On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Burner vs. Reichert at Newcastle Chamber Candidates Forum

This morning the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce held a candidates forum that featured candidates for both State House positions in the 41st District and Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert, candidates for the WA-08 Congressional District.

The venue was the Newcastle Golf Club, and the room was comfortably packed with, I would have to guess, a mostly affluent, well to do and well dressed audience.

Lisa Jensen, Chamber President began the proceedings shortly after 10am. She and her husband, John, a board member, organized the event, and were kind enough to provide me with a choice location at the front and to the side to take notes and such. Sitting beside me was Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times who is covering this race for the paper, and was also a panelist at the Oct 10 Seattle Times sponsored event. There were also reporters from KIRO and KING 5 TV.

The moderator asking the questions was Connie Marshall of the Bellevue City Council. She stood to my left and to the candidates' right.

First up were 41st District Position 1 candidates, Fred Jarrett (R) and Dale Murphy (D). They were followed by 41st District Position 2 candidates Judy Clibborn (D) and Erik Fretheim (R).

Marshall asked for a civil discourse, making reference to the Meydenbauer Center as an example of an uncivil debate. She indicated that the two policemen at the back of the room would remove anyone who disrupted the event. Having attended the debate on the 10th, I think her characterization of it was unfair. The candidates were civil at that event, and the audience was not so much uncivil as they were engaged and passionate.

My main focus in this posting is to recap the Burner / Reichert segment, but as I did after the Oct 10 debate, I'll post my raw notes regarding the other candidates so as to provide an indication of their comments.

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Q: What is the most pressing need for the district?

Dale Murphy (DM) - transportation planning for now and future, an east link, supports WSDOT head McDonald, transportation bill, explore and invest in maglev, referendums for further financing, let voters chose if they want to fund these things.

Fred Jarrett (FJ) - education, 36,000 kids didn't pass WASL. Improve math instruction: serious and rigorous curriculum. Teacher education, get best people into teaching, higher salaries.

Q: Initiatives are consistently challenged in court, what are your thoughts on the initiative process, can it be improved and how?

FJ: eliminate paid signature gatherers, against McKenna's interpretation of the signing of the back of petition. Some initiatives make sense (like smoking ban). Against I-933 - too much complexity in the issue for an initiative.

DM: Agrees with most of what FJ said. We've lost track of the common good/public interest. Consider publicly financed campaigns, particularly in judiciary elections. Against powerful pools of money that back initiatives, particular from out of state.

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Erik Fretheim (EF) - Worked at Brigadoon. Served in Iraq

Q: What do you think is the cause of low voter turnout in young people, what can we do about it?

EF: Need to show them that legislators listen. Encourage people to vote.

Judy Clibborn (JC): Reach out, get them involved. Talked about skate boarding park.

Q: What is you position on I-933.

JC: Against it. People are being wronged, but I-933 will destroy rules we have built up for each other - revert back to county rules. People will end up in litigation. Government will have to pay both sides.

EF: For it. Chance to tell legislature that we want something to happen. Pointed to Oregon (Measure 37), and that it hasn't cost billions there. Initiative will force legislature to do something.

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On that last point related to Measure 37 I suggest you read this article at Loaded Orygun.

After a very short break, the candidates for WA-08's congressional seat entered the room from different doors.


Darcy Burner speaking, and Dave Reichert

Both candidates were allowed a three minute opening statement.

Dave Reichert reiterated his 35 years of service, 33 years with the Sheriff's office (was it that long?). He brought up the WTO riots, and Gary Ridgeway. He talked about the emergency communications bill he worked on. He claimed he stood up to the mayor in his Sheriff days and President Bush as a congressman. He stated he wanted to bring people together and change the way Congress worked, and wanted freedom for our children and grand-children. But he wanted to remind people that 9/11 changed everything.

Darcy Burner indicated that this race offered a choice to make a difference in Congress. Voters could either choose more of the same by staying the course in support of Bush's policies, or they choose for change. She remarked that with each soldier killed in Iraq, each senior unable to cope with prescription drug prices, each child unable to get a college education, she knew we were on the wrong course. She bemoaned the fact that the waiting list for veteran health care is over 10,000 people long. She ended by stating that Congress was failing to hold Bush accountable for his failed policies, and that as congresswoman she would do so.

The moderator then asked four questions that both candidates each had a couple of minutes to respond to.

The first question was about Iraq and the next steps needed, and what each would do as a congress person.

Burner indicated that we need clear objects, and need to supply the soldiers with the proper equipment and resources. Congress and the President need to listen to the generals. She referred to the Powell Doctrine as a guide to what questions need to be asked, and should have been asked before the invasion. She stated that would fight for a realistic plan for returning control to Iraqis and bringing the troops home with honor.

