Chase, Baker battle for District 32 State Senate seat

State Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, said the recession may have been declared officially over, but added Washington state legislators still have a lot of work ahead of them.

If voters return her to Olympia as a state senator, Chase said her first order of business will be to study the latest financial projections available. Chase said recent figures show what had been sustained drops in revenue leveling off and “just barely starting to go up.” She contends the projections that arrive in January, after the current election cycle, will be critical.

“They could really be a game changer,” Chase said, whether the numbers are down or even slightly up.

On the other hand, Kenmore Mayor David Baker said Chase is trying to sell the “same old story.”

“We need to spend what we have correctly,” Baker contends, adding that no matter what the state’s revenues are, what needs to be reigned in is state spending.

He listed the state’s top priorities as education, public safety and transportation. While spending could be adjusted in all areas, outside those core areas, Baker believes the state has a lot of financial discretion it could and should be using.

“Here in Kenmore, we live within our means and I think it’s time that the state learns to do the same,” Baker has said in the past.

Baker and Chase are vying for probably the biggest local prize this election season, the District 32 State Senate seat about to be vacated by Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park.

After roughly 15 years in office, Fairley announced prior to the August primary she would be joining several other local incumbents in not running for re-election.

Baker and Chase have battled each other over their approach to economic issues going back to the summer primary. Chase long has been supportive of a proposed state income tax, pointing, as have others, to studies that show Washington’s tax system is the most regressive in the country.

In other words, the argument goes, the state relies too heavily on sales and property taxes, the result being the poorest of the population pays the largest percentage of its income in taxes, while the state’s wealthiest pay a far smaller percentage. Chase says the income tax would help address the tax regression, while Baker flatly rejects added taxes.

Addressing economic issues during the primary, Baker already was touching on the idea of revamping state priorities. He claimed some bureaucracies simply seem out of whack. More recently, admitting it wasn’t an original idea, Baker said the state’s Department of Health and Human Services could use some revamping leading to cost savings.

Infrastructure is another area in need of attention, according to Chase, who used the topic as an opportunity to criticize Baker. She said the state has been left to address flooding issues in Kenmore.

“The work could have been done by the municipality, but they chose instead to build a city hall,” Chase said.

Baker shot back, saying the city he leads has and will continue to try and deal with flooding problems. As an example, he pointed to a project planned to deal with flooding along Stream OO56, which has hit the Harbor Village housing development hard on a couple of occasions. Baker said the work has been approved by the state and should get under way before the coming winter rains arrive in earnest.

On another infrastructure topic, Chase said she would continue to support rebuilding and improvements on State Route 522 in Kenmore. Chase claimed at one point she “saved their (Kenmore’s) bacon,” getting dollars for past 522 projects put back into the state budget. She said the project never may have gotten started without her support. Chase did seem to admit money for the last phase of 522 improvements may be hard to come by.

“But it’s a priority,” Chase said. “We’ll do the best we can.”

Baker argued the city has purposefully broken down the last segment of improvements — which carry a $23 million price tag — into smaller bites, gaining dollars whenever they become available. He said the city’s lobbying helped make the work a priority in Olympia and even brought home federal dollars tentatively allocated by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.

In August, in combined King and Snohomish county voting, Chase came out on top with 47.6 percent of the vote. Baker finished with 39.8 percent in what was a three-way race. Baker said should he overtake Chase and win a spot in Olympia, he intends to finish his term as Kenmore mayor, which expires at the end of 2011.

“There are other legislators who have done it and done it successfully, so I don’t really see why I can’t,” Baker said of holding down two elected positions.

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