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Candidate Forum: Legislative Districts 1, 45, and 46

  • Written by David B. Clark
The Northshore Council PTSA, which is comprised of 31 PTAs at schools throughout the Northshore School District, held a Candidate Forum for candidates in Legislative Districts 1, 45 and 46. The forum was held on the evening of Monday, October 1 at the Northshore School District Administrative Building (3330 Monte Villa Parkway, Bothell, WA).
 
The candidates were eager to shake hands and converse with the attendees a half hour before the forum began. Many of the night’s guests were students; their notebooks quickly filled with ink and lead as they asked questions, commented, and listened intently to the candidates’ big ideas.
 
All candidates from the three aforementioned Legislative Districts were invited to participate in the forum.
 
For Legislative District 1, State Representative Position 1 Derek Stanford and Josh Colver and for Position 2 Shelley Kloba and Debra Blodgett.
 
For Legislative District 45, State Senator Manka Dhingra and Dale Fonk, State Representative Position 1 Michael Curtis and Roger Goodman, and for Position 2 Amber Krabach and Larry Springer.
 
For Legislative District 46, State Senator David Frockt and Beth Daranciang, State Representative Position 1 Gerry Pollet and Jeff Patton, and Position 2 Javier Valdez and Jerry Zeiger-Buccola.
 
Colver, Patton, and Zeiger-Buccola did not participate in the forum.
 
Nancy Chamberlain, Northshore PTSA Council Advocacy co-Vice-President emceed the event. She began by thanking the volunteers before explaining the format of the forum. The candidates were each given a timed one-minute introduction. The forum then used a mix of questions submitted electronically weeks leading up to the evening and some jotted down on notecards by the audience that evening. Each candidate’s response was timed and depending on the round they had anywhere from 20 to 60 seconds to provide their response.
 
Chamberlain said, “Hosting this Candidate Forum demonstrates Northshore Council’s commitment to the PTA mission of being a strong advocate for the health, safety, well-being and education of every child.” She continued, “Our state leaders will be making decisions that affect every family in Northshore. We want to ensure that all voters can make informed choices in November.”
 
Stanford is the current Position 1 State Representative for Legislative District 1. A data scientist by profession, he also serves on numerous committees and has two children in the Northshore School District.
 
Blodgett is a first-time candidate who was a fashion consultant for seven years and is an entrepreneur. “I am working to get Republicans elected in our county,” said Blodgett.
 
Kloba is the current Position 2 State Representative for Legislative District 1. The first year she served she voted no for a property tax increase.
 
Dhingra is the State Senator of the Legislative 45th District. She ran for office last year for the first time because she felt that it is important for individuals with real-life experience to run for office.
 
Fonk has lived and worked in Woodinville since 1989. Fonk has a degree in Business Administration. He has signed more than 20,000 paychecks as an employer.
 
Curtis said, “To put it briefly, I am a product of the American dream.” A self-proclaimed “architect of the future,” Curtis grew up in poverty but through this he helped construct an impressive K-12 network in the ‘90s.
 
Goodman is running for his seventh term for the State House 45th District. He is the Chair of the Public Safety committee. Concurrently, he is a lawyer and a politician.
 
Krabach stated, “Dealing with Washington’s education system feels a little bit like trying to get a good grade on a test from your math teacher after your private tutor tells you 2+2=5.” She believes reform is necessary in education.
Springer has been in the legislature for 14 years. He is the Deputy Majority Leader for the House Democratic Caucus. Most of his work is around finance and budgets.
 
Daranciang believes it is very important to be involved in schools. She and her husband are both self-employed and she stresses that she understands small business taxes.
 
Frockt, the current Senator of the Legislative 46th, represents Kenmore in addition to Lake Forest Park and parts of North Seattle. He has been heavily involved in higher education policy.
 
