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Rich Cowan

A candidate for State Senator, Legislative District 6 (West Plains and western Spokane) in the 2014 Nov. 4 Washington General Election

Party: Democrat

Age: 62

City: Spokane, WA

Occupation: CEO and founder, North by Northwest

RICH COWAN

Education: Graduated from Juanita High School in Kirkland, Wash. in 1974. Earned broadcast journalism degree from Washington State University in 1979. Earned human nutrition master’s degree from WSU in 1984.

Work experience: Co-founded North by Northwest Productions in 1990. Worked as the community affairs director for KHQ-TV from 1986-1990. Served as a firefighter and emergency medical technician at Washington State University while a college student. Served on Community Colleges of Spokane Vocational Advicsory Council in mid-1990s. Former Eagle Scout.

Political experience: Ran for Congress in 2012 against U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Family: Divorced. Has two adult children.

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More about Rich Cowan


On this race:

What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve that?

Baumgartner: As the vice chair of the Senate Budget Committee, I will continue to prioritize balanced, bipartisan budgets that reform state government and focus on education. I’ve helped bring all-day kindergarten to our community, build a new medical school and stop college tuition increases for the first time in 30 years.

Cowan: I will provide the moderate and responsible leadership that this district needs to thrive. I will create jobs and invest in our schools and our infrastructure. To ensure our region’s competitive edge, we need to strengthen the energy, aerospace, health care and agricultural sectors without delay.

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 ruling?

Baumgartner: The Legislature should make improving education a top priority not because the Supreme Court tells it to, but because it’s the right thing to do. We’ve doubled education spending but it’s not simply about spending more money, it’s about reform to make sure every student has a great teacher.

Cowan: The Legislature must act. Our children are counting on us to produce a road map to success. By tweeting combative messages and failing to adequately fund K-12 education, my opponent has continually proven he is unwilling to work toward student success.

The Legislature failed once again to pass a long-negotiated, multibillion-dollar transportation package. How would you ensure the Spokane area gets the funding it wants for important projects?

Baumgartner: I’ve been the leader in the Senate ensuring that instead of continuing to pour Eastern Washington’s money into boondoggle tunnel and bridge projects in Seattle, we finally get our north-south freeway built. The state needs to reform transportation spending to save taxpayers money.

Cowan: My opponent and his colleagues in the Senate failed even to produce a transportation bill. After nearly seven years without a transportation package, it is clearly time to try a new approach. I will vigorously work across the aisle to ensure that Eastern Washington receives its fair share.

Spokane voters overwhelmingly called for independent police oversight, but city leaders say full implementation would be blocked by labor laws that give final say to employees. What, if any, changes or clarifications should the Legislature consider?

Baumgartner: The voters of Spokane are absolutely right, we do need independent police oversight. I’ve worked with our local sheriff to co-sponsor legislation that would increase accountability and oversight among law enforcement. If a law enforcement officer abuses the public trust, we should have laws that allow them to be fired.

Cowan: I have met multiple times with city leadership. Never have they suggested a change to state law. From my conversations with them, it is my understanding that the ombudsman is independent with investigatory authority.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Baumgartner: I have a proven record working for solutions both parties can agree on: all-day kindergarten, college tuition freezes and the medical school. A vote for my opponent would put the same old, tired Seattle liberals in charge of the Senate. That wouldn’t be good for Spokane or taxpayers statewide.

Cowan: Our Senate is at a standstill. If we are going to successfully emerge from the recession, progress is paramount. As a local business owner who has done the hard work of building a company and creating jobs, I understand what small business requires to deliver sustainable, family-wage jobs.

Election results

Candidate Votes Pct
Michael Baumgartner (R) 28,299 57.48 %
Rich Cowan (D) 20,935 42.52 %

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