Opinion

Candidates long on talk, short on substance | Adele Ferguson

How about this for a way to save money?

Cut high school back to two years. Why do they need four? Most of them just lollygag around in the final two years, some ditching school altogether before they get that far.

They’re busy earning money to support their cars.

“We can get kids out of high school quicker by cutting it to two years,” state Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, 57, told the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues breakfast at Cloverleaf Bar and Grill.

The audience did not go wild with enthusiasm over the veterinarian’s answer to the question where can the Legislature make budget cuts without reducing services.

Answers from the two Republicans who want her job didn’t wow them either.

Bremerton City Councilman Brad Gehring, 60, said they couldn’t cut education and they couldn’t cut infrastructure, but efficiencies do have to be found.

Marco Brown, 61, ex-banker who failed to unseat Haigh last time, said show him the budget and he’ll show you where to cut. He did rail on though about money wasted on welfare for illegal immigrants.

Chamber exec Silvia Klatman put them on the spot to start with by asking where they stood on the two issues of the most concern to the chamber members.

Did they agree that ferry fares should be frozen to discourage further loss of riders? To exempt state ferries from fuel taxes? To invest in new ferries and major fleet repairs?

They sure did, Brown tossing in that the vessels were filthy and corroded.

Would they encourage low-cost, flexible health plans, reduction of requirements that added cost to the system, oppose government programs that unfairly compete with private plan and a study to analyze ways to reduce health care and insurance costs?

Brown would work with health providers and insurers so corporations would pay what people are worth, wages that allow workers to support their families.

Haigh was for making health care affordable and accessible to all.

Gehring complained that state mandates were a burden on people and business. Asked if Indian tribes should be sharing their gambling revenues with the state, Gehring said their casinos were a tremendous burden on the infrastructure. Brown said he agreed with Gehring. Haigh said she agreed with Gov. Gregoire’s cancellation of a revenue sharing agreement between the Gambling Commission and the Spokane tribe but “on the other hand, the Little Creek casino is one of the largest employers in Mason County and provides health care and police services to all.”

Should the tribes be paying business and occupation taxes? Nobody should, said Gehring.

All three agreed Hood Canal needed looking after besides just throwing money at it. In closing, Brown said he should be elected because he represents the common man. The corporations are not looking out for the little guy. And he fought NASCAR to the finish, he said, to keep it from sticking the people for part of the cost of locating here.

Gehring said it was time for a change. Management of the government could be done a whole lot better and the vitality of the economy was imperative. His eight years as a councilman prepared him well to deal with the people’s needs, he said.

Haigh said she chaired a committee in Olympia and served on the Capital Projects Advisory and Review Board which worked to build more efficiency into government.

They all shook hands, Haigh gave Gehring a big hug, and then they hit the campaign trail against each other for the top two spots on the ballot Aug. 19.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA 98340.

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