Q&A 19th Legislative District House Pos. 1 —Dean Takko

Democrat, Longview

State Rep. Dean Takko says he knows the pains that local governments are going through when they’re dealing with their own budgets. As a retired Cowlitz County Assessor, Takko oversaw his own department budget and knew the delicate balancing act counties do to prioritize their spending.

Takko has been in the state House since 2005 and, since that time, he’s tried to be an advocate for county and city governments. In fact, the 62-year-old now sits as the chair of the House Local Government Committee.

“When we’re dealing with local governments, I look at it not as a partisan issue and people know I’ll work with both sides of the aisle,” Takko said

Takko’s top priorities are dealing with rural economic development, supporting timber and fishing industries, and producing a sustainable budget.

As a member of the House Transportation Committee, Takko helped shepherd legislation critical to continuing construction of pontoons in Aberdeen. Without the legislature intervening and approving an exemption to the Shoreline Management Act in the wake of environmental appeals that ultimately were rejected, the project would have grounded to a halt.

Takko also worked on gun rights legislation this past session, trying to protect existing shooting ranges from nuisance complaints, although the bill didn’t get approved.

Takko was the Assessor at Cowlitz County until 2004, although he had worked in the office since 1978. He also worked at the Wahkiakum County Assessor’s Office for three years.

Besides being a legislator, he also served as a commissioner for the Beacon Hill Sewer District, a position he’s held since 1984.

With education funding critical in the next legislative session under court mandates, how do you propose the state deal with schools in the long run and what measures can be taken to comply with the court rulings that the state must “amply provide for the education of all Washington children as the first and highest priority before any other state programs or operations?”

Certainly the biggest challenge for the next session is complying with the Supreme Court mandate to increase funding in K-12. All things should be considered. I am sure there are efficiencies that can be found. But in the end I think it will take revenue. I am willing to look at the levy swap proposed by Ways and Means Chair Hunter. All things should be looked at before finding new revenue.

How will you vote on the following measures on the general election ballot:

• Initiative 1185, which reinforces existing requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majority or voter approval. I do not support as it is clearly unconstitutional, see Article 2 Section 22 of our state constitution. Also I do not think we should have minority rule.

• Initiative 502 that would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution and possession. I plan on voting yes if only to send a message that our current laws regarding marijuana do not work. We have spent over $200 million to incarcerate users to no effect.

• Initiative 1240 that would authorize up to 40 publicly funded charter schools. I do not support the initiative. At a time that we are struggling to find revenue to comply with the court decision this is not time to take away money from our existing schools.

• Referendum 74 that would allow same-sex couples to marry. I support. I have friends that are gay, I see no reason that they should not have as fulfilling a relationship as I have in my marriage.

Unemployment continues to be higher in Southwest Washington than in other parts of Western Washington. Does the state have a role in addressing the problem and what can or should be done legislatively to help spur job growth in your districts?

We should look at ways to speed up our permitting process for new construction. And for the long term we need to look at more job training so that when a business wants to locate here there is a trained workforce. We also need to make sure that we are putting money into our infrastructure so that we can accommodate new growth.

Concerns from environmental groups over the marbled murrelet has led to the sate Board of Natural Resources to put on pause timber sales in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties on “potential habitat” that the bird has not yet occupied, putting a blow to county budgets that had anticipated those sales. Several utilities also pulled the plug on the Radar Ridge project over concerns the site was too close to marbled murrelet nesting habitat. What thoughts do you have to engage the state Department of Natural Resources as a legislator to tackle the marbled murrelet issue and do you think the murrelet issue could be as big a deal to the coast as the spotted owl was the rest of the Olympic Peninsula?

I don’t think that marbled murrelet will be as big an issue as the spotted owl in as much as it has a smaller range. But it is a big issue in the counties that are affected by it. I am very frustrated that it blocked a good wind project on Radar Ridge. I sponsored and helped pass a bill to allow counties impacted by the murrelet to buy replacement lands for the trust lands that are not able to be logged because of the murrelet.

Grays Harbor County currently is involved in a lawsuit brought by its Superior Court Judges over what they believe is inadequate funding for judicial operations. Does the state have an obligation to better fund its courts and criminal justice system and what suggestions do you have for possibly solving this dilemma?

There are more funding problems for the Superior Court system than just the security. There is a very serious problem funding indigent defense. I think funding these are at least partly the responsibility of the state and we need to step up and find the money.