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From top left, clockwise, Jim McCune, Matthew Smith, Ronda Litzenberger, Joshua Penner, Gina Blanchard-Reed and Rick Payne.

Editor's note: All answers were written by the candidates and have only been lightly edited for format. 

Five Republicans and one Democrat are vying to succeed Sen. Randi Becker, R-Olympia, who announced earlier this year she will not seek reelection. 

Our story on the race can be read at the link below, but we've also included the complete answers to a questionnaire sent to each candidate which can also be found below. 

Six Candidates Compete to Replace Retiring Sen. Becker

The Nisqually Valley News did not receive questionnaire responses from Matthew Smith and Rick Payne, but the newspaper will publish responses from those candidates if they are submitted.

Ballots in both Pierce and Thurston counties have been mailed out and are due back the day of the primary election, Aug. 4. Voters in both counties can update their registration online up through July 27, or in-person through 8 p.m. the day of election. 

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Name: Jim McCune

Age: 69

Occupation: Small Business Owner, for over 50 years, and presently I’m a Pierce County Councilman

Current Residence: Graham, WA.

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Jim McCune

Party Affiliation: Republican

Elected Offices Held and Dates: State Representative, 2005-2013; Pierce County Councilman, 2013-Present; Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation 1994-2004; Prince William Sound Marketing Association 2000-2004; Republican Party PCO starting in the President Reagan years; Republican National Delegate 1988

Educational History: Highline HS; private courses in Constitutional Law and early American History.

Professional History: Successful Small Business owner for over 50 years Seafood Distributor and Marketer

Why do you want to represent the people of the 2nd Legislative District in the state Legislature? I am running for this seat because I believe, now more than ever, that the citizens of the 2nd LD need an experienced representative. Support from constituents confirms that I made the right choice to run for the senate seat. Serving as a County Council Member broadened my knowledge of district issues and what needs to be done at the state level to help at the county level. As a former State Representative, I am prepared for the job. As a business owner for 50 years, I know the frustrations of dealing with government regulations. I believe I can make a difference and work to bring a friendlier, pro-business climate to the state and help restore our economy. I also love serving people and protecting and maintaining their individual constitutional rights.

Why should voters choose you for this seat? What do you believe to be the highest priorities for the Senate this next session? I am the candidate with the most experience and voting record that best reflects the will of the district. We must write a budget that prioritizes the issues and restricts spending without raising taxes. Law Enforcement must be fully funded. Citizens must feel safe in their homes, at work and at play. There must be property tax relief, especially for those on fixed incomes. Constitutional rights, such as the Second Amendment, religious liberty and parental rights must be safeguarded. Education needs to be about the transfer of knowledge, not fighting to keep a sex-ed bill that sexualizes and indoctrinates our children. Funding the Yelm Bypass is important as is the Prairie Line Trail from Roy to Yelm. Family activities, such as our county fairs and 4-H programs need to be a priority. Laws to combat human trafficking, dangerous drugs and property crimes need to be prioritized.

If elected, what experience will you bring to the Senate? I served 9 years as a State Representative and am now finishing 8 years as a Pierce County Councilman. I served on a variety of committees when at the state and focused as the chair on the Public Safety and the Performance Audit Committees. I understand the challenges of owning your own business amidst the web of regulations to deal with, not to mention the barrage of taxes associated with being a self-employed business owner.

I’m a good listener. Constituents wanted recreation and we share traffic safety concerns. I secured funding for state and county projects—Yelm By-pass; Cross Base Highway; Highway 162; local traffic lights and have projects in the que; improvements in park and trail infrastructure.

What committees do you think you could do effective work in? Agriculture; Water Natural Resources & Parks; Local Government; Transportation; Rules; Special Committee on Economic Recovery.

If elected, how do you plan to work with legislators across the aisle to help not only the people of the 2nd Legislative District, but also the people and small businesses of Washington State in the months and years following the coronavirus recession? Reaching across the aisle sounds nice, but in reality, it means that voter’s values are in jeopardy of being compromised. Voting “principles over politics” is the most important thing to do. Working together on bills that protect and maintain individual rights is my focus. It is imperative that we respect and protect people’s property rights, parental rights, and businesses from more regulations and higher taxes. Allowing parents and local school districts be in charge of student studies will have my attention. Regarding the coronavirus, I see that there are other medicines successful in treating the virus. Budesonide, used by Dr. Richard Bartlett, has been 100% successful, proving the virus can be beaten without spending excessive taxpayer dollars. We can put this pandemic behind us and work to get out of debt.

