Sixth District legislative candidates address issues
Only one race to represent the 6th District in the state House of Representatives features two challengers: the race for Position 2 between Democrat Dennis Dellwo against Republican Jeff Holy.
Dellwo is a graduate of Gonzaga Prep, Gonzaga University and Arizona State University School of Law. He has practiced law in Spokane for years and was a partner in the firm of Winston and Cashatt. He previously served in the House representing Spokane’s 3rd District from 1983-1996, chairing the Health Care and Banking/Insurance committees and also serving on the Ways and Means, Law and Justice committees.
More information is available at his campaign website, electdellwo.com.
Holy is a graduate of Washington State University, Washington State Police Academy and Gonzaga Law School. He spent 22 years as a Spokane Police officer and detective and is currently an attorney in private practice. His only elected experience is as a precinct committee officer, and he ran for Spokane County Commissioner District 3 in 2010.
More information is available at his campaign website, votejeffholy.com.
The Cheney Free Press editorial staff presented six questions to both candidates about their positions on issues affecting local voters. Their answers are listed below.
Both you and your opponent say our region needs more jobs, but your political ideologies differ.
1. What is the government’s role in job creation? Give two specific actions you plan to take if elected to help local businesses prosper and grow.
Dellwo: State government needs to, as much as possible, get out of the way of businesses and allow them to grow. The state needs to foster an environment conducive to business growth and attracting new businesses. I advocate reforming the B and O system to allow starter businesses to begin without being charged a tax on their gross income before they make their first profit. Allow for deductions of some of the expenses and limit the burden. Secondly, I will work to simplify the process of collection of fees, tax and reports. The use of the new technology can reduce the governmental presence and limit the need of many businesses to hire an employee specifically to handle paper work.
Holy: Government is responsible for providing quality education, infrastructure, public safety and helping our society’s most vulnerable. It’s often overlooked that competently providing these services is truly a prime economic driver. Business chooses to site where public safety is well provided. Families scrutinize school districts when choosing where to live. Maintaining roads, bridges and parks communicate a sense of community support. How the most vulnerable are treated is a mark of community character. Government providing these fundamental services in an exemplary manner attracts business and provides business the opportunity to grow. Business growth creates jobs.
I intend to review both the current Washington state business tax structure and regulatory environment. My focus will be to revise both as necessary to make our state not merely competitive, but a preferred location for business. Economic development provides both jobs and increased revenue to the state without raising taxes.
Environment is always a big issue among the electorate, especially when it comes to development new energy resources to meet the needs of a growing society while also balancing protections to maintain a good quality of life.
1. What is your position on coal trains passing through your district and why?
Holy: This issue is ultimately a federal decision. The current simple argument of pitting jobs against the environment is polarizing, and yet it seems that little information of substance has been provided. Coal has been shipped through Spokane for years in covered loads.
From a business perspective, increasing exports is attractive. Yet planning to prevent an adverse impact to our community is also necessary. Public discussion is needed to find a reasonable approach to the issue.
Dellwo: This is resolved on the federal level. However, the review of the infrastructure and environmental impact on local governments and citizens is important. The volume of new traffic needs to be determined and the burden of constructing bridges and crossings needs to be taken care of by the railroads that will be using them. Yes, I believe we need to take a balanced approach to promoting jobs, but without damage to our environment or health.
2. Do we need more or less regulation from environmental agencies such as the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Environmental Protection Agency?
Holy: The question isn’t one of more or less regulation; it’s one of necessary regulation. It would be my intent to remove DOE policy decisions from the political arena and instead establish policy guidelines based on science and economics. Establishment of an Environmental Priorities Council would allow use of science and economic information to select and prioritize projects for protecting our environment.
Dellwo: More regulation is not needed. The laws are on the books. If appropriately enforced, they would be adequate to protect our environment. At this time we have such a backlog of applications, including water permits that the need is for more staff to review these applications and permits. The EPA is the federal agency that handles our human health and environment. We will have little to do with that agency.
State funding for full time equivalent higher education students has dropped dramatically in the past several years. For instance, Eastern Washington University has seen a 40 percent decline in state funding from $6,447 per FTE in 2008 to $3,925 in 2012 and a projected $3,870 in 2013.
1. Given the challenges to the state budget from other areas, such as a slow-growing economy and the McCleary decision that the state is not living up to it’s mandate to fully fund K-12 education, what three steps would you take to help public universities continue to offer quality, affordable post-secondary education?
