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Willard, Spring, Anderson vie for 5th District House seat in top-two primary
North Bend resident David Spring and Sammamish technology consultant Dean Willard are vying for Democratic-leaning votes in the three-way race for the 5th Legislative District's position 2 Washington House of Representatives seat.
Spring and Willard, who both prefer the Democratic party, are challenging Republican incumbent Glenn Anderson of Fall City in the top-two August 17 primary.
Both Spring and Willard take reform stances on state funding, education and the environment, but differ in core issues. Spring touts Initiative 1098, the "millionaire income tax" proposal, as a solution to state woes, while Willard calls for cross-aisle connections, innovation and business tax fixes.
Anderson calls for a hard freeze on state spending, a balanced budget and priority funding for education. He also touts efforts to create a balanced approach to Valley environmental issues such as river recreation and a growing elk herd.
Anderson, who is seeking his sixth two-year term in the state House, has lived in the Valley for nearly 20 years.
"I know the people and what makes our quality of life here," he said. "Whenever I need a reality check while serving in Olympia, I think about the commitments and sacrifices families in the Valley make to live here."
Financial crisis and economy
Anderson said he voted against $1.6 billion in tax increases on small business and consumers that the Democratic majority imposed.
"Our state is facing a California-style budget meltdown," Anderson said. He said that, based on governor's office statements, the anticipated state budget deficit will explode to $20 billion within the next 10 years. That means state spending will have to be cut by 60 percent.
"We must put a hard freeze on any new spending, strongly prioritize within existing spending and get very aggressive about encouraging the creation of family-wage private sector jobs that give individuals better opportunities for work," he said.
In Olympia, Anderson said he will work to force a zero-based balanced budget in with no new taxes and eliminate crippling deficits. He will also "focus and energize the big job drivers such as our ports and university research and development centers to create more jobs."
Anderson also pledged to untangle the rat's nest of regulatory rules that undermine the ability of small businesses to create jobs and make a living.
Anderson's Fund Education First initiative was recently validated as a consitutionally correct approach in the recent court decision on the adequacy of K12 school funding in Washington. This initiative would require a dedicated K-12 school budget to be funded, passed and signed by the governor before it would be possible for the legislature to spend tax dollars on any other program. "This approach would assure that the state meets its constitutional paramount duty to fund our kids' education," Anderson said. "That education is their currency to a prosperous future."
In Fall City, Anderson is working with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Transportation and King County to better manage use of the Snoqualmie River during the summer, keeping the area from being flooded with trash and unruly visitors.
In North Bend, he is looking for funding support options to help the Valley Elk Management Group for its efforts to implement a balanced plan to manage the impact of the North Rainer elk herd on the community.
Spring, who holds a master's degree in education, challenged and fell to Anderson in the 2008 house race. He differentiates himself from his opponents by his support for Initiative 1098, which would tax adjusted gross incomes above $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for joint-filers, reduce state property tax levies, reduce certain business and occupation taxes, and direct any increased revenues to education and health.
Washington voters will weigh in on I-1098 during the November general election.
Education and I-1098
Spring describes the Snoqualmie Valley School District as one of the lowest funded districts in the state and the nation.
"Yet, middle class families in the Snoqualmie Valley pay among the highest state taxes in America, 20 percent above the national average," he said. "This huge disparity between what we pay and what our children get is due to the fact that the very rich in our state are not paying their fair share of state taxes."
He also supports early learning opportunities, namely optional full-day kindergarten.
"Numerous studies have shown that a focus on early learning is the best way to give all of our children a fair chance at success in life," Spring said.
He calls for lowering class sizes to the national average and increasing education funding via I-1098.
For more than two years, Spring has called for national-average taxes, reducing taxes on middle-class homeowners by about $1,000 per family, while increasing school funding by $3,000 per child in the local district, "all by having billionaires pay their fair share," he said.
"This would not harm billionaires, as they could deduct their state taxes from their federal taxes," he said. "But it would protect the future of one million school children and 10,000 teachers."
Spring said he has opposed bills, supported by Anderson, which raise middle class taxes to fund schools.
"We should be lowering taxes on our middle class, not raising them," he said.
Spring predicts that I-1098 would provide about $1 billion in new state revenue toward a $6 billon state budget shortfall. To fill the gap, he proposes $1 billion in program cuts—avoiding education, police, health care and the courts—and would roll back some $5 billion in corporate tax breaks.
Spring said I-1098 will also create more than 100,000 new jobs by pumping billions into the state economy.
"With 1098, this money will be kept in our state helping local homeowners, small businesses and paying for 10,000 school teachers," he said.
Spring served on the King County Middle Fork Planning Commission in the 1990s, helping develop an environmental plan for the Middle Fork Valley.
"This plan has a lot of good ideas, but few have been funded," he said. "The state should play a stronger role in protecting the environment.
"However, I am also a rural landowner," he added. "It is unfair to rural landowners to hold them to a higher standard than landowners in urban King County. We need environmental regulations which treat everyone fairly and do not place an unfair burden on only rural landowners."
Spring's campaign platform can be viewed at www.springforhouse.com
If elected as the Fifth District's first Democratic legislator in more than a decade, the first thing Dean Willard plans to do is fight for a freshman seat on the finance committee and pursue change in taxes and school funding.
This is the first political run for Willard, a former T-Mobile vice president who is now a private consultant for information technology and security. A former party campaign worker and precinct officer, he supported Spring's run in 2008, but is opposing him this time, scooping up the 5th Legislative District Democrats endorsement in the process.
"As I looked at this race, this time, I was concerned about what was happening at the state level," particularly problems in Washington's economy, tax system and fiscal outlook, Willard said.
"Glenn continues to express an inability as our representative to solve the problem," he said. "And I don't think David Spring is a viable alternative."
Willard, like his opponent, takes aim at grandfathered levy districts in Bellevue and Mercer Island putting 5th District schools at a disadvantage, and says the state needs to do a better job of prioritizing education.
"We've got to move away from this system where some localities are forced to pay for the state not doing what it is mandated to do," he said.
Willard was excited by the 2009 passage of House Bill 2261, which dramatically lowers class sizes for early grades, but is not funded until 2018.
"We've got to pay for it now," said Willard, who added that class size is a major factor in student success.
Willard also called for the various coalitions involved in education—parents, teachers' and employees unions, school board and administrators' associations—to find ways to come together for common objectives.
Environment and economy
Economically, Willard supports repealing the state's Business & Occupation tax code so that businesses are not taxed on gross receipts, easing pressure on small businesses. He also calls for support for green enterprise.
For Willard, the Gulf oil spill shined a spotlight on a dirty-fuel economy. He wants Washington to start making incremental changes toward clean energy.
"We're going to have massive economic disruption if we don't prepare for the time when demand outstrips supply," he said.
He said it's time to revisit a constitutional amendment on the gasoline tax, sharing revenues with other land transportation options besides highways.
Willard said that the district has changed a lot in the 10 years since Anderson took his seat, moving from rural to suburban.
Residents, he said, "care very much about environment, education and their families. They are socially progressive."
He points to a 56-percent majority of support for R-71, the domestic partnership referendum, in elections last fall, after neither Republican state representative supported the issue in the legislature.
"I don't think this place belongs to either party anymore," Willard said. "There is a large group of people in this district who will vote for the person who will think and work hard to do the right thing. They're looking for somebody who, when they have a tough vote, isn't going to use ideology to make a decision.
"With both of these candidates, my ability to forge relationships and work across a broad section of backgrounds and perspectives is what differentiates me," he said. "It's even more pronounced with David than it is with Glenn."