How would you like to see the state and Legislature work to relieve its projected 3-year, $8.8 billion revenue shortfall this next legislative session? Had the governor chosen to approach the virus with common sense, we wouldn’t have such a catastrophic shortfall. I would like to see both chambers discern the top 10 priorities of government, referring to mandates, then use the remaining funds to address the next set of priorities. Increasing taxes to the citizens is off the table. They are taxed more than their fair share. It is imperative that the scope and size of the many agencies and services be reduced. Clearly, with the use of the computer for meetings, travel can be reduced by at least 75%. There may also be opportunities for early retirements.

Residents in the 2nd Legislative District experience a number issues with transportation and a lack of housing diversity, just to name a couple. Are there any proposals you have or any existing piece of legislature/law you’d like to build off of to solve these problems? All states across the country are experiencing this, so it’s not just a 2nd LD District problem. A description or definition of what success looks like has never been defined, and then, would it pass a cost/benefit analysis. One of the biggest obstacles to addressing this problem is the Growth Management Act, which artificially and exponentially increases the cost of housing and transportation. Until that legislation is analyzed from a cost/benefit perspective and eliminating special interest influence, housing and transportation issues will continue to thrive. Tax payers have limited resources. The Legislature must recognize that.

What state issues do you feel don’t get enough attention from either the media or Legislation? Human trafficking, particularly of young girls; drugs that flood across the Mexican border and ultimately appear in our state; a compromised educational system that refuses to recognize the destructive sex education program; the growth of relying on grants and foundations to fund government services.

Finding an answer to solving the state’s homelessness crisis and housing shortage could quite possibly be the issue of the century. What steps do you believe need to be taken to addressing this issue? Repeal the Growth Management Act and require individuals to accept consequences for the actions they take. Knowing that there will always be people in need, the taxpayers have always stepped up to the plate to provide funding for housing, mental health, drug abuse, meals and even job training. We can look for solutions in tax exempt foundations, whose missions are to help the homeless find homes. 

Where do you stand on recent gun control legislation (ie, the passage of I-1639)? I have yet to see where restricting those who obey the laws deter those who don’t. This was an absolute waste of tax payer dollars and time that could have been used for something more constructive, such as fighting human trafficking or finding shelter for homeless families.

Police reform has been a spotlight topic of debate in recent weeks. It’s possible such legislation could come forward to the House or Senate this January to limit the physical power police departments can use against their constituents. Where do you stand on police reform, and more specifically the use of teargas and chokeholds? As the Pierce County Public Safety Chair, I consider our deputies to be well trained and ready to serve. Their department is well versed in current methods of policing. Having said that, I’m sure if I were to speak to the parents and spouses of our fallen heroes in blue, they would tell you that the “rules of engagement” are best determined before the time of confrontation. Designer drugs give extraordinary strength to a criminal. Our servants shouldn’t be afraid to protect their own life and I believe the taxpayer agrees with that sentiment.

What motivates you to get out of bed every morning? I have a great desire to live life to the fullest extent possible, as taught by my faith. We are to serve always. I marvel watching my two amazing grandchildren grow up. America is young and still an experiment. Working to keep it free drives me daily, as well.

Where can voters learn more about you? www.electjimmccune.com

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Name: Gina Blanchard-Reed

Age: 50

Occupation: Executive Director, Turning Pointe Survivor Advocacy Center

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Gina Blanchard-Reed

Current Residence: Graham, WA

Party Affiliation: Republican

Elected Offices Held and Dates: Fire Commissioner, 2016-present, PCO, 2018-present, National Delegate GOP Convention 2016

Educational History: BA, Saint Xavier University, MNPL, Seattle University

Professional History: Care Net Pregnancy Family Services, Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County

Why do you want to represent the people of the 2nd Legislative District in the state Legislature? We have extremely challenging times ahead. We need fresh leadership. We need leaders who have demonstrated the ability to build bridges, form meaningful coalitions, stand on principle and be effective. I am that leader. My endorsement list shows I can bring in a wide range of support, work across the aisle. I know when to persuade, when to compromise and when to fight.

