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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Editorial: Democrat Dellwo has experience 6th needs

Voters in the 6th Legislative District flirted with Democrats in the 2006 election but have since reverted to their decades-old Republican ways. Redistricting has probably strengthened the GOP’s hand.

While we think the party has come forward with a solid candidate for the House of Representatives in Jeff Holy, we encourage district voters to embrace Democrat Dennis Dellwo, a former legislator who can help maintain the stature of Spokane’s legislative representation after the departure of Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown.

Dellwo is also very familiar with an issue sure to consume a significant share of the Legislature’s time: getting Washington ready for the changes coming under Obamacare. Should Mitt Romney win the presidency and follow through on his pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers must be prepared for a response to that development.

Dellwo served the 3rd Legislative District in Olympia for 13 years before stepping down in 1996 to join the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board. As the chairman of the House Health Care Committee and a member of the Banking and Insurance Committee, he was at the center of the state’s initial efforts to increase access to health care. Although that effort misfired, the experience will be valuable.

He says the state must find the money needed to properly fund K-12 and higher education with the revenues already in hand. The university system cannot stand more cuts, he says.

He would look for some additional revenue by closing state tax loopholes, but how easily that might be done has yet to be tested under the rule that requires two-thirds approval, a standard he opposes.

Dellwo supports same-sex marriage, as we do, but not the liberalization of state marijuana laws, which we also support.

Holy opposes both. Our bigger problem is his too-close relationships with public safety workers – he was a member of the Spokane Police Department for 22 years. He declines to support changes in pay and benefits that will bring their compensation in line with that of private workers and their peers elsewhere. We have repeatedly advocated for changes in the arbitration process that would take into account a community’s ability to pay.

He wants the Legislature to reclaim the negotiation of state worker contracts – potentially a good thing – except for public safety workers. Such a carve-out is unacceptable.

We would encourage him to pursue his No. 1 priority should he be elected: Reform of the business and occupation tax to provide some allowance for business costs, instead of basing the levy on gross revenues. So, too, with exploring the privatization of some state services.

The effectiveness of either Dellwo or Holy will depend on whether the Democrats retain a House majority that has been less flexible than the Senate when confronting Washington’s financial problems. Holy has an admirable resume, but we think Dellwo will carry more weight when the affairs of the 6th District and Spokane are at stake.