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Ladopoulos would focus on education issues

SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - Keeping education the state's top priority will be Katrina Culp Ladopoulos' message if voters next month choose to send her to Olympia.

"Our paramount duty is education," she said.

Democrat Ladopoulos is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Cheryl Pflug for the 5th District Position 1 seat in the state Legislature.

Ladopoulos, who is in the process of earning her teaching certification, said she would work hard to protect education because she knows it will be tempting to make cuts to what is a very large part of the state's budget, especially as it faces a projected $2 billion deficit over the next biennium beginning July 1, 2003.

"Education cuts are going to be looked at because it's the largest piece of the pie," she said.

Protecting education funding is not the only action Ladopoulos said she hopes the Legislature will take. Increasing teachers' pay and providing housing assistance, she said, would help elevate the profession's prestige.

"I've been in classrooms and I've seen how hard teachers work," Ladopoulos said. "I want to increase the status of teachers in the state."

Protecting green spaces and the environment would be an important part of her stay in Olympia. She would like to tighten up loopholes in the Growth Management Act that she says make it too easy for unbridled growth to occur.

"I'm all for encouraging business and making nice communities," she said. "But we need main streets and green spaces, not just parking lots."

Ladopoulos said she believes transportation and growth are linked together. Although she has reservations about Referendum 51 - a proposed one-time, 1 percent surcharge on vehicle purchases and a phased-in, 9 cents per gallon gas tax to pay for specific Washington State Department of Transportation projects - Ladopoulos said it was a beginning to dealing with stalled traffic.

"I don't think its a perfect plan, but it's a good start," she said.

But she would like to see more done to find other modes of transportation other than simply building more roads.

"We could find more funding somewhere for further transportation choices," Ladopoulos said.

Although Ladopoulos has the challenge of facing an incumbent, she said her new way of looking at issues in Olympia should encourage Valley voters.

"What I bring is a new perspective," she said.

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