Candidates called for change during a candidates’ forum Wednesday night in Pullman.. They said their youth and fresh minds will enable them to think beyond current ideas.
The League of Women Voters of Pullman and the Pullman Chamber of Commerce hosted candidates for contested races for District 9 state representative, Whitman County auditor and Whitman County commissioner.
All the Democrat’s candidates are under 25 years old
“It’s time to break the 70 years of Republican control here,” said Caitlin Ross, who is running for District 9 state representative, Position 1.
“A vote for a Democrat is a vote for change.”
The Republicans said their experience in the community and proven records of accomplishments make them the best candidates.
Despite each party bolstering itself, the candidates did agree on several issues.
Both Republican state representative candidate Steve Hailey and Ross said they would reach beyond the party lines to protect the Snake River dams, promote agriculture and push for alternative crops and biofuels.
They disagree on Initiative 933, a measure that would require compensation to landowners when changes around them decrease their property values, minimum wage and health care.
Hailey approves of 933. He said property rights should always be protected.
Ross said the projected $9 billion in costs and lawsuits is just too much.
Ross applauded Washington for having the highest minimum wage in the United States, but said it needs to be higher to provide a living wage to workers.
Hailey favors a training wage for employees so employers are not bogged down paying high wages to short-term employees and can afford to pay a higher wage to employees who show commitment to a business.
Ross wants to expand medical benefits for the poor and provide preventative medicine instead of having the bulk of treatment for low-income people taking place in emergency rooms.
Hailey wants to stimulate competition among insurance providers by attracting more providers to the state. He said more than 30 insurance companies used to do business in Washington. Now there are only two.
In the race for county auditor, Democrat Nathan Horter commended Republican incumbent Eunice Coker for her work in the auditor’s office. He said she has streamlined the office, increased services to the public and worked hard to tackle the changes in Washington’s election laws.
Horter said Coker works hard, but more can be done.
He stressed the need to increase voter education, expand the county’s Web site, and publish a county voting guide.
“I can provide fresh ideas in the courthouse,” Horter said. “Elections are the most important part of our democracy, and I want to ensure everyone is informed and has the opportunity to cast a ballot.”
Coker said she accomplished her goals to cross-train employees and expand public service. She said there is still more to do.
“We keep learning and working toward better service for the county,” she said.
Both candidates for county commissioner want to broaden the county’s tax base and diversify its economy.
Republican commission candidate Michael Largent said his education in finance and accounting, plus his experience as a farmer, ultimately make him a better choice than Democrat Nathan Weller.
Weller has a degree in psychology and works as an assembler at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman.
Weller said he wants the county to obtain grants so it can provide health care for everyone in the county. He said he is concerned about the poverty level in the county and the lack of opportunities.
He said state and federal grants exist that the county needs to capitalize on.
Largent said the county already actively pursues and receives grants.
Largent said the county must continue to seek out new businesses but also give people the freedom to be innovative.
“Economic diversity directly affects poverty,” Largent said. “We need jobs not charity.”
Commission candidates also were asked how they would bring together Pullman and the rural parts of the county.
Weller said he lives in Pullman and has worked on the farms surrounding town. He said he understands the differences between Pullman and the rest of the county and will work to build a better relationship between the two.
Largent said he knows the mayor of Pullman and many of the members of the City Council.
“We will talk and talk often,” Largent said. “The county commissioner doesn’t just represent rural Whitman County or just their party members.”
Largent said that no matter who’s elected, everyone in the county will have a voice. So, Caitlin "Carpetbagger" Ross is sticking with her ridiculous platform, including raising the Washington minimum wage even higher. She's right, voting for a Democrat would be a vote for change ... in the wrong direction. That's why she and the other Junior D-Men will be sent packing on November 7th.