These are questions put to the Washington State District 26 Candidates.

The candidates running for the 26th Washington State Legislative District Representative Positions 1 and 2, were asked by Key Peninsula News to answer an email questionnaire. Those elected will have an immense impact on the future and growth of the Key Peninsula.

There are two candidates for Position 1. Kim Abel, a Democrat and former mayor of Port Orchard, is running against Jan Angel, a Republican and Kitsap County Commissioner. They are both residents of Port Orchard. For more information on the candidates’ respective campaigns, visit www.kimabel.com and www.janangel.com
There are two candidates for Position 2. State Representative Larry Seaquist, a Democrat who currently holds the position. He is seeking re-election and running against Marlyn Jensen, a Republican business owner and long time Republican activist. They are both residents of Gig Harbor. For more information on the candidate’s respective campaigns, visit www.electlarryseaquist.com and www.unitedformarlyn.com

Below are the email responses from the state legislative candidates to questions submitted by the Key Peninsula News.

KP News question: During your campaign in 2008, what single item stands out as the biggest challenge for the KP over the next two years, and how will you address it?

Legislative District 26 State Representative Position 1 candidate answers:
Kim Abel, (prefers Democratic Party): As I”ve door belled out on the Key Peninsula, the biggest concern I’ve heard is growth and transportation. I will work to put community character and quality of life at the top of the list. We should require appropriate infrastructure for new growth and adequate infrastructure for the growth that has occurred. The KP citizens have already developed their vision for the future by working together on the Key Peninsula Community Plan. Roads and public safety are part of this equation, and I’ll fight for funding to improve access to the Peninsula from Highway 16, and make Highway 302 safer.
Jan Angel, (prefers Republican Party): Transportation congestion and safety are the largest challenges that I see for the Key Peninsula area that must be addressed immediately. We have roads in the area that people are being killed on. Projects currently underway are moving at a snails pace and need the continual push from the 26th Legislators to get the jobs done. A representative of WSDOT has stated that the Purdy Bridge itself is “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete”. Continuing to fix the broken guardrails isn’t going to get it. Traffic back ups continue further and further on Highway 16. It amazes me that “road rage” is not to a new all time high. I look forward to next month’s community meetings to hear what they have planned to resolve these issues.

Legislative District 26 State Representative Position 2 candidate answers:
Marlyn Jensen, (prefers Republican Party): Key Peninsula is a desirable and affordable place to live. As the population grows in KP so does the transportation problem. The biggest challenge will be the Purdy Bridge, Purdy off ramp from highway 16 and highway 302. As Key Peninsula grows, so will these problems.
Larry Seaquist, incumbent (prefers Democratic Party): We have several big challenges: we have to manage our growth so that Key Peninsula keeps its special, rural qualities as up to 10,000 people move here in the next decade or so. We all have to help our neighbors as many KP families struggle through this economic downturn. We have to push to get Highway 302 and the Purdy Spit bridge problem fixed with a new highway. And throughout we have to keep protecting Key Peninsula’s woods and waters. For me, the biggest problem in the middle of all of that is the cost of health care. More and more families are going without the health care they need, more and more kids are going to school with serious dental problems. My main focus right now is on developing a comprehensive set of reforms that will attack this health care cost problem and get us back to where we should be: a family doctor for every family at a price every family can afford. We have to do this on a bi-partisan basis. I’m working now every day with health care professionals and my Republican friends to try to turn this health care crisis around. If voters decide to send me back to the legislature, they can expect that I will spend a great deal of time on health care cost control.

KP News question: What will you do to help people keep their houses?

Position 1 candidate answers:
Kim Abel: This must be tackled at both the Federal and State levels. On the Federal level, there must be an effort to help families whose home value has undergone drastic change. This support is vital; the many “for sale” signs I see when I’m out doorbelling could drastically affect the character of the KP community.
On a State level, we must step up to the issue regarding property tax relief. No one should be taxed out of their homes. I will fight to add protections and relief valves for seniors, families and those in the service of our country.
Jan Angel: I would and will continue to work for a strong state and local economy that will keep folks employed with good, living wage jobs so they can afford to pay their bills and provide for their families. For senior citizens, I would like to explore options that would allow those on fixed incomes to have a means to stabilize or freeze their property taxes. This could take a number of different forms that I want to investigate.

Position 2 candidate answers:
Marlyn Jensen: We need to be focused on a sound job base in our state. Presently we have major issues obtaining and retaining businesses. Without businesses we do not have jobs. Without jobs people can’t make money. The taxes, failure rate, mandates, and fees this state places on businesses are astronomical. Therefore it is important to bring businesses into this state not keep them out.
Larry Seaquist: I’m really concerned about this problem. I’m trying to help in three ways, first with property tax cuts. I’ve twice sponsored bills to increase the exemption limits for seniors. Second, health care reform. Many people are losing their homes to medical bankruptcy – the result of not being able to afford insurance that covers serious problems. So I’m developing legislation for the next session that will attack health care costs across the board and provide every Washington family with catastrophic protection so that no one will go broke from a medical emergency. And thirdly, I’m working with the legislative leadership to create new, tougher budget procedures for the legislature. I want to see much better strategic budget planning and much tougher oversight of our state agencies. One example: I’m determined to cut the headquarters staff of the ferry system in half immediately. Our ferry system has many too many people driving desks in Seattle. We can save $25 million or more a year by cutting that staff back to a reasonable size.

