Candidates for the Washington state Legislature’s 5th District House seat fielded questions on July 22 during a SnoValley Chamber of Commerce forum.
The forum included incumbent Bill Ramos (D), Ken Moninski (R) and Cyrus Krohn (Unity Restoration).
Ramos was elected to the Legislature in 2018, and previously served on the Issaquah City Council from 2015 until he was elected to the state office. He sits on several legislative committees, including the House Transportation Committee, the College and Workforce Development Committee and the Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Moninski works in the aerospace industry, and has owned Global Aircraft Services since he purchased it in 2007. He also runs Safeair Media, and has been a co-owner of minor-league sports teams in Washington, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Krohn is also a businessman, and senior vice president at Civic Science Inc. He advises Democracy Live, which is a voting technology company and Element Data Inc. He has worked for CNN, producing Larry King Live and Crossfire.
At the July 22 forum, all three candidates said Washington state can do a better job assisting small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramos said treatment for businesses has been uneven between large businesses and small businesses. He said he’ll keep working with locals and the state to build a better system.
Krohn said he was disappointed there weren’t initial cutbacks in state operations during the early days of the pandemic, when Inslee was closing businesses.
Moninski said he thinks the government hasn’t been focused on businesses, and criticized how it handled unemployment claims, which for many residents was delayed as the system was overwhelmed.
Gov. Jay Inslee has said if coronavirus cases continue to rise, the state may go backward in its plan to reopen the economy. Moninski said he didn’t support moving backward.
“We have the ability to deal with this,” he said. “A wholesale shutdown of businesses will kill this economy.”
Ramos said the economic crisis was caused by the pandemic. While he hopes the state doesn’t have to move backward, he thinks Washingtonians would understand if it needed to.
“The best way to help fight for our businesses is to practice good health,” he said, encouraging people to wear masks.
The idea of providing liability protection for businesses, shielding them from most lawsuits if someone catches the coronavirus at their establishment, has been floated by the Trump administration.
Both Moninski and Krohn said they supported such legislation. Moninski said if a businesses is grossly negligent, the state Department of Health should take the lead. Krohn said if businesses adhere to state health directions, they should be shielded from lawsuits.
Ramos said if legislators start making liability exemptions for certain industries, it would undermine public health. He said the current legal system is capable of dealing with nuisance lawsuits.
“When you start making exemptions, you make them across the board for everyone, and there’s no incentive to do the work the right way,” he said.
School re-openings have been another hot topic. Several districts in King County have already announced they will return this fall with completely online learning.
Moninski said he wants districts to reopen full-time with children returning to classrooms.
Ramos said he likes what Snoqualmie Valley School District has done. The district sent surveys to families to see what they want.
“The local district can make the best decision,” Ramos said.
Krohn said much the same, stating that one size fits all won’t work. He suggested parents brush up on homeschooling techniques and be prepared for school districts to periodically close if outbreaks occur.
The primary will be held on Aug. 4. Voters must return their ballots by mail, or to a ballot drop-box by 8 p.m. that day.