Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pete DeBoer 4 Washington 23rd – you betcha!

Note: This entry is an endorsement for Pete DeBoer (R). Before publishing, I invited Representative Sherry Appleton (D) for a follow up interview but her campaign manager declined. Appleton also declined an invitation to a candidate’s forum in Poulsbo, WA a week later. My invitation to Sherry Appleton remains open. You can read my earlier thoughts on that here. Pete DeBoer pictured left.

I recently had a long conversation with Pete DeBoer, Republican candidate for Washington’s 23rd legislative district position 1, and a Kingston hometown favorite in the contest against incumbent Representative Sherry Appleton (D). I find that Pete is a superb candidate, deserving strong independent and cross over support. Please support him vigorously. He is a great cultural and business fit. He is a fiscal conservative, an innovator, and he will honor Constitutional values. While there will always be those issues where disagreement is possible, Pete DeBoer has the right stuff, listens, and can be counted on to represent his district and State well. You can read other introductory comments about Pete here. To support my endorsement, I am including summary of points that I noted during our discussion at the Cuppa Bella in Kingston.

The Right Background: Pete has background and experience well suited to the people of North Kitsap County. With 22 years in the Coast Guard, 15 years running a Kitsap private business and now on his second term as a Kingston Port Commissioner, he has a proven record relating well to the needs of the 23rd District’s diversity. A man of the sea, he understands the hardships and values of Navy life, fisherman and boaters. As a successful small business owner, he knows what it takes to be competitive and how government can unnecessarily get in the way. As a Port Commissioner, he has deep knowledge and a well developed intuition about North Kitsap’s transportation lifeline – both the ferry system and highway access. He is very involved in community events and has strong relationships with local Tribes. From the keel up, Pete is the perfect cultural fit to represent North Kitsap in Olympia.

Motivation to Service: When I asked Pete what three things he would like voters to know about him, he said, “I love people; the more people I know the more fulfilled my life is.” Then, “I am fascinated by the sea.” And third, “I like to make people happy. I like to fix things that make people happy. Our government is broken and needs to be fixed. I can’t do it all alone but I can help with part of it.” Pete’s motivations are for the people; he is not going to be a party line hack and that is important to people who want to be represented not dictated to. In the most sincere ways, Pete has demonstrated his service to the community by actively engaging in projects that make tangible differences in people’s lives. You can touch and feel the work he has done. His collaborative leadership was critical to the successful 2010 Kingston 4th of July celebrations, and his strategic vision helped lead the provision of Kingston to Seattle passenger ferry service. Pete has the right motivation to serve the people he works for, not blind ideology.

Reduce Government Spending: Pete says, “Government employees better have a job to do not just a chair to sit in or a truck to drive around.” He is strongly critical of the inefficiencies created by over-regulation, overlapping agencies and non-integrated processes that extend permitting, unnecessarily slow decision making, inflate government jobs and cost money. He said that while some would complain that assertively fixing this would cause job loss, “That’s a fact of life.” He quickly added that putting money back into people’s pockets would ultimately replace the losses and creates even more jobs. He believes government doesn’t exist to provide jobs but to enable an environment where businesses can create jobs and wealth that can be reinvested to create more jobs. By spending more and requiring more tax revenues on services that aren’t effective, measurably efficient or don’t create wealth, government creates the problem. If the economy is the top issue this election, then reducing government spending is absolutely necessary. Pete has the will to do that.

Require Competitive Services and Innovation: Pete believes that service implementation in government should be held to the same high and competitive standards that are required of private business. One way to accomplish this would be to create State grants that county and cities could compete for based on demonstrated innovation and ability to measurably improve required services while reducing costs. Pete points again to internal efficiencies that could reduce the size of government and overall spending, as well as opportunities for outsourcing and developing more public-private partnerships. Pete thinks the government should get out of the liquor retail business in preference of a competitive private model, and sees Submarine Base Bangor as a proven outsourcing model that should be looked at. Pete is willing to break the monopoly of government service where appropriate and put work in the people’s hands where competition will encourage innovation.

