Voters in the reconfigured Second District have a choice to make in the primary election in August: Should state Sen. Randi Becker remain in the running for another term, or should challenger Jim Vaughn be the Republican Party standardbearer?
Under Washington’s Top 2 system for primaries, the two leaders between fellow Republicans Becker and Vaughn and Democrat Bruce Lachney will advance to the general election in November. Voters will start receiving ballots after July 20 for the all-mail primary. Voting will end Aug. 7, the official election day.
To help inform voters about Becker and Vaughn in advance of the primary, The Dispatch sent the candidates a questionnaire about their positions and background.
Becker and Vaughn have at least one thing in common. Both of them live on small farms – Becker near Eatonville, Vaughn in Orting. But they point out their differences in how they would represent their district – which, through the redistricting process, has morphed to now include parts of Pierce and Thurston counties. Here are the candidates’ questionnaire responses:
Dispatch: Please list your civic or community involvement, including any elected offices you’ve held.
Becker: I am the state senator for the second district in Thurston and Pierce counties. I live in the district full-time and am active in Chamber, Boys and Girls Clubs, and frequently attend school board and other local meetings. In the Senate, I serve on Healthcare, Higher Education and Veterans Affairs task forces. I am 63 years old and my husband and I live on a small farm outside Eatonville. I worked for 24 years as a medical practice administrator, and as a Realtor before being elected.
Vaughn: Served on the Pierce County Work Force Development Board. My civic or Boy Scout good turn involves an average of six to eight benefits for cancer victims and various youth organizations. I’m 58 years old and reside on a small, 16-acre farm in Orting. I’m the owner of a staffing and executive recruiting firm that focuses on assisting veterans with employment.
Dispatch: In your background and experience relevant to serving in the Legislature, what sets you apart from your opponent?
Becker: I am the only candidate who has served in our state Legislature. But I am not a career politician. I understand the importance of hard work. During my career, I was in charge of multi-million-dollar budgets, and I understand the impacts of budget decisions, both good and bad, for local families, businesses and for the state. When I ran for the first time four years ago, I committed to work for the district, and to work towards understanding the people I represent. I also understand that too many government regulations put a heavy burden on small businesses. I have demonstrated through my votes and sponsored legislation that I will support small businesses, personal property rights and our education system. My opponents have favored big-government solutions that are not a good match with the liberty-loving, independent voters of the Second District.
Vaughn: I did my graduate studies in operations research and system analysis via the Army. I was then assigned to the studies directorate at TRADOC Analysis Command. After the first Gulf War, the Army experienced significant budget cuts due to the recession and budget deficit. Myself and Dr. Anderson were assigned the mission to prioritize all Army programs, $300 billion. This is approximately 10 times larger than our state budget. As a result, I worked with senior officers at the Pentagon and members of the Congress. Our analysis created a prioritized list of expenditures, allowing the Pentagon to determine the essential programs to fund during a period of downsizing. I am the only candidate that has the knowledge and experience to prioritize our budget in order to keep the essential services without raising taxes.
Dispatch: What do you hope to accomplish if you’re elected?
Becker: I will continue to protect taxpayers and try to bring more jobs to our area. I will work to make it easier for businesses to hire and expand, clearing away regulations that hinder new jobs. I want to continue to work to preserve our personal property rights and freedom. I am on the Higher Education Committee, and will work to bring more affordable higher education choices to our area.
Vaughn: Correct the budget deficit and fund essential programs. To do this, we need to get people back to work. To get people back to work, we need to replace the B&O (business and occupation) tax with a flat-rate corporate tax. This allows companies to deduct capital investments. For example, if company A owes $100,000 in business taxes, they could buy a piece of equipment for $50,000 that will make them a profit and reduce their tax burden by $50,000. Once they buy the equipment, they have to pay someone to operate and maintain it. This equates to jobs. Now the company has to buy raw materials so the machine can make an end product, and the raw materials have to be delivered to the company. More jobs. We are competing in a global economy. In addition, we are competing against other states for jobs. Ohio recently passed a bill that a new startup company will not have to pay corporate taxes for 10 years. If a corporation is going to expand, where do you think they will go – Ohio or Washington? It is time for Olympia to wake up.
Dispatch: What are one to three issues you feel strongest about, and how will you address them as a legislator?
Becker: Education is key. I am working towards improving our school system with more focus on evaluation and results. I also want to continue my work for the Pierce County Skills Center and the educational opportunities they offer to our high school students. I am extremely interested in working to lower the number of students that have to take remedial courses when they start at community colleges to re-learn what they should have learned in high school. I also want to get the state budget onto the right track. We have made some improvements, but there is still waste in some areas of the budget, while other programs do not get the funding they need. Long-term, we must live within our means. We made major changes to the budget in the last two years that should result in real long-term savings.
Vaughn 1. Eliminate the B&O tax. 2. Prioritize government spending and eliminate the waste. Citizens Against Government Waste identified $132 million in waste in our state. I will add another $116 million to that list. My first bill will be to cease state funding for Evergreen State College. Here is a portion of the bill that I have already written: “Whereas taxpayers are supportive of liberal art studies, we will no longer tolerate that our state funded institution hosted a porn week and has a history of bizarre behavior, such as a course curriculum in queer studies.” Evergreen State College can continue to operate as a private institution. Click on http://archive.cooperpointjournal.com/campus-life/porn-week-heats-evergreen and scroll down for shocking photographs. My position is put the school on eBay, make a few bucks and save the taxpayers $116 million annually. 3. I am a compassionate person and am more than willing to assist those in need. However, I am tired of going to work each day and paying taxes for individuals to sit at home and abuse the welfare system. I am committed to submitting a bill that individuals on welfare will contribute a minimum of 20 hours a week for community service. They can pick up trash along the road, scrub graffiti off of bridges and buildings, remove weeds in the park, assist the elderly in their community, and so on. Everyone works and contributes. No more free rides.