Elections

Islanders meet the candidates; here’s what they said | Orcas Island candidates forum

Top photo: Islanders listen to a candidate
Top photo: Islanders listen to a candidate's response to a question at the League of Women Voters candidates forum, July 16 at Mullis Community Senior Center. Middle photo: Nancy Wight of the League keeps candidates on track with their responses. Bottom photo: Superintendent of Schools Rick Thompson listens to a candidate's response to a question.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

Islanders on Lopez, Orcas and San Juan met and questioned candidates for sheriff, Legislature and Congress, during primary election forums hosted by the League of Women Voters on July 16 and 17. The primary is Aug. 17; the two vote-getters advance to the Nov. 2 general election.

Here's what the sheriff's candidates had to say at the forum in the Orcas Island Senior Center.

San Juan County Sheriff
Issue: Cracking down on meth dealers.

— Rob Nou, sheriff's deputy: It's a matter of working the community, because people know. The people who are manufacturing, they have neighbors. It's a matter of creating an environment where people feel comfortable to speak.

— Felix Menjivar, sheriff's deputy: Through a combination of investigation and community education, I can train you what to look for, then you can come back to me and say, 'I found these indicators' and I can investigate.

— Brent Johnson, sheriff's detective: We obviously need informants to work for us.

— Brad Fincher, adult probation officer: We live in a small place; everybody knows everybody ... If we have that information, we will follow up on it.

— Jeff Asher, sheriff's deputy: What we need are articulable facts that we can put in a search warrant. We want to provide an environment of anonymity ... In the past, we have been able to cloak informants.

Issue: Pursuing the Barefoot Bandit – What would you do differently?
— Menjivar: We did everything we could. We had manpower the likes of which were never seen before ... That question is just, what if?

— Nou: Given the resources this county has available and drawing all available resources to catch the Barefoot Burglar was utilized. The fact remains that with our islands' communities, there are logistical issues that need to be addressed.

— Asher: I worked here side by side with (numerous officers). These guys did an excellent job.

— Fincher: The deputies here on Orcas did anything and everything they could do. The majority of crime in the San Juans is drug and alcohol-related. The Barefoot Burglar wasn't using or seeking drugs or alcohol, so it was harder.

Here's what the candidates for U.S. House of Representatives, District 2, had to say.
Top issues

— Larry Kalb, president of Health Care for All: Opposed to "any more war that costs trillions of dollars." He would vote for a timetable on withdrawal of troops from Iraq. "We should cut the defense budget by 20 percent and bring those troops home."

His "No. 1 priority" is to make sure that we have products "made right here in the United States of America, stamped, 'Made in America for Americans.'"

Regarding health care, "I believe everyone should have the same health security that members of Congress do. You have to have the same access they have. Americans have the highest drug prices in the world; we should eliminate direct to consumer advertising.

— Rick Larsen, incumbent: The No. 1 issue that is facing everyone is jobs and economy. We have to pass an extension of unemployment insurance, there are still folks who need help to keep their lights on and to keep food on the table.

— John Carmack, mechanical engineer: We're in economic hard times. In my opinion we're broke and we're 90 days behind on our mortgage and we don't have a job. The economy is in a state of decline. We have an astronomical debt. If you count Fannie (Mae) and Freddie (Mac), I think we're beyond the tipping point. Unless we do something drastic, this country is going to cease to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

We need to reduce regulation and the size of the government. Reduce taxes, and you stimulate the economy and free the American worker to innovate and create jobs.

It's clear that the problem we have here is a lack of productivity. We need to stimulate the American economy and American workers with reduced taxes and reduced regulation.

Question: Do you believe that globalization is a good idea, or do you believe we should be self-sufficient and make everything for ourselves?
— Larsen: We need a policy to be competitive around the world.

— Kalb: There are two extremes. You have globalization, and also being self-sufficient. I would sign on to the Trade Act ... We have got to find the balance.

— Carmack: I'm a global free and fair trade advocate. Sometimes we enter into trade agreements that are not exactly fair.

Question: How do you make your decisions on issues? How do you inform yourselves and what are your priorities?
— Kalb: I want to make sure that when we spend money, it comes back to us, because it is our hard-earned money. We should get the benefit of our taxes, it shouldn't go to the for-profit private insurance companies. I will defend Medicare ... I don't want that to go private, ever.

— Larsen: I gather the views and opinions of the community, and I speak to folks who spend 24 hours a day looking at an issue ... We finally made changes to Medicare, now Washington state physicians are going to be reimbursed for the quality of care they provide to Washington seniors.

