A candidate for State Representative, Pos. 1, Legislative District 6 (West Plains and western Spokane) in the 2014 Nov. 4 Washington General Election
City: Spokane, WA
Occupation: Coffee shop owner
Education: Undergraduate degree from Whitworth University; MBA from George Fox University; executive leadership studies at Harvard University.
Work experience: Owns several Spokane coffee shops; adjunct professor at Whitworth and Gonzaga universities; incumbent state representative; was working as a volunteer youth counselor at Columbine High School during the 1999 massacre that killed 13 and injured 21 others.
Political experience: Three terms in the Washington House of Representatives.
On this race:
What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve that?
Parker: My top priority is making Spokane a great place for business. With unemployment at 6 percent, growing talent in a vibrant business community is paramount. Some of my goals are a jobs package strengthening entrepreneurships and startups, and making internships more accessible for students to introduce them to the workforce.
Dover: My top priority will be to uphold the state constitution. All 147 individuals who will be serving in the next Legislature need to set aside all other legislative agendas, so that we uphold the rights of children to a fully funded education. Failing our children is not acceptable.
The state Supreme Court recently held the Legislature in contempt for failing to make enough progress in fully funding public education. How should the Legislature react to this unanimous ruling?
Parker: Our Supreme Court is designed to be interpretive, not activist. Unlike past Legislatures, we have already fundamentally changed the current Legislature to fund education fully and first. With intergovernmental conflict, the state impairs funding not only to education, but other responsibilities like aiding the needy, fighting crime and emergency preparedness.
Dover: How should legislators react? How about humbly and respectfully! Several local legislators have reacted belligerently and territorial, but that isn’t going to solve the root problem. The best course of action now is for the Legislature to implement some honest budget reforms that place education funding above all other interests.
Spokane voters overwhelmingly called for independent police oversight but city leaders and others say full implementation would be blocked by state labor laws that give final say to employees. What, if any, changes or clarifications should the Legislature consider?
Parker: In 2013, I proposed HB 1825, which allows police departments more management freedom. I worked with Sheriff Knezovich toward an effective policy to protect our police force and found, as voters did, that our arbitration process isn’t perfect. I will continue to work toward a system that provides everyone security.
Dover: It’s pretty clear the citizenry is unhappy with public employees that “game” the system, practically letting them get away with murder. Crafty labor attorneys have found every loophole, and now they need to be closed. We need revised rules that protect good employees, while protecting the citizens from the bad.
What makes you the best candidate for this position?
Parker: I hope voters consider my legislative record. As a business owner, I have served with respect for wallets and budgets. I championed a Spokane medical school, saved 500 manufacturing jobs, levied severe punishments upon criminals and secured $22 million for North Spokane Corridor – but our best work is still ahead.
Dover: When asked this question, it’s tempting to denigrate the opposing candidate. Let’s just say I think I’m the more genuine of the two choices. I consider this opportunity a capstone to everything else I’ve accomplished. As such, I’ll represent the district honestly, with little risk to my career or reputation.
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