Fitzgibbon, Heavey Make Pitch For Votes At B-Town Blog Forum

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Candidates and Panelists make final preparations before starting Tuesday night's Candidates Forum. Photo by Scott Schaefer.

by Ralph Nichols

[REPORTER’S NOTE: Writing on the fast-paced exchanges of a candidates’ forum presents a challenge in conveying what they say with accuracy and balance. Therefore, many answers are paraphrased to ensure fairness to both participants. Candidate responses are presented generally in the order they answered questions. To hear their full remarks in context, you can listen to a raw MP3 of the event by clicking the Play button below:]


34th Legislative District candidates Joe Fitzgibbon and Mike Heavey each put his best foot forward at an Oct. 12 forum sponsored by The B-Town Blog.

Yet when it ended, little had been said to separate the two Democrats – engaged in an apparent close race made possible by Washington’s top-two primary system – in the minds of voters.

They hope to replace State Rep. Sharon Nelson, D-Vashon, who is running unopposed to succeed Joe McDermott – now a candidate for King County Council – in the Senate.

The 34th Legislative District includes most of Burien and North Highline as well as West Seattle and Vashon and Maury Islands.

Heavey and Fitzgibbon displayed the greatest degree of separation during the forum in Burien on the question of education reform.

“There are teachers, there are great teachers, and there are teachers unions,” Heavey said. The notion of tenure has run “our schools into the ground.” An objective measure is needed to track student progress.

Photo by Michael Brunk.

But, said Fitzgibbon, “All I hear is reform and reform. It sounds good. There is pretty broad agreement that our schools need some changes. My concerns are over the criteria for evaluation.”

Asked if he would attempt, as a legislator, to change Burien’s recently adopted Shoreline Master Program, Fitzgibbon – chairman of the city planning commission – said state law is “pretty clear” about this regulatory process.

Stating he would not involve himself in the Department of Ecology review of the Burien plan, Fitzgibbon added that while city council members made changes in the document sent to them by the planning commission, “the system works pretty well as set up.”

Responding to a different inquiry, Heavey said he would vote to continue state unemployment benefits beyond the current 99-week limit. “One of the lessons of the Great Depression is that unemployment insurance does matter … until people start getting jobs back.”

Heavey, who hopes to follow his father and grandfather into elective office, said while he is building his own political identity, “I am “proud of my family tradition … I plan to embrace it” rather than shy away from it.

Fitzgibbon defended an earlier statement that he wants to “impact” people’s lives, saying he is “hesitant to discount the role government can play in people’s lives.” He defended his work experience – primarily as a legislative aide – as giving him insights to make those decisions.

“I would be in favor of looking at programs that have been added” since the recession started as a first step for making cuts to balance the state budget, Heavey said. He would also continue freezes on public employee pay raises and cost-of-living adjustments.

Joe Fitzgibbon, left, listens as Mike Heavey makes a point. Photo by Michael Brunk.

Fitzgibbon said he “won’t say I know where to cut the budget.”

Later he added, “I don’t want to classify all government works the same way. State workers are not generously compensated … but I don’t see any appetite for the Legislature to increase salaries – especially at a time when we are cutting health care coverage.”

Heavey said “when no one in the private sector is getting raises, the right thing for public employees to do” is to forego raises. “These are tough times, and we need to balance the budget some way.”

Both candidates supported increasing the state’s hazardous substances tax, which is imposed on oil companies and other industries whose activities generate pollutants.

They also agreed that increasing light rail routes, despite the costs, is a top transportation priority compared to reducing traffic congestion by adding more highway lanes – describing this as a green option that will contain urban sprawl.

This was The B-Town Blog’s fourth candidates forum this year, and was moderated by Nancy Warren, with questions posed by BTB Journalists Jack Mayne and Ralph Nichols, along with Pulitzer Prize winning Seattle Times Reporter Susan Kelleher.

To view and purchase photos from this event, click here.

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10 Responses to “Fitzgibbon, Heavey Make Pitch For Votes At B-Town Blog Forum”
  1. I think either Mike or Joe would represent Burien well in the state Legislature. AND I believe Patty Murray DOES represent Washington State steadily and courageously in the US Senate. I hope she wins. I am really worried about what may happen to our country if the Democrats lose the majority in Congress. Four years has not been enough time to rectify the mess we inherited, in my opinion, and I think we need to be more mindful of the good things we’ve achieved so far, and more patient with results.