Why should voters choose you for this seat? I will represent all of the 2nd district, not just my party. I have diverse support in both Thurston and Pierce and with labor, business, law enforcement, first responders, Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

My nonprofit leadership background, elected experience of overseeing a $28 million budget providing essential services to almost 70,000 residents, and ability to navigate tense conversations and negotiations will all help me represent the 2nd District.

What do you believe to be the highest priorities for the Senate this next session? We need to get our economy going again and NOT raise taxes, maintaining public safety and restoring some level civil discourse.

If elected, what experience will you bring to the Senate? What committees do you think you could do effective work in? With my nonprofit work, I understand the challenges of providing services to the vulnerable. We need to explore creative ways to solve issues such as homelessness and mental health. More money does not always help us address these issues. More government does solve problems. I would prefer to partner with nonprofits and businesses on some of these issues facing our communities.

I also understand the needs of public safety providers and that protecting life and property is a basic role of government.

I would like to serve on the Health & Human Services Committee and the Transportation Committee given we have such challenging transportation issues in our district.

If elected, how do you plan to work with legislators across the aisle to help not only the people of the 2nd Legislative District, but also the people and small businesses of Washington state in the months and years following the coronavirus recession? I already have relationships with people across the aisle. I have been endorsed by Democrats and Republicans. I have the support of labor and businesses owners. It is imperative that we work together to get our economy going. We need to find common ground. I have said since day one, we need to look to business owners to help us figure out what THEY need to recover.

How would you like to see the state and Legislature work to relieve its projected 3-year, $8.8 billion revenue shortfall this next legislative session? We need to get the economy going again. We need to generate revenue through new business…growth and innovation. We should cut taxes for business and provide incentives. We do need to streamline government, promote ways to save money and update technology across the board. Everyone will need to tighten their belts, however. It is important to prioritize spending and plan for future emergencies. We need to change the way we view spending. 

Residents in the 2nd Legislative District experience a number issues with transportation and a lack of housing diversity, just to name a couple. Are there any proposals you have or any existing piece of legislature/law you’d like to build off of to solve these problems?

I would like to see us look at the GMA and lift limits on building restrictions. Reduce impact fees and lower permitting costs. At the end of the day, builders build for a profit. We need to make building affordable housing desirable for those builders. There is a shortage of the supply.

Transportation: We need to prioritize road projects. We need to encourage businesses to allow people to work from home, thinking outside the box of what we have done. We need MORE businesses in our communities.

What state issues do you feel don’t get enough attention from either the media or Legislation? Excellent question. We need to understand the basic role of government. It is to protect our Constitutional rights. We cannot be all to everyone. We need to make sure private entities are free and empowered to help us solve problems in our communities. We should empower local government to have more freedom to govern. I am also concerned about the Criminal Justice system. I see a lot of issues coming from the survivor’s side in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Crimes.

Finding an answer to solving the state’s homelessness crisis and housing shortage could quite possibly be the issue of the century. What steps do you believe need to be taken to addressing this issue? Making sure that builders have an incentive to build. Profit is a motivator. We need to reduce the cost of permitting and burdensome regulations.

Where do you stand on recent gun control legislation (Ie, the passage of I-1639)? I received the AQ rating from the NRA (highest from a non-incumbent). I was and am against the passage of 1639. I campaigned against it and understand that our Constitution prohibits the infringement on the right to bear arms. When laws are passed they need to be enforced. Many laws are passed that are difficult if not impossible to enforce.

Police reform has been a spotlight topic of debate in recent weeks. It’s possible such legislation could come forward to the House or Senate this January to limit the physical power police departments can use against their constituents. Where do you stand on police reform, and more specifically the use of teargas and chokeholds? I have many law enforcement friends and supporters and have had some very in-depth conversations around this topic. I have looked at the Graham vs. Conner Supreme Court case regarding the Use of Force. We as legislators need to understand this issue thoroughly.

