Olympia moves north

Washington State House Democrats tabbed Bremerton as the launching pad for their efforts in the upcoming legislative session as they bridged gaps within their own party, even as the governor’s race remained in limbo.

“We have a lot of gaps in this state, the mountain gap, the Puget Sound gap, and the education gap,” said State Rep. Pat Lantz (D-Gig Harbor). “That’s a gap I take as a personal mandate.”

The only way to bridge the gap between affluent and non-affluent members of society is providing employment opportunities and chances to acquire job skills, Lantz said.

“Without our investment in higher education, we condemn not only our state, but individuals in it to a declining role in global prosperity,” she said.

With the failure of the most recent education funding initiative, Lantz said she sometimes wishes it had just been a higher education funding proposal.

A higher education funding initiative could have set out as an objective, black-and-white initiative with clearly defined performance measures, she said.

“There are good things happening at Olympic College, but people in Olympia have to do something,” she said.

Another gap, Lantz said she has a vested interest in bridging is the transportation gap.

“People have to get across the water, and I am willing to move ahead on the passenger ferry option,” she said. “I know how important this to Kitsap County.”

Currently, there are 50 or 60 loyal riders on the passenger only ferries, and the potential for growth is there, she said.

“The fact that they compete with the state ferries is probably one reason it has taken off, but I’m convinced that a Southworth run would attract people from Pierce County,” she said.

While Lantz said she thinks it should be a priority, she is realistic enough to know that it will take time to prove its merit.

State Rep. Bill Eickmeyer (D-Belfair) said House Democrats have found they have more in common than differences.

“Everyone agrees education and health care issues are important to everyone,” Eichmeyer said.

Eastern Washington once was a Democratic stronghold, but that changed when people quit seeing government as being helpful, he said.

“What they’re saying now is you’re doing things to us,” he said. “Urban people are telling us how we’re going to live.”

Government needs to stop doing things to people and start doing things that benefit their lives, he said.

“We need to listen to them and they’ll tell you what’s going on with them,” he said. “We then need to take it to heart.”

While keeping an eye on statewide issues, Eichmeyer said one his main focuses will be the Hood Canal.

“We are assessing exactly what is occurring in nature and are looking to see what nature put in play,” he said. “We are looking at the entire biology of the canal, so we can understand exactly what is going on.”

One of the relationships that has been ignored in the past is the relationship between plants and animals in the canal, he said.

“We took out the sea cucumber, which is a natural vacuum, and that’s what we need right now,” Eichmeyer said.

For House newcomer State Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Bremerton), nothing could be better than having the meeting in Bremerton.

“It’s a wonderful chance for the caucus to see what Bremerton is doing to revital

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