsen, Democrat, who is seeking a fourth term; and Doug Schaffer, a Democrat and business consultant.

Bart served three terms as Snohomish County sheriff. He was born in Sedro-Woolley and graduated from Shoreline Community College, Seattle University and the FBI National Academy. He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. He served on the executive committee of the National Sheriffs Association, the Washington Association of County Officials, Family and Friends of Victims of Violent Crime.

It was with the sheriff’s association, he said, that he learned how sluggish Congress can be; he frequently lobbied on western issues. But his strongest views developed as a father and grandfather.

Regarding the Iraq War: He wouldn’t call Iraq a mistake. But he did say that war should always be “the absolute last resort.” He said the Congress must support the troops “so they can get the job done.”

Regarding U.S. energy policy: He believes the U.S. must “move aggressively” toward energy independence, and supports coal shale and nuclear power as alternative sources. “We have the biggest supply of coal shale in the world,” he said. He said France derives 80 percent of its energy from nuclear power, and that Americans need “an open dialogue” on nuclear power. He also supports oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, saying that drilling would occur on 1 million acres out of a 22 million acre reserve.

Federal debt: “Our country is a nation that consumes too much, saves too little and has to borrow huge amounts of money from abroad to finance our fiscal and trade deficits,” he said in a campaign letter. “Both political parties must begin to work together to solve this crisis now.” Without bipartisan solutions, Social Security will be drained by 2017 and Medicare will be in jeopardy — “Medicare is spending more than it takes in,” he said.

Bart supports a one-year moratorium on earmarks, a specified amount of money directed to a organization or project in a Congress member’s home state or district.

His final thought about fiscal responsibility: “We’re leaving a legacy to our children.”

— Coming up: The San Juan County Republican Party’s Salmon Barbecue is July 26, 2-6 p.m., in the Big Red Barn at the Thorndike’s on Cattle Point Road, near the Corner Store.

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