Elections

Meet more candidates: Carol Gregory for District 30 state representative

District 30 candidates for state representative. From left: Republican incumbent Skip Priest (position 2); Democratic incumbent (position 1); Democratic challenger Carol Gregory (position 2); Republican challenger Michael Thompson (position 1). - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
District 30 candidates for state representative. From left: Republican incumbent Skip Priest (position 2); Democratic incumbent (position 1); Democratic challenger Carol Gregory (position 2); Republican challenger Michael Thompson (position 1).
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

(EDITOR'S NOTE: In an effort to educate the public before the Nov. 4 election, The Mirror is giving candidates an opportunity to answer six questions regarding important issues facing Federal Way and Washington state. Each of the candidates for District 30 state representative — Skip Priest vs. Carol Gregory; Michael Thompson vs. Mark Miloscia — have received this questionnaire.)

1. What are your qualifications for the state representative position?

I’ve spent my life helping others to improve their own lives. I have 45 years of leadership in our region in education, workforce development, small business mentorship and collaboration with diverse communities. I’ve worked as a teacher, manager of the State Small Business Improvement Council for former Gov. Booth Gardner, president of the Washington Education Association, and currently direct an organization that helps people move from low-wage jobs to family wage jobs.

I believe that my record of service in these areas gives me exactly the credentials I need to be an effective legislator and an advocate for working families. I’m running because I believe I can make a difference on the long-time challenges facing the community I love.

South King County needs better leadership in Olympia. Too many times, my Republican opponent has said he supports working families or our public schools, but votes against the funding we need to create family wage jobs, reduce class size and expand early education. Too many times, my opponent talks one way and votes another. I’m tired of hollow promises. This is an historic election, and I want to bring the change we’re talking about nationally to the people of South King County.

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2. What measures should be implemented to lower the cost of doing business in Federal Way?

The strength of our economy is central to my vision for the 30th District as well as Washington state, and the business community will always play a vital role in the health of the Puget Sound region. We must do more to support small businesses. I would support expanding affordable health care for small business employees and reforming the business and occupation (B&O) tax, especially for small business startups.

Transportation costs are high and our transportation infrastructure is critical for businesses. I just can’t see why my Republican opponent voted against the recent transportation package, which included over 400 transportation projects. I would work to complete the Federal Way "triangle" and bring light rail through our district.

I also believe that we have to invest in people. A skilled and motivated workforce is the foundation of a strong economy and the best way to create family wage jobs in our region. With the rise of globalization, there is no more urgent need for our region than creating paths to opportunity for every person through education and workforce development.

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3. Should the state play a role in improving financial management skills in Washington's citizens?

Yes. We are seeing the results of a poorly regulated financial system that invites bad financial decisions. When my Republican opponent had the opportunity to help people make better financial decisions, he voted against counseling and financial guidance programs.

As the director at a non-profit that works with low-income communities to build long-term prosperity through workforce development, education and small business mentorship, I have firsthand knowledge of what is at stake for people in their everyday and long-term financial decisions. Some people have family or friend networks to provide informal financial guidance but others, particularly those on low incomes, do not.

I would support bills to expand financial literacy and homeownership counseling to low-income families, as well as bills to assist low-income and moderate-income households facing foreclosure. Smart, focused support for people making difficult financial decisions can make a big difference in their lives and in strengthening our economy.

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4. What are some reasonable solutions to improving the quality of education in Federal Way and Washington state?

The future of our country depends on our ability to prepare our kids for the global economy. We need to move beyond expensive, one-size-fits-all solutions. I will focus my priorities on resources that help teachers teach and students learn. I will work to:

• Ensure equitable funding for our schools;

• Expand early education;

• Reduce class size;

• Increase teacher pay;

• Expand community support and mentorship for kids to reduce the dropout rate;

• Reform the WASL; and

• Make post-secondary opportunities more affordable and accessible so that everyone can succeed.

Our schools need more resources, especially in Federal Way. I commend the Federal Way School District for bring inequitable funding to the fore. I just cannot understand my Republican opponent’s inconsistent support for our kids. He says he is a “statewide leader” in education but votes against reducing class size, paying teachers better salaries and expanding early education. Is that leadership?

I have worked at all levels of the education system — as a teacher, as director for Highline School District’s community engagement program, and in the cabinet of State Superintendent Judith Billings. I will stand up for education and our kids in Olympia.

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5. What are your thoughts on Washington state's Working Family Tax Exemption, which involves tax rebates for eligible families?

I support the state’s Working Families Tax Exemption because it makes our tax structure more equitable.

Let’s be perfectly honest: Over the past 35 years, wages for working Americans have either remained stagnant or grown too slowly to keep up with the cost of energy, food and health care. We have 75,000 people ages 18-54 working low-wage jobs in King County alone. Now, more than ever, this is a time for legislators to reduce the burden on the middle class and the working poor. The Working Family Tax Exemption is easy to administer, puts federal funds back into local communities, and helps low-income workers keep up with the cost of living.

The bottom line is that we need to get more people into family wage jobs. I have a background in workforce development and currently direct an organization that helps people move from low-wage jobs to family wage jobs. I will work at the state level to move people into family wage jobs through workforce development, technical training, and support for small businesses.

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6. How closely do you match up with your political party's established positions and values?

I agree philosophically with the central goals of the Democratic Party, which seek to help our kids to succeed in education; support working families and job creation to build the middle class; support seniors and the most vulnerable; improve access to health care; ensure equal rights; and strengthen our economy. However, I will vote my conscience after listening to the hopes and concerns of my constituents. My party will not direct my vote.

I also believe that our legislators need to be more consistent. Legislators who do not follow through on their commitments are breaking trust with their constituents. I will follow through on my commitments to support our schools, build the middle class, create pathways to family wage jobs, protect our environment, improve transportation, ensure accountability for our tax dollars, and expand access to quality, affordable health care.

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To learn more about Carol Gregory, who seeks election as a Democrat for District 30 state representative, visit www.friendsofcarolgregory.com.

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