Q&A 24th Legislative District House, Pos. 2 — Steve Gale

Republican, Sequim

Gale is a former operations manager for industrial gas company Praxair Inc., who moved to Sequim from Bothell in January with his wife and three daughters. He cites 25 years of experience in operations management, manufacturing, safety and production.

Reasons for running: “We need to address our budget in a financially responsible manner. This should be accomplished without stifling the local economy with burdensome regulations and taxation, which results in limited economic growth and reduced job opportunities.”

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?”

Proper funding of education is one of the essential core functions of government. As such, it would be appropriate for the state to address that obligation with priority during the budget process. While doing so, we should open the opportunities for expansion of the educational system to provide for additional methods of education. Of course, any method considered must meet or exceed standards. While many districts perform admirably, we must pursue continuous improvement in education. The use of different methodologies for delivering education will lead to excellence in education within the state, if the standards, training programs, testing and management programs are in place and supported broadly by all parties including the legislature, school boards, teachers, administration, parents, students, support organizations and the communities at large.

Do you support 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; Initiative 502 that would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution and possession; Initiative 1240 that would authorize up to 40 publicly funded charter schools; and Referendum 74 that would allow same-sex couples to marry?

My position on those initiatives and referendum is as follows.

1185 – Yes.

502 – No.

1240 – Yes.

74 – Rejected.

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?

The nature of the job market and good economic activity is inversely related to the levels of regulation and taxation. The regulation and tax structure in Washington has become too burdensome and stifles investment in our district which results in a depressed job market. We have tremendous opportunities in Southwest Washington to improve the job market and local economy. The ports and transportation infrastructure are key assets which set the stage for the area to flourish. What is needed is leadership in our state government which will make our state friendlier to conduct business in. Only by changing the current tendency to pass restrictive regulations will we succeed at restoring the local job market. What we are experiencing in our economy at this time is a result of years of ever growing regulations and land use restrictions. I believe we must get back on track to restoring our local opportunities for economic success in the area.

The Harbor in large part depends on the infrastructure that links its major transportation corridors, with our bridges and thoroughfares undergoing constant maintenance and concern. With major projects in the Puget Sound area currently under way, what can be done to fix some of the long-term infrastructure concerns in more rural counties like ours?

Infrastructure is key to the economic success of any region. Wise and careful development and management of that infrastructure is a core responsibility of government. State government should provide initiative and support to counties for them to manage their resources. We need to have adequate transportation corridors in place for local economies to thrive. Providing maintenance and development, as appropriate, of the port areas, rail, airports and highway systems is essential to the area. The local port has a significant geographic and economic advantage over other ports in the Puget Sound due to its coastal position and the time it takes to navigate the Strait and inland waterways of the Sound. Providing an infrastructure for the area helps to create economic opportunity, restores our job market, and ultimately creates a better economic condition for the state.

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?

Of course we need to provide for adequate levels of safety in our judicial operations. Ideally, this can be resolved with the goodwill and effort of the parties involved and without further state level intervention. The people have the opportunity this election cycle to facilitate the resolution of this dispute by determining who is participating in that discussion.