6th Legislative District candidates, issues
John E. Ahern
Personal: 75. Republican. Married. Has three grown children.
Education: Graduated from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., in 1953. Earned bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Denver.
Career: Has owned Janco Products, an office supply business in Spokane, for about 25 years. Previously was sales manager of Abadan, a copier business. Served in Army and Army Reserves from 1957 to 1963.
Political: Elected to state House in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006. Lost House seat in 2008 election. Website: voteahern.com.
Why do you feel you are the best candidate? Experience counts. I’ve had eight years experience in the Washington state Legislature. I’ve had two major bills that were beneficial to Eastern Washington and the entire state of Washington. One was the veterans’ home for Eastern Washington. I got that in 2001. … The other major bill that I passed was the felony DUI bill.
Would you support asking voters for a gas tax to extend the north Spokane freeway south of Francis? Absolutely not. … Here in Eastern Washington, particularly in Spokane, we get about 70 to 75 cents back on the dollar for gas taxes. … Since we are a donor county it’s only fair that we get our fair share back and whatever the cost is … I think the state should allocate the funds for us, and I would fight for that.
Would you support tax increases to deal with the $3 billion shortfall over the next two years? Absolutely not. No way.
How would you cut the budget? I would scale back government tremendously. … Three ways: privatize, privatize and privatize. We’re going to have one, I think, that is going to be privatized and that’s the liquor industry… The voters are pretty much going to take care of that. … (There are) a couple (other) areas I’d like to privatize. One, would be the ferry system. … We here in Spokane are supporting the ferry system and we seldom ever use it. … The other area (is) the printing industry that they have in the Capitol. I would privatize that and let that out to bid. … All you have to do is spend less money than what you’re taking in. Families learn this, they do this all the time, but the state doesn’t.
Should the state allow gay marriage? Absolutely not. … (Domestic-partner benefits are) just costing the taxpayers more and more money. Secondly, marriage should be between a man and a woman. It goes against common sense, I think. It goes against most people’s common sense. Domestic partner benefits, no, I would not be for it.
Do you believe that there is enough evidence to indicate that human activity is a significant cause of global warming? Not significant. Definitely not. … I want clean water, clean air. Everybody does. We’re in the right direction right now. … I think you’re going to see a lot less use of carbon fuels down the road. Right now we’re looking at solar and wind. What about nuclear? We’re totally ignoring nuclear here in the State of Washington and on a national basis.
Do you support Attorney General Rob McKenna’s challenge of the federal health care law? Absolutely. For the simple reason the government right now on this health care is mandating that if you don’t have insurance that you will have insurance. … That is absolutely dead wrong.
Do you support the state law that allows cities to install red light cameras? That has been quite a controversy right there, and I’m not 100 percent supportive of it. I’d have to really take a look at it, and I’d like to check with other states that have had this for a long time (to investigate) what the pluses and minuses are.
Do you support Initiative 1098, which would create an income tax on people earning $200,000 or more a year while cutting the business and occupation tax and property taxes? No. Once you get the camel’s nose under the tent on an income tax, that’s all she wrote. I was on the Finance Committee a couple years ago and … Bill Gates Sr. did a PowerPoint presentation on this very same thing. (Ahern said he told Gates about large increases in sales taxes he noticed during two visits to California 15 years apart). I said, ‘In all due respect, Mr. Gates, this is what we call tax creep,’ and I don’t think the voters are going to go for it.
What is your stance on abortion? I believe that the only reason for an abortion is to save the mother’s life. No other reason.
Should the state Legislature act to prevent continued large increases in college tuition? I really don’t know how you can get a handle on it. … There is a cost factor in the labor aspect of it, and that should be looked at very closely. Also, the administration, there probably is a lot of bureaucratic overhead that really has to be looked at.
John F. Driscoll
Personal: 52. Incumbent Democrat. Born in Illinois. Moved to Spokane after he finished first grade. Divorced. Has three grown children.
Education: Graduated from Gonzaga Prep in 1975. Earned psychology degree from Washington State University in 1979 and a master’s degree in health care administration from Whitworth College in 1983.
Career: Executive director of Project Access, a nonprofit organization that works to provide health care to the uninsured. Worked for four years as an administrator overseeing recruitment of doctors and other services at Holy Family Hospital and Sacred Heart Medical Center. Served as administrator for eight years at Spokane Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic.
Political: Won current seat in 2008. Campaign website: votejohndriscoll.org.
Why do you feel you are the best candidate? I have lived and worked in Spokane my whole life and am extremely familiar with the dynamics of the district. With this federal health care reform bill now being implemented in the state of Washington, my longtime experience in health care administration will be important. … That experience also will be helpful as we work to create many new high-paying jobs in the health care industry in Spokane.
Would you support asking voters for a gas tax to extend the north Spokane freeway south of Francis? We have two current gas taxes that are set to expire in the near future, and I think we need to renew those. So I would go to the voters asking for a renewal of our existing taxes with that proviso that it’s contingent on us getting funding for the North-South Corridor.
Would you support tax increases to deal with the $3 billion shortfall over the next two years? No. In order to get our economic recovery happening, we cannot add tax burden.
How would you cut the budget? In my view within each of our large state departments we could have looked at further cuts in the administrative side, in the Washington Management Service level. … I think there’s definitely opportunity within that large body of midmanagement where we could consolidate, eliminate duplicative kinds of functions and positions … We can also, I think, find savings …. in the whole criminal justice system. … We have huge backlogs in all of our levels of courts, and there’s a high amount of overhead. Are there ways at the state level we could help with the criminal justice system, which is a huge expense overall?