  2. Jeanne Judd says:

    It is easy to forget to tell our friends the good stuff. Fitzgibbon has found the right track. I don’t get to vote in that district, but I will vote. I hope all of you will as well. How could we forget what a strong Senator Patty Murray is.

    Here is an invitation to be reminded. Join the ROADTRIP TO HEAR Bill Clinton.
    Start 8AM Monday Oct 18 at 930 SW 152 in Olde Burien. Caravan destination, Paine Field for 2PM Rally. Bring your roadtrip kit and ID for the Security trip. RSVP to the Patty Murray campaign 206-286 9199

    Our country strong and our future is better.

  3. Remedial Tutor says:

    Correct me if my math is flawed Annie, but Patty’s been there eighteen years, not four?

    NOTE to commentors: this article about Heavey v. Fitzgibbon? Or Clinton and Murray?

    Wow. It’s a case for union education – just comment on something else and get a good grade – because you can, and it keeps us in power. Impressive. Power to the very distracted and off point people.

    • To Remedial Tutor re my math: I was referring to the 4 years Democrats have had the majority in Congress, not how long Patty Murray has been in office. You’re right, I got off-topic. It’s just that I think the race between the two local Democrat candidates pales in comparison to the Congressional crisis we face. There’s a tremendous difference between Murray and Rossi.

  4. Believey in Heavey says:

    I’m voting Mike Heavey for the Legislature and Diana Toledo for King County Council. Suggest you do to!

  5. jeffuppy says:

    Annie is right. Despite the minor differences between the Democrats locally, we simply CANNOT afford to send any more Republicans to Olympia or DC. We are just beginning to clean up the mess. Murray may not be perfect, but Rossi would be insane. And those are the choices. Not voting is a vote for the tea baggers.

    • Facts please says:

      Just a thought, the entrenched politicians must love our two only advance primaries. Look what we got, a pair of twins, almost. Lest the public forget, we can vote the bums out, even at the local level. Write in votes are allowed, and if memory serves a more independent minded candidate – Geoffrey Mac McElroy pulled a very respectable 18+ percent of the vote in the primary. McElroy did that without the local Democratic party backing and without being a career politician – do we really want to keep advancing the dysfunctional two party system? Vote for real change, not demopublicans who are only less worse than republocrats, write in real change on your ballots. The winning party will not heed the voice of the people if we keep choosing between tweedle dee and tweedle dum, so don’t give me the “we can’t afford the other party” line, red or blue.

  6. Coverofnight says:

    Can’t bring myself to vote for either one of these bookends….or for ANYONE with “democrat” associated with their name! And as long as we’re off-topic:

    01) Vote for Diana Toledo (non-partisan),
    02) For the love of God, vote that Obama-shill Murray out of office,
    03) Maybe we should send the cops over to Annie’s house and jeff-puppy’s house, ’cause regarding this Administration, they must be smoking something illegal if they believe that there’s, “…good things we’ve achieved so far…” and that, “We are just beginning to clean up the mess”. Do you guys even read the papers regarding unemployment, spending, deficits, etc.? The democrats took control of Congress in 2007 – before Obama got into office! Wake up!

  7. politics suck says:

    Did I read that right? The mess WE inherited? We made the mess, it`s our kid sand grandkids who are inheriting it isn`t it? Or are you talking about the democraps?
    Either way I guess. Obama bin laden says he inherited it, and so far it looks like he`s doing nothing to change it. And even though Murray may not be the best to put in there, it sure beats the alternative of that crooked sob dino rossi. Stop the presses…

  8. John Elliott says:

    Although I totally agree that the Dems had the party wrapped up way before the Repubs even left. So the mess you all keep referring to was in part created by your own kind. Be careful when point the finger in the other direction.

    The good thing about these forums is that the candidates are out talking with the people. That’s what I like. But what I’d like even more is when one of these two get into office, that they actually make the changes they’re talking about. More action less talk I say.

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