Reichert stated, as he did Oct 10, "First we need to remember, we were attacked on September 11th. We are at war. We're at war with terrorists who are out to kill Americans. They are not only out to kill Americans but they are out to kill freedom." He went on to talk about how he was in the Air Force reserves and although he never fought in a war, he knows what it is like to have a gun pointed at you. He stated that "we need to win, period", and that the Iraqi government has to be strong. He agreed with the Wolf initiative that backs former Secretary of State James Baker's assessments.

However, it was recently revealed that that plan has ruled out the prospect of victory in Iraq. What therefore constitutes winning was not explained.

The second question asked how the candidates would work to achieve consensus and to ensure the 8th District was represented even if their party did not win a majority.

Burner indicated her desire to serve on the Science and Technology Committee where she felt her technology and business background would allow her to hit the ground running. She indicated her eagerness to look for solutions to treat diseases and to foster the next generation of energy technologies. She said she would support the district through investments that benefit local businesses in new technologies, such as wind turbine, solar cells, plug in hybrid technology for cars, and spoke of a local company that was looking to tap the energy in the ocean's movement. She also talked about issues of national security and the environment that greatly affect the area, and how global warming was a very real threat that we need to address.

Reichert spoke of his experience in bringing people together to fight methamphetamine and gun crime. He indicated that while it might be unpopular to say it, sometimes Bush is right, but also that sometimes Bush is wrong. He restated that he felt he had stood up against his party leadership, and pointed to efforts that helped keep oil tankers out of the Puget Sound.

The next question was an interesting one. Each candidate was asked to talk about a campaign attack made against them, and offered the chance to counter it in their answer.

Reichert talked about the recent use of footage from the May speech he gave to the Mainstream Republicans of Washington. The ad was made by the DCCC. He spoke about how the quote was used without permission from TVW and how it left out what he felt was an important part of what he had said, that although he said he will listen to leadership when they tell him to vote a certain way, he followed that by saying that sometimes he won't. He felt that being taken out of context like that was wrong, and asked his opponent to have the ad taken down.

Burner pointed to Reichert's campaign and the NRCC's attack ads that claimed she would raise taxes on the working and middle class. She said these were flat out lies, and that her position all along has been that we need to increase the tax breaks for the middle class, and restore the sales tax deduction for Washington state that was allowed to expire. She also stated she was against the marriage penalty, which is the opposite of what the attack ads are saying.

The final question asked what each candidate felt was the most pressing local need for voters in the 8th District.

Reichert talked about traffic and transportation needs. He talked about the federal transportation bill (T21), and being on the Transportation Committee, and how last year that brought in $37.8 million in federal dollars to projects in the area. Coupled with money from this year he talked about he was able to bring back a total of $53 million to the region.

Burner agreed with Reichert that transportation was a top priority, but she said that a bigger issue is that people are worse off financially than they were six years ago. She indicated that we weren't creating good jobs and that jobs were going overseas. She spoke about how health care costs are soaring and wages are staying stagnant. She stressed that we need a tax code that rewards hard work, that we need to invest in education at every level, and that we need to create in good jobs by making the investments needed in industries and businesses.

After the Q&A, the candidates were given only 15 seconds to thank the organizers and the audience, and the event ended. Notable was that although Darcy Burner turned to Dave Reichert to shake his hand, he instead turned away to his left and immediately exited the room through the nearest door. All the other candidates, including Burner, lingered to talk to people and to thank Lisa and John Jensen, who did a great job organizing the event, obtaining the venue and bringing the candidates and audience together.

This was the final event that Burner and Reichert will be at together unless something not yet planned comes up, which is unlikely. Ballots should be arriving in mailboxes next week, and so voting will soon begin. The question both candidates will be asking themselves is whether they gained or lost anything in these debates and forums. Reichert has increasingly displayed an unpleasant and outwardly hostile disposition to his opponent through each passing event. Meanwhile Burner has gained in poise and delivery, showing a wide breadth of knowledge about the issues. However, as we head into the final 16 days, given how close the polls are indicating this race is, it will likely come down to which side can get their supporters out to vote.

Note: Here is the full audio for the Burner / Reichert segment of the forum.

2 Comment(s):

Comment by: Blogger Chris Struble

Thanks for covering this debate. Hopefully some voters are watching and will be put off by Reichert's ungentlemanly behavior.

10/22/2006 11:10 AM PT  
Comment by: Anonymous Jay Arnold

With all of the coverage in the 8th district congressional race, you may be missing some key details on the local races, like Fred Jarrett's running for re-election in the 41st. He has some great material about his work for bi-partisan solutions, the need to invest in transportation, and improvements in education in his podcast.

Go to www.vote4fred.com/podcasts to hear more.

10/24/2006 1:09 PM PT  

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