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District 30 Legislature candidates take the stage in primary election forum
About 70 folks turned out Monday to educate themselves on the District 30 state representative position two candidates vying for the state Legislature.
Katrina Asay, Ed Barney, Jerry Galland, Carol Gregory and Anthony Kalchik are competing to represent Federal Way, along with a handful of other municipalities, as a state representative. They participated in a debate hosted by The Mirror and Federal Way Chamber of Commerce at Federal Way High School's Little Theater. The position was vacated by Skip Priest, who is running for Federal Way mayor.
Candidates answered approximately 20 questions posed by the audience and hosts. They agreed on several issues. Balancing the state's budget, prioritizing spending, properly funding education, boosting the economy, attracting jobs and retaining small business in Washington are necessities, they said.
However, the debate was an opportunity for candidates to set themselves apart from one another and their predecessor. They were asked about privatization of liquor sales, immigration and drunken driving laws, taxes, spending theories and transportation, among other things.
Katrina Asay, mayor of Milton, addressed the crowd confidently and calmly. Asay, a Republican, is running because she sees local cities' needs directly influenced by the Legislature, she said.
She wants District 30 to be a better place for her children and grandchildren to live. Her passions include addressing lax drunken driving laws and bringing government back to its basics — funding only what is necessary and what can only be offered best by state government. She supports backing the state out of its role in the retail arena of selling liquor, placing sunset clauses on tax loopholes and putting a stop to drunken driving plea bargaining.
Asay said she differs from her party's typical political standings in the sense that she believes there is a time and place to raise taxes. She prides herself on bringing Milton from a dire state to a more financially stable one when she became mayor seven years ago. She sees a need for the same work at the state level.
"The state's a mess; we all know that," Asay said. "There's work to be done. I'm up for that task."
Ed Barney, a Republican, is a Federal Way School Board member whose priorities lie in funding education and taking action instead of studying issues repeatedly. Prioritizing the budget, reviewing it line by line and "tightening the belt" are necessary, he said. Education ought to be a top funding priority, Barney said.
"We need to do something about our state budget," he said. "It's killing our education. It's killing our economy."
Barney supports the Legislature voting on bills as they're proposed and eliminating amendments, which tend to make it harder for initiatives to be passed, he said.
Jerry Galland, a Republican, resides in unincorporated King County. He stood out as the most fiery candidate. He will read the bills proposed, challenge his fellow legislators' viewpoints when needed, champion for the rights and good of the citizens, and maintain an approachability, he said.
"I believe I'm your best choice for this job," Galland said. "I'm a common man."
His viewpoints were more unconventional than those of his opponents. There needs to be less government and more private sector jobs, he said. Citizens' rights to decide whether they wish to annex should be restored, he said. DUI laws should be strengthened through enforcement and tougher laws. Galland suggested a law that permits a drunken driver's vehicle to be impounded and sold at auction after a first offense. He agrees with Arizona's recently passed anti-illegal immigration law and believes it could be properly applied in Washington.
Carol Gregory, a Democrat, ran against Priest for a spot in the Legislature in 2008. She came to the debate prepared and clearly explained herself. Her priorities include workforce training, closing tax loopholes, streamlining government, attracting businesses by building partnerships between public and private sectors, finding ways to fund reform measures she has introduced, and taking another look at how the Business and Occupation tax impacts small businesses.
Gregory is the only candidate that believes in pro-choice over pro-life. Another viewpoint that differed from Gregory's opponents is her desire to see the state partner with its cities to build infrastructure such as sidewalks. She also strongly supports mass transit.
"I'd support anything that would get people out of their cars and into mass transit," Gregory said.
Gregory differs from her competition because she has experience in the government, education, business and non-profit sectors, she said.
"I have the experience to hit the ground running in Olympia," she said.
Anthony Kalchik, a Republican and a known leader among Federal Way's Slavic community, ran for a state representative position in 2006. His priorities lie in building District 30's business sector, retaining businesses unique to Washington and relieving hardships, such as the Business and Occupation tax, to small businesses.
"We cannot afford to lose our businesses to other states," he said.
Kalchik said he believes in zero-based budgeting. This requires department managers to review their department's functions and justify all its expenditures, not just those above and beyond the previous year's expenditures.
"This is the only way to balance our budget and our expenses," Kalchik said.
His expertise are as a business owner and real estate agent.
Via an informal and anonymous poll following the forum, 16 forum attendees said they planned to vote for Gregory, nine chose Kalchik, nine picked Asay, five picked Galland and two picked Barney. Forty-one attendees participated in the poll out of an audience count of about 70. Another question asked attendees, "Did your vote change after hearing these debates? If so, who were you going to vote for?" The final tally was 1 for Asay, 2 for Barney, 3 for Galland, 5 for Gregory, 3 for Kalchik, and 17 for "no change."
Video of candidates' closing statements: