Bruce Lachney, who has worn many hats, is hoping to add another one: State senator.
He’s s the only Democrat in a three-way race in the primary election next month for the Second District’s senate seat. The two leading votegetters between Lachney and two Republicans – incumbent Randi Becker and Jim Vaughn – will advance to the general election in November.
Voting is by mail. Ballots will be mailed beginning this Friday to registered voters, who will have until Aug. 7 – election day – to return them.
Lachney is a cranberry farmer and a member of the Clover Park Technical College Board of Trusttes. He also has been a Marine pilot and an Eatonville School Board member, and he has previous experience at partisan politics from running once for Pierce County Council.
The Senate candidates are campaigning in a newly reconfigured district that, in addition to communities such as Eatonville and Graham, now stretches farther north to the South Hill area in Pierce County and also takes in part of Thurston County.
To help inform voters about the candidates, The Dispatch sent them a questionnaire about their positions and background. The responses from Becker and Vaughn appeared in the June 11 print edition of the nespaper and are in the online edition. Here are Lachney’s responses:
Dispatch: Please list your civic or community involvement, including any elected offices you’ve held.
Lachney: Chairman, Clover Park Technical College Board of Trustees; former Eatonville School Board member; former captain, Marine Corps; former captain, Delta Airlines; former Pierce County Planning Commission member.
52 years old, Eatonville-area resident.
Owner of Rainier Mountain Cranberries, an Ocean Spray Grower/Owner
Dispatch: In your background and experience relevant to serving in the Legislature, what sets you apart from your opponent?
Lachney: Politicians love to talk about their budgetary experience; they leave it to the voter to find out their resume is rather embellished. The truth is, most have never worked directly making multi-million dollar decisions. Working a budget takes a select skill-set; it is learned and tempered through direct involvement; and is honed with academic credentialing. The “I voted for a budget … it was big … so I know about budgets” is nonsense. I have worked difficult budgets for 25 years and have graduate masters studies in economics, accounting and finance. I will be the first to say, even with this amount of experience, I do not know it all.
Dispatch: What do you hope to accomplish if you’re elected?
Lachney: Voters always ask, “I pay a lot in taxes, where does it all go?” A fair question. Many voters do pay significant taxes, but some do not. Those that do pay are in the “where does it all” go crowd.
To understand the state budget requires a better-than-modest understanding of budgetary economics. The short course is that there are 600 exemptions that reduce the revenue pool by $10 billion every two years. There are, however, $30 billion in expenses that need to be paid. Every politician likes to give a good deal exemption to a special-interest group but fails to tell the taxpayer they have to make up the difference. I’d like to reduce the number of exemptions and return this pooled revenue into the system to more evenly spread the tax burden.
Second, almost two-thirds of our state revenue comes from just two sources: sales and B&O. Our B&O is too high. It not only puts us in a non-competitive position but (along with sales tax) creates an extremely volatile revenue system. As the economy improves, revenues flow in, when a recession hits, revenue drops. This creates a boom and bust cycle of hiring and layoffs. Interestingly, one of my opponents, Jim Vaughn, seems to understand this, and proposes a flat tax structure (a debatable, but admirable point). Ms. Becker offers nothing. But, here again, understanding budget inelasticity and volatility is difficult stuff.
Dispatch: What are one to three issues you feel strongest about, and how will you address them as a legislator?
Lachney: Aside the budget, education is the priority. Legislators in Olympia seem to misunderstand the link between education, jobs and the economy. As chairman of the Board of Trustee at Clover Park Technical College, we have programs in aviation maintenance, composite materials and allied health that open the door to excellent-paying jobs. Yet, budget cuts have left each of these programs with waitlists – students trying to get into the programs so they can get the jobs that are available today. In a very real sense, some of our unemployment problem is an under-educate problem. If the state doesn’t fund education, we cannot train the students, businesses cannot hire the students, the students cannot get the jobs to become taxpayers. We need to fund education, period.