Published October 10, 2012
District 35's Position 2 race pits investment adviser, officialCHELSEA KROTZER
Getting people back to work and finding more money for pubic education remain priorities for two candidates for state representative Position 2 in Legislative District 35. Mason County Commissioner Lynda Ring-Erickson, a Democrat, is up against investment adviser Drew C. MacEwen, a Republican, for a spot formerly held by Democrat Fred Finn, who chose to retire. Ring-Erickson, 64, who’s finishing her second and last term as county commissioner, said she hopes to bring her expertise at the local level to the Legislature. “I understand why people get frustrated with the government,” Ring-Erickson said. “I know what is going on in local government and have a passion for having the local and state work together.” She said projects in her county, such as the Belfair bypass project, have helped her see how efficiencies can be found within government processes. A project expected to cost $78 million to $118 million ended up being 40 percent less thanks to the work of the county’s public works director, Ring-Erickson said. She also is interested in environmental issues that affect District 35 and has been involved in the cleanup of Oakland Bay. MacEwen said he’s running to make a difference and “make the state go forward.” He has focused throughout the campaign on jobs, education and reforming state government. Such reform would include looking for overlapping regulations in programs, such as the Growth Management Act and Shoreline Management Plan, he said. “I want to streamline that process and return local control,” MacEwen said. “Who best to decide for a local community but the people that live there?” He also wants to streamline the license process for start-up businesses, which he said can take weeks under the current model. “New business start-ups, during the first two years they are bleeding money,” MacEwen said. “We have the highest start-up rate and the highest failure rates; we need to find a balance.” The candidates agree with the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, saying the state had not met its constitutional duty to adequately fund basic education. The court has given the Legislature a 2018 deadline to fix the issue. MacEwen said the state needs to switch to a zero-balance budget system, prioritizing what programs get allocated funds after education, public safety and the vulnerable. “Just because agencies got money last year, doesn’t mean they will get it next year,” he said. “We need to learn not to spend every forecasted dollar.” One idea MacEwen shared was keeping tabs on the number of full-time-equivalent employees at the state level. While his battle is “not with the rank-and-file,” MacEwen said he would like to “rein in agency heads” who hire beyond the Legislature’s mandates. Ring-Erickson is going for a different approach when it comes to funding schools and the overall budget. “Anyone who says funding education first and forgetting the rest is uniformed of how government works,” she said. While it would not be a first choice, Ring-Erickson said she would not be against raising some form of taxes to help with funding. One idea was to create a state utility tax. Ring-Erickson said that working at the county level, she saw what happened to sales, utility and property taxes during the economic fallout in 2008. She said that of the three, utility taxes remained stable. “If I had to consider a tax and there was no other viable option, I would want to do an analysis of what a 1 percent utility tax might do,” Ring-Erickson said.