Q&A 19th Legislative District Senate — Rick Winsman


Longview Republican

Rick Winsman is pitching himself as the legislative candidate that can best connect with small businesses.

“I’m running for state Senate to create jobs and make government more responsible with our tax dollars,” the Republican from Longview says. “During these tough times, state government must learn to live within its means by saving more and spending less. As a former small business owner, I know how higher taxes and reckless spending cost us jobs.”

Recently, Winsman retired as chief executive officer of the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce, after six years of service. Winsman began his career as a piping design engineer for Proctor and Gamble. Then, for 15 years, he worked with public affairs for the National Association of Manufacturers.

He also owned a small business in Santa Clarita, Calif. that created Americans with Disabilities signs and had four employees before he sold it. During his time in Santa Clarita, serving for two tears as a planning commissioner for the city.

His priorities as a candidate is economic development, crafting a sustainable budget without higher taxes and improving the education system.

“The only way to change Olympia is to change the people we elect to represent us,” he said.

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?”

As State Senator, I would propose five key recommendations to address education spending and meeting the dictates of the McCreary decision:

1. Return the education system to its core function by focusing resources on classroom instruction. 2. Allow local school principals to control budgeting, hiring, firing and curriculum, then hold them accountable for student learning.

3. Give the parents more choice by distributing education spending through individual “grants” that follow the student to the public school of the family’s choice.

4. Remove restrictive class size requirements to allow innovation and flexibility in spending education dollars.

5. Create a completely transparent accounting system, easily accessible, to inform legislators, parents and taxpayers how education dollars are spent.

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. YES – As a State Senator, I will work to get a Constitutional change to the people requesting a permanent solution to an issue that the people of Washington have demanded on four separate occasions and the legislature has repealed three times.

• Initiative 502 that would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution and possession NO – We need additional information on what effect dual sovereignty will create when our state law conflicts with federal law; and how law enforcement can test for THC to determine sobriety during a traffic stop. Another public safety concern is that THC remains in the body for up to 30 days, unlike alcohol which dissipates within 24 hours.

• Initiative 1240 that would authorize up to 40 publicly funded charter schools YES – As part of a greater reform package, we need to give parents more choice in how and where their children are educated in the public school system. Charter schools, a concept that has proven effective elsewhere, should be tested here in the state.

• Referendum 74 that would allow same-sex couples to marry NO – Because I personally believe that a marriage is between one man and one woman, the up-to-now Washington law recognizing civil unions in all aspects except being call “marriage” is sufficient in providing rights to same sex couples.

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?

Government cannot create family wage jobs. Government should create an atmosphere conducive to job creation by business. This can be done by focusing on three key reforms:

1. Reduce the burden of over-regulation by regulating for a purpose, not just process; Identifying regulations that duplicate or contradict, are out-dated or do more harm than good Sunset all new regulations and review all regulations legislatively every 5 years. Create a “fast-track” application and permit process for companies and individuals with good compliance track records.

2. Allow private sector companies to make the Workers’ Comp program more competitive and give the state incentive to keep their rates as low as possible.

3. Reform the Unemployment Insurance program by bringing state benefits in line with national averages, allow workers to create personal unemployment accounts, increase compliance audits to eliminate fraud and abuse, require training or community service as a condition of receiving benefits

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?

Many counties in Washington rely heavily on timber revenue for the funding required to provide services to their residents. And many of those residents rely on timber for their livelihood. The evidence thus far has not indicated any improvement in the marbled murrelet population within the 19th District and much of that designated land not only isn’t being used by the bird now, but doesn’t have the old forest characteristics murrelets prefer. The DNR simply cannot tie up potentially productive timber land hoping it turns into habitat that will support an endangered species. That’s like the government denying you a building permit because it hopes someday your neighborhood will become a city park. There must be a common-sense balance between preservation of the environment and sound economic development of our resources. That must become a function of the legislature, not just the state agencies. I would propose the creation of an environmental priorities council that would use scientific and economic information, not political or special interest factors, to make decisions for protecting the environment.

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?

Yes, the State has a responsibility to make certain that its judicial system operates at a level that meets the highest standards for justice set by the Attorney General’s office. I would propose looking at combining the Superior, District and Municipal Courts in rural counties so as to share expenses and revenues to provide the operating resources and facilities required to preside over the different levels of each. With a combined budget, additional fees and/or charges could be levied on cases to generate additional funding.