Kloba, Blodgett share ideas for 1st Legislative District

The candidates for representative, position 2 answer questions on taxes, guns and more.

Incumbent Rep. Shelley Kloba (D-Kirkland) will run against Debra Blodgett, a Republican from Clearview, on Nov. 6 to retain position 2 in the 1st Legislative District. The 1st district covers parts of King and Snohomish counties, including Bothell, Mountlake Terrace and Kirkland.

1. Please provide a brief biography.

Shelley Kloba: I got my start in advocacy when my daughter started school and I saw that our education system was not meeting the needs of our kids and our communities. I joined my local PTA and worked my way up to Washington State PTA Legislative Director. I later served three years on the Kirkland City Council where I listened to the concerns of the voters and brought people together to get things done. On the council, I stood for a responsible and responsive budget, smart growth and smart investments that maintain our high quality of life while planning for our region’s future. In my first term in the legislature I served on the Transportation, Commerce & Gaming, and Technology & Economic Development committees.

Debra Blodgett: Businesswoman, ambassador for Shared Hope, past vice president and president of Snohomish County Republican Women’s Club and Snohomish County Republican Party Chairman. Known by family and friends for improving the lives of people around me and the community where I live, I work to protect women and children against human trafficking and domestic violence.

2. Do you believe that taxes are calculated fairly to fund education in our state? If not, what would you change?

Kloba: In 2016, the legislature raised property taxes in order to comply with the Supreme Court decision in the McCleary case that found that the state was not living up to its constitutional requirement to fully fund basic education, causing school districts to use local levy money to fill the gap. I voted no on that bill to raise property taxes because I did not think that it was fair for low- and middle-income families to bear such a large burden for educating our children. I would like to see a system that more equitably shares the investment across all sectors and captures the growth that we are seeing in our economy.

Blodgett: There are necessary “fundamental reforms” necessary to fund education. First, we need to redefine what “amply funded” means in our state constitution. Creating a new method of calculating a per child funding for each district could help bring lower-income schools up to a higher standard. Funding education first is a priority and giving it its’ own line item in the state budget might give it the priority it deserves. We should be looking at streamlining our states’ bureaucracy by requiring performance audits on every state agency and department. We could save millions and put the necessary funds towards education.

3. Home prices and property taxes have been on the rise. How would you promote housing diversity and affordability?

Kloba: I would like to see tax incentives for owners of affordable rental properties that encourage preservation of current housing stock. Communities who lack the amount of housing that is within reach of their residents can require that a certain percentage of units in a new development be affordable to folks at 40-60 percent of the area median income. This would increase the number of affordable units built. Additionally, I would like to see reform in the condominium liability law that still protects condo unit owners from construction defects but is not as onerous that builders avoid building in this part of the housing market that is in such scarce supply. Finally, we do not have enough housing for seniors and adults with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Oftentimes, our communities have zoning laws that prohibit the kinds of housing arrangements that best suit folks who need a family setting that includes all the extra supports that they can’t live without. These homes are well-suited for single family neighborhoods yet are often not allowed. We need to change those laws so that this segment of the market is better served with affordable options.

Blodgett: By building housing across every income level, communities will not only reduce inequality, they will strengthen the economy. We need to work with our counties and cities to rehabilitate areas of decaying neighborhoods. We can incentivize cities and builders to construct affordable housing in these areas as a revitalization project.

4. Mass shootings, suicides and school security are big concerns in our communities. When it comes to guns, how do you balance safety with constitutional rights?

Kloba: We have seen time and again our community express their opinion of this balance. The voters in our district and across Washington have voted overwhelmingly to enact common sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of those who would seek to do harm. They voted to close the gun show loophole that allowed some buyers to skirt the process of a background check. We understand that felons should not be allowed to buy guns. Additionally, those who are under a domestic violence protection order should not be allowed to buy guns. The data shows that there is a higher risk of harm to the intimate partners and families of domestic abusers. These measures balance the need for safety from gun violence with the desire to own a gun for the variety of valid reasons that you might want one.

Blodgett: I am a responsible gun owner. The majority of gunowners keep their firearms in protected safes. The 2nd Amendment is our constitutional right and as Americans this is a protected right. Criminalizing law-abiding citizens is not acceptable. Our schools should have the necessary resource officers on staff. It should be mandatory resource officers should be allowed to report troubled kids known for violent behavior to authorities. Open campus schools should be retrofitted for a lockdown capability. Teachers who are willing to carry concealed weapons and be trained in an active shooter program, go through the necessary background, medical checks, should be able to keep their gun in a locked safe and wear a colored, labeled bullet proof vest in the case of an active shooter incident on school grounds.