PHOTOS & AUDIO: 34th District Candidates Duke It Out In Burien

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by Ralph Nichols

Candidate filing for this year’s primary and general elections doesn’t begin for another month, but the four hopefuls for state representative from the 34th Legislative District, Position 2, are already on the campaign trail.

And Joe Fitzgibbon, Mike Heavey, Geoffrey “Mac” McElroy and Marcee Stone brought their campaigns to Burien on Tuesday April 27 for an exchange of views on a variety of issues in a forum moderated by KVI/KOMO Radio talk show host John Carlson and sponsored by The B-Town Blog.

They are running to replace Rep. Sharon Nelson who, in turn, is running to replace state Sen. Joe McDermott, now a candidate for King County Council, Position 8.

The first question focused on Washington’s bottom line: with an anticipated revenue shortfall of $2 billion next year, where would they cut the state budget? Especially if voters again pass an initiative to require a 2/3 majority vote in the Legislature to raise taxes or impose new ones?

Stone said she does not believe in cutting “essential services” including health care and education. “I believe in tax reform,” but Initiative 1077 to establish an income tax on high earners “does not go far enough,” she added. “It doesn’t address the sales tax.”

“Clearly we have to prioritize spending, McElroy said. “We have to listen to our constituents.” He noted that there is “no objective measurement of success” for spending on education.

Heavey rejected the premise that voters are going to re-institute the supermajority requirement for tax increases, which would let the legislature fill the revenue gap with new taxes.

“The Legislature cut $4 billion from the budget in the last two years,” Fitzgibbon said. “I don’t think there are many places for us to cut from. I don’t think the voters will ask us to cut another $2 billion.”

Asked what programs they would cut, only McElroy suggested a specific target. Because “you can’t spend money you don’t have,” he would “cut state environmental programs right off the bat for two years.”

Stone said she would eliminate tax incentives to large corporations like Boeing and Microsoft.

But Fitzgibbon said he “will not vote for any budget that cuts state spending another $2 billion.”

Heavey defended education funding but offered no specific program cuts.

Fitzgibbon said his first legislative priority would be comprehensive tax reform. He supports I-1077 and, “if it is not successful, we need a backup plan.” That would include a state value added tax (VAT) and a tax on polluters.

Heavey said he would make full funding of public schools a priority and indicated that he, too, supports I-1077.

“I would streamline the process to give greater information to small businesses … that helps keep small businesses in businesses,” McElroy said.

Stone’s top legislative priority would be a pro-union move to exempt employees from attending “meetings imposed by their employer.”

None of the four supports enactment of a Washington law similar to the measure recently enacted in Arizona, which mandates state enforcement of federal immigration laws to stem the tide of illegal immigrants and denies state benefits to persons who are there illegally.

During her response on this subject, Stone paused to object “to the conservative tone of the questions” being asked.

McElroy said such a state law is “not pragmatic” and “would cost more than it’s worth.”

Saying he did not support the Arizona law, Heavey added, “We’re a nation built on immigrants … every Nazi movie begins with, ‘Show me your papers.’”

Fitzgibbon thinks the law is unconstitutional because of racial profiling, and that it will be overturned in the federal courts.

Each candidate also expressed support for increased funding for mass transit, primarily light rail, while indicating no interest for increasing highway traffic lanes to reduce congestion.

Responding to Burien City Councilwoman Kathy Keene’s inquiry about a $1.50 per barrel of oil tax to pay for stormwater control required of local governments, which was considered during this year’s legislative session, Fitzgibbon replied “it is absolutely the right thing to do to ask polluters to pay.”

Heavey also said “it is absolutely the right thing to do.”

Stone said the state needs “to make sure we have a way to take care of this runoff … I have no problem with taxing … corporate profits.”

McElroy, however, said if such a program is mandated by the federal government, “then the federal government should, by God, pay for it.”

Asked by former Burien City Councilman Stephen Lamphear if they support removing the state sales tax exemption for providers of professional services, Stone said yes, Heavey indicated his support, and Fitzgibbon gave it a “qualified yes” to avoid a pyramid effect. McElroy said “leave the exemption where it is.”

The deadline for candidate filings with King County elections is June 11. In-person filing begins June 7, filing by mail begins May 21, and filing online begins the first Monday in June and continues through the following Friday.

AUDIO: Here’s the audio of the forum in its entirety (running time is 1-hour and 25-minutes; click the “Play” button to listen):


PHOTOS: Here’s a Photo Slideshow of the evening, as shot by Scott Schaefer:

Click to Play
Click to Play Scott Schaefer’s Photo Slideshow

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14 Responses to “PHOTOS & AUDIO: 34th District Candidates Duke It Out In Burien”
  1. Gorfsnopple says:

    One party county. Sickening.

    I don’t care if someone objected to the “conservative tone” of the questions. What did they think would happen when you have John Carlson hosting the forum?

    The collective ignorance of all 4 of these aspiring representatives in regards to the recent passage of the Immigration law in Arizona speaks volumes.

    Supporting I-1077, when it is clear that the State Constitution will not allow for the theft of your property (income is property according to the State Supreme Court) puts these candidates in the peanut gallery.

    None of them have my vote, and if the people of this city had a brain, they would be sent packing.

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    • Ivan Weiss says:

      You realize, don’t you, Gorfsnopple, that your positions put you into a very small minority in the 34th Legislative District, which is one of the most liberal Districts in the state, and what’s more, home to one of the best-functioning and most active Democratic Party organizations in this or any other state.