Should the state allow gay marriage? I think the domestic partnership laws that we have passed over the last few years really have leveled the playing field as far as the issues. … Adding another category of gay marriage I don’t think is going to change what I believe our goal was, which was to level the playing field. … If we were to go beyond and have gay marriage, I don’t see what additional issues we would solve.
Do you believe that there is enough evidence to indicate that human activity is a significant cause of global warming? I have no question that human activity is contributing to global warming. All levels of government have a responsibility and the state of Washington, I think, is doing the right things as far as transportation policy and alternative fuel policies.
Do you support Attorney General Rob McKenna’s challenge of the federal health care law? No. Absolutely not. I think the federal health reform bill is going to be good for Washingtonians.
Do you support the state law that allows cities to install red light cameras? There’s conflicting data about the public safety side of it … The cities really support this from a revenue standpoint, and I know how difficult cities’ budgets are right now. … If the red light cameras actually cause more accidents or don’t solve that problem, then we shouldn’t have them. … I would vote to repeal it … because I don’t see the public safety return on investment.
Do you support Initiative 1098, which would create an income tax on people earning $200,000 or more a year while cutting the business and occupation tax and property taxes? If that vote was in front of me as a legislator, I definitely would vote against it. I think we’re targeting a small subset of Washingtonians.
What is your stance on abortion? I believe in choice. Family planning decisions are between the mother and their health care provider.
Should the state Legislature act to prevent continued large increases in college tuition? The tuition-setting authority has been held by the Legislature at certain times and by the universities at other times over the last 20 years. … The overall tuition increase has been less when it’s under legislative control, and I think we do have a major responsibility within the Legislature to weigh in on that subject. … We should control, at the legislative level, tuition increases.
Personal: 35. Republican. Born in Spokane. Married. Has two young children.
Education: Graduated from Central Valley High School in 1993. Earned accounting, international business and business management bachelor’s degrees from Whitworth College in 1997. Received master’s in business administration from Monterey Institute of International Studies in California in 2001.
Career: Employed as Workforce Development Manager for Greater Spokane Inc. since Feb. 2008. Former positions include: small business development consultant for World Vision in Honduras; missions director for First United Methodist Church in Stuart, Fla.; family services director at Habitat for Humanity in Spokane; executive director of the George Nethercutt Foundation from Feb. 2008 to Sept. 2009.
Political: First run for office. Campaign website: voteshellyoquinn.com.
Why do you feel you are the best candidate? I believe I have a very unique background. That includes experience both in nonprofit and the business community. My parents own a small business that I’ve been involved with for the last 10 years. (I am working) at GSI and working with the different industries that we have in Spokane. … I just feel like I have a really well-rounded background that gives me a perspective that understands that we need to be fiscally conservative and socially responsible.
Would you support asking voters for a gas tax to extend the north Spokane freeway south of Francis? Not at this time. I think we have the funding available. Statewide we prioritized our transportation projects and the north-south freeway was one of the top three. The other two are basically complete, and they’re on the other side of the state. We need to advocate for the funding to complete the north-south freeway.
Would you support tax increases to deal with the $3 billion shortfall over the next two years? I would not. I don’t believe that we have a revenue problem. While it’s not growing as fast as projected, it continues to increase.
How would you cut the budget? We need to start by being efficient in government. If you look at the auditor’s recommendations, he has about $3.6 billion in recommended cost savings. … You can’t just look and say we’re going to take a 10 percent across-the-board cut because that’s a temporary solution. … You look at all the programs and say, ‘Of these programs: What’s working? What’s not working? Should government be playing this role? Is this a core function of government? And, if it’s not, is it something that can be done in the private sector that we can pass out?’
Should the state allow gay marriage? I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I believe that civil unions or domestic partnerships, which are also protected by Washington state law, cover the access issue.
Do you believe that there is enough evidence to indicate that human activity is a significant cause of global warming? I think human activity affects the environment, and I think the science has not given us the answer completely. … We have a responsibility to take care of the environment. We all enjoy the quality of life we have here in Spokane, but there also has to be a balance.
Do you support Attorney General Rob McKenna’s challenge of the federal health care law? I do. While I believe that we need to have affordable, accessible health care for all Washingtonians, I do not believe it needs to be a government-run system.
Do you support the state law that allows cities to install red light cameras? Since they’re in, let’s evaluate its effectiveness, and if it’s getting the results that we need – reducing red light runners, reducing accidents – then it’s a program we need to continue. If it’s not, then we shouldn’t be installing more.
Do you support Initiative 1098, which would create an income tax on people earning $200,000 or more a year while cutting the business and occupation tax and property taxes? I do not. … In Spokane County it’s three times more expensive to do business here than it is across the border in Idaho, and the only competitive advantage that we have in recruiting companies to this region is the fact that we do not have an income tax.
What is your stance on abortion? I am pro-life. The one thing about this issue is that … it’s not black-and-white. So, in the case of rape and incest and the life of the mother, you have look at those.
Should the state Legislature act to prevent continued large increases in college tuition? Yes. They should. … There will always be an increase because of inflation every year. We should not be seeing 7 or 14 percent increases. …. We need to look at cutting costs and being more efficient so that we’re not preventing students from having access to education.