I absolutely believe our police should be supported with funded training and adequate staffing. I however, believe that we need to review techniques around restraining, containing, neutralizing, etc. We need to constantly look at best practices and ensure that officers receive up to date training. Any hint that a law enforcement officer is misusing their authority needs to be met with discipline up to termination.

What motivates you to get out of bed every morning? I am a “half-glass” full person. I taught my kids to take every opportunity to grow, learn and give back. I am best motivated when I impact others to be all they can be. I believe our State and community can do better. I believe we can have civil discourse again. I want to set that example as a leader and as a State Senator.

Where can voters learn more about you? 206.478.2215 www.ginablanchardreed.com

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Name: Ronda Litzenberger

Age: 51

Occupation: Small Business Owner

Current Residence: Eatonville, Washington

Party Affiliation: GOP

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Ronda Litzenberger

Elected Offices Held and Dates: Eatonville School Board Director District #3 2009, 2013, 2017-present

Educational History: Eatonville Schools graduate attended Tacoma Community College and Brigham Young University.

Professional History: Mother of five children, Small Business Owner, Escrow Agent, Title Examiner, Strengthening Families Workshop Facilitator, Guiding Good Choices Facilitator, Parent Involvement Coordinator, Internet Safety Facilitator, Citizens for Education, Chair

Why do you want to represent the people of the 2nd Legislative District in the state? My experience in education and as a small business owner coupled with my passion to succeed have prepared me for this moment. I have a clear view of the challenges we face in Washington and I’m on a mission to create solutions and new opportunities. We have two major issues facing us today: restarting the economy in a way that supports small business, creates jobs, and protects the financial wellbeing of families and getting our children back to school safely. As a small business owner that has experienced the Great Recession of 2008 and was deemed non-essential for a time by our governor, I know first-hand the impact government overreach has on a business’ ability to thrive. As a veteran School Board Director that advocates for parents and students and has policy experience at a local and state level, I understand that getting children back to school in a way that is safe for them and their teachers is of paramount importance. My experiences have uniquely prepared me to be a passionate advocate and voice for the children, families and businesses of the 2nd legislative district.

Why should voters choose you for this seat? My experience as a business owner and a public servant has prepared me to be Senator during these unprecedented times. As the owner of a construction and development company I understand the impact land use laws, environmental regulations, and growth management have on affordable housing. I have felt the crippling effect of burdensome taxes and frustration that comes from excessive industry regulations.

My experience as a School Board Director, WSSDA Legislative Committee member and WSSDA Small School Committee Chair, has enabled me to learn and participate in the inner workings of our state government. Knowing how to draft legislation, seek input from key stake holders and closely evaluate the social and fiscal impacts of legislation will be allow me to hit the ground running. I have a deep understanding of K-12 funding, which is 52% of the state budget. I know the inequities and inefficacies deeply imbedded in public education. I have learned how vital it is to develop relationships, communicate clearly, be persuasive and unyielding in your position. The best leaders have the skills to work with all legislators to build strong coalitions around important legislation. Legislative members know me as a person of integrity and strong moral character. There is tremendous power in building relationships on both sides of the aisle. I am running for Senator because I am passionate advocate for values we share as the 2nd Legislative District.

What do you believe to be the highest priorities for the Senate this next session? I believe the highest priorities must be:

 1) Restarting the economy

 2) Balancing the budget without instituting an income tax

 3) Getting our students back to school safely

If elected, what experience will you bring to the Senate? What committees do you think you could do effective work in? As a small business owner that specializes in affordable housing coupled with my experience in Real Estate, Title Examination and Escrow, I am very aware how legislative policies, impact fees and Growth Management affect the cost of housing. Having my “boots on the ground” perspective will be valuable on the Housing Sustainability and Affordability Committee and the Financial Institutions Economic Development and Trade Committee. I know the barriers to affordable housing; bringing key stakeholders into the conversation will inspire effective solutions.

My experience as a School Board Director and Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA) Legislative Committee Member as given me an in-depth knowledge of the state education system, budget and legislation. As the Chair of the WSSDA Small Schools Committee, I understand the burden local bonds and levies have on rural communities. My experience and perspective will be valuable on the Early Learning K-12 Committee and Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.

