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Cooney: Politics as usual don’t get it done

Larry Cooney is tired of politics as usual, and he’s ready to take his brand of change to Olympia. The GOP candidate for the 23rd Legislative District Position 1 is known for his eye-catching “Aren’t you sick of it?” campaign signs — “a bit of a lament,” he calls them with a smile.

New to the political arena, he’s looking to lead a common vision inline with Washington’s constitution.

“The greatest quality of a leader is to be able to bring change. This is the greatest quality because it is the most difficult task for a leader,” he said. “Bringing change requires being able to capture, hold onto and articulate a clear vision and then to bring people around a clear vision, find short-term wins for the citizenry and anchor change in our culture.

“... I have no strings attached, nor baggage to carry nor a power-brokered system to make happy. I’ve put my life on hold to volunteer to go to Olympia to bring change to our state government on behalf of the people who are really paying the tab for our increasingly expensive government.”

His short-term goals for the district include addressing the state ferry system. Cooney recognized the current heightened costs of fuel, supplies and payroll.

“The ferry system faces crises with three boats leaving the line this past year. We ought to have two new boats on line because of the nickel tax passed earlier this decade. Where are those boats?” he asked. “Our incumbency has not fought hard enough to hold to the state mandate for adequate funding of our ferries ... Meanwhile hundreds of millions of dollars (of) public funding is going into light rail and busses, for which the constitution mandates nothing.”

Other changes he’d like to make include:

bringing ferry service levels to those that are essential (“it’s a floating highway, not a floating tavern or coffee shop,” he points out);

opening bidding to out-of-state companies for construction of ferries; and

privatizing galley services as well as a Kingston to Seattle run.

Cooney also said he plans to protect the core functions of fire and police — important at a time of economic hardship, during which he expects a rise in criminal activity related to unemployment and poverty. He also said he’ll oppose cuts to emergency medical services and hopes to relieve department dependency on levies, though he doesn’t yet know specifically how. Looking into the long term, Cooney said he will improve business climate by reforming the Business and Occupation tax and unemployment insurance policies.

In reference to tribal relations, he said he’d like to catalyze a discussion on how the tribes will contribute from their profits to the operation highways and schools.

“As tribes move into other businesses beyond gambling industry, we need to review the economic impact of tax-free tribal businesses on non-tribal businesses,” he said. “Is the special tax and regulatory treatment granted to tribal businesses exceeding its intended purpose?”

Cooney listed reforms to the education system he plans to pursue, including:

waive certificate requirement for those professionals who have demonstrated the ability to teach and who have passion to teach our students;

relieve teachers of need to provide social services;

abort universal early childhood education;

allow principals to set micro-policy; and

offer tax incentives to families that homeschool or enroll kids in private education.

On health care, he is calling for a moratorium on mandates placed in the insurance industry.

“We are losing a competitive climate for insurance companies and companies and individuals are paying the price with poorer health coverage, he said. “This lack of competition is a set up for a state policy of universal health care and universal health care, besides being an economic boondoggle on our economy, will not bring health care to all.”

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