Katrina Asay and Carol Gregory agree that adding jobs is a critical issue for the 30th Legislative District.
But the Republican and Democratic candidates vying for the open seat of Rep. Skip Priest, R-Federal Way, take different approaches to the problem.
“I don’t believe it’s the government’s place to create jobs,” said Asay, the mayor of Milton.
“That’s what the private sector does,” said Asay, the Republican. “Government’s role is to keep the regulations at a minimum and taxes at a minimum so businesses can expand.”
Gregory, director of an anti-poverty initiative called Burst for Prosperity, said she would promote training for workers and an economic climate that brings good jobs.
“I will go down to Olympia and work to create jobs (and) strengthen education and training for adults so adults will have the skills to get and keep family wage jobs,” said Gregory, the Democrat.
Asay also said she supports improved education and job training for adults.
Both candidates say they oppose raising taxes.
“I really believe we need to cut spending to balance the budget,” Asay said. Gregory said state lawmakers need “to do everything possible not to” raise taxes. That includes eliminating tax loopholes and streamlining programs.
Asay, 52, and Gregory, 66, are seeking the seat that Priest is vacating after four terms to run for Federal Way mayor.
Gregory, the only Democrat in the August primary, ran against Priest in 2008 and lost.
Asay, who defeated three other Republicans in the primary and finished second to Gregory, is running for the Legislature for the first time.
With two Democratic incumbents seeking re-election, the 30th District – which includes Federal Way, Algona, and parts of Milton, Pacific and Auburn – is known as a swing district.
When asked how they differ, the two candidates point to experience.
“She’s been part of the system most of her working life as a government employee,” Asay said of Gregory.
Asay herself has been mayor of Milton, population 6,540, since 2003.
“I believe there’s a difference between working as a government employee and knowing how to legislate,” Asay said.
Asay said she’s learned to make tough policy decisions, cutting Milton’s budget for three consecutive years to cope with declining revenues. She laid off employees and outsourced planning duties to Fife in 2009 to save money.
“I’ve learned how to create coalitions and consensus building, especially with those that don’t agree with you,” Asay said.
Asay was a Milton City Council member from 1995-2003. She’s been a member of the Puget Sound Regional Council since 2001.
Besides being a part-time, elected mayor, Asay works as a real estate agent.
Gregory points to her experience with some of the key issues that she says lawmakers will be tackling.
“I have a wealth of experience in education” Gregory said. “I have a wealth of experience in economic development, particularly as it relates to job creation.”
She was president of the Washington Education Association from 1975-81 and was an associate superintendent with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1993-97.
In her current job as director of Renton-based Burst for Prosperity, Gregory develops new strategies for moving people from poverty to living-wage jobs. That includes developing small businesses, she said.
Gregory said she has a background in causes that both Democrats and Republicans support.
“I’m not afraid of making tough decisions,” she said.