"Anderson, Sehlin both offer experience"
July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:58 PM
"The 10th District House race between Democrat Dave Anderson and Republican Barry Sehlin is a contest where both candidates have been there, done that and want to go back.Anderson, the incumbent from Clinton, has held firmly to one of the two 10th District seats since wresting it away from Oak Harbor Republican Barney Beeksma in 1996. He is a former veterinarian and currently operates a South Whidbey golf course.Sehlin, a former base commander at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, is also an incumbent of sorts. He served as a House member for six years prior to voluntarily stepping down in 1998. Shortly thereafter Sehlin announced that he would seek the 2nd District congressional seat being vacated by Jack Metcalf, but later pulled out of the race saying he did not have the financial backing to continue. Whereas some districts tend to vote consistently for one political party or the other, the 10th, which includes Island County as well as parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties, is considered a swing district because it can, and does, elect candidates from both. With the state House currently locked in a 50/50 split between Republicans and Democrats, swing districts such as the 10th are considered vital wins by both camps.Sehlin and Anderson share similar priorities such education, long-term health care and transportation. They both believe it's a good idea for the state to keep a strong budget reserve rather than spend it. But the two candidates are also focusing at least some of their campaigns on what makes them different. For Sehlin it's a question of leadership. Considered a moderate while in office, Sehlin says his ability to find the middle ground and bring opposing points of view together is one of his main selling points.It has to do with my record of actually accomplishing things, he said. The best idea in the Legislature still needs 50 votes. If you can't get the votes, the idea doesn't matter. What I do best is deal with all the disparate interests.Anderson says he is running on the same ideals he followed when he first ran for the post - the need for good growth management.My main story hasn't changed, he said. It's that as we grow, we don't wreck what we've got. Anderson has championed the concept of concurrency, which states that infrastructure such as roads, ferries and water supplies have to grow at the same time population grows. If the infrastructure systems break down or become untenable, Anderson says, limits on growth need to be put in place.It's going to make more sense with every day that goes by, he said. Who do we need to represent, the big developer who wants to increase our population or the people who already live here? Anderson said Sehlin's entry into the race is a very calculated move by the Republican party to take me out - backed by big Republican dollars. He said two-thirds of his backing comes from individual contributors.Sehlin admits that some of his backing comes from what he called a traditional Republican base, but he said he also garners strong support from independents, conservative Democrats and environmental voters. In fact, Sehlin often resists being categorized as a stereotype Republican.I would caution people not to go to the Republican Party Web site to see what I think, he said.Sehlin speaks out against some citizen initiatives that tamper with state budgeting and taxation - initiatives that have often gotten Republican Party support. He also paints himself as strongly committed to environmental issues and the preservation of natural resources. On the other hand, he calls for less state and federal regulation and more local control over enforcing environmental standards. He said the state's current system of using a citizen appeal process to determine the validity of local growth management plans can keep local land-use decisions in a constant sate of flux.That's got to be fixed, he said.Anderson has been a strong supporter of the state's Growth Management Act, which requires counties and cities to write plans for future growth. He said his background in biology, chemistry and other sciences gives him a better understanding of complex environmental issues.In the final analysis, Sehlin insists he will be more successful than Anderson at building consensus and getting results among lawmakers. Anderson, on the other hand, says he will be a man of the people.I think I represent the average person better than he does, he said.----------------Where do the candidates stand?On education fundingAnderson: We are not providing adequate funds for basic education. But people are also screaming for more transportation infrastructure. If you do anything for transportation out of the general fund, what gets squeezed? Education.Sehlin: We are not providing the education our kids need today. High standards, more accountability and more money, we need all of that. If anything was possible, I'd double funding for education.On funding for ferries:Sehlin: In a state that has so much of its population now living on islands, we can't just pretend we're going to get by without a good ferry system.Anderson: Operations is in bad shape. Capital improvement is in worse shape. It will have to be worked out. I won't kid you, there will some regionalism as far as transportation funding. One of the things that will happen is fares will go up.On using the state's budget reserveAnderson: Last year we spent the reserve down from 1.2 billion to 700 million. I don't think I'd want to go much below that. There's never going to be a time when we don't need a reserve.Sehlin: There is a budget surplus and a reserve account of about 5 percent. A 5 percent reserve of your budget is not an unreasonable thing to have. But there is some money in the surplus that could be used, and should be used.On growth managementSehlin: Local officials are in the best position to reach the best decision. Land use issues are always going to be controversial ... but you need to get on with it.Anderson: There will be no third ferry. There will be no new bridge. Doesn't it make sense to put some limits on the other end? "