KP News question: What will you do to help schools, police, and fire departments cope with rising fuel costs?

Position 1 candidate answers:
Kim Abel: The biggest issue for school districts is student transportation costs – which is a huge problem because the state reimburses school districts on an ‘as the crow flies’ mileage basis. There is a school funding task force at work and I am watching for their recommendations, which must include maintenance and fuel costs.
The emergency response agencies are funded by local jurisdictions and, as the former Mayor of Port Orchard, I will work to keep unfunded requirements from being passed on to local districts, leaving them better able to deal with increased costs. I will also support and fund new modern technology that can reduce public safety vehicle fuel costs, such as automated ticket and incident report-writing systems.
Jan Angel: I would suggest policies such as a vehicle “no idling” policy, like the one that we have just passed in Kitsap County. We should also review use of vehicles to make sure they are being used as efficiently as possible. In Kitsap as a Board member of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, I worked with school districts and public transit to retrofit the buses for alternative fuel consumption. I would like to review the gas tax to see how and what it is being used on and to see if it should be reduced or repealed to help all our citizens and our businesses.

Position 2 candidate answers:
Marlyn Jensen: We know as a nation we can no longer depend on our present resources. Each entity; schools, police and fire, need to evaluate what they do today and look outside those boundaries to what other possibilities exists. As your state legislator I will look beyond present government practices and more towards what the private sector has done. As your representative I will identify and take action on appropriate fuel alternatives.
Larry Seaquist: I start with the school problem. Increased fuel costs are really hurting our school district. The state is not paying for the actual cost of getting our kids to school. We have a task force on school funding working now to make sure we are fully funding school transportation. I will vote to get that money to the schools. We need to add the ferry system to the list of people with fuel cost problems. I have helped charter a special study of ways the ferry system can cut costs with smarter operations. And by cutting the ferry system headquarters staff back to size as I propose, we can save $25 million or more each year – money that can be used to keep fares under control and to build new ferries. Of course, the main problem goes beyond fuel prices. Our whole national economy is in a serious tailspin. This is more than a downturn – it appears that we are starting into a fairly long period of economic adjustment where our whole economy is restructuring itself. I’m pushing the state’s leaders to join me in thinking through how we keep state budgets low while we help the state come out the other side of this downturn stronger than ever.

KP News question to candidates who prefer the Democratic Party: How would an Obama win impact Washington State and the Key Peninsula respectively?

Kim Abel: LD 26, Position 1: Overall, an Obama victory will protect tax cuts for poor and middle class families, which will help in these uncertain times. Other assistance will come in the form of a windfall profits tax on excessive oil company profits, giving American families an immediate $1,000 emergency energy rebate to help with rising bills. This relief would be a down payment on Obama’s long-term plan to provide middle-class families with at least $1,000 per year in permanent tax relief. For a State always on the cutting edge of technology, Obama will help Washington citizens and companies catch the next industrial wave by providing green jobs and investment credits for renewable energy, boosting our economy while weaning us from foreign oil dependence.
For the Key Peninsula, Obama’s plans for expanding public service would support and expand the excellent work community groups on the Key Peninsula are doing today. Imagine how Obama’s call for junior and senior high school students to do 50 hours of service to their communities each year would impact the efforts being made at the Key Peninsula Community Services, the Mustard Seed Project, and the Children’s Home Society! And that is just the beginning of his call for each of us to help change America. His environmental emphasis will make him a great partner as our State moves forward in cleaning up the Puget Sound and Hood Canal, something of vital importance to the Key Peninsula and the 26th District in general, because of our wonderful shorelines and small streams.
Larry Seaquist: LD 26, Position 2: An Obama-Biden presidency would immediately change our national economic situation. As they work to balance the federal budget, get us on the path to oil independence, and get us out of the $3 billion-a-week war in Iraq, we should see two kinds of direct impact here: First, we should see our local economy turn around. More people will be driving across Purdy spit every morning on their way to a good-paying job. Those commuters will feel like we are finally on the way to lower driving costs. Second, we should see the Federal government begin to meet its core obligations. An Obama administration can be counted on to fully fund veterans health needs, to fund children’s health, and highway maintenance. We should see fewer people at the food banks and fewer people with no health care. This will help keep taxes low and free up money for education.

KP News question to candidates who prefer the Republican Party: How would a McCain win impact Washington State and the Key Peninsula respectively?
Jan Angel, LD 26, Position 1: As I am currently a Kitsap County Commissioner and a Candidate for State Representative, I am very busy and have not had the time to analyze the McCain-Palin ticket as to how it specifically applies to Washington and the Key Peninsula. As a Candidate for the Key Peninsula area, I have concentrated on the issues facing the 26th District.
Marlyn Jensen, LD 26, and Position 2: All too often, focus is placed on the national level when in fact government begins at the local level. My job as a state representative is to serve the people of this state. McCain states there will be no more taxes. This is positive. Additionally, it is important for states to maintain their autonomy. Spending is out of hand in our state. As your state representative it is a priority to get the spending under control.

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