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31st Senate candidates answer questions
Because the race for the 31st District State Senate seat between incumbent Pam Roach and challenger Matt Richardson has become so contentious and because both candidates have accused the press of favoring their opponent, The Courier-Herald opted for a question-and-answer format, allotting 150 words to each candidate on the following five questions.
The candidates were instructed that their answers would appear as submitted, with the caveat that they would be cut off after 150 words. Answers have also been edited based on the legality of the answers provided.
1. This race has been more about character than issues thus far. Tell voters why they should vote for you rather than your opponent.
ROACH: Based on my voting record, long list of achievements for the district, and community support of my candidacy over that of my opponent, I would again be honored to have your vote.
I tell the truth. I have integrity. I work hard and I don’t make deals for votes. Some people in Olympia don’t like that and have lied about me. But, it will not change my standards.
My opponent has a terrible history he doesn’t want mentioned. Please see truthonmatt.org for original documents (pertaining to the multiple allegations and accusations made against Richardson).
State Representative Christopher Hurst in his endorsement said, “There are times when a moral imperative becomes so great that it is necessary to set aside partisan differences in the interest of public safety.”
Please join Republicans, Independents, and Democrats in sending me back to Olympia.
RICHARDSON: My opponent’s fixation on character assassination is nothing new. Roach’s false claim about me as a minor – 30 years ago – is disgusting and The Courier-Herald wrote they “decided not to publish the specific allegations as Richardson was cleared of the charges”...”within three months.” The documented proof is at richardson4senate.com. In contrast, Roach has a record of sanctions from 5 independent investigations that found her in violation of several state regulations since 1998. She is currently prohibited from contact with Republican staff and from future legislative meetings with Republican senators. You should vote for me because we have work to do and we need a senator who can work with others to solve the serious problems we face – for everyone. I will be included, engaged, and effective in working for more efficient government, better roads, education, lower taxes, balanced budget, and a strong economy for our district and our state.
2. Last session, the Legislature passed a series of tax increases on items like candy, bottled water and soda. Did you agree with the action taken? Why or why not?
RICHARDSON: No, it was done out of desperation. It was a short-term fix that will not solve our $4.2 billion budget deficit in the coming year. It’s what you get for bad planning, government waste and the misuse of funds. At this point, budget reform is the only answer. It will be difficult for many in the Legislature to make hard budget decisions because they get so much of their money from special interests. For example, 94 percent of my opponent’s money is from these special interests. You should elect me because I will be the only senator who hasn’t taken any special interest money in this election (pdc.wa.gov). That means I will be fair in voting for reforms and budget measures without being pressured by money, special interest groups, or lobbyists. The benefit to you is I will not be obligated to listen to anyone except the people from my district.
ROACH: The most egregious “sin” of the last session was to repeal Initiative 960 that required a 2/3 vote majority in both houses to raise taxes. In 2007, our district voted 57 percent to enact this taxpayer protection. I voted against the repeal and spoke on your behalf during debate. Senate Republicans are outnumbered 31 to 18 and the repeal was enacted.
Flood gates open, a series of new taxes and tax increases were passed. I voted against these tax increases. The solution to a bad economy is not to increase taxes, it is to increase the number of jobs. Raising taxes on goods reduces product demand, lowers sales and causes layoffs.
I’m endorsed by: Association of Washington Business, National Federation of Independent Business, and the WA Retail Association. Workers want a strong economy too and I have been endorsed by IBEW, state employees and other groups.
3. The state is facing a multi-billion dollar deficit for the next biennium. In your opinion, what is the best way for the Legislature to close the gap?
ROACH: I have long been a proponent of zero-based budgeting. We must decide what is most important to us and go from there. Caring for the disabled, funding education, and providing public safety are top on the list.
I have served for 18 years on the Senate Ways and Means Committee and I know choices will be difficult. We need someone with experience, again, successfully negotiating to help people and save jobs.
