Voters in the 46th District, covering North Seattle, Lake City and Kenmore, will choose between incumbent Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle) and Jeff Patton, a Republican from Lake Forest Park, for House Position 1 on Nov. 6.
1. Please provide a brief biography.
Gerry Pollet: Rep. Gerry Pollet is a University of Washington School of Public Health faculty member and is the long-time director of the leading citizens’ group working for the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. He is a board member of the Washington Coalition for Open Government. Gerry has been a long-time education and PTA activist, especially working for fully funding schools and addressing overcrowding. This year, Gerry succeeded in passing legislation to assess every kindergartner through second grader for learning disabilities and dyslexia. KING 5 has referred to him as the “the Legislature’s top advocate for special education.”
Jeff Patton: I am a Seattle native, I grew up in Lake City, attended Nathan Hale H.S. and the University of Washington. After graduation as an engineer and a stint in Vietnam with the U.S. Army, I worked for Physio-Control in Redmond, then Microsoft, then Amazon.
2. Do you believe that taxes are calculated fairly to fund education in our state? If not, what would you change?
Pollet: We are not “fully funding“ education in Washington. My priority is to make our state’s tax system more fair and able to provide sustainable revenue for education. We need smaller class sizes, more counselors and school social workers. The state pays for just one paraeducator per school, despite schools often needing dozens of paraeducators, particularly for special education. We are not paying for early learning for 3 and 4-year-olds, and we deprive thousands of residents access to the opportunities of higher education, including workforce training at our community and technical colleges. Our state’s tax system is the least fair in the nation despite being one of the wealthiest states. We put the burden of paying for the costs of education, health and housing on the backs of the working poor and middle class. We should close the massive loophole that allows corporations to evade all taxes on their Wall Street investment income, end the tax preferences that allow entire business sectors to evade all business taxes; and, adopt a capital gains tax to capture some of the windfall from the Trump reduction of taxes on the wealthiest Americans (our capital gains tax would not tax your home and would be at a lower rate than Idaho, Oregon or California; and, would be used to fund education and reduce property taxes raised for schools).
Patton: I heard a state senator from the 32nd District state that, “We don’t have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem.” Unfortunately, this typifies the attitude held by many in the legislature, and entirely ignores legislators’ responsibility to be fiscally prudent. I would hold the existing tax structure constant with respect to education and focus on streamlining the delivery of services to students, with a goal of eliminating as many structural education costs as possible which do not directly benefit students. Instead of indiscriminately pouring dollars in, we need to focus on improving outcomes, then structuring educational funding in a way to maximize those outcomes.
3. Home prices and property taxes have been on the rise. How would you promote housing diversity and affordability?
Pollet: The Senate Republicans insisted in 2017 on a massive property tax hike to meet the State Supreme Court order to fund the state’s share of education, instead of using more fair taxes. I support the proposal to use a capital gains tax on the wealthiest Washingtonians who make over a quarter million dollars a year from investments (excluding homes) to reduce that property tax hike and to invest in education. Overall, as I responded above, we should be striving to make our tax system more fair, which includes less reliance on property and sales taxes.
Patton: In Seattle especially, the City Council has placed an overwhelming regulatory burden on property owners and landlords, in many cases driving them to sell their properties, taking those units off the rental market. This has the direct effect of removing many affordable units from the available pool, harming renters on limited budgets. The state legislature’s ability to direct Seattle’s City Council is limited, but there are state incentives, which could be negotiated with Seattle, which could have the effect of inducing the city council to relax their regulatory overhead and allow more affordable housing to be available to residents.
3. 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?
Pollet: Gun violence is a major public health crisis, particularly use of improperly stored guns for suicides amongst teens and accidental shootings. Gun owners should be responsible. Responsible gun ownership means responsibly storing guns so that youth cannot access or use them. With rights come responsibilities. Assault weapons should not be sold to youth under 21, just as we limit sales of marijuana and alcohol.
Patton: Mass shootings, suicides and school security are topics of real concern to everyone, but unfortunately much of the public rhetoric proposes solutions which would not solve the problems. There are millions of handguns and rifles possessed by millions of law-abiding, responsible gun owners, and many, many guns in the hands of those who are not much concerned with the law. Restricting a constitutional right exercised by Washington citizens without a plausible positive effect is unconscionable, but there are actually positive things that can be done. First, there are many existing gun laws, which must be enforced before adding new ones, especially since by definition the group of concern does not worry about obeying the law. Second, there have been many shootings and suicides by perpetrators who gave strong signals in advance of their incident, but those signals were ignored by friends and family, teachers and fellow students, and even law enforcement. To actually prevent these awful acts, we need to intercede before they happen — we should have a “see something, say something” practice when we see a young person who appears troubled, and those in authority must be willing to act on the information. This is tricky and must balance civil rights with social responsibility, but much can be done here. Finally, teachers and administrators can be effectively trained to possess and use firearms responsibly and safely, and that alone would prevent many perpetrators from thinking that a school would be a safe free-fire zone.
To read up on the rest of the candidates running for office in Bothell and Kenmore, visit bothell-reporter.com.