      In fact, Luke Esser, chairman of the Washington state Republican Party, has said “We couldn’t win in this District if we brought Abraham Lincoln back to life.”

      Nobody is asking you to like that, of course, but it might be helpful if you faced reality. The views of the three Democrats in this race are representative of the District as a whole. Yours are not.

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      • Gorfsnopple says:

        Frankly, those who repeat the same thing over and over are by very definition insane. I hope you enjoy your little corner of reality.

        Some of us prefer to use our brains rather than groupthink, Ivan.

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  2. Julie says:

    Ralph – great article. Curious if can you post links to each of the candidate’s websites and bios?

    Perhaps in a follow up article you could get the college degrees of each candidate? I think voters like to see that information lined up, if it is possible to get.

    Thank You!

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  3. Betsy says:

    They are all knuckle heads. I’m with you Gorfsnopple and there are many more who are as well.
    And Ivan: not everyone here agrees with liberal wackjobs– you’ll see the tide change soon. Folks are getting more and more fed up with out-of-control government spending and smartening up politicians BS. I love how their answers are to tax more–how about: be more efficient as the private sector has had to become in this recession.
    Be careful to bite the hand that feeds: you scare “big bad corporate america” out of washington state and many small businesses and millions of jobs will crumble.
    All “big corporations” started as mom and pop shops at some point.
    On to AZ: that’s their state business. I don’t live there, I don’t deal with their problems or REALLY understand them so I’m not going to pass judgement and dictate my ideals to them.
    Viva TEA.

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    • Ivan Weiss says:

      Well, sure, Betsy, not everyone in this District is a liberal. As for the tide in this District changing soon, believe it if you want to, that’s your business. But if facts matter to you at all, you’ll recognize that vote totals in the 34th are trending MORE toward the Democratic Party, and not less. so if you want to bet that the 34th District will soon be shouting VIVA TEA, I’ll take that bet.

      As for the private sector “being more efficient in this recession,” you’re just making me laugh. The private sector has gone begging with its hands out to government just like winos on a street corner. Was I just hallucinating that the big banks just got a multibillion dollar bailout? Did Boeing get all sorts of tax breaks from you and I the taxpayers, then skip to South Carolina, or did they not? Bunch of welfare queens is what they are.

      You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts. Cheers.

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      • Gorfsnopple says:

        The corporate sector you speak of supported Obama during the election. The majority of small businesses, i.e. “The Private Sector” did not support him…so no bailout for them. Those that did were either willfully ignorant, or woefully uninformed.

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    • Gorfsnopple says:

      Amen…VIVA TEA.

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  4. Ralph Nichols says:


    Here are the candidates’ websites:

    I assume they list their educational backgrounds. If not, in post-filing articles I will address that.

    Thanks for your interest.

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    • Julie says:

      Hi Ralph:

      Fitzgibbon’s site “Graduated college with highest honors” Does not state degree or school

      Heavey’ site is under construction, no information

      Mac’s site states highest degree as a MBA (Master Business Adminstration) from UW

      Stone’s site shows a BFA (Bachelor of FIne Arts) in Drama

      Verifiying these degrees comparing them would be a great service to the community.

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      • Ralph Nichols says:


        Good point. What I’ll do, however, is wait until after the filing deadline, which (I beliefve) is June 11. They should have everything going by then.

        And more important than college is “real world” – i.e., private sector – experience, where business generates the money that employs people – and the revenue that Olympia likes to spend beyond its means.


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  5. Ralph Nichols says:


    It would have been my pleasure to see you at the debate. But I do understand the transit logistics for commuting from Burien. Maybe next time.

    And I can’t resist responding to your description of the 34th with words you once applied to me in a letter to the editor: it sounds like a lot of residents of the district have “the brains of gravel.”

    Please folks, don’t take offense. But it does sound like more voters need to read the Constitution – followed by “Liberty and Tyranny.”

    PS: Ivan, speaking from the Right, I do compliment you for your leadership of the 34th Dems.

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    • Ivan Weiss says:

      Hi Ralph:

      I would have loved to attend, but I had a prior commitment. For the sake of accuracy, my exact quote was “some people don’t have the brains that God gave gravel.”

      I listened to most of the forum on the B-Town Blog audio link until it kept cutting out on me. Whereas not a single Republican has filed for this race, people in Burien should support the candidate who will represent Burien best. That in my opinion is Joe Fitzgibbon.

      Even conservatives would have to admit that Joe is the only candidate in this race who knows Burien issues backward and forward, and that even though he might disagree with them on policy, they should feel confident that questions about Burien issues would not be met with a blank stare.

      That used to be the case in the 34th, where except for Toni Lysen’s half term, Burien had not been represented in Olympia since Georgette Valle (who John Carlson couldn’t beat). The District was totally West Seattle-centric, and Burien was an afterthought, if that.

      With Sharon Nelson, from Vashon, in the Senate, and Joe Fitzgibbon, from Burien, in the House, the 34th will have the broadest possible geographic representation in Olympia, and all parts of the District will be served by people who know them well. Liberal, conservative, or anything in between, that’s something for Burienites to consider. Cheers.

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  6. Ralph Nichols says:

    You make a good case for Joe. Regrettably, I believe Luke Esser is right when it comes to candidates with an R behind their names in the 34th. At lease the conservative minority here can add votes to the total for candidates and ballot issues.

    And thanks for refreshing my memory with your actual words about brains of gravel.

    It may prove to be an interesting year.

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