Over a year ago I began an effort to save Rainier School. Two weeks ago I led a tour of the facility. One of the most hopeful ways to keep this vital part of our plateau economy here is to find compatible uses for the site. Because of proximity to the Buckley Armory the National Guard is studying how the vacant area may be used.
I will continue to work for jobs and families during this tough budget cycle.
RICHARDSON: The Legislature needs to mandate percentage based reductions for state departments and agencies to meet. This way, they get to plan for and recommend their own ways to meet the reduced budget goals while preserving essential services they are charged to deliver. I have worked on several balanced budgets for the city of Sumner and understand how this model trims the budget through cooperative work with staff and departments. In addition, the funding mechanisms for K-12 education should be reformed to allow districts the flexibility to fund themselves at consistent levels related to student populations on a per capita basis. This will reduce their increasing dependency on state and federal funding. Balancing the budget will come from cutting back from previous levels of spending across the board. Many nonessential programs will also have to be assessed and reduced, just like families are doing across the country on a monthly basis.
4. Both you and your opponent are Republicans. If elected, how would your votes differ from those of your opponent?
RICHARDSON: My broad experience gives me a more universal understanding of the issues we face and how they can be solved. I will be a senator who is engaged, included, and listened to when important decisions are being made. Accordingly, my bills are more likely to be supported and co-sponsored by other Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. They have made it well known for years they want someone new to work with. My votes will differ from my opponent because I will be able to meet with other senators and staff on substantial issues; and be influential over many of those votes. She can not, due to the two Senate sanctions currently in place. You have to be present and influential to be effective, and you need good working relationships to be successful. The difference in our votes will come from someone new who can work on a variety of important issues.
ROACH: I oppose a state income tax. I do not trust government with that potentially onerous taxing tool. My opponent “does not oppose an income tax.” (Please see: wacfl.com for his answer to that question.)
I favor open government and access to public records. My opponent presumably would allow more public records to be sealed. He filed for an injunction to keep his own record at Federal Way Schools secret. (Please see: truthonmatt.org.) He didn’t want parents to know about his reprimand. Conversely, I’m preparing legislation to protect our classrooms. Personal fitness to hold office is an issue. I am sponsoring and will vote for legislation to protect children and keep records open.
I have been endorsed by Attorney General Rob McKenna, Reagan Dunn and all Republican individuals and organizations making endorsements. My opponent had his ‚ÄúMainstream Republican‚Äù endorsement withdrawn. They cited “concerns” over his fitness for office.
5. Tell voters a bit about your governing philosophy. What is the essential role of state government and how would your votes reflect your philosophy?
ROACH: Before I cast any vote I ask myself two things. Is it Constitutional and is it needed?
Government should be a servant of the people, not the other way around. We should not have to fear the taking of our children (ask Enumclaw’s Doug and Ann Marie Stuth) or fear onerous regulation and taxation that will kill jobs or rob us of a lifetime of investment (ask farmers and business owners).
The essential role of government is to protect rights of the citizens and, in balance, provide needed but not unnecessary regulation. Government does require reasonable funds to provide essential services. But the people, not government itself, are responsible for those decisions.
I vote to uphold all Constitutional rights. But, in my opinion, that is not enough! A legislator needs to stand up when rights are attacked. I do that and have successfully led opposition to attacks on our liberty.
RICHARDSON: I teach students in my college philosophy classes to speak and act in support of things that will make the world better. In order to be effective in getting the things we need to improve our lives in the 31st district, and the state, I believe the people need/deserve a professional, polite, and productive senator. Someone who can work with others to get results, won’t be corrupted by the system, won’t engage in destructive politics or campaigns, and will stand up to the political elites who always fund and endorse incumbents no matter what they do in office. I am a Constitutionalist who believes in the rule of law and our obligation to protect our state for future generations. This means if something makes our state better, more financially responsible, more efficient, and more responsive to the needs of the people – I will be speaking and acting to support it.