Pollet also currently represents Kenmore in the legislature. This year, after seven years of working on special ed, he helped pass that every kindergartener through second grade is assessed for dyslexia and special ed.
Valdez is a first-generation Mexican-American. He was appointed last year to the legislature. He went to the University of Washington with the financial help of grants and loans so he has direct experience in these education necessities. He works for the City of Seattle where he helps women and minority business owners.

Innovations for children that will better prepare them for the future was the first topic fielded by the forum. Blodgett stressed that there are deficiencies in vocational trainings in schools. Kloba pressed the importance of equity referencing a statistic that stuck with her from a bill last year that stated that by the end of 6th grade, children in poverty have 6,000 fewer hours of expanded learning opportunities than their middle-income peers. “We can make sure that businesses are getting involved so we can have a partnership that are getting kids the opportunities they need.” Dhingra said that a holistic opportunity is paramount for children’s success. She said that many students are coming out of school with impressive academic resumes but do not have hands-on experience. Stanford is excited about new class offerings and what is coming in the future namely citing coding, robotics, and 3-D printing.
The forum then moved into their thoughts about closing funding gaps in schools. Fonk said that we are currently funding schools in a very unequitable way. Because property values are so high on the upper-eastside, the area did not come out very well on the recent levy swap. Fonk said, “I will not be coming to you saying we need to increase the taxes, flat.” Curtis began, “I don’t think my answer is going to make the school district very happy.” He continued, “the problem we have is the idea of districts… if you want equitable education it needs to be centralized.” He thinks that is not going to happen so the best thing to be done is to try and reform the funding mechanisms. Pallet commented on the problem of the State not paying for a 7th period in this district. “What happens if your child has cancer or gets a serious concussion playing sports or is very ill, as mine was? How do you get your child to graduate on time?” He says we need to tax wealth in this state so we can properly pay for education. Valdez commented that we need more counselors and more nurses.
When the topic of emergency preparedness came about, it stretched from gun safety to earthquake readiness. Most candidates, given the minute, spoke on natural disaster emergency preparedness. Fonk commented that he thinks there needs to be training programs that teach and treat students to be an integral part of the solution. Goodman commented that schools really are not prepared for a major disaster yet they typically serve as a major gathering place if there were a problem. He also commented on the need to get schools back in operation after a disaster to provide a sense of normality to a neighborhood. Goodman said, “This is a vexing problem… this is one of my committee’s major focuses.” Frokt said that the state is “woefully underprepared” for a tsunami or earthquake. He met with the National Guard General and Emergency Management Team that told him, “we have to spend up to get to the level of ‘unprepared.’” Blodgett commented, “The only major disaster we’re going to have here is an earthquake. I can’t see us getting a tsunami. It would take a long way to get here from the Pacific Ocean. So I think we really need to concentrate on earthquakes.”
Chamberlain posed a question regarding the role schools play in addressing the mental health needs of students. Fonk believes that the level of testing required of students is heightening mental stresses for kids. Krebach noted how suicide is increasing throughout young people. She cited the connections between social media, isolation, and students spending less time in community. She thinks partnerships and education are the answers. Daranciang echoed Krebach’s ideas and spoke on the benefits of encouragement and support. Valdez and Frokt stressed the need for more social workers. Stanford followed by stating, “Teachers can’t be the counselors, too.”
A local bond measure must have 60%, or a supermajority, of the vote to be passed. When the forum was asked if they would support to change this to a simple majority, 50%, all of the Republican candidates said they would not, all of the Democrats said they would. The conservative backing was based on the idea of burdening tax payers. Curtis said, “We have more of a surplus [of money] than we ever have had before.”  Stanford, during his time to comment, directly responded and said, “The Northshore School District does not have a surplus; absolutely not.”
On the final question of the evening, despite their differences, the candidates spoke about integrity, unity, and honesty. They stressed bipartisan policy making. Krebach commented, “We have the same goals but disagreements on how to accomplish them.” Fonk summed things up well when he stated, “What we have in common is so much greater and so much more important than our differences.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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