Dellwo: The major problem is lack of funding. We need to first assure ourselves that the money spent on existing programs is being properly used. We then must ensure that all governmental programs are running efficient, cut programs that are not currently needed, close loopholes that are no longer doing what was intended when given. If the 2/3 vote is still required for closing loopholes and raising new revenue, we might have to develop a revenue package that will be presented to the voters.
While we are doing the above, the economy needs to be revitalized. We need to attract business to the state and grow our existing businesses. This will generate new income to the state and make any revenue package smaller. We need to limit tuition increases.
Holy: The McCleary decision is a constitutional duty of the state. Funding higher education is a moral duty, and one of the few areas of tax dollar expenditures that truly provides a direct return on investment. What was a clear prioritization of higher education 40 years ago was indicated by an 80 percent state and 20 percent student funding ratio. That ratio has effectively been reversed. Higher education needs to be re-prioritized.
The Legislature must again assume direct responsibility for setting tuition at all Washington state universities.
A source of higher education dedicated funding must be defined. For example, (6th District) Sen. Baumgartner recently proposed a small percentage of existing sales tax being dedicated to higher education.
Identify those cost drivers that have pushed certain university tuitions beyond a 65 percent increase over the past five years. Use EWU as a model of maintaining cost control while providing quality of education.
1. Traffic on SR 904 for nine months out of the year sees thousands of vehicles each day, largely traveling to Eastern Washington University. As a result, widening it to five lanes has been suggested. Is upgrading SR 904 a priority for your time in Olympia, and if so, how will you allocate funds for it?
Holy: I’ve lived just off of SR 904 for the past 22 years, and drive it daily. A few years back, SR 904 was reviewed for use, safety, congestion and significant improvements were installed including a center turn lane, lighted intersections and buzz strips. Providing additional lanes to SR 904 has been needed for years. Washington State Department of Transportation has identified SR 904 as needing additional lanes in their current 20-year strategies list, however funding for this project has not been identified.
For every dollar our region sends to Olympia, we receive back around 70 cents in services. It’s time to look for state services more consistent with our contributions. Also, acknowledging that 85 percent of all miles traveled are via personal vehicle and funding transportation projects consistent with the reality of such current use would make significantly more funds available for needed improvements such as SR 904.
Dellwo: SR 904 is important for safety and for efficient commuter travel and freight transportation. It is vital to have representation able to effectively advocate for this project. This is a high priority for the safety of the 6th District. This is a top priority for me. With the mayor of Cheney as a strong advocate and the importance of this project, we will work to see that it receives the funding needed.
I have spoken with Cheney Mayor Tom Trulove. He is a strong advocate of the SR 904 project and is working to be seated on the Spokane Regional Transportation Council. I will work with Mayor Trulove to move this project higher on the list. We believe that the importance of the project, its reasonable costs and the fact that the state already owns the right away will make this an effort that should be successful.
2. Roads like Highway 2, SR 904 and SR 902 on the West Plains are lower on the radar, or not even present. How will you improve awareness for these roads, and what specific steps will you take to ensure the Legislature adds these to their outlook?
Dellwo: Constant pressure is needed to move these highways onto the state agenda. I will be working with the chairs of the Senate and House Transportation committees, DOT administrators and other parties that are the decision makers. I have a familiarity with the process and the people involved and will likely be successful in advancing the SR 904 project and bring roads like Highway 2, SR 904 and 902 clearly before the state decision makers when a new transportation package is developed.
Holy: In 2000, Washington’s Blue Ribbon Transportation Commission set benchmark measurements of reducing traffic congestion and delay per driver to no more than the national average.
In 2007, Senate Bill 5412 was passed repealing these benchmarks and substituted Preservation, Mobility, Environment and Stewardship.
Benchmarks drive transportation funding.
I will work to return transportation funding benchmarks to the 2000 standards of reducing traffic congestion and delay per driver. Reestablishing these objective benchmarks will focus a far greater percentage of the transportation budget toward state highway projects such as SR 904 and SR 902, where use, safety and congestion indicate a direct need and justify improvement as a matter of efficiency.
Republican Kevin Parker is unchallenged in his bid for re-election to the 6th District’s Position 1 House of Representatives seat.
Ballots for the Nov. 6 election are scheduled to be mailed this week, Oct. 18.