Letters to the Editor

Lessons learned on the campaign trail

From my extensive campaign travels and conversations with constituents in the neighborhoods, apartment complexes, trailer parks, and workplaces, I draw these Ground Zero insights:

Almost no one I spoke to doorbelling had any idea of what the 23rd Legislative District is or who has ever been in that office. Most people agreed with my stock campaign comment that “Olympia is broken,” and many thought my statement a serious understatement.

People did not understand my label about being a “fiscal conservative” although they did voice concern about the size of the state workforce, state-worker benefits, and rising taxes and fees.

Most people expressed support for Initiative 1185, which requires a supermajority vote in the Legislature to raise taxes. In fact, this issue garnered 65 percent voter approval in the 23rd Legislative District. FYI: The 23rd District’s Democrat delegation  — Rolfes, Appleton, Hansen — openly called for the termination of the supermajority requirement.

Voters, when told of the 17,000 developmentally-disabled citizens backlogged for overdue assistance, were shocked and deeply concerned. Also, voters had no clear understanding of how Olympia carries a $39 billion liability on unfunded and underfunded public-sector union benefits. Citizens remain concerned about the criticality of adequate WSF service but were disheartened by the long-term reality of expensive new replacement vessels every 2.5 years.

I learned firsthand that SR 305 and Agate Pass are extremely dangerous and must receive Olympia’s attention to increase flow and solve safety issues (campaign F-350 truck seriously T-boned on SR 305 Oct. 30).

Yes, campaign money matters but I still disdain special-interest campaign money. I’ll take the long odds on funding to keep my integrity (17:1).Voters are woefully ignorant of the complex financial issues facing Olympia.

Finally, expect little from the local newspapers and you will not be disappointed.

It is an honor to be a candidate. I was humbled by the outpouring of support and trust from the salt-of-the-earth citizens of the 23rd. The People have spoken for 2012.

Capt. James M. Olsen
US Coast Guard Reserve (ret.)
Bainbridge Island


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