Election Questionnaires: House of Representatives, 24th District


Thomas Greismer Republican

Thomas Greisamer is a retired psychiatrist who lives in Moclips. He began his career with the Air Force, and later owned and operated a farm, started an insurance company, and worked for the state Department of Social and Health Services and the state Department of Corrections as a psychiatrist. Greisamer also holds a degree in economics.

Is there a specific issue that motivated you to run for the Legislature?

I am concerned over the gap between our elected officials and the high-ranking bureaucrats, and the state employees actually doing the work and the general public. This disconnect was demonstrated by the governor’s allowing the murderer of Jayme Biendl to avoid any consequences for his heinous crime. Government lacks an understanding of basic economics; the government does not create jobs, businesses create jobs. We need a government philosophy that allows people to work, to produce a product or provide a service, and make a profit. Profits motivate investment and growth. Currently, growth is difficult because of multiple layers of bureaucratic red tape, and a lack of tax and tort reform.

Crude-by-rail has been a main discussion topic on Grays Harbor and in surrounding communities. How do you feel about the projects? What would you hope to do about citizens’ concerns as a legislator?

The purveyors of paranoia would have us believe that Armageddon would occur were a railroad tanker car to roll in at 10 miles an hour. Others argue that an economic boom would result. It seems a bit ironic that trains are 16 times safer than trucks and trucks loaded with gasoline (not crude oil) roll safely on our streets every day. Everyone wants clean air and water. But, it seems at times the environmentalists are “crying wolf” too often when their real objective is to stymie economic growth and leave the oil in the ground.

What are your opinions on the McCleary Decision? How should the Legislature approach K-12 education funding?

The Legislature needs to reform the entire K-12 system. Reform should look at everything from how our teachers are taught to teach, and how our students are motivated to learn. It is my opinion that resources need to be reallocated with the emphasis on actually teaching and not on the educational bureaucracy. It’s not about the money: on average the system receives, from all sources, about $11,000 a year per student in K-12. $11,000 is the approximate tuition to Washington State University. The problems in our education system cannot be solved by simply throwing more taxpayer money at it.

Many people on Grays Harbor are still concerned about unemployment levels and job creation. How do you think the Legislature could help stimulate growth of the local economy?

Job creation throughout the entire Olympic Peninsula would be enhanced if the working men and women, the farmers, the businessman, and the regular person just trying to make a living, were given some respect and consideration by government at all levels. The fish people, the tree people, and all the other special-interest groups are selfishly acting to strangle our economy rather than let reasonable growth take place. Land, water, air use is becoming more restrictive to the point of absurdity. In addition, more and more financial burdens are heaped upon the entrepreneur trying to start or expand a business. All these impediments need to be reviewed and modified in order to promote, not impede growth.

During the past two sessions, the Senate was controlled by the mainly Republican Majority Coalition Caucus and the House had a Democratic majority. As a result, a lot of legislation passed in one house wasn’t even considered in the other. If you were appointed majority leader, how would you alleviate this legislative gridlock?

If I were Majority Leader I would work with all members of Legislature to craft good bills based on compromise and what is best for voters, not special interest groups.

Steve Tharinger - Democrat (incumbent)

Sequim resident Steve Tharinger and his wife Yvonne owned and operated a wood manufacturing business for 20 years and have lived on the Olympic Peninsula for 35 years. Tharinger was a Clallam County Commissioner for 12 years, and has served in the Legislature for four years.

Is there a specific issue that motivated you to run for the Legislature?

There is no specific reason I ran for the Legislature except to make state government work better for the people of the Olympic Peninsula.

Crude-by-rail has been a main discussion topic on Grays Harbor and in surrounding communities. How do you feel about the projects? What would you hope to do about citizens’ concerns as a legislator?

We face challenges in the Harbor from high unemployment to concerns about oil shipments moving through our communities. Whether or not you support “crude-by-rail’ projects, I am still studying the issue, it is important the railroad infrastructure be improved to be safer with less impact on our roads. The link between the Harbor’s deep water port and the railroad is an important piece of Gray’s Harbor’s economic future.

What are your opinions on the McCleary Decision? How should the Legislature approach K-12 education funding?

Fundamental to the success of the community economically and socially is a strong education system from early learning to higher education. Grays Harbor has a top ranked community college which is great in adapting to the needs of the area. In Olympia, particularly during the recession, community college and four year school funding was cut to fund K-12. The Legislature has initiated many reforms over the last few years, improving teacher and principal evaluations (TPEP), 24 credit graduation requirement - making sure a high school degree means something in Washington, improving new teacher mentoring and para-educator development. Reform is important, but continued demand for reform can lead to privatization of our public education system. We want to live in a market economy not a market society.

In the future we will be challenged finding additional dollars to meet the obligation of the Supreme Court McCleary decision for K-12 without impacting other services and higher education. We are trying to fund a 21st century education system with a thirty year old revenue structure. We could improve our revenue structure by taxing capital gains income - we are one of eight states that does not tax capital gains. Reviewing and closing some of the of millions of dollars of obsolete tax breaks that are on the books for corporations like Microsoft and Amazon.

Many people on Grays Harbor are still concerned about unemployment levels and job creation. How do you think the Legislature could help stimulate growth of the local economy?

Thirty years ago when the mills were all working, three shifts things were booming in the Harbor, but now with environmental impacts and more sustainable harvest levels, things have changed. The forest products industry will always be a solid part of our economy but not a growth sector. We need to develop other assets - commercial seafood, manufacturing that takes advantage of the port and rail, tourism that builds on recreational fishing, hunting, coastal heritage and cuisine.

During the past two sessions, the Senate was controlled by the mainly Republican Majority Coalition Caucus and the House had a Democratic majority. As a result, a lot of legislation passed in one house wasn’t even considered in the other. If you were appointed majority leader, how would you alleviate this legislative gridlock?

I have a record of results, working across the aisle and with local, tribal and state government to solve problems. I would be honored to have your vote this fall to continue to working for you in Olympia.

Stafford Conway’s name also appears on the primary elections ballot. Conway, a Libertarian, did not return his questionnaire to The Daily World.

 

Rules for posting comments