Issue: The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
— Larsen: At the end of next year, we will have no combat troops in Iraq. The Iraq government wants us out, we're getting out. Afghanistan is a different issue. I agree with the President – it's in our national interest not to allow Afghanistan to (be used as a staging ground for attacks).

— Kalb: I will pledge to you not to ever, ever vote for any supplemental war funding. We're still paying for World War II, for Korea. We don't have the dollars to conduct more wars, we need to take care of people at home first.

— Carmack: I believe the war in Afghanistan is un-winnable. The Defense Department has a lot of room for budget cuts and re-assesssing priorities. I believe that a strong, credible military force is essential to peace. Iraq, I think, was a justifiable war but it's dragged on too long ... It wasn't handled properly ... it looked like we weren't prepared, but it's certainly a better place today.

State House of Representatives, Position 1
The top issues:

— Daniel Miller Jr.: Read a statement for his mother, Donna Miller, who was not able to attend. Among other issues, she stated that she is opposed to a state income tax and tax increases in general.

— Thomas Boucher, former aide to Congressman Rick Larsen: The No. 1 issues still on voters' minds are jobs and the economy. I think we need to secure our transportation infrastructure dollars, but we also need to think about our small businesses because they are the engine that drives the economy.

One of the reasons we're not seeing a lot of start-ups right now is the lack of access to capital.

We need to start with a zero budget, we need to look at corporate tax loopholes. We need to use these funds for education.

It's a big concern of mine that when we have tough fiscal times a lot of our vulnerable communities are the ones at risk and I want to be a voice for them.

— Kristine Lytton, president of the Anacortes School Board: What they're concerned about are jobs ... making sure we're good stewards of our environment.

— Tom Pasma, farmer and rancher in Bow: I believe the future depends on sustainable small businesses and ... agriculture. I will focus on job creation and education.

Question: How can we cut down state expenditures so we do not have to start a state income tax?
— Boucher: The B&O tax is extremely regressive, the sales tax is extremely regressive. We need to start with a zero-based budget, look at every agency, every function of government; nothing gets a pass. We also need to kick this corporate welfare. These tax cuts are going out of state instead of going for our businesses and for our kids.

— Lytton: I agree that we need to start with a zero-based budget. I think everything is on the table. It's a matter of increasing revenue or decreasing expenses. What are our citizens willing to pay, and what are the services they want to have?

— Pasma: We have the most regressive tax system in the 50 states. It's atrocious, the tax breaks for corporations ... The absolute best investment we could ever make is in education.

Question: What is your plan to fully fund education and how will you do it?
— Lytton: It is our paramount duty to adequately fund, to amply fund education.

I support Initiative 1098, the high earners' income tax ... I want to make sure education is talked about every day in Washington. We don't have strong education advocates and I want to be that person every day.

— Pasma: Education is the best investment you could ever make. We need to invest in education, it should be our No. 1 priority.

— Boucher: We need to fund education first, build the rest of the budget from there.

We shouldn't be giving tax breaks when we can't fund education.

Question: Our transportation infrastructure is literally falling apart. What plans do you have to fix it?
— Pasma: They need to pass an infrastructure bill in Washington, D.C. ... People have got to realize that do not live on the island that this ferry system is a part of our highways. Everyone who lives here has their own boat or airplane, right? (laughter). That's what a lot of people think. For people on the islands (the ferry) is their No. 1 transportation need.

— Lytton: Our transportation system is actually crumbling. The other part, we need to look at is our stormwater, our sewage plants. We invested back in the 1940s and '50s and havenn't done so since.

— Boucher: Transportation infrastructure work is long overdue. Now is the best time to do it; interest rates are low. People say government doesn't create jobs. Transportation infrastructure is a way that state government can create jobs ...

There's a major audit going on so that in January when we go to Olympia we can address the ferry system as a whole.

State House of Representatives, Position 2
— Howard Pellett, retired IRS agent: Did not attend. Tim White read a statement for him.

If you want change in Washington state, then we must change our voting behavior and the campaign laws that foster corruption.

Other priorities: Breaking the stranglehold of corporate power, sensible public funding of public elections, amending the Constitution to revoke corporate personhood. Corporate-funded Republicans and Democrats vote for their corporate clients' best interests.

The incumbent representative received over 90 percent of his contributions from corporations. Doesn't it make you wonder who has his ear?

— Jeff Morris, incumbent: Did not attend. Cathy Ferran read a statement for him.

"I am proud of taking locally grown values to Olympia – job creation, ferry funding and clean energy. Helped bring broadband to the San Juan Islands ... We need to restore ferry funding taken away by the license tab initiative. We need to get the new 144-car ferries in the water."

Community Events, April 2014

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