PHOTOS & AUDIO: 34th District Candidates Duke It Out In Burien
Candidate filing for this yearâ€™s primary and general elections doesnâ€™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 â€œMacâ€ 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 Washingtonâ€™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 â€œessential servicesâ€ including health care and education. â€œI believe in tax reform,â€ but Initiative 1077 to establish an income tax on high earners â€œdoes not go far enough,â€ she added. â€œIt doesnâ€™t address the sales tax.â€
â€œClearly we have to prioritize spending, McElroy said. â€œWe have to listen to our constituents.â€ He noted that there is â€œno objective measurement of successâ€ 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.
â€œThe Legislature cut $4 billion from the budget in the last two years,â€ Fitzgibbon said. â€œI donâ€™t think there are many places for us to cut from. I donâ€™t think the voters will ask us to cut another $2 billion.â€
Asked what programs they would cut, only McElroy suggested a specific target. Because â€œyou canâ€™t spend money you donâ€™t have,â€ he would â€œcut state environmental programs right off the bat for two years.â€
Stone said she would eliminate tax incentives to large corporations like Boeing and Microsoft.
But Fitzgibbon said he â€œwill not vote for any budget that cuts state spending another $2 billion.â€
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, â€œif it is not successful, we need a backup plan.â€ 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.
â€œI would streamline the process to give greater information to small businesses â€¦ that helps keep small businesses in businesses,â€ McElroy said.
Stoneâ€™s top legislative priority would be a pro-union move to exempt employees from attending â€œmeetings imposed by their employer.â€
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 â€œto the conservative tone of the questionsâ€ being asked.
McElroy said such a state law is â€œnot pragmaticâ€ and â€œwould cost more than itâ€™s worth.â€
Saying he did not support the Arizona law, Heavey added, â€œWeâ€™re a nation built on immigrants â€¦ every Nazi movie begins with, â€˜Show me your papers.â€™â€
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 Keeneâ€™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 yearâ€™s legislative session, Fitzgibbon replied â€œit is absolutely the right thing to do to ask polluters to pay.â€
Heavey also said â€œit is absolutely the right thing to do.â€
Stone said the state needs â€œto make sure we have a way to take care of this runoff â€¦ I have no problem with taxing â€¦ corporate profits.â€
McElroy, however, said if such a program is mandated by the federal government, â€œthen the federal government should, by God, pay for it.â€
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 â€œqualified yesâ€ to avoid a pyramid effect. McElroy said â€œleave the exemption where it is.â€
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 Scott Schaefer’s Photo Slideshow