What other candidates had to say at the forum

Ken Henderson, an optometrist and former Whatcom County Council member, is endorsed by Sen. Harriet Spanel, who is retiring from the position, and Rep. Dave Quall.

— See story, “Forum marked by humor, agreement on many issues,” page 3A, in this week’s Journal.

— See story, “Council candidates online, not in voters’ guide,” on page 11A, in this week’s Journal

State Senate, 40th District

Ken Henderson, an optometrist and former Whatcom County Council member, is endorsed by Sen. Harriet Spanel, who is retiring from the position, and Rep. Dave Quall.

Steve Van Luven, a resident of Samish Island, represented Bellevue for 171/2 years in the state House of Representative and served seven years as chairman of the House Trade and Economic Development Committee.

Kevin Ranker is a San Juan County Council member and is the nominee of the 40th District Democratic Party’s precinct committee officers.

Ranker has served as the legislative lead for San Juan County; he counted among his lobbying successes a lower increase in ferry fares; getting a fixed-wing medical flight stationed on-island through Island Air; getting a monthly VA medical clinic established at Inter Island Medical Center; and helping establish the county Agricultural Resources Committee.

Ranker said his priorities if elected are ferries, jobs and full funding for education.

Resident Joyce Harrell asked the candidates if they support ending the death penalty in Washington state.

Henderson said he supports abolishing the death penalty, saying that DNA tests have cleared many death row inmates in the U.S.

Van Luven supports leaving the death penalty in place, saying that Washington hasn’t had an execution since 2001 (there have been four since 1993). But he agreed that DNA tests have cleared many people on death row and proved that convictions “have been a racial issue too many times, unfortunately.” He added, “There need to be some changes.”

Ranker supports abolishing the death penalty. He said the prison system consistently is budgeted 5 percent more each year but spends four times more than that. He said the prison system is financially mismanaged; he prefers taking some of that money and investing it in education, mental health services, and drug prevention and treatment.

All three support fully funding education. Van Luven proposes establishing the education budget first, then writing the state budget with the remaining revenue. Ranker supports early childhood and vocational education. Henderson also supports early childhood education.

All three support reinstatement of the Capron Fund, which returns to the county a portion of gas tax revenue collected here. The state uses gas tax revenue for road construction and maintenance. The Capron Fund returns San Juan County’s portion of gas tax revenue to the county because there are no state roads here.

The county uses that money for road construction and maintenance. But the state Legislature earlier took San Juan County’s share in the increase in gas taxes and applied it to the state ferries.

All three also support the Growth Management Act.

Van Luven voted for the GMA as a legislator. Without the GMA, “Skagit Valley would have been totally paved over,” he said. That would have had global implications, he said; Skagit Valley farms grow seed that is used around the globe. “Skagit Valley feeds the world,” he said.

Henderson said he supports the GMA. “It’s an evolving act and it needs to have adjustments. But I’m very pleased.”


Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Bellingham, is seeking his fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, District 2. This term, he won passage of the Wild Sky Wilderness Act, which protects 106,000 acres of wild lands in the heart of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Wild Sky is the first designated wilderness in Washington state in more than 20 years.

He pushed to get the Veterans Administration to build an outpatient clinic for veterans in San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties, and the VA is also conducting monthly clinics at Inter Island Medical Center. He has sponsored legislation to prevent and treat meth addiction. He is an advocate of investing in America’s infrastructure and changing America’s energy policy.

On that end, he voted for the release of 10 percent of America’s oil reserves to help meet demand and ease oil prices. He believes we need to switch to alternative energy sources and says oil companies should lose the domestic oil leases that they are not using.

Glen Johnson is a Skagit Valley farmer who said he makes “a decent living” growing more than 50 different crops on 20 acres. He believes a return to agriculture would solve a lot of America’s ills — establishing a stable food supply in this country, in reducing our dependence on imported goods, and teaching children skills that can help their communities.

Johnson is involved with Experience International, the Everson-based organization that provides international training and work experience abroad in agriculture, fisheries, forestry and natural resource management.

In response to a question, both said they believe the U.S. has unfinished work in Afghanistan.

“We need to be in Afghanistan,” Larsen said, adding that the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks were born there. He said the Taliban’s influence is growing along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Peace in Afghanistan will require cooperation from NATO and giving the Afghanistan government what it needs so that it can govern.

Johnson said America helped Afghanistan oust the Soviet Union, then left with no further economic and military support, allowing for the anti-American Taliban to grow in influence. “We created the problem we’re in,” he said, adding, “We made a mistake going into Iraq.”

In response to a question regarding the No Child Left Behind program, Johnson said schools must not only ensure that students are proficient in math and science, but also trained vocationally and provided incentives — such as better pay for Peace Corps volunteers — to use those skills.

Larsen said he supports testing for accountability but that progress must be tracked per student, not per school. He said No Child Left Behind must be fully funded; he said 74 percent of the program is currently funded.