I have spent the last 10 years caring for aging parents. I understand the financial burden and physical toll caring for loved ones can have on a family. Walking alongside my son as he navigated the waters of medical school created deep conversations about the politics involved in medicine. A solution to affordable healthcare will require healthcare providers, insurance companies, pharmaceutical developers and legislators to work together to provide comprehensive and affordable solutions for our citizens. For this reason, I would be very interested in being a part of the Health and Long-Term Care Committee.

If elected, how do you plan to work with legislators across the aisle to help not only the people of the 2nd Legislative District, but also the people and small businesses of Washington state in the months and years following the coronavirus recession? Protecting our small business community, families and students is what drives my work. There is great power in building relationships on both sides of the aisle. My non-partisan work over the last 12 years has helped me develop important skills and relationships that allow me to have open, honest and productive conversations with all legislators. Great solutions are created when we bring key stakeholders to the table to address tough issues. My ability to listen with passion, ask challenging questions and gather input helps create an environment centered around powerful solutions not partisanship.

How would you like to see the state and Legislature work to relieve its projected 3-year, $8.8 billion budget shortfall this next legislative session? We all need to be partners in the work of bridging the budget gap. As your Senator, I would support legislators taking the same pay cut we ask of other state employees.

We must freeze state spending and hiring. Allow regulatory reform that would make it easier for businesses to get back on their feet. Initiate incentives that will spur the growth of industry. It makes more sense to the save what was once the most robust economy in our state’s history than to allow business and industry to fail and then build our revenues from the ground up. We also need to seek flexibility of federal CARES money, so we can support our unique local economy efficiently and effectively.

Residents in the 2nd Legislative District experience a number issues with transportation and a lack of housing diversity, just to name a couple. Are there any proposals you have or any existing piece of legislature/law you’d like to build off of to solve these problems? Rather than spending billions of dollars on transportation alternatives that the majority of our citizens do not use, lawmakers should amend current transportation law and return to a system based on performance metrics like those identified by Gov. Locke’s Blue Ribbon Commission. We need to increase Sound Transits accountability to the public. It has taxing authority and makes policy and budget decisions that impact our citizenry; however, it is an appointed board that has no accountability to voters.

Lack of affordable housing is a direct result of a lack of inventory. The Growth Management Act can be used as a tool to help address housing challenges facing our state. We need to make adjustments to the GMA that are designed to give flexibility to local governments to allow them to address the housing needs of their communities thus increasing the supply of housing. We must look at reducing the costs of construction and make it easier to build homes.

What state issues do you feel don’t get enough attention from either the media or Legislation? Property tax reform is key to keeping people in their homes. I have deep concern for our senior citizens living on a fixed income. They have had their retirement accounts devastated by COVID-19. The housing crisis has caused a sharp increase in the assessed values of homes in our communities. Many seniors are worried property tax increases will rise faster than Social Security COLA. This will force them to sell the homes they have raised their families in and worked hard to payoff so they could live debt free in their retirement years. We need to provide property-tax reforms for seniors, disabled veterans and disabled persons so they can afford to stay in their homes.

Finding an answer to solving the state’s homelessness crisis and housing shortage could quite possibly be the issue of the century. What steps do you believe need to be taken to addressing this issue? Homelessness continues to be a serious problem in Washington and one of the key factors causing it is lack of affordable housing. Reasonable accommodations to make it easier to build outside urban areas are desperately needed. We must provide affordable options for people and make it easier to buy and permit things such as tiny homes and Accessory Dwelling Units. According to Mental Illness Policy Org, 25 percent of people on the street are suffering from serious mental illness. We need to increase the effectiveness of our mental health services to address this segment of the homeless.

Where do you stand on recent gun control legislation (Ie, the passage of I-1639)? I believe that if enacted this legislation will limit the civil rights of our citizens to protect themselves. Initiative 1639 would create a system of rules and mandates that would make a gun owner criminally liable for violent offenses committed by another person. The initiative’s stated purpose is to increase public safety and prevent the misuse of firearms. However, the initiative is unlikely to have the intended effect. Those that engage in criminal activity are not deterred by laws that limit firearm use.

