By Reporter Newspapers staff
State Sen. Cheryl Pflug, a Republican who lives in Maple Valley, is running for re-election in the 5th District against a single opponent, Democrat Phyllis Huster.
As the only candidates, Pflug and Huster will advance from the Aug. 19 primary election to the general election in November.
Huster, a Democrat, is running for State Senator in the 5th Legislative District, which includes parts of Issaquah and Sammamish. She is challenging Republican State Sen. Pflug, who is seeking her second four-year term in the Senate, to which she was appointed in 2003 and elected in 2004. She previously was a state representative. More information about her is at www.pflug.com.
Huster, who lives in Snoqualmie, works in the telecommunications industry and has been a Microsoft contractor. Additional information about her is at www.phyllisforsenate.com.
The candidates recently responded to a questionnaire from the Reporter about some of their campaign positions:
Reporter: Why did you decide to run for office?
Huster: No. 1, state senators are supposed to be humble servants of the people, and my opponent, Cheryl Pflug, isn’t. I will be a great listening legislator. It bothered me that Pflug is 70 percent funded by lobbyists like insurance companies and pharmaceuticals, which contradicts the Founding Fathers’ vision of government “of, by and for the people.” I’m 95 percent funded by individual voters. Number 2, I noticed Pflug missed 120 votes (in the Legislature), had the most conservative voting record in Olympia and voted against citizen power of open government, and these things really pushed me over the top to run against her.
Pflug: I grew up here, surrounded by family and cherishing the pristine beauty around us. I believe that the decisions that are made in Olympia will affect our quality of life. I understand what we are trying to protect, and I can make a difference for a community that I care about.
Reporter: What do you think the Legislature can do to help residents deal with the slumping economy?
Huster: Attract new jobs to the state in green industries, technology, energy independence and parts manufacturing, which pay living and family wages.
By increasing Washington exports, we add to budgets for healthcare and transportation. We must stop deficit spending at the state level. The state can encourage companies to buy locally and stop outsourcing jobs around the world. We can offer pension choices for the elderly, teachers and firefighters by allowing them to move their pensions out of poor performing stocks into more stable worldwide stocks. I’d also make COLAs (cost of living adjustments) automatic instead of requiring legislative approval.
Pflug: Government should have prepared by spending dollars wisely and on priorities, and keeping a reserve for lean times. Now is a good time to create jobs by building necessary infrastructure — especially investments in transportation and energy sources. Regulatory reliability and streamlining the permitting and technology transfer processes helps new companies grow to profitability.
Reporter: Many of your prospective constituents commute long distances to get to work. What ideas do you have to improve transportation in your district?
Huster: I’ve heard voters say park-and-rides at Hobart-Issaquah Road and Highway 18 would be nice. I believe expanding State Route 900 south to Maple Valley, instead of just Renton, gives people a more direct shot to Bellevue and Microsoft, relieving Issaquah-Hobart Road congestion. I also am a big fan of transit, so I would suggest an electric shuttle system expanding the transit grid, to extend currently overcrowded buses as well as telecommuter credits for corporations to keep people off the road in the first place. Finally, we need to merge King, Metro and Sound Transit to eliminate overlap and bureaucracy eating our transportation dollars, and the Sound Transit 15-year plan doesn’t include all of the Eastside. By the time it is implemented, the volume in Maple Valley and Issaquah will demand a light rail. Aug. 28, we are hosting Paula Hammond, the state’s secretary of transportation (for a discussion of transportation issues).
Pflug: We need to get the most from our transportation dollars — construction to expand capacity at choke points, much better transit service with safe, convenient intermodal connections. Light rail shouldn’t be sited on I-90, where it will increase congestion, and tolls must not unduly burden those who drive farther to find affordable housing and/or have jobs that require peak hour commutes.
Reporter: What other issues are priorities for you?
Huster: The environment. Pflug was rated a “green dud” by Washington conservation voters, and in sharp contrast, I moved to Snoqualmie to get away from sprawl and traffic. I want to protect and preserve our precious mountains and forests, while Pflug wants to sell it to large agribusiness donors. I don’t believe real estate developers’ greed should be placed above citizen needs. I disagree with King County Executive Ron Sims and his pet project, the “Donut Hole” development (in Maple Valley). There are times we should ask, Is this growth good for our communities? And if the answer is no, then we must put affordable housing where it makes more sense and has the blessing of city governments and the communities. Finally, I’m an election integrity proponent. I want to remove electronic voting from Washington and get back to honest, transparent, citizen-owned elections.
Pflug: I look for ways to provide better public service in a more cost-effective way. The state could facilitate universal access to affordable private insurance by allowing more flexibility and providing administrative relief to small businesses. Better use of research data and technology will improve health outcomes. Public schools need better quality curriculum support so that our students succeed in a worldwide job market.