Where I Stand

Healthcare

The issue:

Rural Americans have suffered most under our broken health care system. The loss of providers and the increased premiums have disproportionately affected our district. Couple that with the fact that large sections of our district depend on or are employed in the health care industry and our median age of nearly 50, this single issue impacts everyone in our district.

The plan:

We need to stop waiting on the Federal Government and lead the way for a State sponsored single-payer healthcare system. A system that goes beyond insurance alone, that recognizes every Washingtonian’s right to affordable, accessible and timely healthcare. As one of the “oldest” (I prefer, most mature) and largest (geographically) districts in the State we have unique issues that must be considered in crafting any long-term solution to this issue.

Economy

The issue:

As of 2015, the 7th LD’s economy had not reached pre-recession levels. While the rest of the State has recovered, our economy continues to lag. With stagnant population growth over the past five years along with personal incomes ranking at the bottom of the state the 7th is in desperate need of help.

The plan:

Innovative partnerships, enhanced broadband connectivity, and public/private sector alliances that focus on green jobs will form the backbone of my plan to bring economic stability and security to our district. By capitalizing on our depressed economic status and leveraging our tremendous natural resources I will fight for our district to become the model for revitalization of rural counties that is both economically and environmentally sustainable.

Rights

The issue:

Civil rights, Human rights, Constitutional rights, Women’s rights, and Voting rights and Social Justice require constant attention. The very core of our democracy depends on the respect and dignity we show to one another.

The plan:

We must support, encourage, and celebrate the differences in our community. Uphold and defend our local, State and Federal laws against discrimination and hate. We must promote tolerance and understanding in every aspect of civic life. Teaching our youth that it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. We must recognize that our communities are always stronger when we weave our differences into our shared experience instead of using differences to divide our community.

Education

The issue:

Decades of under-funding have left our schools and our kids behind. Onerous State requirements and regulations have negatively impacted our ability to hire and retain teachers, particularly in rural areas. Perpetual School bonds and levies have created strife in our communities and inequity in our education system. Worst of all our graduates leave school unable to find employment without further education.

The plan:

Abide by the McCleary ruling and fully fund Education at a State level for Pre K – 12. Revise teacher regulations to be less onerous and more effective. Create certificate courses in conjunction with Dual Credit Programs for students who want to learn a trade rather than seeking a degree to enable our students to leave high school job ready.

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Hirst

The issue:

In October of 216 the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in the Whatcom County V Hirst, that the County must make independent decisions about legal water availability. The decision left a lot of unanswered questions about how this applies to in-stream flow rules that previously had not been applied to exempt wells.

The plan:

The Hirst ruling has forced Counties and the State to re-examine the policies set in place for wells, and acknowledge we don’t currently have a system in place to accurately assess the effects of exempt wells on our watersheds, streams and aquifers. However, the solution thus far has been overly onerous on private property owners and unrealistic for most rural counties. I view this a perfect opportunity to clean up our County codes and any State RCW’s that apply and formulate a comprehensive water management plan that is based on recordable data and scientific modeling not historical first come first serve mentality. By having a clear understanding of our water resources as a whole and managing the entire system we can insure we maintain healthy water levels as our climate continues to change. This is not a small task and will require a coordinated effort between Federal, State and Local officials but is vital to the continued health and prosperity of the entire State.

Environment

The issue:

The 7th LD is home to the Colville National Forest, The Little Pend Oreille State Forest and the Loomis State Forest along with thousands of acres of State and Federal Trust land managed by the DNR. The Columbia, the Pend Oreille and Okanogan rivers all flow through along with numerous smaller rivers, hundreds of lakes and four distinct mountain ranges. Protecting these wild and scenic areas has to be part of every decision made for and about the 7th.

The plan:

Working closely with the Public Lands Commissioner and ensuring I have direct contact with all of the agencies tasked with protecting, promoting and utilizing the abundant natural resources within the district will help alleviate some of the inter-agency issues that currently exist. Working with private businesses, land owners, conservationist and environmental groups towards sustainable solutions and forward-looking development plans will help minimize the future need for costly cleanup and litigation. Ensuring that all legislation passed takes into account the impact it will have on both the resources and people of the 7th.

Land Us

The issue:

There is a lot of talk and concern in the 7th over the Growth Management Act. Like all things there are some pro’s and con’s to the GMA but it’s intent is to create a framework for sustainable growth and to prevent the kind of urban sprawl experienced by so much of the country. This forces difficult questions about where do private property rights stop and the rights of the community as a whole begin.

The plan:

I firmly believe that prior planning prevents future problems. Working inside the GMA to establish clear boundaries, priorities and future land use plans allows everyone a seat at the table and a voice. Understanding that there is no such thing as a one size fits all regulations and making appropriate and well reasoned exceptions to the GMA will also be necessary to meet the needs of our unique district. By planning ahead and setting clear intentions we can ensure both private property owners and the community benefit from the vast natural resources we can protect our quality of life and our historical roots.

Public Safety

The issue:

In a district as large and varied as ours, public safety takes on many forms. From wildfire management to elder care, we face unique challenges due to geography, access, low population densities, lack of connectivity and much more.

The plan:

First, we need to recognize that rural connectivity is a public safety issue. I will work on multiple fronts to ensure that the first responder in our district have the ability to communicate no matter where they are. Second, I will promote inter agency coordination and communication to ensure our citizens aren’t left in need due to arbitrary boundaries on a map. Next, I will ensure we are utilizing all programs, State and Federal designed to assist rural communities like ours with infrastructure, training, equipment and resources. By addressing public safety in a holistic manner and including the community and ancillary agencies into the discussion we can better serve all the member of our district.