Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

ONE-ON-ONE: Joe Fain, Republican Candidate for Washington State Senate

As part of 47th Legislative District Week, I interviewed Joe Fain, the Republican candidate who is facing off against incumbent Sen. Claudia Kauffman (D-Kent.) 

Fain received a BA from the University of Washington and an MBA and a law degree from Seattle University. He is currently Chief of Staff for King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer.

Joe is very active in the community and sits on the foundation board of directors for Highline Community College and the board of Auburn Youth Resources, a nonprofit organization that provides treatment and counseling for at-risk youth throughout the region.

You can read more about Joe at http://votefain.com/

TF: My first question is what inspired you to run for the Senate this year?

Joe Fain: First, I love public service. I come from a family who has prioritized public service. My parents have spent 84 years in serving kids in the public schools. I’ve worked for three branches of government here locally in King County. I enjoy the work and I enjoy the people.

I feel that the ideals that I’ve been fighting for of fiscal responsibility, of rationally working together across party lines to solve problems, and of all-around civic engagement have started to slip away in recent years. I felt that the only way that you can turn back the tide is to step forward and be willing to put yourself on the line to get it done. So, that’s why I chose to put my name on the ballot.

I was proud to have been encouraged and recruited by a lot of people in my community who over the last several years have asked me to do this. The one that I point to, probably in second place behind my fiancée, who was very encouraging for me to step forward and do this would be the former longtime senator from the 47th District, Steve Johnson, who is the co-chair of my campaign committee. He served three terms in the Senate from the 47th District. He has been my number one cheerleader in this endeavor.

TF: Give me three of the top issues that you are running on this year.

Joe Fain: The three issues are pretty cut and dry in this cycle. One, jobs, two, putting a rein on spending and creating a responsible budget, and three continuing to reform education so that it is “kid-focused” and not “bureaucracy focused.”

TF: Contrast yourself with your opponent Claudia Kauffman.

Joe Fain: Well, first on the issue of education Claudia was an opponent of a major piece of education reform that came through in the 2008 session. She believes that the status quo is the way to go in education and I do not.

She also voted to spend $800 million in new taxes this last legislative session. She is fiscally irresponsible. She is rated in recent years as a member of the “Billionaire’s Club” for legislators who sponsored or voted for new fees or taxes, one of the highest.

Her values just don’t match my district and my community.

TF: Speaking of your district, the 47th Legislative District is considered a swing district. What are you hearing from voters out there? Obviously you’ve been out there doorbelling and talking to folks. What are you hearing from them? What are they concerned about this year?

Joe Fain: They’re concerned about their job. A lot of districts in the Puget Sound, as I talk to other candidates and campaigns, the job situation in those districts are better than they are in my community. In my community, unemployment is very high. People have been without a job, in some cases, for six months, twelve months and beyond. There are very few people I come in contact with that can’t tell me a personal story about how they or their family has faced unemployment in recent years.

In the business community that I talk to, they are concerned about jobs too, from the standpoint of they were running 15-20 person operations two years ago, and they’re now running four or five person operations. They’re just trying to get by themselves.

So again, the number one issue here is economic revitalization and getting people the employment they need to take care of their families.

TF: One last question. You are a graduate of the inaugural class of the Jennifer Dunn Leadership Institute, as well as four others who are running for the Legislature this year. What can you tell me about the influence that has had on your campaign and how it’s helped you in running your campaign?

Joe Fain:  I was very pleased that Attorney General McKenna reached out to me personally and asked me to be a part of the program’s inaugural year and inaugural class.

It provided me a plethora of skills, from leadership training to campaign training to issue training and communications/media training.

But I still say the most important thing that it provides students is a network; not only a network of people who have been there and done that in terms of campaigns that you can turn to for advice and help, but also a network of people who are going to be going through it at the same time you are.  Just knowing that there are other people out there who are running for office that I now have close relationships with that are going through many of the same things that I am has been very helpful. You can and we often do talk with one another about how the race is going and it’s just nice to know that there is someone who is going through the same thing that you are.

And then finally, there are some incredible individuals and we have some incredible candidates that came out of that program. When we get to down to Olympia this fall, to have that established relationship and that established respect ahead of time is only going to help us work better together to affect the change we are all running to accomplish.

I'll be walking with Joe at the Kent Cornucopia Days parade this Sunday and will have photos and more comments from Joe and his supporters then.

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