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Chamber debate features 44th and 38th district candidates
TULALIP Legislative candidates sparred before the public at the Marysville-Tulalip Chamber of Commerce recently, highlighting differences on local transportation and the Washington state regulatory climate.
Incumbents for the 38th and 44th district state house position one seats were challenged during the 90-minute debate on Sept. 29, pitting Democrat John McCoy of Tulalip against Kim Halvorson, a Republican making a second attempt to unseat the two-term representative.
Hans Dunshee is the Democratic incumbent for the 44th district house seat being challenged by Republican Mike Hope of Lake Stevens.
McCoy said his legislative priorities are elders, children and working adults, in that order, and cited his skills in getting people from different backgrounds to sit down together and talk.
Halvorson said too much regulation has driven more than 80 insurance carriers out of the state leaving a trifecta of large companies that dominate the market and dont serve small businesses well.
Were looking for ways to improve small business conditions, Halvorson said.
The two differed over family leave requirements and whether to repeal the states estate tax. State Initiative 920 would repeal the so-called death tax and McCoy was opposed to such a repeal because only four percent of taxpayers are affected by the tax.
Washington state has a very regressive tax system, not everybody participates, McCoy told the sparse crowd in the Tulalip Casino cabaret. It would not be easy to make up those funds.
His opponent is in favor of the repeal because most families cant afford to bring a lot of cash to the table to pay the tax in case a business owner suddenly dies. That scenario is the state piling on to an already bad situation, according to Halvorson.
Small business today is taxed at a greater rate than at any other time, she said. She quoted McCoys ratings from several business groups, with a 5 percent rating from a retail business organization.
Its not just words; its what youre doing for small business while your down there, Halvorson said.
Halvorson challenged McCoy to list one thing hes done for the area east of I-5. McCoy cited improved relations with the city of Marysville and said the state provided $900,000 in funds for a widened State Avenue all the way to Smokey Point. He said he has helped encourage staff from several jurisdictions to cooperate on a major east-west corridor through Marysville.
Its as simple as that, McCoy said.
Dunshee and Hope quickly sparred over the issue of abortion and access to a morning-after pill for women who had been raped; Hope said he thought there should be none, but said Dunshee was asking divisive questions. They both said they are well-prepared to handle legislative work: Dunshee is a sewer contractor and Hope studied fossils in college.
They both agreed on the need for a new, four-year university for Snohomish County but Hope said it should be an independent institution. Dunshee said building a branch campus of one of the existing institutions would work better, as those established universities will fight to defend their turf and funding.
If theres anything I love, its building schools, Dunshee said in his introduction. He was talking about K-12 institutions but cited statistics showing a regions economic vitality can be measured or predicted by the percentage of residents who have earned a four-year degree.
The issue is do we bring degrees to the county, Dunshee said.
Hope asked the audience if roads, schools or taxes have improved during the time his opponent has served in the legislature.
Change is needed, Hope said. Here it is 14 years later and nothings been done.
Moderator Al Aldrich questioned all four candidates about initiatives on this Novembers ballot: Hope and Dunshee were asked about I-933, which would require jurisdictions to pay landowners for the financial impacts of zoning laws. The incumbent said the initiative was a lawyers dream.
Its a mess; itll destroy our communities, Dunshee said. Its a lawyers game.
Hope shot back with the example of Seattles failed monorail bid; where property was seized under eminent domain laws and resold at much higher prices. He supported the initiative but wanted some of the wording changed.
With all initiatives there is an underlying cause, Hope said, adding many people in the state think growth management laws are inconsistent and too Seattle-centric. Theres a fear that whats going on in Olympia is dictated by King County.
The chamber will conclude its candidate debate series on Oct. 27, with a close look at the finalists for the 44th District Senate race, and the 44th District House Representative Position 2 seat, which will be incumbent senator Dave Schmidt (R) against Democratic primary winner Steve Hobbs (D), and incumbent Democratic Representative John Lovick versus Republican challenger Robert Legg.