by paul spencer
Wed Sep 8th, 2010 at 12:49:56 PM EST
for State Representative in the 15th Legislative District of Washington? Since I wasn't elected as POTUS in 2008, I thought that this would be a good fall-back.
Got past the Primary, which was actually a 'lock', since it's top-two, and there were only two of us. The incumbent is a Republican - as are almost all of the rural WA state legislators - who has been elected 6 times. (Thought all Repugs supported term limits - perhaps the limit is 6 terms.)
The Primary was low turn-out - particularly for Democrats, which may be a demonstration of the CW concerning Democrats' enthusiasm level. So the strategy is GOTV. The demographics of our District actually seem to favor Dems nowadays. Obama won my County in 2008 - barely. The potential is actually much higher in the northern stretch of my District, which is a concentrated agricultural region along the Yakima River.
At any rate I wanted to present my campaign platform to y'all for your review and critique. It fits on both sides of one piece of paper, along with a small picture and contact information.
To the Voters of the Washington state 15th Legislative District -
I am running for State Representative, Position 1, of the 15th Legislative District. I retired in 2008, and now have the time to be fully involved in public service. In particular the development and direction of rural WA counties is a major concern of mine. This paper is an inventory of some of my major concerns and positions. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com for further discussion of these matters.
I invite Republican and independent voters to consider that the rural forested and agricultural regions of our state are short-changed by their tendency to elect Republican politicians in a state with a solid - and stable - Democratic Party majority in the State Legislature. The Republicans are the "Party of No" at the state level as well as the federal level. Many are 'heel-biters' with almost no clout in our state government. We rural citizens will be well-advised to elect Democrats such as myself, who support our interests and can negotiate with the urban Democrats on a collegial basis. I can raise our issues effectively in the State Legislature.
Major issues for our district include:
Support for development and deployment of renewable-energy-based power generation.
Support for utilization of biomass (particularly forest-derived) for combined-heat-and-power facilities on a small-scale, distributed basis with an emphasis on industrial or municipal heating applications.
Sustainable resource management (timber, fish, game, livestock, water, soil) state-wide on both public and private lands, balancing exploitation of resources with protection of our citizens' safety and health.
Building a diverse agriculture with an emphasis on local market development, local processing, and nutritional content and with less emphasis on commodity yields.
Increased emphasis on implementation of Firewise principles in and near rural communities, plus a rapid and strong increase in action to reduce hazardous fuels build-up in our forested regions.
Revision of our tax code to replace B&O Tax and most Sales Taxes with a progressive Personal and Corporate Income Tax (Initiative 1098 is helpful in this regard, but not sufficient).
To sum up, yes, I'm a 'tax-and-spend' liberal - in the current context. Increase taxes on the very wealthy and spend on long-term investment in smaller, local business with both feet in our state and no intention to maximize profit by moving operations to South Carolina - or wherever. Spend on infrastructure that supports greater energy autonomy for our citizens. It can start in Districts like the 15th. We need old-school Democrats who support small-business and working people in rural districts, who can work with legislators from the metropolitan areas to rationalize our policies and programs in favor of the overwhelming majority of our state's citizens.
I support careful eco-tourism development such as the Broughton Mill resort project in Skamania County. As long as long-term residence is excluded, it fulfills a number of objectives: 1) one of the last logical resort sites within the context of the current applicable federal statutes; 2) potential solution to the traffic issue involving wind-surfers in the area; 3) clean-up of the mill site in the context of a viable economic project; 4) possible reduction of wildfire dangers along this section of the Underwood Bluffs. This culminates the vision that Phil Crawford, Van Vandenberg, Wayne White, and I had 25 years ago, when we created the Skamania County EDC to promote economic diversification via destination-resort tourism in our county.
I propose positive encouragement and public investment in solar- and wind-based electrical generation systems in the District. Therefore, I support most of the SD&S wind turbine project above Underwood. In addition wind-rich counties should increase careful and environmentally-sensitive regional development of these resources in alliance with their PUDs via public/private partnerships. In 2006 I helped to obtain signatures on the petitions that brought Initiative 937 to the voters. I-937 has been a major factor in the development of wind-based generation of electricity in our state. I will support increased incentives to build renewable-energy-generation capacity in Washington.
I am determined that forested WA counties (e.g., Skamania County) return to the timber management business on federal forest lands - on a sustainable basis. Collaboration between local citizens and forest managers is essential to achieve this via such entities as the Mt. Adams District Collaborative Group on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which I helped to create. As a State Legislator, I will work to integrate WA DNR's (Dept. of Natural Resources) successful forest management practices with those of our National Forests.
Related to this, we need to add woody and agricultural 'waste' biomass to our definitions of renewable resources, both on the state and federal levels. The state has made a good beginning. Now we need to encourage the development of the production side, since, given current fossil-fuel prices, the biomass alternative can be economically viable. In this regard I support public/private arrangements (similar to New Deal support for rural electrification) as an important part of the process.
In parts of our 15th Legislative District, the impact of feral (mostly abandoned) horses on rangelands is an increasing problem. Legislators from our District must work with the Yakama Nation toward workable solutions. Some may be controversial, such as humane slaughter of abandoned horses, but it's decision time.
CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) in the Yakima valley and on the Yakama reservation appear to be strong sources of ground and air pollution. These, along with other pollution sources in the region, must be investigated by the State Legislature for potential mitigation via regulation and program.
Statewide, Washington has the most regressive tax system in the USA. (We're middling as far as average tax loads, but the ends of our income spectrum are statistical extremes.) The simplest solution would be to scrap the sales tax and go to an income tax. Income tax is typically progressive (higher rates for highest incomes), while sales tax is always regressive (low-income folks pay a higher percentage of their income than high-income earners). Income tax is simpler to administer, as there are orders of magnitude less transactions to monitor. Also, there is an inherent fairness issue within the state. Our state currently loses sales tax income to all of us on the border with Oregon, because we buy some percentage of taxable items in Oregon, where there is no sales tax. Income tax spreads the load to all regions of the state. As a start, I support Initiative 1098.
The wheat-growing region of our state is becoming the same kind of petroleum-based-chemical-dependent, investment-house-controlled industry as that of the corn-growing states of the Midwest. There are quasi-organic, old-fashioned techniques that can brake the current trend toward industrial farming. We need to bring the academics and the practitioners into public hearings to understand their analyses of the situation, at the least. From this information we can make decisions as to the rationality of the current direction and, if warranted, begin to create or redirect public policy.
Another trend is the relegation of our state's agricultural base to the status of plantation. Large parts of the food processing, storage, transportation, and marketing sectors of our agricultural economy have gone to the 'big box' stores and to huge, regional processor/warehouse corporations. I will promote regulation, tax breaks, and related programs that increase the local content of our food industry and decrease corporate consolidation.
That's enough for this platform piece. It's your turn: contact me to tell me your concerns and recommendations.