Election Watch 2016: Candidate Q&A — State Senate, District 1

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Publisher’s note: We submitted questions to all local Washington State Senate candidates whose names will appear on the Aug. 2, 2016 primary election ballot. Here are the responses received from those vying for District 1, which includes Mountlake Terrace and Brier. To find your district, click here.

Screenshot (588)Mindie Wirth, Republican
Q: Give us some background about yourself, such as your work, volunteer experience and history with the community.

I’ve lived in the 1st Legislative District most of my life, I graduated from Bothell High School and received my BA in Business from UW-Bothell. I’ve been at Microsoft for nearly a decade as a Senior Program Manager in digital marketing. Prior to Microsoft, I was a Process Consultant at Washington Mutual Bank and a Market Research Analyst at NextRx in Bothell. Outside of my career, I serve as co-President of Northshore PTSA Council and previous First Vice President; which provides support to 30 schools, 21,000 students and approximately 8,000 members in the Northshore School District. Our non-profit has been focused on improving parent engagement through parent education. We’ve sponsored free speaker series to the community that cover topics ranging from how to pay for college, understanding youth drug trends, and recognizing the signs of self-harm in youth. I coach 4th grade girls’ basketball and served as a previous board member for the Northshore Youth Basketball Association. I’ve also been a volunteer with Bothell Girl Scouts Daycamp and a Microsoft Day of Caring project leader with Washington Trails Association.

Q: If elected, what is your top priority?

Prioritize education funding first. We’ve seen record investments in education, $4.5 Billion in fact over the last two budget biennium’s and I will continue the work of Senate Republicans to fund education first. The remaining work to be done will be complicated no doubt, it will also require a collaborative approach, and that is exactly what I will bring to the Senate. I believe that the revenue to fund education exists and there are a number of dials available to make it possible without proposing new revenue, eliminating all tax breaks or relying exclusively on a levy swap. The legislature should be open to consider many different options, some of which may include existing pension fund accounts like LEOFF, running at a surplus of approximately $1 Billion after obligations are fully funded. I support efforts at the national level to enforce online sales tax collection. That alone would generate approximately $600 Million in revenue that could be put directly towards schools. In addition to funding education first, it’s crucial to Washington state’s economy that its K-12 system puts a laser-focus on improving education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Washington is the nation’s No. 1 STEM economy and has the highest concentration of STEM jobs in the United States. Yet, Washington is the number 2 importer of talent and the state ranks 49th out of 50 states in the mismatch between the skills required for available jobs and individuals with those skills. This gap is growing faster than every state but one, Delaware. I want to focus on making sure our kids have the choice to consider a rewarding career option in Washington State.

Q: What motivated you to run for this position?

I am running for State Senate because families in the 1st deserve leadership that listens and takes action on this issues that matter in our daily live.

Q: What do you want to see change?

I believe commuters deserve real solutions to transportation challenges and accountability from government agencies – not flawed tolling programs. The I-405 Master Plan, approved by 27 government agencies, called for up to two additional lanes in each direction, plus bus rapid transit and 5,000 park and ride stalls. Instead, we have no new capacity through Bothell, tolls in the existing HOV lane and a 3+ person car pool requirement during peak hours. The results are a bottleneck in the Bothell core and unpredictable travel times throughout the day. Drivers are rerouting to surface streets and creating new traffic challenges within local cities. We should not be paying tolls for roads already built with gas tax dollars and tolling revenue should be used to build new capacity – not expanded toll lanes. Over 32,000 people have signed petitions calling for an end to I-405 tolls, yet House Leadership would not allow a public hearing. I-405 tolls and increased congestion are hurting families and businesses – some deliveries are even imposing a “Bothell surcharge.” We need relief now – let’s call a time out on tolling, restore the 2+ carpool, implement BRT with desperately needed park and ride stalls, and add new lane capacity to serve all modes on I-405.

Q: Why do you think you are the best candidate for this position?

I claim deep roots in the 1st District, living most of my life here. As a high tech employee, I represent the changing demographics of our district. I am not a career politician though I have a career with a proven track record of working collaboratively to solve problems. I have skin in the game on the issues that are most important to families living here; my kids attend our public schools and I commute on our congested roads. I have the motivation and energy to find solutions that work.

Q: How can people contact you if they want more information?
Website: www.WirththeVote.com, email: mindie@wirththevote.com

 

Screenshot (589)Guy Palumbo, Democrat
Q: Give us some background about yourself, such as your work, volunteer experience and history with the community.

After a career working in technology at Amazon.com, I started a socially conscious small business called Roscoe’s Ranch (a dog boarding business) located in Maltby. My wife Rena and I have been together for 23 years and we have three young children.

I have been an appointed member of the Snohomish County Planning Commission since 2011. For the past two years, I was elected to be Chair of the Commission by my colleagues on both sides of the political aisle. In that role I presided over the 2015 Snohomish County Comprehensive Plan which plans for growth over the next 20 years. In 2013, I was elected by voters to be a Fire Commissioner in Snohomish Fire District 7. The Commission manages a $30 million budget which provides fire and EMS service to over 77,000 residents.

I was formerly a board member of the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Lynnwood. I am currently a board member for the non-profit OneBothell and a member of the Bothell Chamber of Commerce. Our family, and business, are engaged with other charities that benefit wildlife, disadvantaged youth and the homeless.

Q: If elected, what is your top priority?

My top priority is to fix the transportation crisis that faces our district. Olympia passed the largest gas tax increase in state history in 2015, $16 billion, yet our District received less than 1 percent. We need to address the mess that has been created by the tolling on 520 and 405. Our current leaders have been ineffective at fixing the bottlenecks and chokepoints in our community. We need more effective leaders who will fight for the local needs of our District.

Q: What motivated you to run for this position?

I believe deeply in service to others. During my public service career, I have focused on results for our community, rather than partisan politics. I hope to bring that results oriented approach to Olympia.

Q: What do you want to see change?

After knocking on thousands of doors in this election, the number one concern I have heard is that voters are fed up with the state of our politics. There is a disconnect between what voters expect from our democracy, and what is being provided by our political system. I would like to see less D.C.-style politics in Olympia and more results for the challenges we all face. Progress and moving the ball forward should be the goal rather than ideological stalemates.

Q: Why do you think you are the best candidate for this position?

I believe I am the best candidate because of my unique set of public and private sector experience. Whether it’s running a successful small business, leading cross-functional technology projects for Fortune 500 companies or increasing the transparency and accountability of our local government, I have a track record of getting results.

Q: How can people contact you if they want more information?www.guy4senate.com
206-718-1970
guy@guy4senate.com

Democratic candidate Luis Moscoso has not yet responded to our questions.

You can learn more about all candidates in the online voter’s pamphlet here.

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