Election 2002: The state Senate

Published on Thu, Oct 17, 2002
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Election 2002: The state Senate

We asked the four candidates for state Senate to answer a few questions. Here’s what they had to say.

Georgia Gardner
What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing Whatcom County residents and how will you, as senator, be able to help us meet that challenge?
Our economic problems are affecting every family in Whatcom County and my first priority as Senator is to help our businesses and help our workers.
We have faced this challenge for the last several years, and we have met the challenge. Although Washington state is either the highest in unemployment or close to it, Whatcom County has actually held its own. I think we can do more. I got retraining funds for our displaced workers and I got economic development money for our businesses. A portion of the state sales tax is kept in Whatcom County to provide programs to stimulate our lagging economy. I am working with schools and businesses to provide school-to-work programs and apprenticeship positions. I am working with Bellingham Technical College to tailor their training programs to our employment needs. Any business expanding or moving into the county will have a workforce trained to their specifications by BTC. I have worked to tie business incentives to job creation. I have obtained capital projects at BTC, Whatcom Community College, Western Washington University, and the Birch Bay State Park. I will continue to use my position as Senator to help the families and businesses in Whatcom County.

Blaine needs a new solution to an old sewer treatment problem to prevent environmental degradation and stymied growth. How can you, as state senator, help the city find an answer, and the money to pay for it?
I was disappointed to see the planned sewage treatment facility planning fall apart. Blaine city council and staff felt they had it done, and now we are starting all over. There are a number of state and federal grants available for projects such as these; however, we have had to overcome some concerns about city performance based on the history of the project. I have offered assistance in the past and I hope the city will let me help. I can personally deliver and support grant requests and I can follow them through the process to be sure they proceed. I have been very successful with grants and low-interest loans for projects in the other cities in the district and I would be pleased to do the same for my home town.
If you had to choose between promoting environmental protection or job creation, which one would it be and why?
There are very few instances where the best interests of the environment and the business community can’t be accommodated. I don’t believe in just saying no. I believe we can say, “No, you can’t do it this way, but you can do it that way.” I have worked with many groups until consensus is formed and that is always the best way.
However, sometimes there is no middle ground and I have chosen to protect the environment. When the drinking water supply in Lake Whatcom was threatened, I proposed legislation to halt logging, even though it meant a loss of timber jobs. I have an excellent environmental record and I am endorsed by both the Sierra Club and the Washington Conservation Voters. At the same time, I have a great deal of business support. I think that speaks to my ability to find solutions.

You’ve been in the state legislature for 6 years now, which brings experience but can also bring stagnation, a limited focus on pet projects and old solutions. Do you still have a fresh perspective, and how do you keep it that way?
It is hard to get stale in a job that has new crises and new opportunities at every turn! Here are some pet projects I’ve worked on over the six years I’ve been in the legislature, such as election law reform. I’ve passed a few clean-up laws every year and I’ll continue until the entire state of Washington is assured we’ll never have a “Florida experience.” I work on our never-ending supply of transportation projects. However, there is always something new. This past year it has been consumer protection in the lending area. I get a lot of good ideas from my constituents that I am happy to pursue. There are a very wide variety of issues to address and it is an exciting challenge!. .

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Dale Brandland
What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing Whatcom County residents and how will you, as senator, be able to help us meet that challenge?
This year our biggest challenge, one that will impact all of us, will be balancing the state’s budget. We have a projected deficit of 2.6 billion dollars so we will be making cuts and looking for efficiencies. As we do that, we will need to properly prioritize and make sure that we don’t jeopardize public safety and still protect our most vulnerable citizens like our seniors, our children, and the mentally ill.
Blaine needs a new solution to an old sewer treatment problem to prevent environmental degradation and stymied growth. How can you, as state senator, help the city find an answer, and the money to pay for it?
I know that Blaine has been experiencing problems with its sewer system but I do not know what attempts have been made to solve the problem. I do believe that Blaine’s proximity to the border is impacting its entire infrastructure. The federal government needs to be a part of the solution and as your Senator, I will work to see that this happens.

If you had to choose between promoting environmental protection or job creation, which one would it be and why?
I believe that the two go hand in hand. If we do not have a healthy economy, we will not have the financial resources to invest in environmental protections. On the other hand, our environment and this area’s natural beauty are part of the reason companies choose to move their businesses here. We currently have the highest unemployment in the nation. Making job creation a priority now will help resolve many of our infrastructure problems, including our environment.

Your political career to date has been as chief executive-type of politician. Legislative politics often requires more of a co-operative, give and take approach to get results. How will your previous experience be useful in the legislative arena you seek to enter?
There is more to being the sheriff than running the sheriff’s office. I spend a great deal of my time working with people, on both sides of issues, to solve problems. I have done this locally and at the state level. It has been an excellent training ground to entering the legislative arena.
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