Our political process has two fundamental issues that need to be dealt with before we will find real solutions to our problems. The first is the amount of special interest money flowing into campaigns, and the second is political party leaders who are more concerned about party power than solutions. If we truly want change, we will start with these two issues. I am announcing my candidacy for the Washington State House of Representatives, 42nd District, position #1, independent of both political parties.
In the 2008 legislative race, the 42nd/40th district incumbents received 90% of their campaign money from special interest groups (Erickson: 78%, Linville: 92%, Quall: 96%, and Morris: 99%.) This level of special interest money calls into question the independence of the politician and whether they are serving citizens or special interest groups. For this reason, I am committing now not to accept any special interest money in this campaign or any future campaigns I participate in. I want voters to know unequivocally that I serve them and not special interest groups. I am also calling on my opponents to do the same. I want all candidates for the 42nd district House race to sign a pledge that they will not accept any direct PAC money, or indirect PAC money through the House Republicans Caucus or House Democrat Caucus. Despite the incredible amount of special interest money flowing into Olympia, let’s ensure the 42nd District seat truly represents the citizens of Whatcom County and is not beholden to the special interest groups that provide much of the money currently funding campaigns.
In my conversations with citizens throughout Whatcom County, two issues of concern come to the forefront: the economy and education. These are issues I will vigorously address in this campaign and I am prepared to offer solutions to deal with both of them. I will actively work to introduce legislation to fix the problems, not simply spout campaign rhetoric without having to talk about any real solutions. While my opponents are talking about the importance of good fiscal governance with no idea what to do, I have a proposed budget that protects critical programs and stays within the revenue forecast.
Washington State Economics
Creating jobs and getting people back to productive work is paramount to our state. The programs currently offered up by the State and Federal government will not create jobs, nor help existing businesses in a meaningful way. I am therefore proposing the following:
1. Establish a Washington Entrepreneurial Fund of $50 million that local organizations can access to provide money to entrepreneurs seeking funding to start a business.
There are many unemployed people who could, and would, start a new business as a way to create employment if they had access to training and financial capital to get started. Local banks and existing government programs are designed to help existing businesses, not those just starting. Each community has organizations, like the Center for Economic Vitality, that can reach out to local citizens and help them create a business plan. These organizations should be given access to a revolving fund that would loan start-ups with a good business plan the money to get started.
2. Realign state government to create a Department of Economic Vitality that would include all government departments directly impacting business.
There are over ten departments in the state government that have a direct effect on business. These departments are spread across the government bureaucracy and there is no one person ultimately responsible for creating an environment where businesses can be successful. These various departments need to be combined under one individual who is tasked with making sure the programs, regulations, and enforcement are aligned and working together to provide an environment where Washington businesses can thrive.
3. Drive a sustainable government in Olympia.
Sustainable government means two things. First, that growth is based on conservative revenue forecasts, not the most optimistic. If revenue comes in over estimate, use it first to make one-time investments, like paying down the unfunded pension liability. If after a few years the long-term revenue forecast improves substantially, then talk about realistic new or expanded programs. The second implication of sustainable government is that local governments are the primary problem solvers, not the federal and state government. In order to facilitate this, I will introduce a revised budgeting process to fix many of the fatal flaws that will not allow a workable budget regardless of which party is in charge.
The primary responsibility of our government is the education of our children. Everyone acknowledges there are serious problems with our current efforts, but solving these problems are not simple fixes. Increasing education funding, teacher’s salaries and accountability are all great ideas, but will not fix anything without first acknowledging some other structural problems. The biggest obstacle to education reform is the one-size-fits-all approach to education. In order to begin the process of fixing our education system we need to do the following:
1. Divide local school districts so no more than 12,000 students reside in a school district.
50 percent of Washington State children are educated in school districts with over 12,000 students. These large school districts are bureaucratic and remove the teachers and parents from the administrators who are making important decisions about students' lives. Large school districts need to be broken up into smaller districts so teachers, parents and administrators can deal with problems without the multiple-layer decision making process inherent in large school districts. A smaller, decentralized, and more student-focused network of school districts will help fix our education problems.
2. Re-empower school districts so they have more control over curriculum and success.
Each student learns differently, yet over time state and national governments have forced more standardization of curriculum and learning. This has created an environment where teachers cannot effectively teach and students cannot learn in their own way. Our education problems are not solely based on funding shortfalls or lack of tougher education standards. Our education problems exist because we are trying to force students to all learn the same things in the same way. Teachers need more control over their curriculum so they can meet the needs of their students. Education occurs in the classroom, not in Olympia or Washington D.C.
This is an important election. Our state is facing some complex decisions over the next few years, especially if there are not substantive improvements in the economy and the number of jobs. We have seen over the last few years, and especially over the last few months, our current political leaders lack of ability to solve the problems that plague Washington State in an open and transparent way that delivers positive results for everyone. I have spent a great deal of time talking to a wide variety of people over the last decade and I understand their various core values whether they are conservative, progressive, independent, Democrat, or Republican. I am committed to keeping open lines of communication so no one will be shut out of the discussion.
I truly believe there are solutions that will work, but not until we expect more from our political leaders. I am committed to finding innovative solutions and will work hard to represent the people of our community so that together we will make Washington State a better place to live, work and play.
For more information about my campaign you can go to: www.mayberryforstatehouse.com or contact Craig at (360) 441-9903 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
With this announcement I will be taking a sabbatical from posting on NW Citizen until I am done being a candidate.