Police reform has been a spotlight topic of debate in recent weeks. It’s possible such legislation could come forward to the House or Senate this January to limit the physical power police departments can use against their constituents. Where do you stand on police reform, and more specifically the use of teargas and chokeholds? I am grateful to those who serve with honor. We must work to protect both our citizens and officers by putting in place best practices and important reformations that will give law enforcement officers the tools and skills to de-escalate volatile situations. A few options to consider:

• Wear and use body cameras, this is for the protection of both citizens and law enforcement

• Training on unbiased policing

• Crisis intervention training, which teaches skills on how to assist and approach people who are in mental health crisis.

• Verbal de-escalation training

• Provide officers with equipment and training for non-lethal response options

As we continue to have open, thoughtful and reflective conversations within our homes and communities we can find strength to overcome these trying times and we will create a society that is knit together in unity and love.

What motivates you to get out of bed every morning? I am driven by my desire to create a better future for my children, grandchildren and community.

Where can voters learn more about you? Your vote is your voice, I want to hear from you. Please reach out to me at 253.271.9556 or email me at litzenergerronda@gmail.com. You can visit my website at www.NeighborsForRonda.com or visit my Facebook page Ronda Litzenberger For State Senate, https://www.facebook.com/RondaLitzenbergerforStateSenate

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Name: Joshua Penner

Age: 37

Occupation: Mayor of Orting, Small Business Owner

Current Residence: Orting

Party Affiliation: Republican

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Joshua Penner

Elected Offices Held and Dates: Mayor of Orting, 2018 to present; Councilmember Orting, 2012-2017; Pierce County Charter Review Commission, 2016; PCO 02-112, 2015-Present

Educational History: Green River College, St Martin’s University

Professional History: Small Business Owner, Marketing & Strategic Planning, Marine Corps Veteran

Why do you want to represent the people of the 2nd Legislative District in the state Legislature? We only have to look at the way King County is tearing itself apart, nightly, to see that the common sense and responsible approach that we value so much in our district’s many towns and cities, are not the same as the majority of the state. I have a strong desire to take the lessons I’ve learned from turning the City of Orting around, and apply them to the state. Put simply, balance budgets, hold bad-actors accountable, and be bold enough to call out wrong-doings when they’ve been done. 

Why should voters choose you for this seat? I feel the voters in our district know when something isn’t working out quite right. They know that the writing on the wall is that there’s going to be a push to raise taxes to balance a terrible budget. There’s likely to be a push to further impede their ability to use their land in their own way. There’s certainly going to be push to further erode of parental rights. And our first responders are likely to be scapegoated for the poor policy of elected leaders as well. With all this turmoil on our doorstep, there’s only two candidates that have experience working through these issues as elected officials. And only one, me, that has not only personally championed critical solutions for these items, but has also done it by building support at all levels of government. I’m bold & I’m effective. You can simply google “Orting Penner” to see the results of my actions.

What do you believe to be the highest priorities for the Senate this next session? Holding the line on this upcoming budget revenue scenario. The latest information is that we will be looking at ~$8b less in revenue in the next couple of years at the state. We need to fight like mad dogs to balance the budget without raising taxes. Because if we lose that fight, it will be our commuters, our families, the people of our district that will bear the brunt of paying that bad budget. In their fuel (carbon tax), in their mortgage (property tax), in their wages (unemployment insurance tax), even in their death (estate tax).

If elected, what experience will you bring to the Senate? What committees do you think you could do effective work in? I’m confident in my ability to work in all committees. I have a great deal of experience working on the issues those committees focus on already through my position on the Association of Washington Cities Legislative Priorities Committee, as well as the AWC- Policy Board, the Puget Sound Regional Council Growth Management Board, the Pierce County Aging & Disabilities Advisory Board, the Pierce County Veterans Advisory Board, the South Sound Housing Affordability Partners, and my extensive municipal and regional experience. With my budget acumen, I feel the Ways and Means committee would be a great place for me to make an immediate impact, when elected.

