35th Legislative District: Friendship will come down to Aug. 19 wire


Four middle-aged men eyeing the open 35th District House seat brought their sales pitches to the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues the other day, stressing “not one of us is a bad guy” and promising a “clean, solid, good campaign.”

Drawing a pretty good crowd to the Cloverleaf Bar and Grill were Democrats Fred Finn, 62, Belfair, a lawyer-businessman, and Daryl Daugs, 46, Belfair, a union organizer who raises foster kids, and Republicans Randy Neatherlin, 44, Belfair car repair and used car shop owner, and Herb Baze, 58, Shelton, Realtor and former Mason County commissioner.

Each wants to take over the responsibilities, not to mention excellent salary and benefits legislators make, of retiring Democrat Rep. Bill Eickmeyer, who has served the 35th District for 10 years and made restoring Hood Canal his speciality.

It was a sure thing that his would-be successors would be asked how they would carry on his legacy.

Finn — “First we have to convince the public there’s a problem.”

Daugs — “Make sure the canal doesn’t get left out of the Puget Sound Partnership.”

Baze — “There are serious problems but it’s already been studied to death.”

Neatherlin — “We need to reseed the oysters, clams and eel grass that are needed.”

(That brought the only applause for remarks).

What about people’s property rights on Hood Canal?

Daugs — “We need to be good stewards of the environment.”

Baze — “We should not have sewer runoff in the canal, make things work for the betterment of the people.”

Neatherlin — “Deal with elected officials who can restrict what can be done.”

Finn — “If there is a taking, the property owner should be compensated.”

What would each of them have done if in charge when Chico Creek washed out?

Baze would put every resource on it, Finn would have called in the feds and then gone to personally help the victims, Neatherlin said the squeaky wheel gets the grease and Daugs said Illahee Road and part of old Wheaton Way were still washed out.

How would they deal with the ferries?

Baze would run the system like a business, Daugs said the equivalent of the inmates are running the asylum, Neatherlin said they should listen to state Auditor Brian Sonntag’s suggestions for saving money, Finn said yes to freezing fares and investing in new vessels but no to exempting the system from paying fuel taxes.

Asked about health insurance, they blamed former Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn for creating such a mess by over-regulation that many companies left the state.

Should the Indian tribes share their gambling revenues with the state?

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

What would you do for Bremerton?

Neatherlin — “Bring jobs.” Finn — “Fully fund basic education, develop jobs.” Daugs — “I’m the only one in this group from Bremerton.” Baze — “Bring spending under control.”

Why should we pick you as our new legislator?

Baze said he had proven leadership and management skills. Daugs said he had a history of getting people to agree. Finn said he had a background in law, business, education and the military. Neatherlin said he had studied every issue. They were all friends, they said.

Whether that lasts when it’s down to the top two Aug. 19 is questionable.

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

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