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ELECTION 2012: State rep. candidates discuss education reform, jobs and taxes
Candidates for District 30 state representative tackled topics like education, job creation and gay marriage during a forum Tuesday in Federal Way.
Republican Linda Kochmar and Democrat Roger Flygare are running for state rep. position 1. Republican Katrina Asay and Democrat Roger Freeman are running for state rep. position 2.
The Mirror and Federal Way Chamber of Commerce hosted the forum at Federal Way High School's Little Theater. The general election is Nov. 6, and ballots for the all-mail election will be sent to voters in mid-October.
Kochmar vs. Flygare
In this race for the open state House seat, Linda Kochmar touted her decades of service and experience in local government as her strongest asset.
Roger Flygare said he will bring a fresh view to Olympia, and that 34 years of experience in running a small court reporting business gives him the edge.
Both candidates support equitable and full funding of education in Washington. Both candidates promise to make education funding a priority, and support a recent Supreme Court decision that says the state is not fully funding schools as required in the constitution.
Flygare does not favor charter schools because they would strain the current public school system. Kochmar supports the idea of exploring the benefits of charter schools.
When asked what programs could be cut in order to support education funding, only Flygare gave examples, such as the barn preservation fund, quilt museum funding and tax loopholes.
Both candidates oppose a state income tax.
Kochmar said she opposes tax increases. She vows to help "prioritize" government spending and bring a sense a certainty to the state's small businesses.
Flygare said he opposes tax increases. He wants to empower small businesses. He opposes any proposals to add sales tax to home sales.
The candidates were asked their positions on Initiative 1185, which would require a two-thirds approval in the Legislature, or a vote by the people, to raise taxes. Flygare does not support I-1185, but said he would follow the law if it passes. Kochmar did not state her position but said she would abide by the vote of the people.
Both candidates advocated for job creation.
Both candidates favor more support for military veterans who return to civilian life. Flygare suggested proper funding that can help veterans find employment. Kochmar supports more training and apprenticeship programs in the Federal Way area for veterans and civilians alike.
Regarding same-sex marriage, Kochmar said she will abide by whatever the voters choose, and did not give a position. Flygare said he supports marriage equality and the pursuit of happiness, but says government should stay out of marriage.
When asked whether the candidates supported "a woman's right to choose" (abortion rights), Kochmar said she would "abide by a vote of the people," and Flygare said "absolutely."
As for decriminalizing or legalizing medical marijuana, both candidates supported that severely ill people can benefit from the drug. The candidates noted that any state effort to legalize the drug would clash with marijuana's status under federal law.
In regards to gun control, Kochmar wants more education and safety training available for gun owners, rather than penalizing gun owners. Flygare said he prefers enforcement of the current gun laws.
Asay vs. Freeman
Both candidates expressed a preference for bipartisanship and making decisions regardless of the party line.
Both candidate support affordable and accessible health care. Both candidates agree that job creation is a key solution for bringing Washington out of the recession.
Both candidates support full and equitable funding of education in the state.
Freeman, as a truancy lawyer, sees children dropping out of school because it doesn't hold their attention, he said. He would target this shortfall, support the hiring of more teachers and help students feel appreciated.
Asay wants to improve graduation rates by supporting more mentorship and reading in schools. As for education funding, she said the state must set aside 50 to 55 percent of new income in upcoming budgets to help fix the problem.
As for charter schools, Asay said she supports them because they provide more options for children. Freeman said he is receptive to specialized education and not opposed to alternative education, but said he opposed charter schools until they were fully understood and that the state should work within the system under a fully funded model.
When asked about the top transportation issues in District 30, Asay acknowledged the lack of money to fund improvements like the triangle project (I-5 and SR-18). She noted that Federal Way's street improvement fund should be a model for other cities. Freeman said the state should focus on bus service and light rail to get people out of their cars and off the roads.
When asked how to expedite light rail to Federal Way, Freeman intends to maintain pressure on Sound Transit to deliver the project. He recommends building more alliances among cities that will benefit, and called light rail a lifeline for the region. Asay noted that she drew up four bills in the Legislature to get the attention of Sound Transit. Although the money isn't available, she said the key is to stay on course in finding a solution. She suggested aligning with Pierce County and Tacoma for a possible solution.
Candidates were asked to name three things they did that benefited the local community. Asay cited crime bills that addressed auto theft and gold sales; approving money for downtown infrastructure in Federal Way; and helping to get a veterans memorial built in Milton while she was mayor. Freeman said his top three accomplishments in public office were helping to get crossing zones built on South 320th Street; reviving the Martin Luther King celebration; and protecting public safety from budget cuts.
Both candidates oppose a state income tax in Washington. Freeman supports more tax credits and incentives for businesses to encourage more research and development.
On affordable housing, Freeman says money should be set aside for private developers to include affordable housing in their plans and further utilize Section 8, and that municipal dollars can pay for upkeep on new facilities. Asay said measures must be taken to keep people from losing this housing in the first place. Asay said the role of government is to help people take care of themselves.
Freeman said he would consider a tax if it can protect and counter the burden on the poor.
As for Initiative 1185, Asay said she will accept the will of the people if the supermajority tax requirement passes. Freeman opposes the initiative, and although he opposes increasing taxes, he said the initiative impedes a legislator's ability to raise taxes if necessary.
As for same-sex marriage, Asay said she struggles with supporting it because the concept goes against her faith. Freeman said he has to vote in favor of same-sex marriage because it is unconstitutional for government to regulate marriage.
As for abortion rights, Asay said she is pro-life but supports the law. Freeman supports the right to choose, although his personal belief is different.
As for gun control, neither candidate would affect the right to own a gun, although both support protecting children from guns.
As for medical marijuana, both candidates support relief for the ill and access to alternative treatments, but acknowledge the federal law.
About the candidates
• Linda Kochmar, a Republican: Kochmar has served on the Federal Way City Council since 1997, including stints as mayor, deputy mayor and chairwoman of multiple committees. Kochmar is a risk manager at Lakehaven Utility District, where she has worked 33 years.
• Roger Flygare, a Democrat: Flygare owns a small court reporting business. He has worked with state lawmakers to pass bills related to the court reporting profession, such as license requirements and protection of job performance.
• Katrina Asay, a Republican: Asay was elected to the state representative seat vacated by Skip Priest, who became Federal Way's first elected mayor in 2010. Asay helped pass tougher legislation related to illegal cash for gold sales.
• Roger Freeman, a Democrat: Freeman, an attorney for 17 years who works with parents dealing with Child Protective Services, was elected to the Federal Way City Council in 2009. His most notable accomplishment since taking office is reviving the city's annual Martin Luther King Celebration.