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Appleton, Cooney vie for rep seat

Appleton’s not finished

POULSBO — State Rep. Sherry Appleton is asking voters to extend her service in Olympia another two years. The 23rd Leg. District Position 1 Democrat has been plugged into the state capitol’s political scene for 15 years — four of them as a representative — and she knows the process well, she said. She’s previously put in eight years on the Poulsbo City Council. Fresh off a trip to Lexington, Ky., where she was one of 40 leaders selected throughout the country to participate in the Toll Fellowship Program, Appleton didn’t hesitate when asked what type of leader she is. Her answer: responsive, even when fielding 300-500 e-mails a day while in session.

“I’m very responsive to all my constituents,” she said. “If you’ve ever e-mailed me in the middle of the night you know you will get an answer.”

She also noted she doesn’t think the legislative system is a broken one, and can serve as the conduit between the citizens and government in a solving manner.

“I don’t think it’s perfect, it’s far from perfect,” she said. “But if we work together we’ll find the solutions.”

Her short-term goals for the district include funding the Poulsbo Marine Science Center and Kitsap Well-Baby Program, two budget items nixed under Gov. Chris Gregoire’s hand earlier in the year.

She said she isn’t changing her approach, but instead going at it with continued emphasis.

She also looks to achieve funding for the Kingston community center project.

In the long run, Appleton said she aims to solve the ferry crisis. Building new boats and making ferries more affordable are changes she hopes to see in the marine highway system’s future.

“I, for one, would like to see a redistribution of the gas tax so ferries have more stable funding and we stop making our commuters pay for the system,” she said.

She’s also gaging to shield school districts from the financial crisis.

“Basic education is the paramount duty of the state - so says our constitution,” she said, adding new technologies have changed its definition. “We need our children to be well-rounded. Colleges look for well-rounded kids who have not only good grades, but who have participated in their communities. Besides the core subjects, children need art, music, physical education, libraries, language, etc.”

She said she’s against unfunded mandates for schools.

Appleton also made note of her efforts to cap payday lending, a “predatory” trade banned in 13 states.

Environmentally speaking, the incumbent’s on a trajectory to boost the cleanup of area waterways.

“As an original partner with the Puget Sound Partnership, it is most important that we restore Puget Sound and the Hood Canal to reasonable health,” she said. “In the 1970’s we had orca pods that numbered 274 orca, now we have 78.

It is about the dwindling food chain, salmon runs, etc., but we need to have eel grasses, which are incubators for many species that live in the Sound.

“It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but if we lose this precious jewel, it will hurt us economically and esthetically.”

In reference to health care, Appleton said she’ll keep up her support of her Universal Health Care bill — House Bill 1886 — which provided basic health care to the tune of $75 per month.

The nature of universal health care is one she’d like to make clear: “Universal health care is different from a single payer system and allows people to keep their own insurance, or insurance from their employers, or they can get health care coverage from the state.” It isn’t a socialization of the system, she said.

“The beauty of it is that everyone gets health care. Everyone should have a medical home.”

On her radar are the 40,000 kids in Washington state currently uninsured.

“If you have healthy children, you have healthy adults; you spend $1, you save $3,” she said.

Cooney:

It’s time

for a change

POULSBO — Larry Cooney is tired of politics as usual, and he’s ready to take his brand of change to Olympia. The GOP candidate for the 23rd Legislative District Position 1 is known for his eye-catching “Aren’t you sick of it?” campaign signs — “a bit of a lament,” he calls them with a smile.

New to the political arena, he’s looking to lead a common vision in line with Washington’s constitution.

“The greatest quality of a leader is to be able to bring change. This is the greatest quality because it is the most difficult task for a leader,” he said. “Bringing change requires being able to capture, hold onto and articulate a clear vision and then to bring people around a clear vision, find short-term wins for the citizenry and anchor change in our culture.

“... I have no strings attached, nor baggage to carry nor a power-brokered system to make happy. I’ve put my life on hold to volunteer to go to Olympia to bring change to our state government on behalf of the people who are really paying the tab for our increasingly expensive government.”

His short-term goals for the district include addressing the state ferry system. Cooney recognized the current heightened costs of fuel, supplies and payroll.

“The ferry system faces crises with three boats leaving line this past year. We ought to have two new boats on line because of the nickel tax passed earlier this decade. Where are those boats?” he asked. “Our incumbency has not fought hard enough to hold to the state mandate for adequate funding of our ferries ... . Meanwhile hundreds of millions of dollars (of) public funding is going into light rail and busses, for which the constitution mandates nothing.”

Other changes he’d like to make include:

- bringing ferry service levels to those that are essential (“it’s a floating highway, not a floating tavern or coffee shop,” he points out);

- opening bidding to out-of-state companies for construction of ferries; and

- privatizing galley services as well as a Kingston to Seattle run.

Cooney also said he plans to protect the core functions of fire and police — important at a time of economic hardship, during which he expects a rise in criminal activity related to unemployment and poverty. He also said he’ll oppose cuts to emergency medical services and hopes to relieve department dependency on levies, though he doesn’t yet know specifically how.

Looking into the long term, Cooney said he will improve business climate by reforming the Business and Occupation tax and unemployment insurance policies.

In reference to tribal relations, he said he’d like to catalyze a discussion on how the tribes will contribute from their profits to the operation of highways and schools.

“As tribes move into other businesses beyond the gambling industry, we need to review the economic impact of tax-free tribal businesses on non-tribal businesses,” he said. “Is the special tax and regulatory treatment granted to tribal businesses exceeding its intended purpose? Let’s find out and bring the tribe into a fair agreement.”

Cooney listed reforms to the education system he plans to pursue, including:

- waive certificate requirement for those professionals who have demonstrated the ability and passion to teach;

- relieve teachers of need to provide social services;

- move away from the idea of universal early childhood education;

- allow principals to set micro-policy; and

- offer tax incentives to families that homeschool or enroll kids in private education.

On health care, he is calling for a moratorium on mandates placed in the insurance industry.

“We are losing a competitive climate for insurance companies and companies and individuals are paying the price with poorer health coverage, he said. “This lack of competition is a set up for a state policy of universal health care and universal health care, besides being an economic boondoggle on our economy, will not bring health care to all.”

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