Tackle Education: Recognizing the Constitutional mandate to fully fund education in Washington State, Pete is critical of why so little of such a large budget gets down to students. He doesn’t believe it is a lack of money – bureaucrats in Olympia have a lot of it. Pulling insight from three sisters that are educators, Pete sees the problem as too much overhead in Olympia and not enough empowerment to Principals that can drive efficient results. “If you give Principals the right tools, authority and power to make our education system work, it will.” He also said, “You need to be able to get rid of bad teachers.” Pete’s thoughts are that the state has created a system that favors the power of organizations like NEA over the student, including protecting bad teachers and the rehire of double-dipping pensioners over new teachers that can bring new energy and ideas. Pete also believes there has been a lot of time wasted on the WASL with teachers teaching the test and not addressing the needs of students. “There needs to be increased focus on technical-vocational training; not everyone completes a four year degree.” Pete sees a way to improve education that doesn’t just rely on more money, but improved performance.

Up level the Ferry System: Pete understands the complexity of the ferry system and believes its current leaders are overwhelmed. “Customer service is woefully inadequate.” He favors finding a retired Admiral to help lead the system back to more efficient performance. Right now, “the unions own it. Should they be compensated well? Yes,” but Pete also makes it clear that unions are inhibiting service innovation and performance in areas where they don’t need to be, like in the food services. Pete also favors a hybrid outsourcing model that would involve public-private partnerships. “Accountability in the system seems to be lacking,” Pete said. The unplanned loss of two ferries from the system because of failed maintenance programs and an expensive barcode system that still does not work are unacceptable. When asked about State funding, “there should be no subordinate importance of the ferries to other roads.” He also doesn’t think summer surcharges make sense and points to the ski slopes. “We don’t surcharge skiers so we can pay for snowplows.” He also thinks it is an inherently bad solution to simply raise rates to solve capacity issues. With Pete’s direct experience getting two Port of Kingston owned passenger ferries in the water without increasing taxes, his insight to ferry system oversight comes at a good time.

Honor the Immigration Process: Pete’s position relative to recent immigration concerns across the nation is both clear and supportable. No amnesty and no sanctuary cities. Pete believes that the State should honor federal law and help get illegal immigration under control. The State should not create systems or services that encourage an illegal presence. “State and local law enforcement should be able to pursue unauthorized presence in our State where it is reasonably suspected.”

Pro Life and Pro Choice: Pete takes an individual approach to the highly divisive and emotional discussion about abortion. At a personal level, Pete says that he is definitely pro life from “cradle to grave; not even too keen on what people call death with dignity.” But Pete questions whether government should compel someone to choose life. “Are you going to compel someone to choose life? No; not anymore than we should compel health care.” Pete has a balanced approach to this sensitive issue that might be best summarized as “educate and not legislate” strategy.

Marriage and Unions can Co-exist: Making it clear there are bigger problems to solve right now, Pete believes that marriage is “designed and ordained for the relationship between a man and a woman.” But as with other controversial issues, he takes a pragmatic approach. Civil Unions can “provide the same benefits as given to a married couple” without offending the traditional principles of marriage. While this subject is very important to a minority of people right now, “there are bigger problems in this State to solve, like providing jobs and reducing spending.” Pete wants to prioritize the most important issues first.

These are what I thought were some of the most important or interesting positions Pete had to share during our discussion and I encourage you to attend one of his events and ask him questions directly. He is very approachable and the kind of guy you will want to call “friend” whether you agree with him entirely or not. Regardless, Pete DeBoer has the right stuff. He deserves your vote and active support in his quest to unseat Representative Sherry Appleton (D). Vote for Pete DeBoer, Washington 23rd Legislative District position 1.

November is coming.

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