The race between incumbent Democratic state Rep. Timm Ormsby and his Republican opponent, Dave White, gives voters a clear choice along party lines.
Dave White, a Spokane County public works inspector, says his priority is to lower taxes and regulations. Businesses are struggling in the current economy, he said.
“It’s been because of the recession, yes, but also because of the taxes and the problems that are arising because of the regulations. They’re putting a crimp on business,” he said at a candidate forum last month put on by the Spokane League of Women Voters. “We need a change in direction, and that’s why I’m running.”
Ormsby said his priority is to work for jobs and maintain a social safety net for what is often described as the poorest legislative district in the state.
“I began seeking this position of state representative to give a voice to those in the community who do not have a dominant voice, those folks who come from alternative situations and are struggling to get by,” Ormsby said at the same forum.
Ormsby said that the state likely will need to remove tax loopholes or raise taxes to boost education funding as called for by a recent state Supreme Court decision.
“We have an upside down tax system,” he said.
White said the state should boost timber sales to better fund education.
“We do have to fund education, but we don’t have to raise taxes to do it,” he said.
Ormsby has a substantial fundraising advantage, at about $42,000. But he’s not waging an aggressive campaign. Among those who have contributed the maximum $900 to his campaign are Avista Corp., the Kalispel Economic Authority and the Washington Education Association political action committee.
White has raised about $3,800 and has only one contribution that hit the $900 limit.
That was from the Gun Owners Action League of Washington.
The following are excerpts from a 15-topic Spokesman-Review questionnaire. Each candidate was allowed up to 100 words to address each topic. They are listed in the order that they will appear on the ballot. Find other candidates’ questionnaires at spokesman.com/elections.
1. What is the first bill you hope to sponsor or co-sponsor next session?
Ormsby: My No. 1 priority in the next session will be to help get my unemployed and underemployed neighbors working in jobs that improve their economic security and that of our community. Good jobs and the resulting economic activity is the proven way to resolve our other pressing public policy issues such as education, health care, small-business development and funding of critical services for the young, aged and working parents. My humble service as a state representative is focused on addressing the state’s most daunting problems. Those issues are usually resolved at the end only after careful and thorough negotiation.
White: With the increase in home invasions and property crimes by gang members or drug addicts, and the decreasing numbers of law enforcement personnel, I feel more protection is needed by homeowners who live in fear of being attacked or killed during a home invasion. In that regard, I would seek to co-sponsor a “Castle Doctrine Bill” affording more protections to the homeowner who has been left in many cases to fend for himself. Criminals do not have the right to practice their chosen profession in a free Washington state.
2. Do you support the voter-approved rule that stipulates that the Legislature can only approve a tax increase when each chamber supports the increase with two-thirds majorities? Should the state constitution be amended to require two-thirds votes to approve tax increases?
Ormsby: I do not personally support the two-thirds threshold for tax increases because it also applies when just attempting to close the most frivolous and unjustifiable tax loopholes. I oppose it because it is diametrically counter to our state’s time-honored tradition of majority rule. The supermajority requirement gives a minority of legislators twice the voting strength of the majority of legislators sent to Olympia by their constituents to represent them. I believe there should not be a supermajority requirement to fulfill the most basic obligations of conducting state business. There’s a high bar to change the constitution for a good reason.
White: I do believe the two-thirds majority for tax increases should remain in effect as long as the voters of this state desire it to be so. An initiative of the people is true democracy and should be respected. If the voters want the amendment, I would support their will. Being a representative means following the will of the people, not voting against their will and forcing a referendum to overturn your action.
3. Do you support same-sex marriage?
Ormsby: I voted for and support marriage equality consistent with the long Spokane tradition of equal treatment. The Spokane City Council passed an anti-discrimination ordinance well before the state Legislature extended those same basic rights to gays and lesbians. It is inspiring to be a member of a community that is a leader on this issue and representing that leadership, I cast a proud yes vote in the Legislature this year. As John F. Kennedy remarked during that era’s civil rights debate, “In giving rights to others which belong to them, we give rights to ourselves and to our country.”
White: I supported the everything-but-marriage bill that dealt with the unfairness issues of same-sex couples. Marriage is a religious matter and goes back to Adam and Eve. I don’t believe the legislature should be involved. The gay community advocates separation of church and state in every issue until this one. No religion supports their argument. Nature’s God as recognized by our founding documents states clearly that marriage is between one man and one woman. Do they really believe they will have a blessed marriage when a legislative gun is being held to the head of the presiding official?
4. Current plans for completing the north Spokane freeway call for its interchange with Interstate 90 to expand I-90 to about 20 lanes wide, including onramps and service roads, in a portion of the East Central Neighborhood. Do you support this configuration? Would you support asking voters for a state gas tax increase if it included money to help complete the north Spokane freeway?
Ormsby: I’m concerned about further fracturing the East Central neighborhood as was done with the original I-90 placement. However, Washington’s DOT (Department of Transportation) has been very responsive to community input during design. Community and legislative feedback can change things for the better, as evidenced by the Hillyard redesign suggested by Sen. Chris Marr. I support paying for our transportation infrastructure needs with sustainable revenue that should be more wide-ranging than simply raising fuel taxes. Folks drive less with high gas prices, and with more fuel-efficient cars, we have less funding for transportation projects. We need a better, more comprehensive 21st-century funding model.
White: I believe that the interchange can be accomplished with less than 20 lanes. I have seen many such interchanges in numerous states. I have waited 40 years for this and we need the project completed now. I don’t believe we should raise the gas tax. We pay enough taxes to support transportation now. We need to stop diverting transportation dollars to other projects. When we make conditions favorable for small business to create jobs and transfer the labor force to working taxpayers from dependent recipients of public assistance and unemployment the revenue will increase significantly.