If elected, how do you plan to work with legislators across the aisle to help not only the people of the 2nd Legislative District, but also the people and small businesses of Washington state in the months and years following the coronavirus recession? It’s important to note that the folks on the other side of the aisle represent the prevailing opinion of their district in the same way I would represent ours. That understanding is necessary and bears reminding, if only to help break down the good guys vs bad guys dynamic. I approach all topics with a fresh mindset. And focus on the issue, not the person, or personality bringing forth a counter opinion. I’ve been very successful with this approach as the Mayor of Orting, and it will be as effective with legislators that don’t agree with me as it has been with councilmembers that didn’t agree with me. We can disagree without being disagreeable. Regarding businesses, it is my desire to figure out a way to communicate with those that don’t understand the realities of running a business, just how much overburdensome regulations, licensing, and permits can break (or make) a business in those critical first couple of years.

How would you like to see the state and Legislature work to relieve its projected 3-year, $8.8 billion revenue shortfall this next legislative session? Establish a simple goal of presenting a balanced budget within the projected revenue. If the $ has not been spent, it’s not a budget shortfall. It’s un-realized revenue. We know the revenue is going to come in lower than expected, we should focus our efforts on reigning in the expenses that have ballooned over the previous couple sessions.

Residents in the 2nd Legislative District experience a number issues with transportation and a lack of housing diversity, just to name a couple. Are there any proposals you have or any existing piece of legislature/law you’d like to build off of to solve these problems? The Growth Management Act has created a broken system that leaves us with communities full of commuters that have to work elsewhere in order to afford to live here. This broken piece of policy is restricting housing stock diversity, restricting good job growth in the area, and it is controlled, largely, by King County. Restructuring, rebuilding, or eliminating the growth management act would immediately help our housing diversity, our local employment prospects in the district, and in that same vein improve traffic during rush hours.

What state issues do you feel don’t get enough attention from either the media or Legislation? Currently, oddly, the upcoming budget and the special session that is necessary to get on top of it ASAP. As mentioned earlier, the Growth Management Act, it’s complicated, but it plays a factor in so much of the inequities of our daily lives in our district. And finally, emergency planning – not just COVID, but an eruption of Mt Rainier would be devastating for the region, and our district, in a way that we have not seen, even in this time of pandemic.

Finding an answer to solving the state’s homelessness crisis and housing shortage could quite possibly be the issue of the century. What steps do you believe need to be taken to addressing this issue? A lack of housing stock diversity goes hand in hand with the overly complex comprehensive planning required by the Growth Management Act. Because of the arduous requirements of this act, cities and counties have to look at every use, every application, every aspect of your property under an ever-growing lens of issues. The result, few people build their own home. Tract homes are the only economical option. And our communities end up with homes built for two middle income earners, as they’re the biggest piece of the pie. But single earners, those on fixed incomes, entry-level earners, and those that don’t make an average income are left with the option of trying to buy into a home they can’t afford, figure out how to afford raising property taxes on a fixed income, or how to compete for the already too few entry-level homes or apartments. It’s a supply desert and it’s caused by well-meaning but obtuse policy from folks that don’t live in our communities. The GMA needs to be relaxed, and the challenges to get from concept to construction need to be removed.

Where do you stand on recent gun control legislation (Ie, the passage of I-1639)? I’m against it. Like many other conservative Mayors, we immediately knew the result of enforcing that unconstitutional imitative (law) would be a lawsuit from the person whose rights were violated. Rightfully so. It’s a matter of time before a city violates someone’s rights to bear arms and it becomes (city vs violated) in the US Supreme Court. It won’t be my city though.

Police reform has been a spotlight topic of debate in recent weeks. It’s possible such legislation could come forward to the House or Senate this January to limit the physical power police departments can use against their constituents. Where do you stand on police reform, and more specifically the use of teargas and chokeholds? Our officers are constantly being asked to do more. They are MMA fighters, they are firearms experts, negotiators, child counselors, marriage counselors, social workers, case managers, customer service agents, friends, boogeymen, and so much more…in a normal day. These are the things we expect of them. And we add more to their plate every year. As someone that is supported by Police, but also as a Mayor that directs the chief of his own city, I think we need to look at this as addressing the whole concept of public safety and crisis intervention. Simplifying it into ideas like defunding police, or outlawing chokeholds is treating symptoms and not looking at the big picture.

What motivates you to get out of bed every morning? My family. The opportunities we will have had and the things we will have done by the end of the day.

Where can voters learn more about you? www.VotePenner.com or they can call me: 253-224-4226

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