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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 26, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Conversation starter: Responses from readers on what to ask state candidates

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Last week, The Seattle Times editorial board published its own questions for candidates before the November election. Northwest Voices readers were asked to submit their own questions and issues that need addressing by politicians.

Here are selected submissions:

How do you plan to solve the problem of money in politics?

Spending during elections has skyrocketed ever since the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision. A few wealthy individuals and corporations use money to amplify their speech, drowning out ordinary Americans. In our democracy, the size of your wallet should not determine the strength of your voice. This issue is important to the vast majority of Americans, both conservative and liberal.

There is a national solution to this problem (a constitutional amendment), but there are numerous measures that can be taken on the state and local level to help solve this problem. For example, cities and counties can have small donor incentive programs for local elections. We should ask our candidates what they would do if elected to help solve the problem of big money in politics, so that in the future, elections are more fair and representative of the people.

Faith Deis, Seattle

What will you do about climate change?

It is the most dire issue facing us today and we are running out of time to act. No political leader — local, state or federal — should be given a pass on this urgent question. And as Paul Krugman makes clear, we need informed candidates who understand not only the science but the economics of climate change.

Our state is already paying the price in human suffering, and financially through the destruction of shellfish due to ocean acidification, wildfires and landslides, loss of snow pack, and more. Whether with a carbon tax, stopping coal and oil trains or funding mass transit, state and local candidates have a job to do.

Davis Oldham, Seattle

Where do you stand on legislation preserving a woman’s right to choose under state law?

This is an important question for Washington women who need to know whether their right to choose is protected notwithstanding the foolish conduct of the Supreme Court and certain politicians. Especially so as the state Senate Republican leader has taken the position that he has no time to consider this matter at all.

It is particularly important in my district as my Senate representative has pursued this issue and needs to know if another candidate from the same district will be working against it.

Christina Lee, Normandy Park

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

How can you fund education and infrastructure with declining revenue growth when the wealthy are not paying their fare share?

A recent study by credit-ratings agency Standard & Poor’s says that Washington’s over reliance on the sales tax is worsening income inequality and stunting economic growth.

State numbers show people making more $175,000 pay two percent of their income in sales taxes while those making $17,000 a year or less pay 11.5 percent of their income in sales taxes.

A 2012 report by the state Office of Financial Management found that the top 5 percent of the richest households had more than half of the total wealth in the state. And the top 1 percent of earners in the state captured 19 percent of the wealth.

Evan Briggs, Everett

How will legislators serve an aging population while meeting the constitutional obligation to increase funding for K-12 education?

Since the 2010 census, Washington experienced the nation’s seventh-largest increase in its population of those 65 and older. This trend is easier to ignore in youthful King County, where around 12 percent of the population is 65 and older, than in a county like Jefferson — where it’s close to 30 percent.

Washington will spend more than $1.8 billion in state funds alone on long-term care from 2015-2017. Just maintaining this expenditure is challenging.

The roughly 10,000 Medicaid patients in nursing homes are most at risk.

Brendan Williams, Olympia

Comments | More in Conversation starter, Election | Topics: Citizens United, climate change, election


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